I HAVE attempted in the following pages to trace the origin and development of Puritanism, the greatest moral and political force of modern times, with special reference to its influence on the people and institutions of the United States, my lines of investigation differing widely from those which have heretofore been followed by historians. How the work came to be undertaken is, of course, in itself a matter of no importance. And yet a public, well-nigh surfeited with books about the Puritans and the early settlers of America, may reasonably call upon an author to give, at the outset, some good reason for asking a further share of its attention to an old and apparently threadbare subject. To such a very proper question this preface is intended as an answer.
When a law student, more than twenty-five years ago, I began collecting material for a history of the jurisprudence of Colonial New York. The field was comparatively unexplored, for, as I discovered, most persons supposed that little was left of the old records. Much to my surprise, I found in various quarters a great wealth of matter, and after some years began to arrange the results of my investigations. Then, finding how closely