The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism by George McKenna

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By George McKenna

During this soaking up booklet, George McKenna levels around the complete landscape of yank heritage to trace the advance of yank patriotism. That patriotism—shaped via Reformation Protestantism and imbued with the yankee Puritan trust in a providential “errand”—has developed over 350 years and inspired American political tradition in either confident and adverse methods, McKenna indicates. The germ of the patriotism, an activist theology that under pressure collective instead of person salvation, all started within the overdue 1630s in New England and traveled around the continent, finally turning into a countrywide phenomenon. this present day, American patriotism nonetheless displays its origins within the 17th century. By encouraging harmony in a state of various peoples and encouraging social reform, American patriotism has occasionally been a strength for stable. however the publication additionally uncovers a darker part of the nation’s patriotism—a prejudice opposed to the South within the 19th century, for instance, and a bent towards nativism and anti-Catholicism. sarcastically, an exceptional reversal has happened, and this day the main fervent believers within the Puritan narrative are the previous “outsiders”—Catholics and Southerners. McKenna deals an enticing new point of view on patriotism’s function all through American background, and he concludes with trenchant ideas on its function within the post-9/11 era.  

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The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism

During this soaking up booklet, George McKenna levels around the whole landscape of yankee historical past to trace the advance of yank patriotism. That patriotism—shaped by way of Reformation Protestantism and imbued with the yankee Puritan trust in a providential “errand”—has advanced over 350 years and prompted American political tradition in either optimistic and adverse methods, McKenna indicates.

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Though Johnson’s mythologizing was probably the gaudiest at that time, other midcentury works conveyed much the same message of a holy commonwealth. ’’), Shepard and Allin maintained that in the final analysis motives were irrelevant. ’’ If the purity of human motives cannot be tested by man, so what? What can be seen by all are the collective results of the Puritan enterprise in America. God ‘‘seeth in secret’’ but ‘‘rewardeth openly,’’ and look at what he has done for his faithful people: Look from one end of the heaven to another, whether the Lord hath assayed to do such a Work as this in any Nation, so to carry out a people of his own from so flourishing a State, to a wilder- 38 the puritan narrative ness so far distant, for such ends, and for such a work: Yea, and in a few years hath done for them, as he hath here done for his poor despised people.

The court obtained recantations from a few, banished two ringleaders who refused to recant, fined others, and disarmed fifty-eight men who had signed a petition in support of Wheelwright. Thereafter, Miller had it essentially right: there was now but one o≈cial orthodoxy in Massachusetts. But this is the history whose first draft was written by the winners. From Winthrop’s A Short Story of the Rise, Reign, and Ruine of the Antinomians, Familists, & Libertines to Cotton Mather’s later account of antinomian ‘‘errors .

In similar fashion, New England preachers began warning their people that worldliness, luxury, and religious indi√erence were starting to creep in to what had been a pristine ‘‘City upon a Hill,’’ which habits—unless they repented and recovered the original spirit of their founders—would surely lead them to ruin. Jeremiads, which historians once thought of as cries of impotent rage, were actually well-constructed treatises reminding the flock of where they had come from and what they were about.

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