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The New England Mind: From Colony to Province Paperback – May 15, 1983

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Perry Miller (1905-1963) was an historian and literary critic. He is the author of numerous books, including the Life of the Mind in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1956, Jonathan Edwards, Errand into the Wilderness, American Thought: Civil War to World War I, and The New England Mind: From Colony to Province.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 513 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (April 15, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674613015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674613010
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #865,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on September 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
A week before I was to take my comprehensive exams for my Ph.D. in history, my advisor asked me to name the three great historians of colonial American whose names began with "M." I sputtered for moment and made no serious answer, in part because of the trivial nature of the question, but he wanted me to say Edmund S. Morgan, Samuel Elliot Morison, and Perry Miller. No question about it, Perry Miller (1905-1963) was one of the most important of the consensus historians of the middle part of the twentieth century and his work on the American Puritans was required reading for all students of history when I attended graduate school in the late 1970s and early 1980s. "The New England Mind: From Colony to Province" (1953) was one of his masterworks, exploring the intellectual history of the Puritans through a deep investigation of the thought of the Puritan divines. In this book, as well as its predecessor "The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century" (New York: Macmillan Company, 1939), Miller asserted a single intellectual history for America that could be traced to the Puritan belief system.

Miller also described a terrifying "declension" experienced by the Puritans which, he asserted, resulted from the "apostasy, ingratitude, and corruption" of their too well off children who did not understand the struggles of their forefathers and did not appreciate their sacrifices in bringing them to a new land of plenty where they might live their lives in the spirit of a covenant with God (p. 482). The demise of the intellectual position of the early Puritans disturbed Miller, who searched for order among the thought of its best minds. Instead, he found a terrifying dissension that rejected that earlier consensus.
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Format: Paperback
Another wonderful book by Perry Miller. This book is the sequel to his great The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century. The structure of From Colony to Province is quite different from that of The Seventeenth Century. The latter is a synchronic analysis of the New England Puritan world view and drew from the writings of Puritan divines across the whole of the 17th century. From Colony to Province is a more conventional narrative, charting the fate of this world view as it as battered by external events and its own internal contradictions. Miller proceeds from the mid-17th century to around 1730. The Colony of Miller's title is the established New England Way; a theocratic society dominated by a ministerial elite dedicated to complex version of Calvinism and particularly distinguished by Covenant theology, which aimed to remove some of the sting of predestination by defining the God-Man relationship on a contractual basis. By 1730, New England was an increasingly secular society, the ministerial elite was becoming increasingly marginal, orthodox Calvinism was eroding, and Covenant theology was being discarded in the heartlands of Boston and Connecticut.

The erosion of the New England Way was driven by multiple forces. Conceived as a somewhat utopian experiment that would kindle a further reformation in Europe, Puritan theology prepared the ministerial elite poorly to deal with the reality of an increasingly prosperous and permanent society. A society of the elect faced both major theoretical and practical problems of bringing the children of the elect into the covenant, leading to the famous Half-Way Covenant, a compromise that ultimately satisfied no one and contributed significantly to ministerial conflict and the decay of Covenant theology.
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This is one of the most important works of American history ever produced. If you want to understand how we got where we are, you must read this account of where we started.
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Format: Paperback
A classic examination of the early American intellectual life. All serious students and scholars of American literature and history must read this book.
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