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Religion played an important role in the lives of many of the Northern colonists as well, but by the time of the Revolution it was not nearly so prevalent in the politics of the day as it had been during the earlier times of the Puritan and Pilgrim settlements. This was, in fact, one of the main societal -- and ultimately political -- differences between the Northern colonies and the rest of the British colonies. The quiet reserve and stoicism that was a strong part of the Puritan tradition persist even to this day, however, and was if anything stronger then than it is now. In certain ways, then, religion did play an important role in shaping New England society. Though its direct effects were muted by the time that the Revolutionary action was beginning, the puritan streak influenced the personality of the culture and many of its individuals.
Part of the reason for the relatively rapid demise of Puritanism in the early part of the eighteenth century was the increased Anglicization (read: relaxing of religious and societal constraints brought on by often inflated news carried back over the Atlantic of the success and bounty that was available in the New World. As increasing waves of new "settlers" came to establish cities not with the goal of embarking on a religious experiment but with the age-old motive of profits gleaming in their eyes, New England society was largely unable to uphold the Puritan ideals upon which it had been founded. Temptation usually proves too great (if the Bible can be taken as any sort of reliable source), and the same was true for the Puritans -- the lure of increased freedoms that came with economic wealth proved more destructive towards religion in the formerly puritan North than it did in either the Southern or Middle colonies.
It is important to note that religious issues in and of themselves did not cause a host of problems in between the various colonies; the individual colonies all had to deal with religious differences within their own borders, and necessarily entered into alliance with each other for the means of independence with a certain level of religious tolerance, at least towards Christian denominations and even extending to other religions, though less readily and less often. The religious differences, however, had impacts of a greater or lesser degree on the political and philosophical beliefs and attitudes of the various colonies and colonists, and so the indirect effects of religion proved quite divisive in later debates regarding the move to war.
Other social factors also had profound effects on the development of New England culture, which is made more clearly observable when seen in relation to the other colonies. The English and especially Puritan rules concerning dress and public appearance had a large effect on the way New Englanders ranked themselves and were perceived by others. Originally considered stuffy and rigid just like the predominant religion of the region, New England dress found itself suffering a backlash not quite equal in force to that which occurred in religion, but strong enough to have been a factor in, or at least a sign of, other social and political shifts. New England in the years immediately prior to the Revolution was a place of heavy, bustling industry and mercantilism, but also had a reputation in some of the other colonies for moral and social laxity, especially in the metropolitan areas. The overall result of the shifts in New England society produced what most today would consider a more progressive culture -- both socially and politically -- than the other colonies, but what in its own time was seen often seen as over-intellectual and somewhat impetuous, without the restraint of religion.
Religion was just one of many major social differences between the colonies that affected the political realm. Different backgrounds and histories both in native European countries and on the North American continent led to major differences between the colonists. Over time, however, these differences have been gradually evened out and accepted, and progress is still being made today.
Bonomi, Patricia U. "Hippocrates' Twins': Religion and Politics in the American Revolution." The History Teacher, 29 (2), pp. 137-44.
Bushnell, Amy Turner. "Review: Another's Country: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on Cultural Interactions in the Southern Colonies," J.W. Joseph and Martha Zierden, eds. The Journal of Southern History, 2002. Pp. 889-91.
Kierner, Cynthia A. "Hospitality, Sociability, and Gender in the Southern Colonies." The Journal of Southern History, 62 (3) pp. 449-480
Pagliassotti, Druann Lynn. "Apparel and attribute: The social construction of status in New England colonies and the United States." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California, United States -- California.
Tiedemann, Joseph S. "Presbyterianism and the American Revolution in the Middle Colonies." The American Society of Church History, 74(2), pp. 306-45.
Webb, Stephen Saunders. "No Little Blessing' or Making New England English." Reviews in American History, 11(2), pp. 199-203
Wood, Kirsten E. "Review: Georgia's Frontier Women: Female Fortunes in a Southern Colony by Ben Marsh." American Historical Review, February 2008, pp. 170-1.
Kirsten E. Wood. "Review: Georgia's Frontier Women: Female Fortunes in a Southern Colony by Ben Marsh." American Historical Review, February 2008, pp. 170-1.
Cynthia A. Kierner. "Hospitality, Sociability, and Gender in the Southern Colonies." The Journal of Southern History, 62 (3) pp. 449-480
Amy Turner Bushnell. "Review: Another's Country: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on Cultural Interactions in the Southern Colonies," J.W. Joseph and Martha Zierden, eds. The Journal of Southern History, 2002. Pp. 889-91.
Patricia U. Bonomi. "Hippocrates' Twins': Religion and Politics in the American Revolution." The History Teacher, 29 (2), pp. 137-44.
Joseph S. Tiedemann. "Presbyterianism and the American Revolution in the Middle Colonies." The American Society of Church History, 74(2), pp. 306-45.
Stephen Saunders Webb. "No Little Blessing' or Making New England English." Reviews in American History, 11(2), pp. 199-203
Druann Lynn Pagliassotti. "Apparel and attribute: The social construction of status in New England colonies and…[continue]
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