First Founders: American Puritans and Puritanism in an Atlantic World (New England in the World)
Francis J. Bremer
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Francis J. Bremer has spent his entire career broadening our understanding of America’s colonial founders. Now, in this eminently readable collection of biographies, Bremer brings us a surprisingly varied and dynamic group of characters who continue to guide and influence America today. With its cast of magistrates, women, clergy, merchants, and Native Americans, First Founders underscores the breadth of early American experience and the profound transatlantic roots of our country’s forebears. Bremer succeeds in bringing little-known figures out of the shadows, while allowing us to appreciate better known figures in an entirely new light.
This is a truly fascinating look at the Puritans with keenly drawn portraits and the insight that only a lifetime of scholarship can achieve. It should become the standard introduction to the field. Written in the mold of Joseph Ellis’s Founding Brothers and Gordon Wood’s Revolutionary Characters, the book will appeal to general readers, students, and scholars alike.
world laws should be applied with leniency. Dudley believed in the full application of the law to all and suspected Winthrop of courting popularity. On more than one occasion Dudley threatened to resign his office because of disputes with the governor. Eventually, clergy and fellow magistrates persuaded the two men to bury their differences for the sake of the colony as a whole. That truce was furthered when one of Winthrop’s daughters married a son of Dudley’s. 68 f ir st f ou nder s There
Dudley and a colonist who witnessed the many changes that challenged New England from its earliest days until her death in 1672, illustrates Introduction 9 the constancy of the personal and family piety that remained a constant through all of the political changes in puritan political life. A final chapter on Samuel Sewall addresses the final challenges to puritan political control in New England and the return to efforts to base God’s earthly kingdom on individuals and their abilities to
afternoon Sunday service. According to a contemporary account, “two things were required of him, a profession of his faith, and a confession of his experience of the grace of God wrought Hugh Peter 137 in him. Both of which he did so excellently perform, that the hearts of all there present were much affected, professing that this had been the fruit of prayers and tears, and many were upon the wing for heaven, saying, Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servants depart in peace, the glory of
that an ordained minister could preach and administer sacraments in neighboring churches as well as in the congregation that called him. Davenport maintained a stricter form of congregationalism than many of his fellow clergy, arguing that a clergyman was empowered by a congregation to minister to that particular congregation and to no other. Due to his advocacy, the most that the Platform allowed was that clergy might minister to other congregations if specifically called to do so by that
was so settled, by common consent, that it brought to his mind the New Heaven and New Earth wherein dwells righteousness.” This order, he charged, was now threatened by “two extremes: misguided zeal and formality.” In words that clearly referred to the magistrates’ interference in the affairs of his congregation, he warned that they “deprive not any instituted Christian church, walking according to Gospel rules, of the power and privileges which Christ hath purchased for them by his precious