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puritanism and american thought

March 30, 2016 | Author: | Posted in american literature, literature and language

Puritanism and American Thought

Today the term Puritan is often applied to various manifestations of American life . Sometimes the allusion is merely metaphoric , suggesting similarities between some aspect of current behavior and the ways of the New England colonists . But those who see Puritan ‘ traits in the lineaments of later America often go further to maintain that an actual connection exists between later American development and its Puritan heritage . In a recent study of the genesis of the American mind , Max Savelle finds Puritanism . firmly rooted in the American experience [banner_entry_middle]

and in the emerging American mind of our century , it has radiated its influence in American civilization , for good or ill , from that day to this and the end is not yet (Berkovitch 36 . Ralph Barton Perry concludes that The puritans imprinted on American institutions a quality of manly courage , self-reliance , and sobriety . We are still drawing upon the reserves of spiritual vigor which they accumulated (Lamont 129 . In fact , the postulate that Puritanism is one of the principal influences in the development of American civilization today is an assumption rarely questioned by of our history . This work have attempted to analyze those ideas and concerns that are the gift – or the burden – that the Puritans gave to Americans to come , such matters as how Puritanism encouraged introspection how it emphasized man ‘s utterly sinful nature how it encouraged individualism how it encouraged Americans to think of their nation today as having a special mission in human history

Present day historians have re-examined the writings of the American Puritanism but are still widely split in their evaluations (Hamner 98 In general , the Puritans ‘ detractors conclude that Puritanism was an impossible ideal and an inhuman moral and religious code . By reason of its intolerance its political , social , and religious life became rigid and formalized , bringing about intellectual stagnation and barrenness in all forms of creative endeavor . The restrictive American way of life contained within it the seeds of its own destruction in its resistance to change and its hostility to dissent . On the other hand , many historians seeking a sympathetic understanding of Puritanism have concluded that it was a realistic and constructive approach to life religiously and morally , and that as such it made significant contributions to the intellectual life . Its rigorousness was a necessity in the face of external opposition , internal dissent , and the conditions of the frontier which faced the colonists . These conflicting arguments and some of the evidence to support them are presented by leading of our colonial past in the readings

The American nature of Puritanism , then , is its connection with these narratives , its insistence that the task before Americans is cosmically oriented and personally exacting , and its equal insistence that America clearly position itself in communication with but as different from its European past . American Puritanism is one of many articulations of the story of American identity and mission . Because its proponents occupied the class that wrote books , filled public offices , and taught… [banner_entry_footer]

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