America History

America History
Question One: The Puritan Community
(a) Does John Winthrop appear to b1elieve that a person of poor or modest means can be an authority in the colony? Explain.
John Winthrop appears to believe that an individual of modest and poor means can indeed be an authority in the colony. The puritans believed in and had the notion of religious authority that was firmly grounded in Scripture. This particular community sailed to America specifically so that they would draw others by the example of their prosperity as compared to conquering and actively converting the American citizens with their firm beliefs (Canizares-Esguerra, 2006). Winthrop believes that poor or modest individuals, just as their wealthy counterparts, are accountable and responsible for their own lives. Puritan living appeared to affect individual Puritans differently in that while some went about their day to day living having the uncertainty as to whether God had chosen them for eternal salvation or condemnation, others worked hard for success but never dared enjoy their wealth and success (Pell, 2004). Puritans’ pilgrim to the United States is perceived as being a superior moral force and an agent of domination that commands by its sheer presence. Winthrop is seen saying that, “…therefore we must not content ourselves with usual ordinary means. Whatsoever we did, or ought to have done, when we lived in England, the same must we do, and more also, where we go” (Conlin 2008). This is a clear indication that Winthrop does indeed believe that a poor or modest individual can be an authority in the colony as long as they follow their religious beliefs and stand firm in what they believe in.
(b) What would be the key features of the ‘city upon a hill’ that John Winthrop envisioned?
Winthrop was a prominent early Puritan minster who laid out the Puritan agenda in his exhortation to the community in the year 1630 (Breslaw, 1997). Winthrop’s reference to the ‘city upon a hill’ was not the Holy City that the children of Abraham were seeking and neither was it the future New Jerusalem John envisioned in the book of Revelation fully revealed in its final glory (Canizares-Esguerra, 2006). He was specifically referring to the American Dream. Key features of the ‘city upon a hill’ that Winthrop envisioned would include upholding a familiar commerce together in all gentleness, patience, liberality and patience, making others’ conditions their own as well as entertaining each other in brotherly affection (Pell, 2004). As quoted, Winthrop urged his fellow Puritans and encouraged them by saying that, “We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities….We must delight in each other……..always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body” (Breslaw, 1997). Puritans, led by John Winthrop were not just a group of demoralized refugees escaping the harsh politico-religious realities of their native home in Europe but rather were individuals aiming to establish a new chapter in history (Conlin, 2008).
Breslaw, E. G. (1997). Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies. New York: NYU Press.
Canizares-Esguerra, J. (2006). Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550 – 1700. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Conlin, J. R. (2008). The American Past: A Survey of American History. 8th Edition. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning.
Pell, E. (2004). John Winthrop: Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press.

Question Two: Bewitched
According to history of the United States, what caused the witch scare in Salem, Massachusetts, during the early 1690s? Give examples of other ‘witch hunts’ that you know have occurred in American history. What lessons do they offer? How might future witch hunts be prevented?
In the year 1691 a group of young girls in Salem made accusations against an Indian slave by the name Tituba claiming that she practices witchcraft. The accusations in addition to the Indian slave’s confession brought these girls to the center of attention since it was an easy accusation to make as it would be impossible to refute it while acceptable to the community (Breslaw 1997). Tituba was a slave in Barbados before being transferred to Massachusetts in 1680 where her master by the name Samuel Parris had been a credit agent for sugar planters in Barbados before becoming a minister in Salem (Breslaw 1997).
Tituba was suspected of causing strange physical symptoms that included choking and convulsions exhibited by two girls in Parris’s household and two others from neighboring households. Her confession of consorting with Satan and attending a witches’ coven resulted in a scare as Salem’s godly community was perceived as a plot to infiltrate and destroy it. Other witch hunts that took place or rather have taken place in the history of America include that of Rebecca Nurse who was a 71 year old woman considered generous and kind in addition to being a favorite of the community and to a 60 year old farmer and tavern owner called John Proctor who was from Salem Town (Breslaw 1997). By mid year 1692, an estimated 200 individuals had been jailed from accusations of witchcraft and especially from spectral evidence.
Lessons that were learned from these witch hunts was that it was important for the accusers to investigate the allegations of witchcraft before taking the persons accused to court or trying them before the concerned authority (Breslaw 1997). It was also important for new laws regarding witchcraft to be enacted as the aftermath of these witch hunts was severe. Future witch hunts may be prevented if the government can educate communities on witchcraft and how they can gather evidence of accused persons. The community needs also be made aware of the fact that witchcraft does indeed exist and people can thus fight it if they maintain and hold firm to their various religious faiths and beliefs (Breslaw 1997).
Breslaw, E. G. (1997). Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies. New York: NYU Press.
Question Three: Video
Roundtable Discussion
There is not a doubt left in American people’s mind that the Revolution did indeed shake the world. While it destroyed one set of power, it created another one where individuals from all walks of life found public voices (Raphael 2002). A social order that run from far away in the European continent paved the way to one determined by the American people. Looking at the American Revolution it is considered a work of genius where the founding fathers deserve the highest merit they have received over the years (Raphael 2002). By the end of the War majority of generals were glorified, merchants became wealthier, military privates lost their lives while the poor became unemployed. It reached a point where in Boston, those considered to be of a lower class or poor began using the town meeting as a way of venting out their grievances.
In the countryside where most individuals resided there was a similar conflict between the poor and the rich, one that political leaders would take advantage of as a way of mobilizing the population against England and granting some advantages for the poor people who were rebellious (Raphael 2002). This conflict came with consequences and one of such was the fact that only a minority of the individuals in the Regulator counties seem to have taken part as patriots in the War as majority of them probably remained neutral (Raphael 2002). It was rather fortunate for the Revolutionary movement that the main battles took place in the North as the colonial leaders had divided white population in the cities. In this way, they could be in a better position to win over the mechanics who were considered to be of middle class and who faced stiff competition from England manufacturers (Raphael 2002). Every individual was aware of the basic prescription of a just and wise government where the only problem or rather challenges was the manner in which institutions of government would be arranged so as to maintain balance.
Raphael, R. (2002). A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence. New York: Perennial.


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