Puritan Massachusetts


            The lesson on the Puritans is intended to inform students on the lives of Puritans before and after arriving in New England.  They will learn about their struggles to establish their church in England and the decisions that led to the migration to the New World.  The students will intensely learn about the leaders of the Puritan church and the people who followed them.  It is important for students to understand the intentions of the Puritans and their reason for forming their community.  They will learn that the Puritans laid the foundation for self-government.  The relationship the Puritans had with the Indians is also included in the discussion.  There will be a major emphasis on the way of life for the Puritans in New England.  Students will learn about the major sense of community and the idea of everything being for the common welfare.  They will learn about the role of women in the society and how strong family life developed structures and architecture different then the Virginia settlements.  Students will learn about the huge emphasis on education within the Puritan community.  The English Revolution and its effects on the population in the New World will also be discussed.  The Puritan chapter will finish up with how the society changed over time due to generation gaps and the intriguing Salem witch trials.



5.4 Students understand the political, religious, social, and economic institutions that evolved in the colonial era.

2. Identify the major individuals and groups responsible for the founding of the various colonies and the reasons for their founding (e.g., John Smith, Virginia; Roger Williams, Rhode Island; William Penn, Pennsylvania; Lord Baltimore, Maryland; William Bradford, Plymouth; John Winthrop, Massachusetts).
3. Describe the religious aspects of the earliest colonies (e.g., Puritanism in Massachusetts, Anglicanism in Virginia, Catholicism in Maryland, Quakerism in Pennsylvania).


Puritanism in England

·        Religious Reformers

·        Sig: In England, Puritans were established because they wanted to keep “The Church of England” purified and Protestant.

·        Social Reformers

·        Sig: Not only did they want to reform religion, they wanted to save society from the Modern future full of disorder and wickedness.

·        King James and Charles I

·        Sig: Enemies with high authority; these kings sent the Puritans to work outside of England, later we find that to be Massachusetts.


Puritan Predecessors in New England

·        Fisherman

·        Sig: First working the fishing banks of New England

·        John Smith

·        Sig: Wrote about the New World which eagered Pilgrims and others to move to New England.

·        Primary Source: Map of New England (1616)

·        Pilgrims

·        Sig: Protestants that settled before Puritans


Puritan founders in New England

·         Leaders

·         Sig:  University-trained ministers, lesser gentry, and men following the puritan teachings

·         Ordinary Settlers

·         Sig:  From the middle ranks of English society:  freemen in families, trained artisans, .and farmers



·        Establish communities of pure Christians

·        Sig:  Collectively swore a covenant with God to work for his ends

·        Civil and Religious transgressors must be rooted out and severely punished

·        Emphasis was on homogeneous communities

·        Good of group outweighed individual interest


Foundations for Self Government

·         Free male Church members annually elected the officials that would make up the two houses of  a colonial legislature

·         Sig:  Consent of both houses was required to pass laws

·         One house was made up of a governor and deputies from each town

·         The other house was made up of the governor’s assistants, who were later to be called councilors


New Englanders and Indians

·        Massachusetts Bay Company and John Winthrop

·        Sig: Each had view and plans on Indians.

·        Conflicts with Indians

·        Sig: Disease with Indians proved to Puritans God was on their side.

·        War in 1637

·        Sig: Puritan victory and assured English dominance over tribes of southern New England.  A few years later over 1000 Indians prayed “the white man’s way”


Puritan Village Life

·        Close compact villages

·        They used a “closed-field” systems

·        They prohibited single people from living alone

·        The Puritans used meeting houses

·        Primary Source: Plymouth fort and meeting house

·        Sig:  They wanted to maintain community and keep everyone on the right path


Puritan Women and the Family

·        Played a vital role in the family centered society

·        Roles outside motherhood and wife:

Custodian of garden; processor of salted and smoked meats, dairy products; and weavers

·        Sig: Women were apart of the economics of the Puritan society

·        Sig:  Women and strong family life in the colony affected New England’s regional

               structure and architecture


·        Puritans focused on substantial housing for the family

·        Started with one room house and slowly added to it



·        Emphasis on reading the Bible

·        Believed that through education they could preserve the central values of their struggle to redeem human kind

·        Sig: Puritans stressed literacy and education

·        Primary Source: Primer (American Antiquarian Society)


English Revolution in 1642

·        King Charles I violated the country’s customary constitution

·        Civil war climaxed with the trail and beheading of the king

·        Sig: During this time Puritans in England had the opportunity to complete the reform of religion and society at home

·        Sig: Migration to New England abruptly ceased


Problems with Dispersion

·        Migration slowed and left the colonies disperse

·        The 20,000 English immigrants were scattered from Maine to Long Island

·        Sig:  Leader establish a broad intercolony political structure called the Confederation of New England

·        Designed to coordinated government

·        Provide greater defense


A Changing Society

·        As the Puritan society became more stable leaders complained that the founding visions were faltering

·        Material concerns seemed to transcend religious commitment

·        Complains about how the individual prevailed over the community

·        Moral standards notwithstanding

·        Sig:  A generation gap had taken place in the community

·        Sig:  The second generation had different priorities and ideas


Witchcraft in Salem

·        The governor of the colony was dismissed and the colony awaits a new governor

·         Sig: The colony is left in political limbo for three years

·         The void allows for a brief witchcraft episode to escalate into a ridiculous wich hunt

·         Began as a couple of girls playing with magic and their then their accusations of three women

·         The accusations and confessions led to dozens being charged with witchcraft

·         Sig:  The problem got way out of control because there was not a authority figure present

·         Factors contributing to the hysteria:

·         Generation differences

·         Population growth

·         Pressures on the available farmland

·         Tension between agriculture Salem Village and nearby commercial center called Salem Town

·         Sig:  Salem witchcraft suggest that there was major problems deep within the community long before the witch hunt


Important People

·         John Winthrop- leader and first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

·         Roger Williams-had doubt in the Puritan belief and wanted to completely separate from the church and was also earliest spokesperson for the separation of church and state.

·        Anne Hutchinson-instigated a division in the community with her new idea of salvation and was exiled from the community.



·        Reenacting a Puritan trial.  Having students each play an important role in the courtroom.  With parts like Judge, clergy, jury, the accused, and the magistrates.