History of the Puritans in North America

In the early 17th century, thousands of English Puritans colonized North America, almost all in New England. Puritans were intensely devout members of the Church of England who believed that the Church of England was insufficiently reformed, retaining too much of its Roman Catholic doctrinal roots, and who therefore opposed royal ecclesiastical policy. Most Puritans were "non-separating Puritans" who did not advocate setting up separate congregations distinct from the Church of England; these were later called Nonconformists. A small minority of Puritans were "separating Puritans" who advocated setting up congregations outside the Church. The Pilgrims were a Separatist group, and they established the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Puritans went chiefly to New England, but small numbers went to other English colonies up and down the Atlantic.[1]

Puritans played the leading roles in establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, the Saybrook Colony in 1635, the Connecticut Colony in 1636, and the New Haven Colony in 1638. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was established by settlers expelled from Massachusetts because of their unorthodox religious opinions. Puritans were also active in New Hampshire before it became a crown colony in 1691. Puritanism ended early in the 18th century and before 1740 was replaced by the much milder Congregational church.

  1. ^ Heather Miyano Kopelson, Faithful Bodies: Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic (NYU Press, 2014).

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