The American People in Colonial New England

By James Axtell | Go to book overview

IV. WORK AND PLAY

A lazy Puritan was a bad Puritan. Why was work so important to the Puritans? Why was the choice of an occupation (or calling) important? What role did parents play in this choice? What constituted an inappropriate choice? How did most young people learn their callings? What was the nature of the relationship between master and apprentice? Why was the apprenticeship system subject to abuses? Who was ultimately responsible for the apprentice's welfare? What were some of the common worries of parents who were putting their children out to 'prentice? Were they legitimate? When and how did the Puritans relax from their callings? What recreation did they consider legitimate? What illegitimate? By what standard was the division made? What was the occasion for the first thanksgiving? Was it a religious celebration? Who attended? What was eaten? How long did it last?

Puritans looked to their ministers for intellectual and spiritual guidance, and the most admired Puritan minister was William Perkins ( 1558-1602), a fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge. His Treatise of the Vocations or Callings of menportrayed the Puritan attitude toward work for generations of English and American Puritans. The following excerpts are taken from The Workers of that Famous and Worthy Minister of Christ in the Universitie of Cambridge, Mr. William Perkins( London, 1626-31), vol. 1, pp. 750-758.

A vocation or calling, is a certain kind of life, ordained and imposed on man by God, for the common good. . . . There are two generall rules to be learned of all, which belong to every calling. The first: whatsoever any man enterprizeth or doth, either in word or

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The American People in Colonial New England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • THE AMERICAN PEOPLE 1
  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • About the Editor 6
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Foreword 9
  • Introduction 13
  • I. Birth 15
  • Ii. Growth 36
  • Iii. Love and Marriage 62
  • Iv. Work and Play 78
  • V. Right and Wrong 101
  • Vii. Death 153
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