Morgan- The Puritan ethic and American Revolution

September 8, 2010 |  Tagged , | Comments Off on Morgan- The Puritan ethic and American Revolution

Morgan discusses how a driving force behind the American Revolution was its peoples’ so-called “Puritan Ethic.” He presents the argument that in some way, shape, or form mostly all of the men involved in the struggle for independence were driven to do so by their dedication to the “Puritan Ethic,” composed mostly of two basic ideals; industry and frugality. Morgan portrays the men of colonial America as having these ideals instilled in them through a number of means. One was by the study of history, such as Rome, whose downfall was seen as being brought about by extravagance and laziness. Another more current, for the period, example given was that of the “frugal Dutch overthrowing an extravagant Spain.”  Britain came to be viewed as too extravagant and corrupt and the idea of breaking away from these “vices” began to spread. The irony of the whole thing for me is that from the very establishment of the American government their have always been individuals accusing it of being corrupted and straying from the “Puritan Ethic.” Morgan cites John Adams doing this in the fall of 1776! Morgan points out that many of the leaders of the revolution could hardly have been considered adherents to the ideals presented. In my opinion there have always been, and there most certainly always will be those self-righteous individuals trying to save everyone else and bring their people or nation back to the so-called “Puritan Ethic” in spite of the fact that there is and has very rarely been any individual who leads a life of that fashion.

On another note I found that Edmund Morgan was a professor at Yale and has had numerous works published on Puritan values and ethics as well as the American Revolution. He also received a Pulitzer for his work as an American historian. He was born in 1916, so that makes him really, really, old.


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