Inventing New Communities
Inventing New Communities 805209
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This 4 page One Day of Notes was uploaded by Charlene Scavone on Monday October 6, 2014. The One Day of Notes belongs to 805209 at George Washington University taught by Douglas Steinel in Fall2014. Since its upload, it has received 49 views. For similar materials see American Political Thought in Public Relations at George Washington University.
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Date Created: 10/06/14
Political Thought in America Chapter 1 Inventing New Communities Introduction American political thought and culture were formed throughout the century before the Revolution three distinct invented communities arose in British North America during the seventeenth century Puritan Massachusetts Quaker Pennsylvania Planter Virginia the Puritans and the Quakers had their roots in the partition of the English church from Rome by Henry VIII under his son Edward VI this split was further codified through the FortyTwo Articles of Faith and the Book of Common Prayer after her sister and predecessor Mary I attempted to retum England to Catholicism under Elizabeth I reintroduced Protestant doctrine however the formation of the Anglican Church up to this point was moderate some protesters called this Reformation Popery without a Pope hardline splinter sects of Anglicanism had formed when Protestants ed England en masse after the accession of Mary I settling in Europe they were greatly in uenced by John Calvin and his theocracy in Geneva Calvinist rite specified that no human being deserved salvation after the Fall no matter his piety and that God s grace was given independent of religious fervor Additionally the doctrine of predestination specified that God had predetermined all of the souls which would be saved Church govemance was managed by the elect who knew they would be saved due to a sign of grace and members of the congregation who had not yet received their signs of grace kept going in hope of experiencing it Calvinism imparted on these Protestants that govemment could serve as the defender of religion which would be seen in Puritan Massachusetts The Puritans retumed to England and attacked Anglican practices such as the use of Latin and prayer books that too much echoed the Catholic Church after their requests were not heeded they reorganized into a presbytery and met in secret James I interpreted their religious dissent as an attempt to undermine his authority and Puritans came to see physical separation from England as their only opportunity to reform the Church of England leaving first for Holland and then North America the English Civil War led to a breakdown of religious and political consensus that resulted in the formation of many sects in particular the Quakers the Quakers as the Children of Light were founded by George Fox the core tenet of Quakerism was that every individual had the capacity to communicate with God just like in Scripture their odd practices quickly made them a hated minority in England and by Puritans Quakers could not swear oaths take off their hats except for when they were at prayer and were pacifists to a fault in response to Massachusetts banning Quakers from entering the colony aristocratic Quaker convert William Penn founded Pennsylvania Virginia in contrast to both of these Protestant communities was formed on the basis of hopes for a profit by The Virginia Company trading corporation the success of tobacco as a cash crop inspired the commoners of England to aspire to become wealthy country gentlemen of the tidewater achieving scal success and political power Virginia became an experiment in replicating the gentry of England without the dominance of England s great noble families Puritan Massachusetts the Puritans threw out most old English practice including the legal structure of the English village English common law the complexities of the medieval church and the political and judicial systems the settlements in Massachusetts Bay Colony can be described as Christian Utopian Closed Corporate Communities the Puritans envisioned a community govemed by a Calvinistic elect they were unevangelistic and intolerant of other religions the Puritans elected a govemor to lead the colony as well as his assistants and a General Court to govem the colony at large each township elected members of the Court and govemed itself through selectmen who presided over town meetings their church govemment was congregational Puritans professed to believe in separation of church and state however suffrage and the ability to hold office hinged on church membership fines were levied for missing church or failing to tithe the Puritans however considered themselves nontheocratic as their ministers did not hold office Puritans described their religious and political activity in terms of unity which had to be achieved through persuasion and consensus Two things helped achieve this the sermon Several sermons were held a week and attendance was obligatory Through sermons Puritan preachers could reinforce the common bonds of community the town meeting These occurred once a year and were attended by every male in town where they elected selectmen to run the town in the interim between meetings and settled policy Their insistence on unanimous decisions built consensus however faction developed regarding the Puritans wellknown tendency to fall into the Christian heresies of Arminianism the assertion that individuals could by their efforts direct the course of their salvation and antinomianism the assertion of the utter helplessness of the individual before God but once saved a responsibility only to divine command the theology of Puritanism was covenantbased which posited that all Christians could enter a covenant with God and be saved which veered towards these heresies however not framing religion in this way could break the Puritan communal spirit Roger Williams questioned and belittled weak spots in Puritan ideology during his brief time in Massachusetts ultimately coming to the condition that no church could be justified and that any Puritan practice and church was inherently Arminian Anne Hutchinson decided that individual Puritans could decide who received grace attacking Arminianism challenging the authority of the upper church elect and leading to her expulsion Quaker Pennsylvania the Quakers sought to create a political entity on Pennsylvania based on the principles of the meetinghouse all decisions would be reached by common consensus they also allowed for freedom of worship and the ability of all those who accepted Christ to hold elected office however from the very beginning Pennsylvania was fraught with political con ict for several reasons William Penn was mostly in London unable to calm the political climate with his presence their religious tolerance made the Quakers a minority in their own colony Pennsylvania s class of small farmers and artisans were hostile to the Quaker merchant class as due to their strict pacifism and rule against making oaths the only trade left for Quakers was business the Quakers experienced a decline in religious fervor due to their material success as businessmen equality was conceived as an assault on the pride of man not as a human right despite the fragmented Pennsylvanian political scene the Quakers as an elite in the minority were forced to build coalitions with other sects and ethnic groups the German Dunkers Mennonites Amish etc were their most common allies the artisans sided with the Quakers on support of the antiproprietary faction the meetinghouse values of compromise and persuasion came to dominate Pennsylvania politics Quakers also undertook civil projects such as the formation of a new kind of prison the penitentiary and a gentler mental hospital however their own doctrine rendered them at times ineffective as representatives of the community leading to their eventual downfall their inability to swear oaths led them unable to serve as judges participate in jury trials or appear as witnesses in court their pacifism made it impossible for Quakers to protect their communities from Indians or the French due to their desire to preserve their religious principles the Quakers resigned political office en masse in 1757 Planter Virginia though they were not devout breakaway Protestants like the Puritans or Quakers the Anglican Virginians were religious though in a different sense as subjects of a church rather than members of a chosen sect the Virginian plantation economy never resulted in large towns or cities due to the many rivers that crisscrossed the tidewater the initial dream of a society of relatively equal yeomen was crushed for two factors the fact that tobacco cultivation needed large plantations the reliance of planters on slavery these factors made planting the enterprise of the rich after Nathan Bacon s small farmer rebellion in 1676 the planters began to court the political obedience of the small farmers who would then elect them to the House of Burgesses the goveming body of Virginia the planters became an elected aristocracy the House of Burgesses nurtured the political development of several Founding Fathers In Conclusion Puritan Massachusetts Quaker Pennsylvania and Planter Virginia could all superficially be seen as failures of their original goals however they produced enduring contributions to American political thought in Massachusetts the concept of the town meeting as a form of direct democratic rule in Pennsylvania institutions of cooperation in the context of a religiously diverse society in Virginia a model of society based on a politically dutiful elite
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