Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reasons For the Great Migration

The Great Puritan Migration of 1630-1640 is the name given to the mass removal of approximately 20,000 Puritans from Old England to New England in one decade. This numerical increase of whole families to the small colony of Massachusetts helped to establish and solidify the tenuous European foothold on the northern American continent. Puritans in England at this time were suffering much persecution as a result of Archbishop William Laud's high church policies. The economic and religious refuge possibilities envisioned by the London Company and the Plymouth Company (later the Plymouth Council for New England) and, later, as a result of the efforts of John White of Dorchester (1575-1648), "Patriarch of Dorchester," "Founder of Massachusetts," and member of the Westminster Assembly, the work of the Dorchester Company and its successors, the New England Company and the Massachusetts Bay Company, along with the 1629 Royal Charter and Cambridge Agreement, providing financial and legal support for the colonial enterprise; the providential survival of the Pilgrim Separatists at Plymouth Colony after the hard winter of 1620-1621; and the ongoing Anglican persecution all contributed to this mass migration. In 1630, John Winthrop sailed to New England on the Winthrop Fleet, famously preaching the "City on a Hill" sermon ("A Model of Christian Charity") while on the deck of the ship Arbella. William Ames designed to come over to New England but died in Holland in 1633 before he was able to do so. Also in 1633, on the ship Griffin, John Cotton, Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone crossed over to New England. As Cotton Mather reports (Magnalia Christi Americana, Vol. 1, p. 242):

There were then three eminent ministers of God in the ship; namely, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Hooker, and Mr. Stone; which glorious triumvirate coming together, made the poor people in the wilderness, at their coming, to say, that the God of heaven had supplied them, with what would in some sort answer their three great necessities; Cotton for their clothing, Hooker for their fishing, and Stone for their building:

The clearest account of the Puritans' motives in transplanting their families and churches, along with answering objections and concerns from those who felt that they were abandoning the Church of England in its time of need or separating from it, as well as providing Biblical justification for colonizing land peopled by the American Indians, is found is certain writings by some of the aforementioned men. Besides Winthrop's sermon above, see:

1. The Humble Request of His Majesties Loyall Subjects, the Governour and the Company late gone for New England; to the rest of their Brethren in and of the Church of England (1630). This document published by John Winthrop and his group may have been been drafted by John White of Dorchester. It sets forth their formal farewell to England, yet affirming their unbroken communion with the Church of England.

2. God's Promise to His Plantation (1630), a sermon preached by John Cotton upon the farewell of the Winthrop Fleet. In this sermon, Cotton provides "an ideological justification for engaging in such a risky venture, a promotional tract to encourage emigration, and a typological argument for possessing the wilderness" (Reiner Smolinski). He also promises a forthcoming more detailed justification for the colonial endeavor, which was to be provided by John White:

Ere long (if God will) thou shalt see a larger declaration of the first rise and ends of this enterprise, and so cleare and full a iustification of this designe, both in respect of that warrant it hath from Gods word, and also in respect of any other ground and circumstance of weight, that is considerable in the warrant of such worke, as (I hope) there will easily be removed any scruple of moment, which hitherto hath beene moved about it.

3. The Planters Plea, Or the Grounds of Plantations Examined, and usual Objections answered. Together with a manifestation of the causes moving such as have lately undertaken a Plantation in NEW ENGLAND: For the satisfaction of those that question the lawfulness of the Action. 2 Thess. v. 21. Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. (1630) by John White of Dorchester. This important document satisfies John Winthrop's promise and constitutes a full treatise on the history of the settling of Massachusetts to date, and setting forth the Biblical reasons for the planting of this particular settlement, its relation to the Church of England, and the establishment of colonial endeavors generally (including arguments "from Gods gift of the earth to men," "from the Law of marriage" and "from the benefit that comes to mens outward estates"), as well as answering concerns by friends and foes of the Puritans' enterprise.

No comments:

Post a Comment