Speaking American: A History of English in the United States

By Richard W. Bailey | Go to book overview
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3 Boston, 1650–1700

IN THE SECOND half of the seventeenth century, the colonies in Massachusetts still clustered around the arrival point in Plymouth but they grew increasingly diverse. Port towns, like New Bedford and Gloucester, looked eastward to the Atlantic and its fisheries; they attracted new settlers experienced in fishing, including migrants from Brittany and Normandy who brought linguistic diversity to the European-descended population. The generation of those who arrived in 1620 was succeeded by descendants and new arrivals, and the separatist communities of Puritans began to embrace more secular ways, particularly after the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660—which, in both Britain and America, resulted in a lessening of enthusiasm for the ideas that had stimulated the original settlements around Massachusetts Bay. Puritan orthodoxy faded but remained powerful as new immigrants arrived with varied professions of Christianity.

Quakers found Massachusetts congenial, at least at first, but tolerance did not last long. The Puritans enacted a law to require deferential speaking: “And every person or persons whatsoever, that shall revile the office or person of Magistrates or Ministers, as is usual with the Quakers, such

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