DISCOURSE OF EARLY MIGRATION TO THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY

Nina Adamova, Svetlana Shershneva

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Abstract

The migration to the Massachusetts Bay Colony had crucial consequences for the seventeenth century England and her colonies. It provided momentum for the Great Migration on the eve of the English Civil Wars of the 1640s, it preconditioned the advance of theocracy and local exceptionalism in Massachusetts, and finally, it fostered the development of 'New England Puritanism', which influenced the both sides of Atlantic. However, these impressive outcomes could not be known at the very start of emigration to Massachusetts in 1628-1631. Did English men and women ever notice this migration? Was it seen as something exceptional? Did it have any impact on domestic issues in England? Relying on promotional literature, sermons, and correspondence, this paper places migration to Massachusetts within transatlantic context of the early Stuart period and explores the views of its participants and observers. It argues that migration to Massachusetts between 1628 and 1631 was never regarded as an exceptional opportunity. Although mobility was not uncommon for English society, its discourse generally favoured other destinations such as Ireland, the Netherlands or the West Indies. Even the 'godly' regarded Massachusetts as just one of the suitable settlements and stressed its unexceptional nature. However, the paper outlines two crucial impacts, the discourse of early Massachusetts migration did have on the English society. First, it improved public perception of potential emigrants by upgrading their image from the 'idle drones' of John Smith to the respectful 'godly'. Secondly, it introduced contemporary religious controversy into the discussions of migration to America, thus setting the discourse of Reformation in transatlantic perspective. Refs 50.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-854
Number of pages16
JournalВЕСТНИК САНКТ-ПЕТЕРБУРГСКОГО УНИВЕРСИТЕТА. СЕРИЯ 2: ИСТОРИЯ
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • New England
  • Great migration
  • Atlantic world
  • early modern England
  • exceptionalism
  • colonisation
  • puritans
  • godly
  • John Winthrop
  • Smith
  • English Reformation
  • America
  • ENGLAND

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