The Wordy Shipmates

The Wordy Shipmates

Sarah Vowell

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 1594484007

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this New York Times bestseller, the author of Lafayette in the Somewhat United States "brings the [Puritan] era wickedly to life" (Washington Post).

To this day, America views itself as a Puritan nation, but Sarah Vowell investigates what that means-and what it should mean. What she discovers is something far different from what their uptight shoebuckles- and-corn reputation might suggest-a highly literate, deeply principled, and surprisingly feisty people, whose story is filled with pamphlet feuds, witty courtroom dramas, and bloody vengeance.

Vowell takes us from the modern-day reenactment of an Indian massacre to the Mohegan Sun casino, from old-timey Puritan poetry, where "righteousness" is rhymed with "wilderness," to a Mayflower-themed waterslide. Throughout, The Wordy Shipmates is rich in historical fact, humorous insight, and social commentary by one of America's most celebrated voices.

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Winthrop was any more nervous leaving England than I was leafing through such a brittle, wrinkly, nearly four-hundred-year-old book. The library assistant, who was helpful and diligent, bordering on liturgical, handed me the first volume, then the third, wincing that the second volume “burned up in a fire.” Which happened nearly two hundred years ago, but this true-blue young archivist is still in mourning. Winthrop’s handwriting was so dreadful I could only make out a handful of words, from

work. Plymouth has Plymouth Rock, and Boston has, in a glass case at the State House, “one of the oldest upholstered chairs made in New England”—an item that doesn’t lend itself to cries of “Honey, pack up the car.” One reason for that is that the Boston founders were more successful city builders. Which stands to reason, since they weren’t just building a city. They were building a city on a hill. Unlike Plymouth, which is beholden to the Pilgrims to this day for its livelihood because nothing

theology. When the already famous go-getter John Cotton arrives in Boston two years later, he will assume that position until his death and in doing so he goes down in history as the most important and influential clergyman of the era. Roger Williams might be the most ambitious of all the New England Puritans, but his ambitions are strictly spiritual. He fears no man, only God. He desires heavenly riches, not earthly influence. He seeks absolute communion with his Creator and he does not in

we actually read the book.” Anne Hutchinson is hosting more than a ladies’ study group. Dozens and dozens of Bostonians come to her home to hear her preach. Men start coming, too. And not just any old men—young Governor Henry Vane himself. She has something other people want, some combination of confidence and glamour and hope. She is the Puritan Oprah—a leader, a guru, a star. Hutchinson, still swooning, spiritually speaking, for Cotton, nevertheless starts departing from her mentor’s lectures

Greece. Kennedy goes on to say, The enduring qualities of Massachusetts—the common threads woven by the Pilgrim and the Puritan, the fisherman and the farmer, the Yankee and the immigrant—will not be and could not be forgotten in this nation’s executive mansion. “Allow me to illustrate,” he says. He talks about how he’s spent the last couple of months planning for his presidency. As he makes ready, one man has been on his mind. “I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before

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