The Puritans greatly influenced the development of the New England colony through their ideas and values. Originating from Protestantism, they sought to purify the Church of England and distance themselves from Catholicism. Education and Religion were highly important to them. Their impact on the social, political, and economic advancement of the New England colonies lasted from 1630 to the 1660s.
In his work “A Modell of Christian Charity”, John Winthrop emphasizes the need for unity among Christians by stating that “wee must be knitt together, in this worke, as one man…make other’s conditions our owne”. This unity was a defining characteristic of the Puritans. The development of the New England colonies was shaped by their religious beliefs. Evidence of this can be seen in Document B, which shows that every town had both a church and a school. This demonstrates the significance of religion and education in Puritan society. The importance of education to the Puritans is further highlighted in Document E, where it is stated that after settling in the New England colonies, they prioritized advancing and preserving learning for future generations. This emphasis on education was driven by the desire to ensure a well-educated ministry for the churches and to eliminate illiteracy among their religious leaders.
The government of New England revolved around the religion of the Puritans. They implemented a system where laws and punishments were established for crimes committed, based on their own religious beliefs. Religious tolerance was limited to the Puritan faith within the New England colonies. However, Roger Williams advocated for freedom of religion and argued that it is not necessary or enforceable to have a uniformity of religious beliefs in any civil state, as it goes against God’s desires. Williams also called for a separation between the Church and State. Despite his views, he was banished by the Puritan leaders due to his differing beliefs. In response, Williams founded Rhode Island as a sanctuary for religious minorities. In John Cotton’s essay “Limitation of Government” from 1655, he emphasizes the importance of people adhering to both Church and Commonwealth authorities, warning that disregarding God’s teachings will result in an abuse of power. This illustrates how religion played a central role in the government of the Puritans.
The impact of Puritan ideas and values greatly influenced the economic development of the New England Colonies. The Puritans placed religion as their top priority and migrated to the New World mainly for religious reasons, not wealth. According to John Higginson, New England was established as a religious settlement rather than an economic one: “…this is never to be forgotten that New England is originally a plantation of Religion, not a Plantation of Trade.” Their main goal was focused on religion rather than pursuing material gain, thus leading them to place less importance on their economy.
The Puritans’ ideology and beliefs had a profound impact on their society, prioritizing religion above all else. It was their religious drive that led them to settle in the New World, where they did not tolerate any religious freedom within the New England colonies. Consequently, the Puritans’ religious values and ideas influenced them socially, politically, and economically in their colonies.