On ‘Puritanophobia’

I’ve just come across this piece at Counter-Currents, titled ‘Puritanophobia.’ It’s by Robert Hampton, whose writings I haven’t come across before. It’s a well-written piece.

The subject is one that I’ve addressed here, as my readers know, and it is a subject that should be discussed more often. It’s obvious that there is a deep dislike on the part of many Americans (or ‘Americans’) towards Puritans, and their descendants. I find this part odd and illogical, in that many descendants of those Puritans, in this day and age, may not even know of their Puritan ancestry. And they may have little in common with those Puritan forebears as far as their worldview, belief system, and habits. The Puritan way of life is long dead, in my opinion. I say this as a descendant of Puritan separatists who settled the Massachusetts colony.

I may overstate the case in saying Puritanism is ‘dead.’ I don’t say this disrespectfully; I would wish that the best aspects of the Puritan way could be preserved or even revived. I know that in the last couple of decades — maybe longer — books written by the old Puritans have become more popular and read by a certain number of Christians.

The writer of the linked piece lists the various reasons why so many present-day people — and not just Americans — seem to loathe Puritans — or at least their image of Puritans, which is often a caricature of the actual people. We all know that Puritans are imagined to be ‘sexually repressed’ and most of the anti-Puritans think that the Puritans of old forced their rigid sexual morality on other people. This part is a misconception. Further, the Puritans were not ‘repressed’ in the sense of averse to sex; Governor John Winthrop, a staunch Puritan, fathered 13 or 14 children in his marriages. Large families were the norm. I doubt there were many repressed asexuals, as having a family was considered virtuous.

By contrast, the Shaker sect, which came to America later, was a sect that required celibacy for all its members; they had to be asexual for all intents and purposes. That’s also why their cult dwindled away; not enough recruits, while there were some dropouts. The Puritan faith, by contrast, acknowledged healthy sexuality and marriages were fruitful. These were not ‘repressed’ people, though they lived by Biblical teachings on monogamous marriage.

And for those who think their rules were too severe, remember that our society has a heavy bias toward libertinism, promiscuity, casual sex. It’s our present-day views that are warped, and which have caused a lot of suffering (abortions, diseases, unwanted children, fatherless ‘families’). I find it hard to believe that people think we are somehow the moral betters of the old Puritans.

Why do people hate the Puritans, or at least their distorted image of Puritans?

The hatred extends, as the piece notes, to the wider community of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, ‘WASPs’. (I don’t particularly like that acronym, but I suppose it’s here to stay.) Some of that animus is supposedly the result of arrogant or ‘snobbish’ behavior by these WASPs who were here before the waves of immigrants arrived. Of course being here first meant that they possessed some degree of privilege, having been established here for generations when the immigrants began settling in New England. The immigrants saw the WASPs as representing authority, which they felt was not earned, and an authority to which they did not want to subject themselves.

And I think that the immigrants and others who settled in the Puritan strongholds in the Northeast had a lot of insecurity when comparing themselves with the Anglo-Americans, and that led to envy and resentment.

It goes on to this day, though there are fewer identifiable Anglo-Protestant, old stock Americans to account for the degree of resentment and spite that still exists.

Old-stock Puritan descendants are either believed to be extinct (or wished to be, anyway) or they are said to be still in control of the levers of power in the U.S.

Some people claim that the WASP elites collude with a Jewish faction to control everything, particularly the financial system. Some people wrongly believe that these shadowy elites still live in New England. In fact, New England, except for the rural areas, is a very “diverse” place, not at all controlled by WASP elites. Many of the original Puritan stock of New England moved West in the 19th century, and their descendants are in many Western states and parts of the Midwest.

As to why there is apparently so much Jewish resentment of WASPs or Puritans — Moldbug, with his ”Cathedral” idea is shifting blame for what he dislikes to Anglo-Saxons and their innate defects. Paul Gottfried also takes a hypercritical tone when discussing WASPs, and apparently carries grudges and grievances based on perceived slights from WASPs in long-ago college days.

Some of the resentment of WASPs and Puritans is the reflection of the obsessions of a lot of ethnic academics, who pass on the resentful and invidious attitudes to their students, who absorb these attitudes unquestioningly.

Paul Gottfried has said that WASPs are ‘weaklings’ who are too wimpy to defend themselves; so on the one hand, WASPs are implied to be imperious and snobbish, hurting the ‘feelings’ of those of other ethnicities, but yet they are too weak and ineffectual to speak up in their own defense. Gottfried says that more ethnocentric groups like blacks and other ethnics would quickly defend themselves verbally if they were subject to being attacked as WASPs are.

If that’s true — and I’m sure it is — does Gottfried not notice that blacks are given the biggest megaphone to speak up for themselves? Their grievances, no matter how trivial or less-than-credible they seem, are given maximum attention, and always treated as gospel truth, automatically. Blacks are given a platform to air their perpetual grievances, and the widest possible audience. To a lesser extent, other POCs can speak up for ‘their people’, and be given a lot of latitude, like blacks, to make accusations or demands. WASPs, however, have “White privilege”, supposedly, and no attack, whether verbal or physical, is given any credence or attention.

Anyone who thinks that Anglo-Americans are given the same consideration as official ‘victim’ groups like those Gottfried speaks of is deluded.

The Hampton piece mentions the prominent men of the old Puritan stock who were White advocates — men like Lothrop Stoddard, Madison Grant, Henry Cabot Lodge. And on the science (HBD) side of it, men like Carleton Coon and Carleton Putnam. They are kinsmen of mine so I can’t help giving them credit.

Plymouth Rock vandalized

Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, the spot where the Pilgrims landed in 1620, was vandalized by unknown persons on Monday. The rock where the Pilgrims were said to have first stepped when they disembarked, was covered in red graffiti as were other monuments there.

“Other waterfront sites at the park, including a seashell-shaped sign celebrating the upcoming 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing, were also targeted with the red paint.

It’s unclear if the graffiti was linked to the town’s anniversary celebration, scheduled to begin in late April.

About a dozen “outraged” people gathered at the park after word got out about the vandalism, Lea Filson, executive director of See Plymouth, a local tourism organization, told the Boston Herald.”

This looks like yet another of those leftist/antifa efforts to trash our history, and to express their vindictive feelings towards the early colonists, who were guilty of being European and Christian, and who committed the unforgivable crime of being successful in creating a new society here on this continent. Now we are seeing the attempts (so far unopposed, for the most part) at dismantling all that our ancestors accomplished here.

They’ve almost succeeded in discrediting Christopher Columbus, and taking away Columbus Day observances and the former holiday; now the destructive agenda is being aimed at the early colonists, the forefathers of many of us. Some of us don’t have ancestors who arrived with William Bradford and the Plymouth colonists; my earliest forebears came to Jamestown ca. 1607 and the Massachusetts ancestors in 1630. But it seems as though this kind of malice is directed at all old-stock, colonist-descendant Americans, of English descent in particular, because despite what all those who deny our primacy here say, our ancestors were the first, the most numerous, and the most successful at establishing lasting settlements here. Those who would deny that can’t change history. Oh, they can try to efface the historical monuments and the left of course can re-write their ‘history’ books to suit their own false claims, but that does not change reality.

This vandalism will likely be written off as ”mindless” mischief done by youths, but it seems as if it’s part of the pattern of behavior of the left, done out of malice and envy and spite. Our very presence here affronts that sort of person; we are a reminder of realities they wish to deny and a reminder that they will never have their ”utopia” as long as we are here.

 

 

“Our fathers were Englishmen…”

There was no established ‘Thanksgiving Day’ when the first Puritans colonists came here in 1620 — after many hardships, as alluded to below, but the ‘Pilgrims’, as these first Puritan settlers came to be called — realized that they had much to be thankful for, despite the bleakness of their situation in 1620. They succeeded in founding a lasting colony, as our presence here shows, but it might have turned out much differently. Below is an excerpt from William Bradford’s account of the beginning of what became ‘Plimoth Plantation:

“Being thus arrived in a good harbour, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. And no marvel if they were thus joyful, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on the coast of his own Italy, as he affirmed, that he had rather remain twenty years on his way by land than pass by sea to any place in a short time, so tedious and dreadful was the same unto him.

But here I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amazed at this poor people’s present condition; and so I think will the reader, too, when he well considers the same. Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembered by that which went before), they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies; no houses or much less town to repair to, to seek for succour. It is recorded in Scripture as a mercy to the Apostle and his shipwrecked company, that the barbarians showed them no small kindness in refreshing them, but these savage barbarians, when they met with them (as after will appear) were readier to fill their sides full of arrows than otherwise. And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast. Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, fall of wild beasts and wild men — and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not. Neither could they, as it were, go up to the top of Pisgah to view from this wilderness a more goodly country to feed their hopes; for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to the heavens) they could have little solace or content in respect of any outward objects. For summer being done, all things stand upon them with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hue. If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed and was now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world. If it be said they had a ship to succour them, it is true; but what heard they daily from the master and company? But that with speed they should look out a place (with their shallop) where they would be, at some near distance; for the season was such as he would not stir from thence till a safe harbor was discovered by them, where they would be, and he might go without danger; and that victuals consumed apace but he must and would keep sufficient for themselves and their return. Yea, it was muttered by some that if they got not a place in time, they would turn them and their goods ashore and leave them. Let it also be considered what weak hopes of supply and succour they left behind them, that might bear up their minds in this sad condition and trials they were under; and they could not but be very small. It is true, indeed, the affections and love of their brethren at Leyden was cordial and entire towards them, but they had little power to help them or themselves; and how the case stood between them and the merchants at their coming away hath already been declared.

What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace? May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: “Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity,” etc. “Let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good: and His mercies endure forever.” “Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how He hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor. When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no city to dwell in, both hungry and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before the Lord His loving kindness and His wonderful works before the sons of men.”

Quoted from ‘OF THEIR VOYAGE, AND HOW THEY PASSED THE SEA; AND OF THEIR SAFE ARRIVAL AT CAPE COD – – Chapter IX of William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation

Puritans and principles

Edwin Hall, in his book Puritans and Their Principles (1846) wrote mainly to give the history of the Puritans, focusing on the religious differences in British history which led to the emerging of the Puritans in the context of the Catholic-Protestant conflict, and later the measures against the Puritans specifically. But in the first chapter, Hall emphasizes the importance of the Puritans’ beliefs and the principled stand they took, and he traces the development of a trend towards the freer societies which eventually developed in Britain and the English colonies.

However, even in 1846, the Puritans (who no longer existed as a recognizable group as in 17th century New England) were already in disrepute. ‘Freethinking’, irreligious people despised what they thought of as the narrowmindedness and intolerance of the Puritans, and the Puritans were already derided by nonbelievers as well as those of other religious denominations. Hall believes this was undeserved and he seeks in part to rectify some misconceptions or outright lies.

To descendants of the Puritan colonists, who were the ancestors of many old-stock Americans, this purposeful smearing of the memories of our forebears is important. After all, truth matters, and those who have spread, or are still spreading, these warped viewpoints and lies should be answered.

Hall is mostly concerned with religous issues, but he does address the popular misconceptions about, and slanders of, the Puritans. Obviously those lies still persist. Hall speaks of the religious leaders who persisted in ‘with boldness’ attacking the memory of the Puritans:

“...[D]enouncing us and our Puritan fathers as rebels and schismatics; our churches as no churches […] and all people who do not submit to some Prelatical Hierarchy as …out of the pale of Gospel grace.”

Incidentally, in some places on the Internet, all Protestants in general are liable to being told similar things. According to some who think Protestants are ‘rebels and schismatics’, our ancestors are likely in Hell and we ourselves are headed there. Inter-faith differences motivate at least some of the anti-Puritan rhetoric.

However most of it is due to people simply repeating what ‘everybody else knows’, that Puritans were severe, grim ‘killjoys’ who opposed any kind of recreation or ‘harmless fun’, and they were asexual, opposed to natural human urges for companionship or procreation, especially outside marriage. In our libertine age in which seemingly anything goes, as the left dismantles — no, demolishes, with a vengeance, all rules of morality, even the common-sense ones — the Puritans are, more than ever, an object of contempt.

Hall notes the other common stereotypes of the Puritans: they had no sense of humor, allegedly. They were said to be ignorant and rigid-minded, bigoted, fanatical. However there is no evidence of this; many Puritans were highly intelligent, well-educated in the best schools, and they read widely, having had what we (unfortunately) call a ‘liberal education’. Nowadays a ”liberal education”, sadly, makes us think of those indoctrination centers, which we laughingly call ‘institutions of higher learning’, which do in fact produce ‘narrowminded, rigid, and ignorant’ people who are now self-named ‘progressives.’ Maybe this, in part, explains why some on the right try to identify the Puritans of old with the pig-ignorant, faux-pious ‘progressives’, with their fanaticism. And this is not new; it calls to mind figures like the homicidal John Brown, so moved by ‘compassion’ that he killed some of his own folk. The Puritans were not known for such fanaticism or bloodshed.

At this point someone inevitably brings up ‘Salem.’ That’s a complicated story, being made more complicated by the fact that most Western people, being unbelievers in the ‘supernatural’, think anyone who would accuse others of witchcraft, is by definition crazy. So the Salem folk, per popular belief, were not only ‘crazy’ but fanatical. This is not an easy issue, so I’ll leave it, except to say that, contrary to popular belief, in Salem not one person was ‘burned’ as a witch, or for any other crime. Hanging was the only capital punishment in Salem then, as far as I’m aware. Incidentally some of my maternal ancestors lived in Salem then, and I have read the official papers on the Salem witch trials.

The past truly is another country, and it is almost impossible for us to put ourselves in our ancestors’ shoes, though we are expected to live amongst people with beliefs far different to our own, more different than the ways of our ancestors of 3 or 4 centuries ago.

But it is vital, I think, for anyone truly educated, to read old books rather than having our knowledge come at a remove via modern (post-modern?) ‘historians’ with biased viewpoints and axes to grind. For such people everything is politicized, and subject to the fashion of the ‘culture of critique’, being torn apart and judged by today’s twisted standards. So the old books are superior for geting a fuller picture of the past, minus the craziness of the current year.

One of the principal critics of the Puritans was Scots philospher David Hume. An article in the American Conservative, from 2011, says this:

The Puritans, and the even more radical sects in orbit around them, did not seek reform but total transformation. And “every successive revolution became a precedent for that which followed it.” [Emphasis mine].

I gather that the writer of that piece, Donald W. Livingston, is paraphrasing Hume’s point of view, rather than offering his own opinion. Hume obviously thought the Puritans wanted, or intended, to ‘transform society’. Hume thought the Puritans to be the English analogue, in the context of the English civil war, of the Jacobins. The Puritans were not revolutionaries in that sense, much less destroyers of society as the neo-Jacobins of our time are. Most people don’t get that the Puritans did not want to force their Christianity on others or to conquer anyone or rule over anyone; they simply wanted the freedom to live and worship as their faith required. They were, plain and simple, separatists. Had they not been so desirous of following their faith, they would not have left their beloved England and endured the hardships of crossing the Atlantic, fighting hostile Indians, and for a time, starving and living in primitive conditions.

They never tried to dictate to those who were not of the same convictions.

However, dissent inevitably inserted itself in the original colonies, eventually, but that’s the way of the world, and it’s another story for another time.

There is so much more to be said about the Puritan issue, and I may revisit it. For those interested, I would advise reading some of the many old sources, old books which are available on the Internet, especially on Archive.org or other e-book sites. I would recommend reading diaries or letters from some of the earlier colonists, including those of Winthrop or Bradford. They are not hard to find online.

It’s always important to counter lies on subjects like this; it’s too rarely done, and that’s the way the lies always seem to win out.

#history, #massachusetts-colony, #new-england, #puritans, #salem-massachusetts

Puritans vs. Cavaliers, 1868

R.W. Thompson, himself a descendant of Cavalier ancestors in the South, gave an address in 1868 on the merits of the Puritans. It seems in those days the rancor was not at today’s levels, and each side could find admirable qualities in the other side. Thompson said, of the controversy:

This is no time for disturbing the dust in the graves of our fathers: — let them sleep, until he who will call the nations before his bar shall re-form and re-animate it. The work which lies before is is enough to demand our united energies. The labor of our fathers must not be lost by neglect, at our hands. We must see that there be no chilling frost to wither the fruit of the Great Protestant Reformation. We must take care that liberty is preserved, in all its variety of forms. There must be no hesitancy or halting in the contest between truth and error — right and wrong; –between Protestantism and all the forms of antagonism by which it may be assailed. We must not forget the responsibilities resting upon us, and growing out of our position.
[…]We are the inheritors of a richer legacy than was ever bequeathed to any other people.

Puritan descendants in New England?

There’s an idea going around the Internet that the liberal/progressive politics of New England are attributable to the fact that the people there are the descendants of the old Puritan colonists.

This strikes me as incorrect. I’ve long noticed the frequency in New England, even in some rural areas, of surnames which are Irish, French, Italian or Portuguese, when one might expect English surnames to far outnumber them.

Statistics indicate that people of English (presumably Colonial-stock) descent are in a minority in much of New England. The Census records from back in 2000 for the state of Vermont showed that the percentage of people of English descent was 18.4%, followed closely by Irish at 16.4 percent, followed by German and French(Canadian). Obviously in the last couple of decades, mass immigration and the shifting of native-born populations (urban people moving to suburbs or rural areas due to ‘ethnic cleansing’ and other causes) has changed the makeup of many parts of America.

A relevant fact: the scarcity of old-stock ‘Yankee’ Congressmen.

As for New England in general, of the top ten European ancestries in that region, Irish was at the head of the list, with 21.1%. English ancestry was fourth, with a mere 13.7%. Other ethnicities in the top ten included French, Italian, Portuguese, (as I expected) and in the tenth spot, Russian — which I didn’t expect.

13.7% is just not a very significant number.

Yet we have people insisting that the descendants of the old Puritans inhabit New England, and it’s they who are to blame for the politics of that area, including the recent violence at a speech by Charles Murray at a college in Vermont. Why are some people on the right so determined to blame the Puritan influence from centuries ago?

A more plausible explanation, and a simpler one,  would be that as New England received a lot of immigration, starting in the early to mid-19th century, from more ‘diverse’ countries, countries which did not share the English idea of liberty or representative government. Many of the immigrants, who arrived in the Ellis Island era, brought more socialistic ideas. Generally the ethnic groups named in the lists above are groups who tend to have ‘liberal’ beliefs and tend to vote heavily Democratic.

The idea that somehow there is a lingering ‘Puritan’ spirit in New England that explains the politics of that region is absurd. Do the ghosts of the old Puritans haunt the place? Does New England have ‘magic dirt’ that transformed the later ethnic immigrants into leftists?

If we want to find ‘flesh-and-blood’ descendants of those Puritans, we’d have better luck finding them in Utah, for instance, which has the highest percentage of English-descended Americans of any state, according to some information. Many of those people in Utah are in fact direct descendants of colonial stock Puritans; many are descended from Mormons who migrated there in the 19th century.

Actually there is probably a greater percentage of Americans of English descent in parts of the South; that area was spared from mass immigration for a good while. And the South is not known for its liberal politics; quite the contrary.

And no, the Puritans were not of a different ethnicity than the English colonists of the South. This idea that the two groups are different peoples is silly, and I doubt that DNA tests would show any such divide. A case could be made that some of the aristocratic colonists, such as the ‘FFV’, or First Families of Virginia, tended to have more Norman ancestry, but otherwise there is no big genetic gulf between the Northern colonists and the Southern, despite the urban legend to that effect.

Playing ‘pin-the-tail-on-the-Anglo-Saxon’, whether Puritan or otherwise, is so trite, so lazy, and so politically correct. Look instead to the Ellis Island-era immigrant stock in New England to explain the culture and politics there.