Synopses & Reviews
In this revelatory account of the people who founded the New England colonies, historian David D. Hall compares the reforms they enacted with those attempted in England during the period of the English Revolution. Bringing with them a deep fear of arbitrary, unlimited authority, these settlers based their churches on the participation of laypeople and insisted on "consent" as a premise of all civil governance. Puritans also transformed civil and criminal law and the workings of courts with the intention of establishing equity. In this political and social history of the five New England colonies, Hall provides a masterful re-evaluation of the earliest moments of New England's history, revealing the colonists to be the most effective and daring reformers of their day.
"Hall rescues the New England Puritans from the dark myths of repression. . . . [He] reveals our original revolutionaries in search of equity, justice, and community."
--Alan Taylor, author of The Civil War of 1812
"Hall shows how a culture of participation and a social ethic of equity broke through the crust of authority to make possible the legal institutions and practices of mediation and compromise prerequisite to American democracy."
--James T. Kloppenberg, author of Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition
"A model of elegance and erudition. . . . A compelling story that has immense resonance for our understanding of the past—but also the present."
--Alexandra Walsham, author of Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England, 1500-1700
About the Author
David D. Hall is Bartlett Research Professor of New England Church History at Harvard Divinity School. He is author or editor of numerous books on American religious and cultural history, including Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment.