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Thread: Kevin MacDonald on the Puritans

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    Kevin MacDonald on the Puritans

    by Kevin MacDonald

    Calvin had taken a city wracked with dissension and molded it into a power far out of proportion to its economic importance. The same can be said for an offshoot of Calvinism, the Puritans of England and later the United States. Puritans wished to 'purity' the established Church of England from any remnants of the Catholic Church. Puritanism originated in East Anglia in England, spread to New England, and became the most important cultural influence in the United States beginning in the 18th century down to the mid-20th century. East Anglian Puritans "became the breeding stock for Americas Yankee population" and "multiplied at a rapid rate, doubling every generation for two centuries. Their numbers increased to 100,000 by 1700, to at least one million by 1800, six million by 1900, and more than sixteen million by 1988—all descended from 21,000 English emigrants who came to Massachusetts in the period from 1629 to 1640" (Fischer 1989,17).

    The great majority of the Puritan founders of Massachusetts arrived with their families (Fischer 1989,25). Most were middle-class or above, but only a few were true aristocrats. Even fewer were poor: "Less than five percent were identified as laborers—a smaller proportion than in other colonies. Only a small minority came as servants—less than 25 percent, compared with 75 percent for Virginia," and "nearly three-quarters of Massachusetts immigrants paid their own passage—no small sum in 1630" (p. 38).

    By comparison with other colonies, "households throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut included large numbers of children, small numbers of servants and high proportions of intact marital unions. . . ."

    The high percentage of intact families in the Puritan migration to America meant that they engaged in a much lower incidence of exogamy with the native Amerindian population (as was the case in the Spanish and especially the Portuguese colonies in the Americas), or with Black slaves (as in the Southern states), or even other European ethnic and religious groups (as in the Mid-Atlantic states). The leading Puritan families of East Anglia "intermarried with such frequency" that one historian dubbed them "a prosopograher's dream" (Fischer 1989, 39). . . .

    Puritan child rearing practices were strict and involved rigorous supervision, yet emphasized maintaining warm family bonds throughout life. The importance of a well-ordered family life was surely not unique to the Puritans in colonial American, but the Puritans continuously and vigorously "harped on the subject in sermons, pamphlets, laws, and governmental pronouncements" (Vaughn 1997, xv). While mothers cared for infants, fathers played a major role in rearing both sons and daughters, often teaching them to read and write, instructing them in religion, and even in adulthood advising them in their decisions about work and marriage. Puritan sexual mores emphasized sexual love within marriage but strongly forbade fornication and adultery. . . .

    Another indication of high-investment parenting strategy characteristic of the Puritans is that education was prized as the key to insuring the survival of their community. Two Puritan East Anglian counties had the highest rates of literacy in England during the 17th century— around 50 percent. Puritans also distinguished themselves by their strong support of public libraries and public schools (Phillips 1989,27). Massachusetts law required every town of 50 families to hire a schoolmaster, and every town of 100 to maintain a grammar school that taught Latin and Greek (Fischer 1989,133). Even illiterate New England farmers voluntarily contributed some of their harvest to support university faculty and students. Educational institutions developed by Puritans in New England were much more widespread and sophisticated than in other colonies during the same period (Vaughn 1997, xiv) At least 130 of the original settlers had attended universities in Europe. Harvard University was founded within 6 years of the founding of the Massachusetts Bay colony. Those admitted to Harvard were required to be able to read and speak classical Latin and know the declensions of Greek nouns and verbs. . . .

    Puritan family names indicate a disproportionate number of tradesmen and craftsmen—names such as "Chandler, Cooper, Courier, Cutler, Draper, Fletcher, Gardiner, Glover, Mason, Mercer, Miller, Sawyer, Saddler, Sherman, Thatcher, Tinker, Turner, Waterman, Webster, and Wheelwright" (Fischer 1989,26). Puritans were also especially prominent in law and commerce. East Anglian historian R. W. Cretton-Cremer described them as "dour, stubborn, fond of argument and litigation" (in Fischer 1989, 49). Interestingly, Havelock Ellis's A Study of British Genius found East Anglia to have the highest average intelligence in Britain and "a larger proportion of scholars, scientists, and artists came from East Anglia than from any other part of England" (in Fischer 1989,49). . . .

    Both East Anglia and New England had the lowest relative rates of private crime (murder, theft, mayhem) . . .

    Phillips (1999) traces the egalitarian, anti-hierarchical spirit of Yankee republicanism back to the fact that East Anglia was settled by Angles and Jutes in pre-historic times. They produced "a civic culture of high literacy, town meetings, and a tradition of freedom," distinguished from other British groups by their "comparatively large ratios of freemen and small numbers of servi and villani" (Phillips 1999, 26). East Anglia continued to produce "insurrections against arbitrary power"—the risings and rebellions of 1381 led by Jack Straw, Wat Tyler, and John Ball, Clarence's in 1477, Robert Kelt's rebellion of 1548, which predated the rise of Puritanism. President John Adams, cherished the East Anglian heritage of "self-determination, free male suffrage, and a consensual social contract" (Phillips 1999,27).

    This emphasis on relative egalitarianism and consensual, democratic government are tendencies characteristic of Northern European peoples as a result of a prolonged evolutionary history as hunter-gatherers in the north of Europe (CofC: MacDonald 1998/2002). . . .

    The Amish and Hutterites have a clearly articulated and practiced policy of avoiding relationships with outsiders that might be construed as exploitative. This also applies to the Puritans during their period of isolation. The Puritans, like the Amish and Hutterites, sought to build their own society and exclude outsiders rather than dominate non-Puritans. But the very success of the Puritan enterprise—its size, its wealth, and its control over a large area of land comprising the Massachusetts Bay Company—made it the target of the British colonialists seeking to control their possessions and a goal for immigrants seeking economic advantage. The Amish and Hutterites, on the other hand, because of their very low economic and political profile, would never have excited the sort of attempts at control which the British exercised on the Massachusetts Bay (Company. But in the absence of control over their own territory, the group strategy quickly unraveled. The Puritans lost the abilities to govern their territory, control the behavior of its inhabitants, and control immigration. And in the absence of these prerogatives, the Puritans gradually ceased being a well-defined group strategy. These trends were well in place by the end of the 17th century, less than 75 years after the origins of the colony. . . . Without control of a specific territory, the Puritans succumbed to their own individualistic tendencies and those of the surrounding culture.

    One wonders what might have happened if the British colonial authorities had allowed the colony complete sovereignty and if it had ultimately become a nation-state. Such a state, based on a clearly articulated exclusivist group strategy, might have been extremely successful. Composed of a highly intelligent, educated, and industrious citizenry, and with a proneness to high fertility and strong controls promoting high-investment parenting, it might have become a world power. One can imagine that as the 19th century wore on. Puritan intellectuals would have begun to see themselves as an ethnic-racial group and that Darwinism would have replaced Christianity as the ideological basis of the state, at least among the well-educated. The demise of Puritanism is likely a major event in the history of European peoples.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnenerbe View Post
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    My peoples of yore.

    Thanks for sharing.

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