Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 July 2021
Chapter 4 discusses the political theology of the American Puritans and their influential legacy of the bi-dimensional covenant. Arriving on the shores of the New World in the 1620s and 1630s, the Puritans set about the ambitious project of creating perfect theologico-political communities. In particular, the Puritan settlements combined republican and liberal perspectives: On the one hand, the church covenant resembled in its horizontality the social contract theory, by creating a religious community with an accepted government from the free accord of its individual members. On the other hand, the vertical covenant of each church with God was modeled after the classical political contract between the people and its rulers. Thus, both the liberal apprehension of the people as a collection of equal individuals and the republican understanding of the people as of corporate whole were implemented in the colonies of New England. The chapter includes samples of the Puritan compacts, excerpts from the Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England, and selections from the writings of John Winthrop, John Cotton, Roger Williams, Nathaniel Ward, John Wise, and others.