Republicanism in Massachusetts

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Republicanism in Massachusetts

Michael Winship perceives republicanism in Massachusetts as Godly republicanism. This term is used by Winship to refer to the constitutional arrangement that required the Republican in Massachusetts to preserve the liberty of the people as well as the purity of the church. Winship’s Godly republicanism suggests a methodically engaging study Legend of religious evangelists whose diligent moralities lead to the rise of a fresh political tradition, and ultimately a new nation. Winship believed that the early settlement at Plymouth Plantation deemed necessary for the establishment of the American colonies' religious and political vision. The religious and political visions of American were deeply bound together by the opposition of political tyranny and religious tyranny (Winship 430). Michael Winship views republicanism as a way of preserving the purity of the church while Stanwood research seeks the rationality of how Puritans view politics.

Winship traced the radical puritan traditions of the people of England and radicalization in the reign of King James of Netherlands. Further analysis by Winship exposes the existence of many different immigrants. In Winship’s view, Puritans are referred to the individuals who promoted church reforms and the comprehensive unity of the church-state. Winship clearly outlined the perceptive differences among the (Winship 435):

  1. Presbyterian Puritans who intended to replace the bishops with national and regional synods of Godly pastors and lay elders.
  2. Congregational Puritans who sought churches organized by covenants and ministers elected by congregations with an aim of insulating congregations from corruptive abuses.
  3. Militant congregational Puritans who declined to baptize or offer the Lord’s Supper to anyone who did not worship with the Anglican Church.
  4. Moderate separatists who “detached themselves from the Church of England but still enjoyed fellowship with the Puritans who shared their general theology, especially with the determined congregational Puritans” (Winship 436). This class included individuals like William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth and John Winthrop from Massachusetts.
  5. Radical separates who totally wanted to break away from Anglicanism.

Winship goes further to ascertain that the religious and political lives of the puritans remained untainted by the antichrist, which eventually led to the development Godly republicanism (Winship 440).

On the other hand, Owen Stanford, a philosopher also tries to understand and rationalize the political idea of the Puritans. According to Stanford, there existed various fractions and radicals in the religious and political lives of the people of Massachusetts. Stanford goes ahead to clarify that the Catholic seemed like a common enemy for the radicals in Massachusetts and for that, they underwent persecution. Contrary to Winship’s perception of republicanism in Massachusetts, Stanford exposes a society tainted and corrupted with the anti-Christ and showed no sign of any form of Godly republicanism as Winship claimed. Owen’s study on Puritan political ideas totally differed from what Winship described Godly republicanism (Stanwood 490).

Stanwood’s research exposed the real truth behind the Republican life of the people of Massachusetts, and Religious purity did not reflect republicanism in Massachusetts. According to Stanwood, the French worked hard to hurt the efforts of the Englishmen in the establishment of trade connections and the Indian missions of the Iroquois. Confusion and disunity marred the whole of England (Stanwood 496). Finally, Stanwood’s research on the Puritans exposes an individualistic society that did not care about the welfare of others and valued no peace and harmony. 


It is evident that the perception of republicanism is Massachusetts is very different. It is said to be not only a way of sustaining people’s freedom but also a way of ensuring the purity of the church. The role of the puritans is to basically preserve the church purity and also reforms. There were various puritans in Massachusetts who included congregational puritans and Presbyterian puritans amongst others. On the other hand, Owen aimed at educating the people the true difference between republicanism and religious purity. He argues that puritans are selfish as they do not consider the welfare of other beings in the society. In addition, he states that they place no value on harmony and peace.

Works Cited:

Winship, Michael. P. "Godly Republicanism and the Origins of the Massachusetts Polity."William and Mary Quarterly 63.3 (2006): 427-462. Web. 

Stanwood, Owen. "The Protestant Moment: Antipopery, the Revolution of 1688–1689, and the   Making of an Anglo‐American Empire." Journal of British Studies46.3 (2007): 481-508.Web.

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