The Puritans first came to America in 1620 on the Mayflower. The Pilgrims, as they were called, were separating from the Anglican church and escaping religious persecution in England by escaping to America. Other Puritans soon flocked to America hoping to "purify" the Anglican Church and develop a colony which would be a model to the world ("a city upon a hill")
Calvinism: The teachings and doctrine of John Calvin, a leader in the Protestant reformation. Calvinism is unique in its rejection of consubstantiation, the Eucharist and in its doctrine of predestination, the belief that no actions taken during a persons life would effect their salvation. The Puritan colonies were based on Calvinist doctrine.
Church of England: The established church in England that is also known as the Anglican church. The Church of England was founded in 1534 by Henry VIII after a dispute with the Roman Catholic church over the annulment of his marriage which culminated in the Act of Supremacy, declaring the King to be the head of the church.
Mayflower Compact: Agreement made by the Pilgrims in 1620 when they landed at Plymouth. The compact created the Plymouth colony and made a civil government under James I based on the will of the colonists. The Compact was important in the early organization and success of the colony.
William Bradford: The second governor of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts, he was elected over John Carver in 1621 and was reelected thirty times. He was important in the organization and success of the colony and kept a history of the development of the Plymouth colony that was published in 1856.
Pilgrims: The original group of puritan separatists that fled religious persecution in England and found refuge in what is now Massachusetts. The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic and reached America in 1620 where they founded the Plymouth colony and organized a government based on the Mayflower compact.
Puritans: Reform movement in the Anglican church in the 16th and 17th centuries and came to America in 1629. The movement aimed at purifying the church of corruption split into separatists, who wanted to end ties with the established church and non-separatists. Seeking religious freedom was a strong motivation for colonies in America.
Pilgrims vs. Puritans: Pilgrims and Puritans were extremely similar in most practices and beliefs, but Pilgrims were a distinct group of puritans who were not only against the Anglican church but called for total separation from the church, a dangerous belief in religiously tense England. For this reason they fled the town of Scrooby, England, where they originally had assembled and ended up in Plymouth with intentions of creating a community free of English control.
Separatists vs. Non-Separatists: Separatists were a group of Puritans who advocated total withdrawal from the Church of England and wanted the freedom to worship independently from English authority. They included the Pilgrims who migrated to America. Non-Separatists sought to reform the Church from within.
Massachusetts Bay Colony: Colony created by the Massachusetts Bay Company. Under the leadership of John Winthrop, the colony was created to provide the world with a model Christian society. The colony was created in 1630 and it was governed through a General Court selected by church members.
City Upon a Hill: Name given to the Puritan society that was to be created in the New World. The leader of the Puritan migration, John Winthrop planned to create a utopian society based on Puritanism that would have no class distinction and would stress the importance of community and church. The society was to be an example to all the world of what could be achieved. It was anticipated that once the world saw this great city it would follow it example.
Cambridge agreement: Plan used in 1629 to colonize America by allowing immigration of puritan settlers who would control the government and the charter of the Massachusetts Bay company. The agreement was based on the creation of a market for trade but instead developed a religiously based government.
Puritan Migration: The term given to the migration of Puritans to America in the early 17th century. Following the restoration of James I to the throne Puritans in England became persecuted and with the accession of Charles I to the throne the situation became worse. The puritans fled England and came to America to have freedom of religion.
John Winthrop: The first governor and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a member of the Massachusetts Bay Company. He played a key role in the puritan migration and intended to create a utopian society in America. He was elected governor twelve times and pursued a conservative religious and governmental policy.
saints: High standing members of the church who gained recognition and were put on a council that governed the congregation. Under Puritan doctrine, to become a saint the person had to be a member of the congregation and have been chosen by the church council.
New England Way: The Puritan dominance of New England and their desire to create a utopian society based on their doctrine created a distinct society in New England. Unlike other colonies, Puritans were guided by their religion and created a government and society tied to the church.
Covenant Theology: Christian Theology that stressed that a agreement was made by God with humans with the death of Jesus for the salvation of mankind. The theology differs from sect to sect, some assert that salvation is granted to all, some that its is earned and others that it can be achieved by faith alone.
conversion relation: Part of the Massachusetts Puritans practice, it was a requirement of new members. The Relation required that any member of the congregation must go through an examination before the congregation. Because of its unpleasantness, later generations did not go accept it and the half-way covenant was adopted.
Congregationalism: Protestant organizational system based on the freedom of each church to control its affairs. An offshoot of the separatist, it was continued by the pilgrims in America where it was adopted by the new churches as a way to maintain local independence. Congregationalism was part of the strong independence of the colonies.
Cambridge Platform: Agreement and plan formed by Puritans before they landed in 1629. The platform was the source for the Puritans of the government and organization for their colony, and it established a government under the authority of the King of England.
Contrast Puritan Colonies with others: Because most colonies were created with financial or political gains in mind, puritan colonies had a special distinction from them. The puritans came to American seeking religious freedom and had a strong work ethic enabling them to achieve a success not seen in other colonies.
dissenters: People objected to the accepted doctrine of the established church. The puritans who migrated to America were dissenters from the Church of England who created a new church in the colonies. Religious outcasts from the puritan church such as Ann Hutchinson and Roger Williams were also dissenters.
Anne Hutchinson, antinomianism: Early New England religious leader who founded the doctrine of antinomianism, the belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to laws. She was banished to Rhode Island in 1637 for her belief in antinomianism and her insistence on salvation by faith and not works.
Roger Williams, Rhode Island: Early colonial clergyman who founded the religiously tolerant colony of Rhode Island in 1636. Williams was banished from Massachusetts for his belief in religious freedom, he established a colony at Providence in 1636 that tolerated all dissenters and was in good relations with the Natives.
Massachusetts School Law: Law also Known as the Old Deluder Act of 1647, that replaced home education by creating a system in which small towns would have a person capable of teaching the children and every town of over one hundred homes would have a school. The law was a step towards creating a universal education system.
town meetings: The center of Colonial America political life especially in New England. Town Meetings were gatherings where all the voters in the town or nearby countryside would all congregate and go over issues that most interested them, such as town officers, and taxes for the following season.
Voting Granted to Church Members: The New England puritans developed a more democratic system of government than in England that gave the power to elect the governor to all male saints. The idea was furthered in 1644 when it adopted a bicameral court with elected delegates.
Half Way Covenant: A modification in the Cambridge Platform in 1662 that enabled people who had not experienced the conversion relation to become part of the congregation. With the later generations of Protestant settlers unwilling to undergo the conversion relation, church membership was threatened and the compromise was made.
Brattle Street Church: Church located in Boston, Mass. Completed in 1699. Thomas Brattle, a wealthy merchant and official of Harvard College organized the church against the will of Cotton Mather because of its closeness to the Church of England. The Church was strongly opposed to the Salem Witchcraft trials in 1692.
Salem Witch Trials: The fear of witchcraft that came to a head in the 1691-1963, especially boiling over in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. This fear ended with the death of many innocent women. Most of the women were middle aged wives or widows. Many implicated others for fear of their lives. The Salem Witch Trials pinpointed the underlying tension that was coming to head in many colonies due to religion and social standings.
Puritan Ethic: Term that characterizes the strong sense of purpose and discipline that Puritans had. Part of the work ethic also resulted from a belief that wealth and success were a sign of saintliness and that idleness was a sin. This work ethic also helped the Puritans find success in the colonies and translated to an American colonial work ethic.