Middle School

What were the challenges in the early Puritan colonies?

September 14, 2017
Angela Kamrath

Challenges in the Early Puritan Colonies:  The Dilemma of Religious Laws & Religious Dissent

When the Puritans set up their colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut in the early 1600s, they sought to create Bible-centered commonwealths, or civil states, to reflect their deeply-held religious beliefs.  In undertaking this goal, they were undoubtedly affected by their experiences in Europe as well as by the model of the ancient Israelites in the Bible, which presented both benefits and challenges for the Puritans in their own time and unique circumstances.  One challenge that the Puritans struggled with was in creating and enforcing religious laws and religious conformity.

The Puritans in America desired religious freedom to worship as they chose and welcomed all who shared their beliefs

The Puritans came to America for the freedom to set up their own church and community according to their own beliefs, rather than be forced to conform to an official church with which they disagreed.  In America, they made their Congregational Church the state church.  To be sure, the Puritans, like their European forbears, initially supported religious conformity in their colonies.  Those who chose to come and live in their colonies had to abide by the same religious views and practices.  Religious conformity was, the Puritans thought, the only way to preserve their faith and to keep the community pure and moral.  It was necessary, they thought, to protect the church from heresy and corruption and to maintain peace.  In this sense, the Puritans did not tolerate different religious sects in their community.  However, Puritans like minister Nathan Ward responded to qualms about intolerance by stating that those with differing beliefs “have free liberty to keep away from us.”  Unlike in Europe, no one was forced to reside in their colonies and conform against one’s will and beliefs.  In this sense, the colony was indeed a free one.

In time, some Puritans with differing religious views emerged in the community and began to vocalize their dissenting opinions and beliefs.  These dissenters had to keep quiet on their views or else leave the community.  The Puritans in Massachusetts banished a number of dissenters including Roger Williams, who later founded the colony of Rhode Island, and Anne Hutchinson, who later moved to Rhode Island.

In their attempt to follow the example of the ancient Israelites, the Puritans directly applied the practices of ancient Israel in their commonwealths.  As such, they adopted Old Testament religious laws for their colony.  This approach led to…

Despite these challenges in their new colonies, the Puritan lifestyle had many benefits.  High moral standards characterized Puritan life.  The church was central to society, and the church hall was centrally located for public worship.  The sermon was the most influential form of communication in New England, and the Bible was the main source of sermons.  Puritan beliefs and lifestyle positively influenced values of family, community, work, law, and reverence for God.  In fact, daily life naturally supported the laws of the colonies.  The Puritans’ morality was so rigorous, says historian Mark Noll, that “almost all Americans since have been forced to react to it in some way.”  The Puritans would make radical Protestantism normal in America and give the future nation of the United States a strong moral rigor.

Though the Puritans struggled with issues of religious law and dissent, many of their Bible-inspired governing principles and civic values proved democratic, effective, and enduring.  The Puritans implemented (as discussed in earlier posts in this Puritan series) the principles of God’s sovereignty, covenants, constitutions, rule of law, popular sovereignty, consent of the governed, representative and limited government, literacy and education, and a strong moral and work ethic.  Such principles would lead to freedom, equality, individual rights, and constitutional republicanism in America.  These ideas and practices would become the Puritans’ valuable legacy.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 3 of 3, Activity 3:  Understanding the Puritans’ Desire for and Practice of Religious Freedom, p. 130.  MS-HS.

Understanding the Puritans’ Desire for and Practice of Religious Freedom… 

To download this whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Early Americans Valued a Bible-Inspired Work Ethic

September 7, 2017
Angela Kamrath

America is a country that was built upon hard work.  The first settlers in what would become the original thirteen colonies of the United States were instrumental in creating a culture of work that would characterize our future nation.  Much of their inspiration for work came from the Bible.

Engraving of Captain John Smith, 1616

In the first of the thirteen colonies of the United States, Virginia in the early 1600s, colony leader Captain John Smith had encouraged a strong, Bible-inspired work ethic among settlers because hardship, idleness, and greed had plagued many of those first colonists.  Many settlers did not want to work or lacked proper skills and experience to survive in the harsh environment.  Many spent their time searching for gold rather than farming.  Such challenges threatened the colony’s success and existence.  As a result, Smith implemented a Christian work ethic based on 2 Thessalonians 3:10 in which the Apostle Paul says to believers, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  Smith likewise announced to the settlers, “You must obey this now for a law, that he who will not work shall not eat (except if by sickness he is disabled), for the labors of thirty or forty honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain one hundred and fifty idle loiterers.”  Smith’s Christian view of work was shared by the Puritans who arrived in America a few years later.

Jamestown Garden by Sidney E. King, 1957

In their colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Puritans similarly valued and practiced hard work, industry, and diligence.  Work was a central part of Puritan life and society and aligned with the Puritans’ Christian beliefs.  The Puritans believed in living life as a service and glory to God.  In a sermon citing 1 Timothy 1 and 1 Corinthian 7, Puritan pastor John Cotton addressed God’s calling for man to work:  “Faith draws the heart of a Christian to live in some warrantable calling.  …  Paul makes it a matter of thankfulness to God to have given him ability and put him in a place where he might serve God (1 Timothy 1:12).  As God has called every man, so let each man walk (1 Corinthians 7:19-20).  This is the clean work of faith, that a man would have some employment to fill his head and hand with.”  Work was a duty and responsibility, the Puritans saw, that allowed for mankind’s provision and prosperity.  It could benefit the individual, family, society, and God as well as keep man away from the temptations of idleness and sloth.  It could also fulfill God’s assignments and purposes.  The Puritans did, in fact, prosper economically in America.  Some thought this prosperity was due to continued worship and service of Christ.

Title Page of A Description of New England by Captain John Smith, 1616

The American colonies attracted many from Europe because they gave people who were willing to work the opportunity to create better, fulfilling lives for themselves and their families.  In his 1616 Description of New England, Captain Smith writes of the opportunity in America: …

Though the pursuit of wealth later became more important than the pursuit of godliness for some, the church and the Bible continued to play an important role in American society.  The Puritan work ethic influenced ideas of industry and capitalism and became an important part of American life in the future United States.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 7:  Economic Success in the Puritan Colonies, p. 119, 345.  MS-HS.

Economic Success in the Puritan Colonies… 

To download this whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Why & how did schools begin in the United States?

September 1, 2017
Angela Kamrath

The Puritans Supported Education for Bible Literacy

The Puritans in colonial America strongly supported education.  Literacy and education, they believed, were necessary firstly so that people could read and understand the Bible.  The Puritans felt so strongly about Bible literacy that they passed education laws requiring sizeable towns to set up schools and to teach reading and writing.  The Old Deluder Satan Act of 1647, for example, required communities and towns to set up and fund grammar schools and to hire schoolmasters.  This act intended to prevent Satan, the “Old Deluder,” from deceiving people with illiteracy and keeping them from reading the Bible.  The Puritans’ Old Deluder law became the basis for the public school system in America.

A New England Dame School in Old Colonial Times, 1713. Engraving. Bettman Archive.

The Puritans’ support for Bible education and the Old Deluder law were influenced by the Protestant Reformation and their views about the church and the Bible.  The Puritans held the view that…

American schools thus began with the Puritans in the 1600s to insure Bible literacy.  As expected, the Bible was the core of learning in schools.  The New England Primer, the first reader in America, included Bible truths, stories, poems, hymns, and prayers.  The Puritans founded many of the first colleges and universities in America—including Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth—and they did so with a strong Christian purpose.  For example, Harvard’s rules and precepts declared, “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well that the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all knowledge and learning.”  These and future schools shaped the leaders and thinkers of early America including the Founding Fathers of the United States.

The Puritans’ emphasis on education influenced the American public school system, widespread literacy, and the idea of an informed citizenry in America.  This emphasis on literacy and education promoted strong religious convictions among colonists and led to the creation of the most literate, educated society in the world.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 5:  Predicting What the Puritans’ New Colony Might Be Like, p. 119, 344.  MS-HS.

Predicting What the Puritans’ New Colony Might Be Like…

To download this whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Why the United States is a Nation of Elected Representatives

August 24, 2017
Angela Kamrath

The Puritans Elected Representatives to Govern in their American Colonies

The Puritans elected civil officers to govern in their colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut rather than have their rulers rule absolutely or by hereditary succession as often occurred in Europe.  The people’s practice of choosing representatives to govern followed practices in the Bible and the ideas of consent and popular sovereignty, in which the people hold and grant power.

Moses Elects the Council of Seventy Elders by Jacob de Wit, 1737

In elections, some civil officers might be confirmed by covenant or agreement, voted in, selected by draw, or otherwise directly chosen by the people.  Other officers might be appointed by the chosen leaders—and thus indirectly elected by the people.  Both methods are forms of election.

Puritans John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, and John Cotton cited…

In keeping with these principles, the Puritans chose religious leaders for their churches even before they came to America, and they followed the same practice when electing civil leaders for their commonwealths in America.  The Puritans, like the Israelites, also made a point to elect godly, moral leaders to govern and administer justice.

Later, in the U. S. Constitution, the American Founders continued the practice of electing representatives for the new nation and emphasized the importance of choosing moral representatives.  Such representative government demonstrates the main characteristic of a “republic”—a country governed by elected representatives of its people.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 5:  Predicting What the Puritans’ New Colony Might Be Like, p. 119, 344.  MS-HS.

Predicting What the Puritans’ New Colony Might Be Like…

To download this whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Who Created the First Written Constitution in history?

August 17, 2017
Angela Kamrath

The Puritans in America Created the First Written Constitutions of Law

A constitution is a set of laws or principles which govern a people, country, or state.  Constitutions are based on the principle of the Rule of Law by which all are subject to the law and the law is regularly enforced, not arbitrarily applied.  The practice of written constitutions began in early colonial America.

Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, facsimile, 1934, Connecticut State Library

The Puritans in Connecticut drafted their first framework of written laws in 1639, agreed upon by the colonists, known as the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.  This document became the first complete, written constitution in the history of the world.  It was also, essentially, the first complete self-government by the people.  The constitution was inspired by a speech delivered by Puritan Rev. Thomas Hooker to the Connecticut General Court in which Hooker argued in favor of popular sovereignty and consent of the governed.  The Puritans consequently created a civil republic/democratic self-government in their colony with a constitution that implemented…

Connecticut would later become known as “the constitution state” for being the first colony in America to develop a complete constitution to govern itself.  The Fundamental Orders would become a model for constitutions in other colonies.  It prompted the colonists of Massachusetts, for example, to create a more formal and complete set of written laws, their own constitution called the Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641.

In creating written constitutions, the Puritans essentially followed the Biblical Israelites’ practice of written laws.  The Israelites’ Ten Commandments, for example, were engraved in stone.  Similarly, the Puritans wrote down all of their civil covenants and constitutions of law.  Indeed, the written word was very important to them.  The Puritans’ practice of written laws would later mean that the founding documents and laws of the United States—including the Declaration of Independence, U. S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights—would also be in written form

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 5:  Predicting What the Puritans’ New Colony Might Be Like, p. 119, 344.  MS-HS.

Predicting What the Puritans’ New Colony Might Be Like… 

To download this whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Why did the Puritans in America favor Rule of Law?

August 10, 2017
Angela Kamrath

The Puritans practiced the “Rule of Law,” the principle that every person is subject to the law, in their early American colonies in accordance with the Bible.  They implemented Rule of Law in the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut based on equity and justice as found in the moral law of the Bible and in reformed writings.

Thomas Hooker

Puritan leader Rev. Thomas Hooker supported the need for a constant law based on

The Bible-inspired principle of Rule of Law influenced the Puritans to define their community civil laws with constitutions.  A constitution is an outline of civil laws agreed upon by those in the community and which are regularly enforced, not arbitrarily applied.  This practice was beneficial and necessary because, while the Bible was the Puritans’ primary source of civil law, many civil issues were not literally or directly addressed in the Bible.  Such issues were subject to the interpretation or discretion of their governors.  Some colonists like Thomas Hooker feared that too much judicial discretion might lead to violations of justice and civil rights.  In response, the Puritans created written codes of laws—constitutions—to prevent arbitrary rule and to articulate and secure their freedoms. Indeed, the practice of Rule of Law naturally led to constitutions in America.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 1:  Drawing Essential Understandings / Answering Guiding Questions (Question 1), p. 113, 118.  MS-HS.

Drawing Essential Understandings/Answering Guiding Questions…

Purpose/Objective: Students learn and answer Essential Understandings/Guiding Questions in this part of the unit.

Suggested Reading: Chapter 3 of Miracle of America sourcebook/text.

Essential Understandings & Guiding Questions to consider:  

Pre-Test/Post-Test:  Writing Warm-up and Wrap-up. At the beginning and close of this part of the unit, students write brief responses to guiding questions in this section.  Students may turn these in and/or share responses in pairs, groups, or whole class.  The writing process should take less than 5 minutes, and sharing can go as long as teacher and class decide.  The Writing Warm-up may serve as a pre-test of students’ current knowledge and understanding.  The Writing Wrap-up may serve as a post-test of students’ learning and understanding of this section’s instruction and content.  In the Writing Wrap-up, students might compare their answers/responses to those they wrote in their Writing Warm-up/pre-test.  How have their answers changed?  What did they learn?  Students might use a comparison chart to write and compare their warm-up and wrap-up responses.

To download this whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

What is the Rule of Law?

August 3, 2017
The Founding

The Principle of the Rule of Law

Lady Justice

Rule of Law is the principle that all humans, including those in power, are subject to the law.  No one is above the law.  The law is impartial or applies equally to everyone.  Rule of law is not based on fallible, changing rulers but on a constant set of laws or a constitution.  This principle differs from “Ruler’s Law” in which a ruler or governing body may arbitrarily govern over subjects without limit or accountability.  While Ruler’s Law dominated most civilizations around the world for thousands of years prior to the American experiment, the American Founders implemented a new, just system entirely under Rule of Law.

Rule of Law is based on equality of all men before God and on equity—the fair, just, and impartial application of the law.  Equality and equity are derived from

Rule of Law was practiced by the early Americans and later adopted by the American founders with the U. S. Constitution.  The principle had been recognized, though not wholly practiced, in Britain’s Magna Carta of 1215 and affirmed by British thinkers Sir Edward Coke, Samuel Rutherford, and John Locke in the 1600s.  In his Democracy in America (1832), French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville observed the equity of the U. S. Constitution:  “Christianity, which has declared that all men are equal in the sight of God, will not refuse to acknowledge that all citizens are equal in the eye of the law.”

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 1:  Drawing Essential Understandings / Answering Guiding Questions (Question 1), p. 113, 118.  MS-HS.

Drawing Essential Understandings/Answering Guiding Questions…

Purpose/Objective: Students learn and answer Essential Understandings/Guiding Questions in this part of the unit.

Suggested Reading: Chapter 3 of Miracle of America sourcebook/text.

Essential Understandings & Guiding Questions to consider:  

To download this whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the “resources” page on americanheritage.org.  To order the printed binder format of the course guide with all the units, go to the AHEF bookstore.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Can you guess the early Americans’ basis for morality and society?

July 27, 2017
The Founding

The Puritans’ Moral Authority was the Bible
The Puritans of early Massachusetts and Connecticut believed that the Bible was God’s divinely-inspired written Word, and this sacred book was the foundation of the Puritans’ morality and colonies.

Puritans Going to Church by George Henry Boughton, c1884

The Bible contains the moral law of God as expressed in the Ten Commandments, the Two Great Commandments, and other teachings of Moses, the prophets, Jesus Christ, and the Apostles.  Other ceremonial laws were practiced by the Israelites of the Bible in their Jewish nation, but those laws were not considered part of God’s moral law, nor applicable to other peoples.

In Exodus 20:1-17, God gives Moses and the ancient Israelites the Ten Commandments to follow.  He commands that they have no other gods, make no idols, do not take His name in vain, keep the Sabbath rest, honor father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness against neighbor, and do not covet your neighbor.  The greater spirit of these laws is summarized in the Two Great Commandments—to love God and to love others—also known as the “Law of Love” found in Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18, and Matthew 22:37-40.  In Matthew, when Jesus is questioned by a religious leader about the greatest commandment of the law, Jesus replies with the two commandments of love:  “‘‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”

The Puritans sought to uphold this Biblical morality in their communities.  They aimed to create colonies that were centered on the Bible.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 3:  Learning More About the Puritans, p. 118, 317-319.  MS-HS.

Learning More About the Puritans… 

To download the whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the member resources page on americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Why did the Puritans favor limited government? (Why does the U.S. have three branches of government?)

July 21, 2017
The Founding

The Puritans Favored Limited Government Because of Human Nature

The early Puritans in Massachusetts and Connecticut, like many Christians, believed what the Bible said about human nature as fallible which, in turn, affected their views about civil law and government.  According to Genesis 1-3, human beings are created by God and made in His image and likeness.  At the same time, they are sinful due to the fall of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.  This fallen condition afflicts the whole human race.  In Romans 5:12, the Apostle Paul says that “through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  Mankind’s expression of God on earth is therefore tainted and imperfect, as human history and experience confirms.

The Fall of Man by Titian, 1550

The Puritans recognized that because human beings have a tendency for sin and corruption, society requires civil government to maintain law and order.  Men are made to be free—and indeed are naturally free—but cannot have unlimited civil freedom to do evil in society.  God ordained civil government, they believed, to restrain evil, protect man’s true rights and freedoms, maintain peace and order in society, and preserve mankind.  The Puritans shared the views of early reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin who cited Romans 13:1-5 in which Paul says, “The authorities that exist are appointed by God.  …  He is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

Because fallen human beings administer the government, the Puritans believed that civil authorities also needed restraints and limits on their ruling power.  Indeed, the Puritans opposed unlimited or absolute power of any kind—whether of kings, governors, aristocrats, lawmakers, judges, courts, priests, states, or churches.  Puritan Rev. John Cotton cited Jeremiah 3:5 on the issue in which God says to His people, “Behold, you have spoken and done evil things, as you were able.”  The Puritans, therefore, set up limited governments in their colonies in America with constitutions of law, consent of the governed, elections of moral representatives, and two-housed (bicameral) governing assemblies.  Later, the American Founders would set up a three-branched federal government for the new nation, based on the theory of French philosopher Montesquieu, to limit governing powers.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 1:  Drawing Essential Understandings / Answering Guiding Questions (Question 1), p. 113, 118.  MS-HS.

Drawing Essential Understandings/Answering Guiding Questions…

Purpose/Objective: Students learn and answer Essential Understandings/Guiding Questions in this part of the unit.

Suggested Reading: Chapter 3 of Miracle of America sourcebook/text.

Essential Understandings & Guiding Questions to consider:  

Pre-Test/Post-Test:  Writing Warm-up and Wrap-up. At the beginning and close of this part of the unit, students write brief responses to guiding questions in this section.  Students may turn these in and/or share responses in pairs, groups, or whole class.  The writing process should take less than 5 minutes, and sharing can go as long as teacher and class decide.  The Writing Warm-up may serve as a pre-test of students’ current knowledge and understanding.  The Writing Wrap-up may serve as a post-test of students’ learning and understanding of this section’s instruction and content.  In the Writing Wrap-up, students might compare their answers/responses to those they wrote in their Writing Warm-up/pre-test.  How have their answers changed?  What did they learn?  Students might use a comparison chart to write and compare their warm-up and wrap-up responses.

To download the whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the member resources page on americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

Can you guess who is described as the “father of American democracy”?

July 13, 2017
The Founding

Early American Rev. Thomas Hooker is often described as the “father of American democracy.”  Know why?

After Puritan pastor Rev. Thomas Hooker and others founded the colony of Connecticut, Hooker delivered an influential sermon before the Connecticut General Court in 1638 in support of popular sovereignty (people’s rule).  It was the first time in the colonies that an American explicitly asserted democratic ideas.  Notably, Hooker defended democracy based on the Bible.

Hooker and Company Journeying Through the Wilderness From Plymouth to Hartford in 1636 by Frederic Edwin Church, 1846

In his sermon, Hooker advocated for certain Bible-inspired principles of self-government including popular sovereignty, consent of the governed, chosen representatives, limited government, and constitutions.  Hooker supported these democratic principles based on Deuteronomy 1:13 in which Moses instructs the Israelites to “‘choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.’”  His sermon influenced the writing of Connecticut’s constitution, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut of 1639, the first constitution in the American colonies.

Hooker later wrote a Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline in 1648 to explain the principles of Puritan Congregational Church doctrine and organization.  Since the Puritans applied their form of church government to their civil government, this writing further reveals the Bible-based thought behind the Puritans’ governing principles.

Hooker is often described as “the father of American democracy” for his support of self-governing principles in the early American colonies.

From AHEF and Angela E. Kamrath.

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Source:  Kamrath, Angela E.  The Miracle of America:  The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief.  Second Edition.  Houston, TX:  American Heritage Education Foundation, 2014, 2015.

Activity:  Miracle of America High School Teacher Course Guide, Unit 3, Part 2 of 3, Activity 4:  The Political Ideas of Winthrop and Hooker, p. 118, 320.  MS-HS.

The Political Ideas of Winthrop and Hooker

Purpose/Objective: Students learn about political ideas of Puritan leaders John Winthrop and Thomas Hooker, including their views on forms of government (Winthrop’s mixed government vs. Hooker’s democracy), mutual support for covenants and civil representatives, and Hooker’s initial support for and initiation of limited government, popular sovereignty, consent of the governed, and constitutions.

Suggested Reading: Chapter 3 of Miracle of America sourcebook/text. Students read sections from 3.1, 3.4, 3.6-3.11.

Think-Pair-Share and Venn Diagram. Students brainstorm with a partner and write down the similarities and differences between the political ideas of John Winthrop and Thomas Hooker. Discuss. See last week’s blog post for a link to download the “Venn Diagram” in the “Supporting Resources” section of this course guide, p. 320.

To download the whole unit, sign up as an AHEF member (no cost) to access the member resources page on americanheritage.org.

Copyright © American Heritage Education Foundation.  All rights reserved.

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