A number of factors have combined to obscure the Puritan mind from contemporary view. Until about a century ago, Puritan history both in England and America was written mostly from anti-Puritan, post-Restoration sources. Thomas Carlyle's Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell marked a turning point in this practice, and the works of Samuel Rawson Gardiner and of Sir Charles Firth gave seventeenth century English Puritanism a narrowly interpreted, but fairer, hearing. The New England Puritan, however, received little real benefit. The political historian and the economic determinist despised theology and, accordingly, lacked the chief instrument whereby to probe the Puritan mind. Moreover, the American historian, steeped in nineteenth century liberalist notions and mightily affected by the English Whig tradition in history writing, usually made the historical error of reading into the New England mind ideas which are the results of nineteenth and twentieth century experience. Accordingly, they read backward into colonial history merely to emphasize the Puritans as forerunners of religious toleration, democracy, and capitalism (all of which, in the contemporary sense, the Puritan would have abhorred from1 the bottom of his soul!). These writers refused to believe any people could be as religious as the Puritans pretended and they concluded either that Puritans were all hypocrites or that a hypocritical Puritan clergy tyrannized a defenseless people until the latter, in righteous desperation, overthrew the bigoted priests and let in the pure air of eighteenth century rationalism.