Our goal is to sort out if this type of conflict that exists in America today — starting with reactionary progressivism, conservatism, and liberalism and has these ideologies occurred in America’s history before. Additionally, according to both experts we’ve dealt with they are not certain if there has ever been an executive branch of government that has been so careless whilst not giving careful attention to the details of America’s founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, The Federalist Papers or any other writings that have been left behind by America’s Founding Fathers.
In our combined experience never have we seen or experienced the disregard or absolute showing no concern to matters such as a little notion we call “the rule of law” that is allegedly the law of the land pursuant to the U.S. Constitution. What we have seen is recklessness of almost every sort. The mere intonation that the Founder’s “got it wrong” according to President Obama does not set a favorable opinion in our eyes; furthermore, a Commander-in-Chief who has soldiers and marines as well as the most powerful Air Force in the world in the thick of it even now has reckless disregard for Executive Orders, matters of congressional dealings, who no doubt spends more time speaking with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about how to cover his arse from the Fast & Furious operation.
If we were to move on to the domestic agenda which we are sure you are tired of hearing about the miniscule numbers both ways regarding unemployment; the housing industry is gone completely as we knew it; and is it too much to ask that after spending hundreds of billions of our dollars to “stimulate” or bail out recklessly operated companies, where is the love? In other words, where are my stock certificates? You bought energy (dare I even say that!) companies, auto manufactures, and complete brokerage houses and banks, and you know the old cliché, “possession is 9/10ths of the law” we can feel it before you even begin to try it.
Therefore, in reaction to the King’s continued interference in local affairs – his attacks on “popular Protestantism,” his disruption of the county (shires) communities, his assault on the corporate boroughs – a few thousand English men and women chose to leave the country. To these people King Charles must have seemed perfectly capable of establishing himself as an absolute ruler: the future of local society appeared dark to those who followed John Winthrop in 1630, and to the emigrants and settlers of the mid 1630s the situation must have looked nearly hopeless. Their response was essentially defensive, conservative, and even reactionary.
European history espouses that during this era Europe deeply resented innovation. Indeed, the participants in violent risings seemed “obsessed by renovation – by the desire to return to old customs and privileges, and to an old order of society.” Several scholars when addressing the English Civil War observe that “the great majority of the gentry and peasantry, in their almost morbid anxiety – in order to preserve the traditional fabric of local society generally stood side by side against their common enemy.”
These observations are not intended to imply that all colonists were of one mind about social institutions in the New World. They were not – plain and simple as that. The settlers’ English background produced both unity and diversity. The commonness they shared was with regard to their assault by the King on their autonomy which is essentially being left alone, having independence, being self-sufficient and the ability to render self-government.
Therefore when traveling to the New World, these adventure’s were careful to select respected civil and religious leaders and often times recruited their neighbors and it was not unusual for persons from the same small village to stay together once they had reached Massachusetts.
Cromwell’s rise to power was in part the outcome of religious conflict and dissent present since the Lolland’s of the 14th century. However, these religious radicals and even the Protestant Reformation did not seem to affect society greatly, and in the case of the Reformation it was in England a relatively calm transformation compared to other parts of Europe. There was burning of heretics on both sides as the two factions vied for power, but the vast majority of laypeople seemed unmoved or even uncertain as to which faith they belonged to. It was only in Stuart times, when the population felt itself to be strongly Church of England, that fear of the re-adoption of the Catholic religion began to cause problems.
The English civil war was far from just a conflict between two religious faiths, and indeed it had much more to do with divisions within the one Protestant religion. The austere, fundamentalist Puritanism on the one side was opposed to what it saw as the crypto-Catholic decadence of the Anglican Church on the other. Divisions also formed along the lines of the common people and the gentry, and between the country and city dwellers. It was a conflict that was bound to disturb all parts of society, and a frequent slogan of the time was “the world turned upside down”.
Therefore it is worth noting that the English civil war was a general and overall civil war that existed between members of the Protestant religion, who on the one hand was very much about the severely strict, stern, ascetic, serious and rigorous Puritans and the Anglican Church who on the other hand, rolled in extreme decadence as indicated by corruption, excess, self-indulgence, and debauchery. So how and why does this bring such bloodied conflict to British subjects?
Understanding the civil war is to understand the influence of the Catholic Church and its reaches on Anglicanism. It seems as though those who craved power without remorse of how it was obtained ostensibly were members of the Anglican Church; whereas, those country and county folks who desired to be left alone were constantly at odds with the moral character of their rivals.
Bringing it real into the 21st century America it is envisaged that recent attacks against one religious oriented faction of society by carelessly demanding that they do as the government wants them too; whilst at the same time seeing the same people involved in attacking the very religious freedom principles America was founded on.
Therefore, suffice it to say that the Puritans were not wanted in England anymore than the British wanted to clean up its own experiential delving into wanton lust and hedonism. This was in fact constantly acted out from Charles’s “perfect militia” who most referred to as “the dregs of society.” Charles’s distaste for the British militia coupled with the local citizenry’s distain for the looting, pillaging of the counties, and the raping of the women brought the local people to the brink. So much so in fact, that when the King ordered 100 fresh soldiers from Ireland to be quartered with the townspeople – each and every able bodied subject took up arms, axes, frying pans, and rocks and stones to let Charles know of their disapproval. This in fact could be the origin of the “Pitchforks and Torches” period.
As a reaction to the King’s continued interference in local affairs – his attacks on “popular Protestantism” his disruption of the county communities, with continued assaults on the corporate boroughs – albeit several hundred people opted for a new life in a new land; however, as determined as Charles was with his innovation of English society, during the 1630s and onward literally thousands of people decided to leave the country. This has been part three of the ongoing series of American & England Transformation.
What was America like for those who settled before the 120 years when the Founding Fathers arrived on the scene? As we’ve stated in several previous writings most, if not all of the Founders were born here; yet the facts remain that their family’s came from several other countries of origin.
We’ve wanted to do this for quite some time; we’d like to offer some of the events that occurred in Great Britain that gave the inspiration to the settlers to go aboard a ship, ostensibly floating aimlessly, basically losing one half of the original travelers, only to arrive sick with disease.
Therefore, we would like to share with you the issues and matters going on in England and other northwestern European nations at the time before the historic landing. Moreover, have you ever asked yourself: “What on earth was so ugly and harmful that would inspire a person, family, or small community of people to go through what they did?”
The time period we’re addressing is during the devastating reign of Charles I (King Charles) just after Oliver Cromwell had been impeached. This was during pre- English Civil War when all hell broke loose particularly in politics, religion, and the need for independent traditionalism. Furthermore and perhaps more importantly, religion specifically was at the crossroads of making major changes.
Protestant dissent split into a “fragmented sectarianism,” characterized by scores of little religious groups that agreed to endure reformation in exchange for the rights to be left alone and of the church. These small communities of people did not want involvement from the King or anything from magistrates to justices of the peace. Most of these communities decided to have non-mandatory worship, with voluntary organizations which the members, not the ministers, decided matters of discipline.
Most of the sects were defined by their regions and became accustomed to a certain measure of independence, self-determination, and what was to become known as congregationalism; although these men and women involved probably a small fraction of the total English society, the would be disproportionately represented in the settlement of Massachusetts Bay.
Interestingly another level of English society is also relevant to the specific make-up of Massachusetts Bay – the gentry as well as county communities. The people who lived in the communities felt no sense of political loyalty to anything or especially anyone beyond that of a few very small local institutions.
This attitude that prevailed in the counties was due to previous yet constant blunders by the political leadership that existed in England. For example, King Charles’s efforts to punish dissenters; furthermore, King Charles was a man of insatiable greed and therefore tried to levy taxes, excises, and duties on these townspeople. However, predicated upon this as well as the mismanagement by the Tudors, these small county Protestant sects strived to preserve local autonomy.
Please try and remember the notion of autonomy – the existence as independent moral agent, or a situation in which an organization governs itself. Charles continued his business with humorless rigor and disturbing people, literally looking for money at any and all costs. The new King declared that he was defending his rightful prerogatives against “parliamentary encroachment;” his approach and methods looked, at least to most people as radical innovations coupled with his efforts to increase “royal control” that served only to disrupt people’s customary patterns of life.
Most importantly the tactics used by Charles threatened the autonomy of the county communities which in turn worsened dissenting congregations, larger boroughs, and the thousands of small communities that formerly ignored national politics.
Insufficient funds and the sources for those funds continually plagued Charles’s government; all of his plans seemed to require more money that
Parliament was willing to grant. (Is this beginning to sound very familiar?) When he asked “his subjects” for free gifts and, when that failed, he issued forced loans.
Indeed the King’s unprecedented efforts to obtain money alienated Englishmen of all types. He unwittingly helped to break sown the diversity and isolation of the English society by creating grievances that affected all aspects of English society.
The King’s innovations were in no way restricted by constant taxation. He had the misfortune to rule during a period of general economic instability. Unemployment was high, and by the 1620s serious food shortages developed creating a new class of English society – the “lewd and dissolute persons” who reportedly wandered about the countryside.
The parallels that can easily be drawn from this short writing are astonishing. It is our intention to make this a three part series.