The Doolittle's of America
THE PURITAN IMMIGRATION
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It was the star of Bethlehem that lighted their way across the Atlantic and went before them to the place where the young child of the Republic lay in its wilderness manger.
-- Charles Carleton Coffin
The term "Puritans" was applied by way of derision in 1564 to a large body of Nonconformists in England, who were not satisfied with the extent of reformation in church affairs brought about by Henry VIII. They insisted upon a still further departure from the Church of Rome, and the introduction of purer forms of worship in the Established church. They were loyal to the throne and always had the best interest of the Protestant at heart. But they were rigid Calvinists-men of austere morality, yet strong integrity-and no civil power could make them yield a title of their convictions. They were persecuted as criminals and would even suffer death at the stake for their principles. Their numbers materially increased under the more rigid restrictions of King James, and although the geater part of the Puritans remained in the hurch protesting against some of its practices, hundreds of them left it.
Unable longer to endure the interference of the national church in their spiritual affairs, they, for conscience sake left their homes in England to seek a land where they might worship God after their own manner, and went to Holland, where they were told was "Freedom for all men." These were called Separatists or Independents, but the name Pilgrims was later given them form their wanderings. Bancroft says of the Pilgrims: "They were Englishmen, Protestant, exiles for conscience, men disciplined by misfortune, cultivated by opportunities of extensive observation, equal in rank as in rights, and bound by no code but that of religion or the public will.
The first band of Pilgrims, led by Rev. John Robinson, crossed the channel in 608, and were followed by many from various parts of England. But in Holland they remained English at heart, and the thought of their children growing up ignorant of the language and customs of their native land, intime caused an anxiety among them. At length a remedy was suggested in the wonderful accounts which glowed more and more with each returning trader and explorer of the new world beyond the western wave. They resolved therefore to seek homes in the American wilderness and in 1618 applied to the London Company for a portion of land across the Atlatic, which was granted them in September, 1620. A hundred out of the thousand Pilgrims then in Holland were selected to be foundersof the new state, and the little company left very shortly on thier ardous undertaking in the Mayflower. Their destination was the mouth of the Hudson, but it is said the Dutch fearing the loss of valuable trading posts, brided the master of the ship to take the party further north, and accordingly they touched at Plymouth Rock. It was however, during the years of tyranny which followed the close of the third parliament of Charles that the great Puritan emigration founded the states of New England. The parliament was hardly dissolved when `conclusions 'for the establishemnt of a great colony on the other side of the Atlantic were circulating among gentry and traders, and descriptions of the new country of Massachussetts were talked over in every Puritan household. The two hundred who first sailed for Salem were soon followed by Winthrop himself eight hundred men; and seven hundred more followed were the first year of royal tyranny had run its course.
"Nor were these emigrants like the earlier colonists, `broken men,' adventurers, bankrupts, criminals, or simply poor men and artisans. They were in great part men of the professional and middle classes; some of them of large landed estates, some zealous clergymen like Hooker and Cotton, some shrewd London lawyers or young scholars from Oxford. They were driven forth from their fatherland, not by earthly want or by the greed of gold, or by the lust of adventure, but by the fear of zeal for godly worship."--Green's "History of the English People."
Thus the way was opened to our Puritan fathers in New England and undaunted by its desolate coast, sterile sands, and gloomy forests roamed by savages, nearly half of these early pioneers soon perished from the hardships and the rigorous winters. But their suffering incresed their zeal and faith and the dying lamented that they could not live to see the rising glories of the faithful. it was their desire to establish a religious commonwealth patterned after that of the Jews. They even ordained that only those who had united with some church should be admitted members of the corporation or enjoy the privilege of voting. This should not be too severely criticised, for it contradicted none of the professions of the Puritans, and exhibited less intolerance than was displayed by every other nation.
Early and signal successes over hostile tribes won them a regard which lasted forty years; and prosperity attended them, so that in the ten years following the founding of Salem 21,000 had settled in New England. Circumstances and events impressed a character upon them which, though softened in its rough features by the progress of refinement, still distinguishes their descendants. Persecution made them bigots; piety made them moral; poverty made them frugal; incessant toil made them hardy and robust; dreary solitudes made them gloomy and superstitious; and their numerous clergy and well educated leaders aroused in them a veneration for literature and the science. Such ever were the character and virtues of this people, such the power over difficulites which their resolute minds and bodies, hardened by labor, had imparted to them that they continued to increase with astonishing rapidity in wealth and numbers. At the end of the first half century after founding Plynouth, New England had 120 towns with as many thousands of people. They arranged their social and religious affairs, founded towns, purchased land and traded with Indians. The civil wars in England had their sympathy, the commonwealth befriended them, and Cromwell offered them opportunities to settle in Ireland or Jamaica if they wished.
Laws, freedom, truth and faith in God
Came with those exiles o'er the waves,
And where their Pilgrim feet have trod
The God they trusted guards their graves.
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