Unit 1: Puritanism William Bradford *Of Plymouth Plantation*

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Unit 1:
Puritanism
William Bradford
“Of Plymouth Plantation”
The Puritan Philosophy
Basic Timeline
1630: The Great
Migration to New
England (Puritans)
1690
1745
The Great Awakening
1636: Harvard
College founded
1692: The Salem
Witch Trials
1620: Mayflower lands
(W. Bradford) with 100
pilgrims
The Puritan Age
Puritanism: a definition
• As a religion it stems from Roman Catholic
Catholics
Church of England
(Anglican)
Puritan (to purify)
• As a way of life it is based on God and his
teachings
•Puritans lived in a THEOCRACY
– Church
=
» Elders
» Ministers
=
» Bible teachings
State
government/law
Puritan Views:
• View of God
–
–
–
–
All-powerful
All-knowing
Revengeful
Just/fair
• View of Man
– Sinful
– Unworthy of salvation
•View of Nature
- Used by God as a way to
punish or reward man
Puritan Tenets (beliefs):
1. The Bible is the inerrant (without errors)
word of God and an outline for living
2. Special people (good Puritans) have been
chosen by God to carry out certain actions
3. Your eternal destiny is decided before you are
born. How you live life hints to this destiny.
4. In all aspects of life, be pragmatic (practical)
and avoid frivolous (unnecessary) activities.
5. “Work is necessary and good for you.”
Puritan reasons for writing:
• Puritan literature is both PRAGMATIC and
THEOCRATIC
• Reasons for writing are
–
–
–
–
–
Loneliness
To describe the new land
For support from Europe
To explain action (esp. W. Bradford)
For religious purposes (esp. J. Edwards)
William Bradford & Of Plymouth
Plantation
William Bradford: bio
• Son of an English
farmer
• Was the typical first
New England settler
• Extremely religious;
joined a group of
Puritans
• Fled from England to
Holland and then to
America because of
religious persecution
• Reached Plymouth in
1620 aboard the
Mayflower
• Wife either jumped or
fell overboard and
drowned
• 1st winter in America ½
the settlers died
• Became governor of
Plymouth (re-elected 30+
times
Bio, cont.
• Wrote Plymouth’s
history (began in 1630
and ended in 1647)
• 200 years later the
manuscript was
published
• Bradford was
disappointed that
America fell short of its
promise
• Of Plymouth Plantation
describes
– Puritan’s flight from
England to Holland to
America
– The trials of the 1st
winter
– The bloody Pequot War
“Of Their Voyage, and How They Passed the Sea; and of
Their Safe Arrival to Cape Cod”
• Voyage was a mix of fair winds and fierce
storms
• One of the main beams bowed and cracked ½
way through the journey
• Repaired the beam with a great iron screw (to
raise it) and a post (to secure it)
• Again, pilgrims believed that God would be fair
to them
– “So they committed themselves to the will of God
and resolved to proceed” (59)
• God saves a good Puritan from drowning
– John Howland was thrown into the sea during a
storm
– “it pleased God that he caught hold of the topsail
halyards” (59)
– John Howland “lived many years and became a
profitable member both in church and
commonwealth” (his good life yielded a good fate)
• One person (besides the seaman) perished on
the voyage, William Butten
• They first try to land @ Cape Cod
• Then they decide to travel south down the
Hudson (meet with rough waters)
• Ultimately, they docked @ Cape Harbor
• They landed in winter with no friends to meet
them & no place for them to go
• Bradford declares his trust in God to get them
through
– “What could now sustain them but the Spirit of
God and His Grace?” (61)
Book 2: “The Starving Time”
• In 2 or 3 months’ time, ½ the ship’s passengers
died
– Lack of proper housing
– Infected with scurvy
• 6 or 7 Puritans were healthy enough to care for
the others (chosen by God)
• The seamen were greedy and selfish, keeping
food and drink for themselves even with the
passengers so sick.
• The seamen began falling ill too
• Nearly half of the seamen died before they set
sail again
• The pilgrims were much more willing to help
each other in times of need and illness
• The seamen were more barbaric and selfcentered. They cursed each other instead of
caring for each other
“Indian Relations”
• Samoset, an Indian that approached the
pilgrims, helped them become familiar with the
land
• Squanto and the pilgrims set terms under
which they would all live. These terms
primarily favored the pilgrims. Squanto
continued with the pilgrims as their interpreter
and was “sent from God.” He aided the
pilgrims until he died
“Of Plymouth Plantation”
tasks
• Write a short response to video clip
• Create a timeline of events for the excerpt.

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