The Puritans and the Parallel Universe of New England
When we talk to people about the history we love, we find our listeners are generally fans or critics. When it comes to the puritans, most people are critics. This means that I often find myself labeled a de facto “puritan defender” because my talks are often about clearing up negative myths about the puritans.
But my main purpose in making puritan theology, government, and society understandable is to help people today understand the journey from puritan New England to 21st century America so we can promote positive puritan legacies and stamp out harmful ones. And more and more of my work is focused on the journey we might have made if the puritans had been able to accept the values of the Indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands. Their failure to do so led them to create the parallel universe of New England, which operated as if the Woodlands didn’t exist. In this session, I’ll outline Indigenous and English approaches to land and law and invite you to join a discussion about them.
Lori Rogers-Stokes, PhD, is an independent scholar, public historian, and contributing editor for New England’s Hidden Histories, a digital history project making thousands of pages of colonial-era Congregational church records available through digitization and transcription. She is the author of “Records of Trial from Thomas Shepard’s Church in Cambridge, 1638-49: Heroic Souls” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). Lori studies the history of Woodland New England, particularly the founding decades of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, during which time the Indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands began to preserve and protect their history and identity as English puritans created New England, and forms of church and state that would shape American history for better or worse for centuries to come.