Puritans and Adventurers: Change and Persistence in Early America

By T. H. Breen | Go to book overview

IV
Transfer of Culture: Chance and Design in Shaping Massachusetts Bay, 1630-1660

THIS ESSAY DEVELOPED logically out of "Persistent Localism" and "The Covenanted Militia." The persistence of local English values in Massachusetts was so remarkable that it made me curious about the role the New World environment played in facilitating the transfer of culture. To be sure, it is necessary to know that certain East Anglian settlers arrived in Massachusetts Bay eager to right Charles's many institutional wrongs. But what would have occurred if they had landed by chance in a more tropical part of America? To what extent did elements in the New World over which they had little or no control influence their designs? These questions forced me to examine a range of factors-length of the growing season, density of the Native American population, availability of precious natural resources -- that I had previously taken for granted.


I

In 1676 William Berkeley, royal governor of Virginia, learned that Indians had overrun the Puritan settlements of New England. While the governor apparently had the good grace not to applaud the Indians in

This essay first appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, CXXXII ( 1978), copyright © 1978 by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and is reprinted by permission.

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