© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

New England Puritans & Pilgrims Terms

Algonquian People, Algonkian, Algonquians, Algonquian

Members of tribes that belong to the Algonquian (also spelled Algonkian) branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic family in North America. These include the Wampanoags, Pequots, Cree, Blackfoot, Micmac, Pennacook, Mahican, Wappinger, Abnaki, Kickapoo, Massachuset, Narragansett, and Lumbee peoples, among others. Algonquians lived in the eastern woodlands of Canada, the New England region, and the Atlantic coast as far south as North Carolina, commonly in canonical or domed wigwams (which is an Algonquian term). The term "tomahawk" (a hatchet and potential weapon) is also from an Algonquian dialect out of modern-day Virginia. The northeastern Algonquians were the first groups of Native Americans north of Mexico to have extended contact with Europeans.

Anglican Church (a.k.a. Church Of England), Anglican Church, Anglican, Anglicans, Church Of England

An established church that merged out of long-running debates between the Catholic church in Rome and the government in England, primarily surrounding taxes demanded by the Vatican and settlements of appeals from English courts. The Church of England began with King Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy in 1534, which declared the King the supreme head of the Church of England. Henry was reacting against the Pope's refusal to grant him a divorce from Katharine of Aragon. Initially, there were few theological differences between the two churches, and by the mid-sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth I instituted a moderate course that fell between Catholicism and Calvinism. The years that followed witnessed an increasingly volatile flux between Catholic and Puritan influence on the doctrines of the church. The uncompromising Separatist sect of Puritans broke with the Church entirely, and found asylum in Holland but were restricted to unskilled labor. The group who landed at Plymouth came from this Separatist sect, but the other colonizers in Massachusetts were members of the majority Puritan contingent, who believed that they could purify the Anglican Church.

Antinomianism, Antinomian

The doctrine that salvation can only be attained through divine grace (through a person's religious faith), and therefore all other laws are irrelevant. This belief was deemed heretical in Puritan society, and Anne Hutchinson was accused of it before she was tried and banished by the General Court. Essentially, to openly profess beliefs that differed from the church leadership was considered tantamount to treason in a society where church and state were so closely intertwined.

Calvinism, Calvinist

Developed by sixteenth-century French Protestant theologian of the Reformation, John Calvin. Calvinism is a faith with a strict adherence to predestination; the notion that God is absolutely sovereign and selects who shall be saved from the moment they are born. Calvinism produced the church-dominated societies of Geneva and Puritan New England. Its influence declined with the rise of rationalism in the eighteenth century. The Methodists and the Baptists drew from the doctrines of Calvinist opponent Jacobus Arminius, who was more moderate. Calvinism also challenged Lutheranism over the issue of the Lord's Supper; its doctrine contended that Christ was present spiritually but not literally during the sacrament, thereby defying the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation (which held that the substance of the body and blood of Jesus coexists with the substance of the bread and wine in the Eucharist). This fractured the Evangelical Church into sects, Lutheran and Reformed.

Freemen, Freeman

Landowning church members in Puritan-era New England.

The Great Migration, Great Migration

The rapid immigration of Puritans from England during the 1630s; not to be confused with the other "Great Migration" of African-Americans from the South to the urban North from (approximately) World War I until the 1970s.

Pequot Indians, Pequot, Pequots

Pequots are, like the Wampanoags, Algonquian-speaking North American Indians. They initially were united with the Mohegan, who then rebelled under Uncas and later fought against the Pequot. Known as a warlike tribe in the early seventeenth century, under their chief Sassacus they expanded their west to the Connecticut River by 1630.

Pilgrims, Pilgrim

The Pilgrims were separatists who founded Plymouth Colony, the first settlement in New England, in 1620. They originally left England for Holland in the early 1600s to prevent the "contamination" of their stringent standards by the Church of England, which they believed to be irretrievably corrupt. When Dutch politics started to interfere with their idealistic experiment, the Puritans set off for America. The Pilgrims differed from the Puritans in that the former had broken with the Anglican Church, and the latter still considered themselves Church members who had separated themselves so that they could purify it one day. The Puritans founded nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony, and both Puritans and Pilgrims were quite similar: they rejected the traditional Anglican church offices such as the bishop, and they both fled religious persecution but then practiced religious intolerance themselves once they became established in America.

Sedition, Seditious

Acts or words tending to upset the authority of a government.

Wampanoag Indians, Wampanoags, Wampanoag

Wampanoag Indians are Algonquian-speaking North American Indians whose name means "easterners." During the period in question (the seventeenth century, up until the end of King Philip's War in 1676), they occupied parts of what are now the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. They moved around with the change in seasons and primarily relied on corn as well as fish and other game. They were organized into several villages, each with its own chief. In 1620, Wampanoag chief Massasoit made a peace treaty with the newly arrived Pilgrims and helped them survive by providing crucial information about how to plant, fish, and cook food. The Wampanoags remained Pilgrim allies until the chief's death; then in the 1660s and 70s his son, Metacom, reacted against the treatment of his people by settlers encroaching further onto Wampanoag lands. Convinced that the whites were bent on total domination, he allied other southern New England tribes with the Wampanoags. When officials in Plymouth Colony hung three Wampanoags in June 1675 on flimsy evidence for the murder of a converted or "praying" Indian, Metacom's alliance launched a united assault on colonial towns throughout the region. The resulting war, named for Metacom (or King Philip, as he was known to the colonists) was one of the bloodiest in American history. By the end, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. Metacom was killed and his wife and child were sold into slavery. The survivors fled to Canada, New York, or the interior, and some joined relatives who managed to remain (or seem) neutral, on the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Most of those who went to Nantucket perished from disease. Martha's Vineyard is still home to a significant number of Wampanoags or their descendents.

Wampum, Wampum Belt

The term "wampum," as in "wampum belt," is an Algonquian word meaning "whitestring of beads"; these strings (or belts) could be used like currency and were considered sacred. They were mainstays of European-Indian relations throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Though they traded and communicated with Europeans and with other tribes through objects like the wampum belts, the Algonquians of the Northeast possessed a different outlook towards nature and spirituality than their French and Anglo trading partners. The Algonquians saw spiritual properties in the animals and objects that the Europeans deemed inanimate. Algonquians believed that a figure named GlusKap had given the world its form and orchestrated the evolution of animals into the Indians over time. He battled the forces of social disorder and chaos that lay beyond the indigenous community. These forces sought to engulf the Indian community and its traditions and to monopolize precious resources. For these communities, nature and the spirit world commingled and converged in myriad ways that made the sounds, raindrops, animals, and the landscape come alive; humans were not superior to nature in this belief system, they were simply another part of it. Algonquians were expelled from southern New England after their defeat in Metacom's War (a.k.a. King Philip's War) in 1676.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...