Massachusetts Bay Colony

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Write, using historical evidence, your interpretation of John Winthrop's statement about the Massachusetts bay colony being "a city on top of a hill" and "a beacon to mankind."

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John Winthrop stated that the Massachusetts Bay Colony would be “a city on top of a hill” and “a beacon to mankind.” John Winthrop believed this colony would be a shining example for the rest of the world about living rightfully. The city on a hill refers to the city of Boston.

The Puritans came to the New World because they wanted religious freedom. They believed that each person’s fate was predetermined at birth by God. A person could not alter one’s fate. The Puritans hoped to show the world that they could establish a colony that successfully followed the religious principles in which they believed. They established an elected legislature allowing for the Puritans to govern themselves. Over 14,000 Puritan settlers came to this colony to practice their religious beliefs. The Puritans showed that their plan could be successful and be a model for others to follow.

The Puritans believed that God will take out his wrath on those who did not follow God’s will. Winthrop hoped that by showing the world that people could care for and love each other—while not forcing religion onto anybody—religious faith would naturally be developed. This is the same idea that the Quakers believed and used in their settlements many years later.

Being a city on a hill will shine a spotlight on this colony. Winthrop believed previous settlements, such as the one at Jamestown, had failed because God did not want these settlements to thrive. Winthrop wanted the people of his settlement to choose life and show the world that a settlement could thrive following the virtues in which the Puritans believed. In some ways, this idea was very idealistic. This idealism was seen in future American documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

John Winthrop hoped that his settlement would become a model for others to follow in the future. Some of the Puritan ideals and beliefs can be seen in the Quaker settlements and in future documents in American history. The American Revolution also became a model for other revolutions elsewhere.

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