Listen: John Winthrop Winthrop, Winthrop, Winthrop Winthrop discussed on The Political History of the United States
"He's to speak evil of the way of god and all the professors for god's sake we shall shame the faces of many of god's worthy servants and caused their prayers to be turned into curses upon us to we become consumed out of the good land whether we are going the line from that speech for we must consider that we shelby as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all the people are upon us has the place as one of the most famous lines in american history. It serves almost <music> as a mission statement for what the united states itself wants to stand for today. The legacy of the line is so often portrayed in terms of democracy eighty or the moral attitudes of the united states which genuinely really is not winthrop had intended however the fact remains that the simple line by winthrop has withstood the the test of time and remains one of the building blocks that the united states recipe poetic sermons aside winthrop still is a columnist travelling to a harsh and unforgiving land after an initial dispute over the location of the colony in salem winthrop personally relocated to a new settlement off the charles river near massachusetts massachusetts bay in what would become boston winthrop's next task was going to be the establishment of a government. We talked last time about the government that was established in new england. The freemen who were members of the church had a vote for the assistant magistrates those magistrates would then vote for the office of governor it is important do not get carried away here and begin thinking that john winthrop was in any fashion early republican and just a quick note here on terminology because i want to be clear about this until we basically reached the civil a war. If you hear me mentioned republicans please no. I'm referring to small are republicans. In other words. These are not members of the modern republican party but rather these are those who advocate the creation of republic got it good terminology side. John winthrop was no republican winthrop government. It was essentially a limited democratic dictatorship sure members of the church did get a vote for their leaders but that's where democracy ended. This was not a complex complex form of government in fact it was unbelievably simple vote for the guy you want and then up until the next election they are going to have near absolute power additionally with was not a supporter of universal suffrage he in fact did all he could to limit the electric winthrop insisted that only those freeman men who were members of the church could vote this of course is going to have a widespread chilling effect members outta the church would have no voice in government likewise likewise by limiting who could vote it should the church would remain powerful. This isn't to say that winthrop wanted to establish anything looking like a theocracy instead he wanted wanted to limit suffrage to men whom he knew would support the puritan way of life in this way winthrop had not established democracy where the people act as the source the power rather winthrop had designed a system where a small group of loyal men tied more centrally to the church would become the source from which power could be obtained so sure john winthrop was willing to let church members be part of the electorate but at the same time is going to be a vast overstatement to refer to winthrop rope as being a pro republican or even particularly democratic the power of the governor which more often than not met winthrop had full rights over both the practical tactical function of the colony and the legislative function in terms of legislative action there was relatively little early in the colony law and order was important but they already had a law code the bible winthrop turn to the bible asses legal code and was sufficiently satisfied to simply follow out the punishments prescribed within initially during those early years winthrop would develop a rivalry with thomas dudley dudley would often find himself at odds with winthrop deadly repeatedly call that winthrop's policies then would become a general pain in the side of john winthrop. The biggest conflict between the men came over the laws. Both men supported the bible. Their legal basis winthrop took a more lenient view understanding that colonial life was harsh winthrop supported acting in a manner that gave more lenient punishments deadly looking at this said. Hey we have a covenant with god. Who are you to disobey him when he came up with these punishments. Do you see a list of exceptions lunacy yeah me neither eventually winthrop would lose out and with those the governorship over these debates but don't feel too bad for winthrop. He is going to be back as governor soon enough well. There's really goes to show hover is that it's not like winthrop exists on an island in the colony. He does does have to deal with political pressures of the day and navigate the seas like anybody else. Ultimately with rope would become something of a moderate politically wedged in between the the more conservative thomas dudley who we've been talking about and eventually the more liberal minded roger williams who we are going to talk about in depth next time this isn't to say that went through would be a moderate by contemporary standards because no he really isn't but at this moment he found himself occupying that position this also moves us to a more central point about the politics and the beliefs of john winthrop winthrop often talks about covenants between the settlers and god this dominated the worldview of winthrop and was something that seemed always to be at the forefront of his policies in winthrop's mind. The people had an agreement with god in some ways this this is not terribly dissimilar from the political thought a century later during the american revolution john locke one of the biggest influences in the revolution believed that a social contract contract existed between the individual and their government. This is a very popular line of thought throughout the age of enlightenment and would be a central theme of the entire era winthrop's beliefs are not that out of line with this however he views the contract not as one between a body politic and the government but rather with god god as the sovereign in other words. There was a social contract between everybody and god and again. This is not to say that winthrop is some enlightened enlightened thinker. The guy really isn't winthrop was as previously discussed anti-democratic at his very core effect winthrop would right at one point that a democrat is amongst the most vile nations accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government because i already said it once i want to be clear that democrat macron in this instance is a small democrat in this fashion winter viewed politics with a top down approach. There is a compact between god and the people as part of that government arises and liberty is something that comes from the government itself the takeaway from all of this is that well it is tempting to try and make winthrop into some pro republican. He just isn't winthrop believed in a system that was top heavy power flow down from god through through the government and then eventually reached the individual god was the sovereign all power originated with him in idea like the people being the sovereign would have been ludicrous to winthrop so when looking at winthrop it is important to always keep in mind what he was and what he wasn't as much watches we want to shoehorn winthrop into enlightened voice. Preaching democracy winthrop wasn't that and shouldn't be seen as such winthrop's policies are rooted in the bible able not in the enlightenment for when throughout the chief argument against him over the years. We'll continue to be his relative leniency. The argument which began again with thomas dudley would continue as a running narrative through the later part of the sixteenth thirties despite the ongoing controversy winter would become governor again in the later half of the sixteenth thirties when throughput alternately four cents as the governor of massachusetts for a total of twelve years when ups chief concern remained the risk of separatism well certainly believed in reforming the church he would remain a staunch anti-separatists for the remainder of his life. This would often lead to tension between the the more separatist leaning members of the colony. This is going to be of particular importance to one dealing with roger. Williams williams was in comparison to winthrop. Nothing thinks short of a radical in his ideology a fierce separatists williams would into bouncing from church to church. None of them reached the level of purity that he was seeking. We are going to go ahead and leave roger williams alone for now however he is going to get his time in the next episode. It is the injured play however of these two men in that is really going to set the stage for some of the biggest controversies of the day and we're gonna see more of that next week for winthrop he would spend much of the rest of his career attempting into perry the repeated attempts to change the religious direction of the colony in two episodes time we are going to dig deeper into the increasingly complex religious situation in new england during the later half of the sixteen thirty s and moving into the sixteen forty s these attempts to steer the religious direction of the colony are always going to remain the most important thing for winthrop as you'll see drain that episode winthrop would spend the rest of his life right in the thick of the religious debate around new england well practical governance was was a pretty huge part of what he did after all the guy is the colonial governor in harshened unforgiving land he always remained tightly tethered to his puritan beliefs every decision he made was directed at maintaining the religious order that he helped established upon arrival in massachusetts however keep in mind that despite winthrop using religion as the basis for basically everything including how he runs the government he is not in favor of theocracy in fact winthrop was distinctly aware of the dangers that come with a theocracy and actively sought to avoid it and this makes sense think back to the origins of where the puritans come from cacophonous. They're coming out of the reformation. The entire purpose of the reformation is because the catholic church hierarchy had become so corrupt in the eyes of people liked luther so for winter he wants to avoid letting that kind of hierarchical structure form where the government and the church are so closely intertwined winthrop winthrop recognized the danger of having the church and the government being the same entity when they're wanted a government that would be protective of religion the government guided by religion however the church needed to remain separate of government and went through new it the church had no official authority in the government government and the government was careful not to allow the church to affect civil rights winthrop spent much of the sixteen forty s working through twin crises. The first question is was going to remain in massachusetts to begin with king charles finally relented and called for parliament that the great migration that had been going now for a decade not only ended if threatened to reverse course with parliament meeting again the doors were open to return to england however for winthrop he viewed his place as being in massachusetts wither had built something in massachusetts heat viewed his place in the world as remaining in the new world and working on supporting his more pure church at the same time however a crippling depression hit the colony in the sixteen forty s this depression that winter was personally forced to sell large amounts of his property property to pay his personal debts now without going into detail. The loss of his money was largely not winthrop's fault personally one of them in that he he had put in charge of helping rented the state's james lectured was basically really awful business and possibly corrupt lectured begun taking out large loans in winthrop's name loans loans that."