The Puritans as Aggressors
Consider a time of separation must come wherein the Lord Jesus will divide and separate the holy from the unholy, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
-- PETER BULKELEY
I n terms of their social attitudes, the Puritans were marked by nothing so much as their insularity, their antagonistic, exclusionary policy toward those whom they viewed as different. While this policy devolved logically from aspects of Puritan tradition and history, the colonial experience had the effect of calcifying the hermetic social order and encouraging hostile attitudes toward outsiders.
The Puritans' deep-seated, underlying insecurity about their mission in the New World, and hence about their identity, put them in the awkward position of having to dispel their sense of orphanhood by whatever means were at their disposal. One tactic, obviously, was to protest too much. Another was to reject any intruders who, through their differences, could further undermine that already shaky edifice. This led to the scapegoating of Indians and religious dissenters onto whom they could displace their orphanhood and thereby reaffirm their identity as God's children.
Certainly the migration experience itself contributed to the Puritans' predisposition to insularity. For evangelicals in particular, migration represented not only uprootedness but isolation. Their sense of separation from all that was familiar created both anxiety and apprehensiveness about corrupting influences. The result was that the Puritans enhanced the sense of separateness that derived from the migration by acting it out within their own families and