Archive for the '17th Century' Category


September 13, 2006

“We can trace the forming of the jeremiadas as early as 1640s, in the last publications of Shepard and Cotton…The foremost published utterances of the 1670s were all jeremiads”

Samuel Danforth, A Brief Recognition of New England’s Errand into the Wilderness, 1670
Thomas Shepard, Eye-Salve, 1672
Urian Oakes, New England Pleaded With, 1673
Increase Mather, The Day of Trouble is Near, 1673, A Discourse Concerning the Danger of Apostacy, 1677
William Hubbard, The Happiness of a People, 1676


Building my own historiographical account of Perry Miller historiography

September 12, 2006

Why am I interested in Miller?I am interested because I am interested in ‘unity,’ or those times when humans let down their guard long enough to enter into cosmos and bring back into their mind ideas inspired by oneness occasionally felt. This sounds pretty hokey, so I can try to fix it up by saying I am interested in the emergence of the free will, or better in historiography and ways in which America as a country or a culture can trace ideas itself back to Classical culture. I am interested in intellectual history, how ideas effect time.  At this point in my life I am no longer interested in economic and cultural determinism which has provided me with nothing but misery in the last decade.  I want to know people and I want to believe in their ability to act according their own volition. 

In his day, Miller defended Puritans from narrow readings of economic determinists, and showed how (at least some Puritan preachers of) the Seventeenth Century were interested in humanism traceable to Hellenic times. Miller may be read today by a complete fool such as myself to discover the Puritans belief in a world created by God as a unity. Perhaps I am still ‘wet behind the ears’ enough to revel in the idea that (1) the universe was created by a mysterious force and (2) since the world was created good and beautiful, depraved man is the source of all disharmony (well this still irks me a bit, but I go roll with it a bit.) Man does seems to destroy the earth, and although the earth may never be destroy, just changed, I am interested in recovering certain traditions which have been lost in the last few generations with the amplification of the echo of free will.

It all adds up to the enormous questions about the freedom of thought, and our place in the world as the living; how life is simultaneously simple and difficult, …

Post of sources to be worked with.

Anxieties of Influence: Perry Miller and Sacvan Bercovitch
Arne Delfs
The New England Quarterly > Vol. 70, No. 4 (Dec., 1997), pp. 601-615Delfs above reads Harlans below as a source for the potential conflict between Bercovitch and Miller.A People Blinded from Birth: American History According to Sacvan Bercovitch
David Harlan
The Journal of American History > Vol. 78, No. 3 (Dec., 1991), pp. 949-971One of Bercovitch’s early essay potentially opposing Miller.

New England Epic: Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana
Sacvan Bercovitch
ELH > Vol. 33, No. 3 (Sep., 1966), pp. 337-350 Older Perry Miller historiographical essays (these articles printed and filed):The Myth of Perry Miller
Francis T. Butts
The American Historical Review > Vol. 87, No. 3 (Jun., 1982), pp. 665-694

Perry Miller and Philosophical History
David A. Hollinger
History and Theory > Vol. 7, No. 2 (1968), pp. 189-202

ways to dig a library

September 6, 2006

You’ve all been there before, in front of some interesting, pretty or desirable yet unattainable object. If feelings borne in moments such as these were to have one name it may well be ‘life.’ Fortunately life also comes in small packets of itself which if tugged in the right way open up to yield equal to possibly more fine results.

The library, with its stacks and spine titles, magazines bound together and supplements in various states of organization both intentional and haphazard presents to the library-user a million such packets of life ready to spill little spills, tearing open to create those necessary stains on the interested and living. John A. Hall’s Algonquian Peoples of Long Island from Earliest Times to 1700 sells for between $190.00 and $1,800.00 (yikes) and is a very large book covering the last 13,000 years of the North American native population of Long Island. The book is too big to travel, yet too expensive to personally acquire. Rustle, tug, tear…wah-lah

Employing nothing fancier than a photocopy card, stapler and a photocopier I was able to extract chapters 6-11 covering the years 1500-1700 for roughly 5$ (actually it was free since I make a habit of ‘finding’ photocopy cards left in photocopy machines)  I guess it’s not ‘back to school’ unless photocopies are churning. You can ignore the rest and just accept this as a first hand account of one of the more simple ways to dig a library.

Filtering E. S. Morgan’s 1967 Roger Williams

September 5, 2006


Either there was no such thing as Puritanism, which consisted in ideas generally shared by all English Protestants or their was a defined split between Anglican and Puritan. This argument is read respectively through Charles H. and Katherine George The Protestant Mind of the English Reformation, 1570-1640 (1961) [BR 377 .G4] versus John F. H. New Anglican and Puritan: The Basis of Their Opposition, 1558-1640 (1964)

Morgan surmises the root difference between Puritan and Englishmen was a “deeper sense of the great obstacle that lay between man and salvation.”

Puritans ideas of damnation and eternal depravity in the living might have been debilitating were it not for the tradition of thelogians to teach men to strive for mercy of God. The path to redemption may be simplified into a response to the preaching of the Word, his Word.

Covenant of works, initial ‘pact’ between God and Adam with Adam receiving salvation for perfect obedience. Once this fails, god strike a deal with Abraham, the Covenant of grace which promises salvation for faith.


1. The first prophet of the Reformation, according to English Protestants was not Martin Luther but John Wyclif: Wyclif begot Huss and Huss begot Luther. 

As the glory of Elizabeth’s reign mounted and her seamen defied  the cohorts of Antichrist all over the world, Englishmen persuaded themselves that they were a favored people, a people whom God had cast in a role paralleled only by that of the Jews before the coming of Christ. They believed they were the successors of Israel, an elect nation destined to lead the world back to God’s true religion and end the tyranny of the Antichrist…

…The story began with the planting of the gospel in England, not by missionaries from Rome, as had once been supposed, but by emissaries from the apostles themselves. (p. 7)


William Haller, The Elect Nation: The Meaning and Relevance of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1963) [Hunter BR1600.F68 H3 1963a]