A City Upon a Hill

In the early 1600’s, many new-founding colonies competed against one another for power. Puritans in New England sought better conditions and migrated from England in search of reform, and in John Winthrop’s eyes, “A City Upon a Hill”. These new Puritan ways contributed to the present American structure of society.

In England the new king, Charles I, revoked the tolerance of Puritans created by king James and replaced them with Anglicans. Soon after, the Anglicans replaced Puritan clergy and enforced Puritans to practice Puritanism in private. This infuriated the Puritans and slowly they began to migrate to Massachusetts in search for a better society. The leader of the Puritans, John Winthrop, was the one who sparked this search for reform. He created a society in Massachusetts Bay called “A City Upon a Hill”. The reason he named it this was because he believed that the Puritans could create an ideal society for other colonies to look up to, hence the city upon a hill where everyone could see.

The Puritans were successful in some aspects of living in a close-knit society. voting and education became more diverse, women were more equalized, and granted property was ample. Another benefit was the population surge which nearly doubled in contrast to England. This was because colonists were very healthy and could have children more. In education, Puritans founded Harvard College for those training to become ministers. The main goal was all people rich and poor to serve one and another. This was a requirement among the Puritans to help his fellow man in need.

Things began to head south when the Puritan values began to shift. Farmers were growing crops to feed their families and pay off debts. When Virginian colonists began displaying pursuits of self-interest, Massachusetts jumped in also. Farmers turned to lumbering, fur trading, ship building, and rum distilling for extra income. Tensions aroused thereafter between the government and clergy. The government tried to regulate prices of goods to prevent consumers suffering from shortage of goods. Many objected and illegally priced items above tax rate sometimes 25 percent. As far as the clergy, farmers were voting themselves more land for cultivating profit. The weak points were the voting rights of men. It was some land owners versus every other male. There was too much power given to certain people. This was because many clergymen were farmers so the ratio was always uneven leaving simple townsmen out-voted and landless. This was probably the earliest sign of corruption in the Puritan government.

In conclusion the Puritan society had it’s strengths and weaknesses. It seemed that the weaknesses overpowered in the end. The morals and values John Winthrop set for his colonists were thrown away for greed and mercantilism. This was the complete opposite from what they once believed in.

Works Referenced

DICUIRCI, LINDSAY. “Reviving Puritan History.” Early American Literature 45.3 (2010): 565-592. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 10 May 2011.