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American History

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AN ERA OF CHANGE

To many, Puritan suggests grim judgmentalism.

Though Puritanism lost its hold on American thought within 200 years, it has been more central in American life more than commonly supposed.

The Puritan view of life: the work ethic, the goal-centeredness, and the subservience of pleasure to duty has survived.

Two Puritan themes in literature: 1. They believed in the country's role as an idealistic leader and practical innovator.

Puritans set high goals for themselves, and devised means of reaching those goals.

In 1629 while sailing to Massachusetts, John Winthrop urged those aboard not to forget their attempt to establish a religious state in the New World. "We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people ... upon us."

These words were prophetic.

2. The second Puritan theme is the Christian's attitude toward the world.

In his history of Plymouth Plantation, Gov. William Bradford (who said the Pilgrims were more Separatists than Puritans), still shared the Puritan view of the alluring, hostile world that had tried to destroy them and their testimony.

Bradford wrote: "So they left that godly and pleasant city, [Leyden, Netherlands], which had been their resting place near 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and they looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits."

This quote summarizes the Christian thought of being "in the world, but not to be of the world."

Which of the the two themes appears rarely after 1750?

The division known as Early American Literature spans over 200 years. It influenced the developing character of the nation.

During these centuries, American writers were affeced by changes in three major areas: 1. The population, while constantly expanding, changed from immigrant to distinctly American. 2. Principles shifted from religious to secular and materialistic. 3. Political system shifted from colonial dependence on and subservience to England to proud independence of the United States of America.

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