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A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England


A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England Cover




David D. Hall is Bartlett Research Professor of New England Church History at Harvard Divinity School. He is the author or editor of numerous books on American religious and cultural history.

Product Details

Hall, David D
Knopf Publishing Group
Hall, David D.
United States - General
World History-General
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.55 x 6.57 x 1.1 in 1.18 lb

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History and Social Science » Anthropology » Physical
History and Social Science » US History » Colonial America
History and Social Science » World History » General
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A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780679441175 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In the popular imagination, the New England Puritans are often portrayed as dour and authoritarian individuals out to quash social liberties and enforce conformity to particular religious principles. Hall's captivating study of American Puritanism between 1630 and 1650 challenges this view and offers instead a portrait of a group of people deeply engaged in fostering vital alliances between civil government and ecclesial government. Drawing deeply on colonial records, the Harvard historian demonstrates that the Puritan colonists asked questions about who should have the vote and what kind of rulers they wanted, how the inheritance of property should be arranged, what role the civil state should play in religion, and how land should be distributed. He shows that the colonists, in contrast to their contemporaries in England, were ambitious to restore the religious practice of the earliest Christian communities, the Congregational Way. Hall's first-rate book offers a glimpse of a small slice of American religious history, challenging prevailing ideas about the nature of reform in Puritan New England. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , A revelatory account of New England’s Puritans that shows them to have been the most daring and successful reformers of the Anglo-colonial world.

Distinguished historian David D. Hall delineates the program of reform that the colonists undertook and chronicles the previously unheralded success with which they put it into practice. He explains that while they took for granted the benefits of English law, hierarchy, and obedience, they broke with England’s customary forms of political and ecclesiastical authority. He describes how they accomplished a daring revision of church government that eliminated centralized and hierarchical authority; a thorough revamping of law and judicial practices that eliminated most of the cruelty and abuses rampant in England; and forms of civil government that some dared to call “democratical” and that many regarded as protecting them from arbitrary rule. Finally, he makes clear that the reforms achieved by the Puritans were the most complete expression of the English Revolution: animus against special privilege, and the fullest realization of “fundamental liberties” and the “principle of consent.”

A stunning reevaluation of the earliest moments of New England’s history.

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