Describe the development of religious, political and social freedom in New England and the middle colonies.
Take into consideration the relationship between Puritan theology, their ideas of government, religious beliefs and the experiences of the more ordinary settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Consider the ways Puritanism created strong communal ideals, while promoting tensions and conflicts at the fringe of the church and society. Also, examine the role of religious intolerance in New England and its role in developing American religious liberty, noting the role that the Quakers and Baptists played in this development in New England, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
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Religious Freedom - Puritans, despite what many believe, did not practice religious freedom, far from it. They only wanted freedom for themselves, no one else. This led to excommunications and the development of religious sects in the rest of New England.
Political Freedom - As charter colonies, New England was supposedly loyal to the King of England as well as the Church. But distance and a degree of royal indifference gave them de facto political freedom. Fledgling democratic institutions such as elections and the town meeting began without much interference from the crown, and developed over time.
Social Freedom - It is difficult to argue that social freedom existed to any large degree in early New England. Slavery was legal, though not widely practiced. Racism against Native Americans was nearly universal, and a policy of genocide existed in some areas. Women were effectively second class citizens and the punishment of the Church or society in general for infractions against custom or law in many places was often harsh and unforgiving.
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