Colonial Period Was Characterized by Term Paper

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His narrative takes place during a period where religious dogmatism eventually changed towards tolerance. Through his direct actions, religious toleration expanded within new England as colonials recognized the need to create greater religious acceptance beyond Puritanism. In his essays, Roger Williams expresses his disgust at the inability of the colonies to deal with religious toleration. He is especially frustrated that Puritans, who were persecuted for their religious piety in England would do the same to condemn other religions in New England. He writes, "It is the will and command of God, that a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichrisitan consciences and worships, be granted to all men, in all nations" (Williams, npg). Williams identified the key contradiction within Puritan logic, the need to be strictly sectarian in the new world. When in fact, the concept of Colonialism depended on the granting of freedoms which could not be obtained within Europe. His essays defined the transition between the traditional views of Puritan dogmatism and the transformation into religious tolerance. In the end he was able to resolve such conflicts through the formation of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, both bastions of religious freedom for diverse religious groups.

The final writer within the Colonial period who had a significant influence upon the transitory conflict of Christian communities vs. outsider is John Woolman. Woolman was the best known Quaker of the Colonial period, and his work "The Journal of John Woolman" symbolized the conflicting attitudes of acceptance within this time period. Woolman was an ardent humanitarian and his Journal documents his journey not only through religious acceptance and the conflicts between Puritans and Quakers, but also the toleration of Native Americans and African-Americans. Woolman details how colonists were strongly antagonistic to anyone who did not follow their religious beliefs and lifestyles. As a result, persecution was strong within many regions, especially the Boston area. This can be observed not only with interactions between Quakers, but through the negative treatment of Native Americans and slaves. He noted within his Journal "I perceived that many white People do often sell Rum to the Indians, which, I believe, is a great Evil" (Woolman, npg). Despite the fact that such antagonism existed during this period, Woolman showed that religious toleration was increasing within the colonies. This was especially evident in Pennsylvannia where the establishment of strong Quaker communities created a balance within New England. Woolman's account like the two previous authors revealed that the colonial period moved through strong conflicting stages, but that ultimately, balance was achieved and the social order restored through the shifting nature of colonial lifestyles.

In the final analysis, one of the greatest conflicts during the colonial period was on the theme of religious toleration. The majority of immigrants to the new world were those escaping religious persecution. When they established their strong theocratic societies, it left little room for religious freedom for other established religions. These three authors showed how social and cultural forces were factors in molding and defusing the situation and tension that was caused through religious persecution. In the end, the colonists were able to amicably compromise and create strong communities that did not rely solely on religion.

Strandness, T.B. Samuel Sewall: A Puritan Portrait. Michigan State UP, 1967.

Elliott, Emory. ed. American Colonial Writers 1606-1734. Detroit: Gale, 1984.

QUAKER JOURNALS, (Varieties of religious experience among…

Sources Used in Document:

Strandness, T.B. Samuel Sewall: A Puritan Portrait. Michigan State UP, 1967.

Elliott, Emory. ed. American Colonial Writers 1606-1734. Detroit: Gale, 1984.

QUAKER JOURNALS, (Varieties of religious experience among Friends), Howard H. Brinton, Pendle Hill Publications, 1972.

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