Puritan Society

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The modern use of the word puritan is commonly used to describe someone who may have hard line views on sex, discredits recreational activities, and continually tries to impose their beliefs on others they come into contact with. However the term "Puritan" in the sense of this was not coined until the 1560s, when it appeared as a term of abuse for those who found the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of inadequate (Henretta pg 98). Puritanism has had a historical importance over time and most general views must understand the way it changed character and emphasis almost decade by decade. Moreover the seventeenth-century Puritans contributed to our country's sense of mission, its work ethic, and its moral sensibility. Today, eight million Americans can trace their ancestry to the fifteen to twenty thousand Puritans who migrated to New England (Mintz, S. 2007). This is a significant slice of today’s population, so as you can already see these people had a huge impact on the United States. There is more to the Puritans than just migrating and to better understand Puritanism one needs to learn about their history and where they came from.

The designation "Puritan" is at many times not used correctly; in the past this word was used to characterize the Protestant group as extremists similar to the Cathari of France, which can also be traced back to 1564. In actuality Puritans were a grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries and were founded by some Marian exiles from shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1559, as an activist movement within the Church of England. They were blocked from changing the system from within, but their views were taken by the emigration of congregations to the Netherlands...

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...c reason. Puritans also believed heavily in education as we do today, not just as a way to better ourselves, but to better society as a whole.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Nancy, and Leonard Tennenhouse. The Imaginary Puritan: Literature, Intellectual Labor, and the Origins of Personal Life. Berkeley: U of California Press, 1992.

Henretta, James A. and David Brody. America: A Concise History, Volume I: To

1877. 4th ed., Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2010.

Mintz, S. (2007). Digital History. Retrieved April 20, 2011 from


Susan Hardman Moore (1992). Review of Charles Lloyd Cohen 'God's Caress.

The psychology of Puritan religious experience' The Journal of Ecclesiastical

History, 43, pp 515-515
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