The Puritans

The Puritans were people that lived in the early 1600's. They were critical of the Church of England. They wanted to reform and purify the church not separate from it.Their plan was to sail to America and build "A City Upon a Hill". This meant they wanted people to look up to them and start following their religion.

The Beginning

In the beginning the Puritan Ministers were not allowed to preach their religion. Some had been persecuted because of their religion. During this period of time the king established a new charter that was named the Massachusetts Bay Company. The first group the Puritans planned to send consisted of 1,000 people. They took 11 ships. All 11 ships that sailed reached Massachusetts in 1630. Once they reached where they wanted to be in America, the Puritans had to have a governor. The governor they had chosen was John Winthrop.


The Puritan's religion emphasized personal holiness. They felt that the Bible was very important and that people should be educated enough to be able to read it. They did not like a lot of ceremonies and vestments or fancy celebrations. They felt that they needed to use God's grace to overcome sin. They did not like celebrations of holidays and felt that the Sabbath should be observed carefully. They had said their faith was the only right one and every other faith must have something to do with the devil. Many religious disagreements popped up during the 1600's. A man named Roger Williams had questioned and disagreed with the Puritans beliefs. He believed the Puritans should enforce all the 10 Commandments and Civil Law. He believed the Puritans had no right to control the religion until they or the king purchased the land of Massachusetts from the Indians that also lived there. In 1635 all the people of the General Court were tired of hearing all this criticism from Williams. They ordered him to be banished from the commonwealth and he was to never come back ever.

Sabbath Day


The Puritans went to Sabbath. Sabbath started at sundown the night before. On the day of Sabbath they spent their time praying and reading out of the Bible instead of working. They could not sew, farm, cook, or anything but rest. In the church the women, men, and the children were separated. The men were on one side, the women were on another, and the children were expected to be silent.

Family Life

The Puritans were very strict in their beliefs and the father was the ruler in the family. The wife took care of the house and raised the children. The mother was to be very strict with her children. Children who behaved badly were the result of parents who did not follow God and did not discipline their children properly.


Education was very important to the Puritans. They felt that all children should be able to read and all children were required to learn to read. Reading was very important so that everyone could read the Bible. The Puritans established Harvard University. Only men could attend Harvard. Women attended basic schools, but could not get the further education that men could. Men were the only ones who could become ministers, so women did not need the further learning. Learning was to understand first of all their religion.

Puritans Spirit in America

Americans today like the original Puritans value hard work and education. Harvard University founded by the Puritans is our most famous university. Freedom of religion and the independent and courageous spirit of the Puritans also are important values of Americans today. Even though the strictness of their beliefs may seem strange today, they were able to establish a home here in America with their hard work and determination.


2) History notes from class
3) Garraty, John A. The Story of America. Austin TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1994.