Jess touched on something important yesterday, in her article on God, Guns, and America. Indeed many did return to England, especially in the early years. America was a hard place, and especially in Plymouth Plantation, they made it even worse.
For the first few years the Puritans insisted on a communal lifestyle, they very much attempted to live like they understood the early church to have been, a commune. Indeed Karl Marx’s immortal (and obscene) slogan applied very well to them: “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”.
The result was, as it always was and is, they starved in a land of plenty. In a couple of years William Bradford, who was elected to 30 one year terms as governor, divided the land amongst the settlers and advised them to do their best. They thus paralleled the example of Jamestown in the period of 1607-1609. In both cases was as stated from Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
And so was recognized very early in what was to become America the essential role of private enterprise.
But something else is hiding in here. The settlers in New England, like those in Virginia, were not only running away from persecution in England (which was plenty real, as the fires at Smithfield indicated). These men and women, with Bradford (a very staunch Yorkshire separatist) were going to something. As Mr. Sales has been explaining on the Jess’s Watchtower they were very familiar with the work of John Bunyan, specifically A Pilgrim’s Progress. They were very devout and they decidedly identified with Christian on his journey to the Celestial City.
Note that the video is nearly 2 hours but it is also very good.
This is one of the foundations of American exceptionalism for this is the basis of the enduring belief in America as the “Shining City on the Hill” that President Reagan spoke so movingly of.
But it didn’t stop there either. There is credible evidence that some of the regicides of James II found a reasonably comfortable existence in Massachusetts. The so-called Cavaliers of Virginia and the southern colonies came from nothing so much as the Royalists who lost to Oliver Cromwell. As well, there were the Scots-Irish, often Baptist, that spread from the south into the Old South and Northwest.
This was still going on right into the eighteenth century as the Wesley brothers had much to do with the founding of Georgia, and the Carrolltons, who were Catholic gentry, were the founders of Maryland, explicitly as a haven for Catholics after the exclusionary acts. Not to mention that notorious freethinker, Roger Williams, who even welcomed Jews (whom Edward I had banished from England) to Rhode Island. As well as the Dutch Reformed in New York, and the Mennonites (known to us as the Pennsylvania Dutch) and William Penn’s Quakers in Pennsylvania.
The founders were far from Godless men, but they were of many sects and faiths, almost all of which distrusted each other, with cause. This is why the 1st Amendment exists, not to keep God out of the public square but, to avoid the religious wars and persecutions of the old world. As written, there was nothing that prevented Maryland from requiring Maryland to have a Catholic governor, if it so desired. Or any other combination.
And it continued as the mostly Catholic Irish fled the Potato Famine, as the mostly Lutheran Germans fled the failed revolutions of 1848, as the Polish/Russian Jews fled the pogroms of the late 19th century, all found an eventually congenial home here. And all contributed. And now we are concerned with the mostly Catholic Hispanics who have (with reason) given up on our impenetrable immigration laws in their quest for a better life for their families.
So it has ever been in America.
- God, Guns and America (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
- The Celestial City (jessicahof.wordpress.com)
- America’s Most Biblically-Hostile U.S. President (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Plymouth, Pilgrims, Puritans, The Great Migration, Wampanoags, and The First Thanksgiving (joannedi.wordpress.com)