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Godly Republicanism

Godly Republicanism

Michael P. Winship
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 350
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  • Book Info
    Godly Republicanism
    Book Description:

    Puritans did not find a life free from tyranny in the new world—they created it there. Massachusetts emerged a republic as they hammered out a vision of popular participation and limited government in church and state, spurred by Plymouth pilgrims. Godly Republicanism underscores how pathbreaking yet rooted in puritanism’s history the project was.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06505-5
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction: An Old Man’s Tears for Godly Republicanism
    (pp. 1-12)

    “What is become of the Primitive Zeal, Piety, and Holy Heat found in the hearts of our parents?” bewailed the New Englander Joshua Scottow inOld Mens Tearsin 1691. Scottow, some sixty years after arriving in Massachusetts, mourned the disappearance of the founders’ “self-denyal, moderation, mortification.” Their “Soul lively Thirstings and Pantings after God and his Ways,” he lamented, had “Metamorphosed into Land and Trade breathings.” The “old Puritan Garb, and Gravity of Heart, and Habit” had been “lost and ridiculed into strange and fantastick Fashions and Attire.”¹

    As a consequence of this spiritual decline and worldly transformation, Scottow...

  4. CHAPTER 1 The Rise and Bleeding Fall of Elizabethan Godly Republicanism
    (pp. 13-38)

    In 1570 Thomas Cartwright was Lady Margaret Professor at Cambridge University. A few years later he had become an impoverished exile in Germany, engaged in a bitter, printed quarrel with his predecessor in that professorship, John Whitgift. Cartwright was a militant puritan church reformer while Whitgift was a no less militant partisan of the Church of England’s status quo. In the course of this quarrel, Cartwright penned lines that enraged Whitgift. Those lines would be quoted approvingly in Massachusetts over a half century later, for Cartwright’s reforming goals were part of the colony’s legacy. “As the hangings [drapes] are made...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Separatist Beginnings of Elizabethan Congregationalism and Presbyterianism
    (pp. 39-66)

    On April 6, 1593, the ex-courtier, lawyer, and separatist leader Henry Barrow went to the gallows. Barrow had denounced bishops with even more rancor than John Udall, but having separated entirely from the Church of England, he denounced presbyterians like Udall with equal harshness. Barrow was condemned under the same law as Udall. However, he lacked Udall’s connections, and Archbishop Whitgift was determined to see him dead. A half century later in Massachusetts, John Cotton, after invoking Udall as a martyr, hastened to make it clear that Barrow was another case altogether. He led a prostitute- and gambling-filled life before...

  6. CHAPTER 3 James I and a New Crisis of Antichristian Power
    (pp. 67-88)

    In the waning years of Elizabeth’s reign, radical puritans were hoping for more tangible relief than the consolation offered by biblical prophecies. The informally designated successor to the elderly Elizabeth was her cousin James VI of Scotland. Puritans thought they had good reason to look forward to his reign. In Scotland James presided over a more-or-less presbyterian national church; he had famously dismissed the English church service as an “evill said messe in English”; he had provided encouragement to English presbyterians in the early 1590s; puritan sympathizers were among his advisors; and shortly before coming to the Enlgish throne, he...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Triumphs and Trials of the Lord’s Free People
    (pp. 89-110)

    Two puritan friends had an unexpected encounter in the streets of Amsterdam in 1611. One, a nonconformist, had heard that the other had converted to Catholicism and gone to Rome. His friend replied that he would not travel to Rome unless he longed for fire and faggot, for he had in fact become a separatist. The separatist asked the nonconformist what the hope was for reformation in England. Not good, the nonconformist answered. He was not sure that bishops were absolutely forbidden by God, but the English bishops continued to hatefully put down the puritans, and they would bend all...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Christian Liberty at Plymouth Plantation
    (pp. 111-133)

    That the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious liberty is common American knowledge. Not so well known is the kind of religious liberty they were seeking, a tightly defined, not particularly tolerant, specifically Christian liberty, as befitted the lofty ambitions of a group of seventeenth-century Protestant zealots. A Christian’s liberty, John Robinson reminded the Pilgrims by letter after they had arrived in America, was “to serve God in faith, and his brethren in love.” Liberating Christ’s church from the shackles of Antichrist was the immigrants’ larger collective purpose. That liberation would culminate, as Plymouth’s governor William Bradford explained, in the...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Separatism at Salem?
    (pp. 134-158)

    The puritan-separatist clashes at Plymouth ensured that Plymouth would find itself the neighbor of a much more important puritan colony. But does the religious impact of Plymouth on Massachusetts extend beyond that serendipitous outcome? The enormously influential twentieth-century historian of American puritanism, Perry Miller, argued emphatically that it did not: the first Massachusetts church, founded at Salem in 1629, and those that followed owed nothing to the neighboring colony of Plymouth. Miller’s 1933 book,Orthodoxy in Massachusetts, reenergized academic interest in American puritanism, and in it Miller insisted that Salem “would have proceeded along essentially the same line had there...

  10. CHAPTER 7 The Appeal of Massachusetts Congregationalism
    (pp. 159-182)

    The general disregard of the Salem incident by historians has left the most puzzling aspects of the creation of Massachusetts congregationalism unexplored: why would the movers and shakers of the Massachusetts Bay Company accept being excluded from the sacraments by one of their employees to start with; why would the colonists then make this exclusion of godly immigrants standard practice; and what sort of mental gymnastics allowed the colonists to claim that they were not separatists while acting exactly like them?

    Certainly, political expediency played a role in this convoluted process. The novel combination of separatist practice and nonseparatist affirmation...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Designing a Godly Republic
    (pp. 183-205)

    Massachusetts congregationalists, like earlier radical puritans, were well aware that tyrannical power could threaten God’s people through the state as well as the church. In early 1640, for example, John Cotton in his popular Thursday Boston lectures was preaching his way through the Book of Revelation, verse by verse. On March 13, after instructing his Massachusetts audience for some weeks about Antichrist’s lust for unlimited power, Cotton began discussing how rulers in general abused power. King Charles I was clearly his target. Yet Cotton spoke broadly enough about the seductive danger of power that modern theologians, business executives, and soft-porn...

  12. CHAPTER 9 A City on a Hill
    (pp. 206-232)

    It was not a given in the early 1630s that the religious and civic components of Massachusetts’s godly quasi-republic would succeed together. Congregationalism had been birthed in defiance of the state in the sixteenth century, not in cooperation with it, and the handful of European congregational churches had accumulated a less-than-stellar record of stability and cooperation. Massachusetts’s civic government, while working out its relationship with the churches, would also have to start from scratch in attracting and holding its subjects’ obedience and loyalty. Even the physical survival of the colony was an open question, with low immigration and inadequate means...

  13. CHAPTER 10 Godly Republicanism’s Apocalypse
    (pp. 233-250)

    At the beginning of the 1640s, John Cotton predicted that the Old World flocks would soon be collectively stampeding after the New England goats. By around 1655, the states and Christian princes of Europe, under irresistible supernatural influence, would have instituted congregationalism and overthrown Antichrist and Muslim Turkey. The example of their churches’ pure Christianity would have brought about the conversion of Jews and pagans across the globe. Thereafter, the churches of Christ would enjoy the millennium’s thousand years of peace before the climactic battle with Gog and Magog at the end of time. One of the most durable fictions...

  14. Note on Usage
    (pp. 251-252)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 253-330)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 331-332)
  17. Index
    (pp. 333-339)