"The Welfare of
THE seventeenth-century migration to New England embodied both a physical relocation and an intellectual transplantation. Along with their worldly goods, the colonists transported sophisticated ideas about the nature of society into the wilderness. In the early years of settlement, the Puritans endeavored to incorporate these views into their Wilderness Zion and, for a time, these ideas guided New England policymaking. The Pequot War of 1637, however, unleashed a series of events which undermined this intellectual edifice. Thereafter the wilderness experience threatened more and more the social ideals of the founding fathers and compelled them to adapt their thinking to the realities of America.
Drawing upon the medieval tradition of the organic state, Puritan social and political theory stressed the value of cohesion and collectivity. This view of society emphasized the interdependence among the members of a commonwealth and expected all men to accept their social responsibilities along with their privileges. To preserve the health of the body politic it was imperative that the members of society worked for the common good, or, as