LAWS FOR CHURCH AND STATE
THE talk in 1646 of reprinting the tract by J. P. on unity with the Presbyterians, even if nothing came of it, shows that the magistrates were worried over the necessity of combating disaffection and differences of opinion among the settlers. By 1645 the frontiers had been pushed back to the Connecticut and the Merrimack river valleys, and had linked the squatter outposts along the coast toward the northeast. In all directions there were isolated communities which were developing a tendency which was to give the authorities concern during the next two centuries. Some of the early immigrants had brought with them the germs of a spontaneous combustion that repeatedly flared up in a blaze of strange unaccountable notions regarding the meaning and interpretation of biblical texts and the consequences of the application of these ideas to human behavior. Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1940s are merely reproducing a situation that worried John Winthrop in 1648.
The differences in religious opinions would not have mattered if there had not been a more fundamental change in the composition of the community. The men who had taken upon themselves the direction of the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1628 continued to manage the colony, in all probability without recognizing all the changes that were taking place. In 1630 they represented to everyone's satisfaction the membership, or freemen, of the Company. New freemen, members with voting rights, were admitted whose religious acceptability was the qualification that was stressed, but whose availability was affected by their social and economic standing in the communities in which they had found a home. Before 1645, the number of these new freemen who had made themselves economically independent and communally influential had increased to an extent that made them the deciding element in the electorate. They were conscious of their ability to control the government under the provisions of the charter. These men recognized that the small group whose members had occupied most of the offices from the beginning were on the whole both able and disinterested. The majority did not want