By the end of the seventeenth century, the religious drive of New England's Puritan founding generation had faded, but religion still played a prominent role in the colony. Therefore we have included activities that encourage your students to examine the persisting influence of religion in New England. One of these examines the religious-based opposition to smallpox inoculation in 1721. Two others will encourage your students to examine the style and theology of the Great Awakening. One performance activity will invite your students to experience the emotion-stirring sermons of Jonathan Edwards. Another writing activity will force them to confront the intellectual rigor that lay behind Edwards' passionate appeals.
We have also included an activity addressing the Salem witch trials. This episode continues to confound historians and fascinate most everybody. The activity we include encourages your students to look for a multifaceted explanation—one that acknowledges not just the motivations and behavior of the accusers, but the supporting roles played by other members of the community. Without the support of ministers, judges, and other prominent adults, these children would never have attained the extraordinary and destructive power that they did.