On April 10, 1606, King James I of England and VI of Scotland issued a charter for the Virginia Company, which comprised the London Company and the Plymouth Company. In 1620, pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and established the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, beginning the history of New England.
In 1616, the English explorer John Smith named the region New England, but this name was officially sanctioned on November 3, 1620, when the constitutional letter of the Plymouth Virginia Company was replaced by a royal letter to the Plymouth Council for New England, a public limited company established to colonize and govern the region.
Before embarking to New England, the pilgrims had to sign the Mayflower Pact which was the first government document which established that the colony had rules of behavior and those who did not follow the commandments of the King and God would be severely punished.
The Massachusetts Bay colony came to dominate the area and was established by royal charter in 1630 for the foundation of its main port, which they called Boston. That same year the Arbella sailed with a great vision, they should be an example for the rest of the world. The future governor John Winthrop stated his purpose quite clearly:
«We will found the city of God on a hill and everyone’s eyes will be upon us»
The Arbella was one of eleven ships that transported more than a thousand Puritans to Massachusetts that year. It was the greatest adventure ever tried in the English New World. The passengers were determined to be an example for the rest of Europe, «a new model of Christian charity» in the words of the governor.
The Puritan Doctrine establishes the following pragmatic:
DESTINY. This doctrine holds that God is almighty and omniscient; therefore, the destiny of each individual soul is known to God at birth. Nothing an individual can do or say could change their final destiny.
CONVERSION. The Puritans believed they were the ones chosen by God to be saved, to the chosen who followed this path, God would reveal his grace, and the person would know that he is saved from sin and the final judgment.
SERVICE. Only the chosen could serve as members of the Church, if a person was truly saved, they would only be able to behave. These «living saints» would serve as an example to the rest of the world, those who claimed to be converts were carefully examined.
A legislature was established in New England, echoing the desire for self-government already seen in other English colonies and although the ministers were forbidden to hold political office, the clergy made many of the most important decisions. In 1636, Harvard University was founded with the purpose of training Puritan ministers.
In the late 1630s, as part of a great migration of Puritans outside England, almost 14,000 more Puritan settlers arrived in Massachusetts, and the colony began to spread. In 1691, the Plymouth colony was absorbed by its flourishing western neighbor. New England seemed full of opportunities for everyone.
The colony needed more than a fervent church to survive. Many dissidents, Christian men and women who did not convert, also lived within the ranks of Massachusetts Bay. Cities like Marblehead were founded by non-Puritan settlers. The Puritans allowed it for the sake of commerce.
The life expectancy of its citizens increased compared to the old England, and was greater than that of the southern colonies. Children were born at almost double the rate in Maryland and Virginia. Literacy rates were also very high. Massachusetts law had a schools financed with taxes so that every community could be educated, but the Puritans wanted their children to also study the Bible.
Women did not participate in city meetings and were excluded from any decision making in the church. Ministers preach that the soul had two parts, the immortal male half and the mortal female half. Church attendance was mandatory. Those who missed church regularly were subject to a fine.
The Puritans believed they were doing the work of God. Hard punishment was inflicted on those who were seen as lost from the work of God. The Puritans felt no remorse for punishing, they believed in Old Testament methods and frequently applied medieval inquisition punishments.
The Pure Puritans mostly wore black as dress code but the fundamental rule of the New England utopia was to follow the Law of God, a new society established laws for its settlers even before they set sail and infringe severe punishments on those who attempted morality and good manners, even though trade and economic development were promoted; both ideologies would be the foundational basis of what would later be the United States.