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Back to Classroom-tested Lesson Plans and Handouts

The Puritan Mind

Reading 1:

Profane no Divine ordinance.
Touch no state matters.
Urge no healths.
Pick no quarrels.
Encourage no vice.
Repeat no grievances.
Reveal no secrets.
Maintain no ill opinions.
Make no comparisons.
Keep no bad company.
Make no long meals.
Lay no wagers.

The twelve good rules of Puritan behavior

Reading 2:

In Adam's Fall
We Sinned all.

Thy Life to Mend
This Book Attend.

The Cat doth play
And after flay.

A dog will bite
A Thief at night.

The Idle Fool
Is whipt at school.

The New England Primer, 1691

Reading 3:

Surely there is in all children...a stubbornness and stoutness of mind arising from natural pride, which must, in the first place be broken and beaten down; that so the foundation of their education being laid in humility and tractableness, other virtues may, in their time, be built thereon. For the beating and keeping down of this stubbornness parents must provide carefully...that the children's wills and willfulness be restrained and repressed, and that, in time; lest sooner than they imagine, the tender springs grow to that stiffness, that they will rather break than bow.

John Robinson

Reading 4:

God's universal law gave to man despotic power
Over his female in due awe.

John Milton

Reading 5:

Some false principles were these:
1. That a man might sell as dear as he can, and buy as cheap as he can.
2. If a man lose by casualty of sea in some of this commodities, he may raise the price of the rest.
3. That he may sell as he bought, though he paid too dear and though the commodity be fallen.
4. That, as a man may take the advantage of his own skill and ability, so he may of another's ignorance or necessity....

John Winthrop, 1649

Reading 6:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath toward you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire.

Jonathan Edwards, 1734

1. Identify the basic Puritan beliefs illustrated in these quotations.

2. What do these quotations suggest about Puritan attitudes toward women and children?

3. In what ways did the Puritans attempt to make religion a controlling force in everyday life?

4. Based on these quotations, do you consider Puritanism a repressive and intolerant moral and religious code or as a rigorous and realistic attempt to face up to the harsh realities of life?


This site was updated on 21-Apr-14.

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