Friday, July 1, 2016

English Puritans and The Great Migration


Original Photographs from Archives
Wrote David Hackett Fischer in Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America <http://amzn.to/295C86L>:
The builders of the Bay Colony thought of themselves as a twice-chosen people: once by God, and again by the General Court of Massachusetts. Other English plantations eagerly welcomed any two-legged animal who could be dragged on board an emigrant ship. But Massachusetts chose its colonists with care. Not everyone was allowed to settle there. In doubtful cases, the founders of the colony actually demanded written proof of good character. This may have been the only English colony that required some of its immigrants to submit letters of recommendation...

Further, after these immigrants arrived, the social chaff was speedily separated from Abraham’s seed. Those who did not fit in were banished to other colonies or sent back to England. This complex process of cultural winnowing created a very special population...



To a remarkable degree, the founders of Massachusetts traveled in families—more so than any major ethnic group in American history....




The great majority were yeomen, husbandmen, ​artisans, craftsmen, merchants and traders—the sturdy middle class of England. They were not poor... These colonists were also extraordinary in their ​occupations. A solid majority (between 50 and 60%) had been engaged in some skilled craft or trade before leaving England...




In summary, by comparison with other emigrant groups in American history, the great migration to Massachusetts was a remarkably homogeneous movement of English... The heads of these families tended to be exceptionally literate, highly skilled, and heavily urban in their English origins. They were a people of substance, character, and deep personal piety. The special quality of New England’s regional culture would owe much to these facts. 
-  David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America <http://amzn.to/295C86L