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John Winthrop

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John Winthrop

What I knew about John Winthrop before I did this report was that he was a Puritan who came here from England. He was the governor of his colony for over 12 elections. And last but not least, he had many vessels come over to America with over 700 passengers from England.

John Winthrop was born on January 12, 1588 in Suffolk, England. His father was the lord of Groton Manor, a small estate in the English countryside. Of course, John grew up on his father's estate. While he was young a private tutor educated him, but at the age of fourteen his father enrolled him in Trinity College in Cambridge. He took in much knowledge from there in two years and then returned to his father's estate, to begin to learn how to run his father's estate, so that one day he'd run it himself.

John had a woman problem as a teenager but was introduced to a young woman named Mary Worth, by his father. He was married 3 weeks later at the age of 17. Just when he hit his 18th birthday he already had a child. John and Mary were married for 10 years and had six children, but Mary suddenly died. John remarried again but his new wife died on their one-year anniversary. A year passed and he married possibly the most beautiful women in all of American history, Margaret Tyndall. To John he treasured her as his most prized possession. She was a woman of faith and she was also gracious and beautiful. Even when they were not together, they were always writing letters to each other. Here's a portion of a letter that he wrote to her:

"I am still detained from thee, but it is by the Lord, who hath a greater interest in me than thy self, when his work is done he will restore me to thee again to or mutual comfort: Amen...I hope to be with thee to morrow...So I kiss my sweet wife & rest." (John Winthrop to his wife, Margaret)

In John's early 30's he began to start to study law. This equipped him to be a great lord with collecting rent, tax, and deal with government authorities. But John wouldn't follow in his father's footsteps. While he was either away at college or stuck on the estate, he began to change his views. This was called Puritanism.

Winthrop was an extremely religious man and told the Puritan belief that the Anglican Church had to be rid of Catholic ritual. Winthrop thought highly that England would be punished for its belief and heresy, and believed that English Puritans needed to get away from this heretic church and to get to a shelter away from England where they could remain safe. So he planned to move many settlers into the New World.

Charles I of England let them move to the New World but he was not aware that the colony was moving for religious purposes. He believed that it was going to be more of a commercial venture to see how the New World was like. But on March 4, 1629, Winthrop signed the Cambridge agreement. This guaranteed that Massachusetts would be a self-governing colony, answerable only to the King of England. He signed this with his wealthier Puritan friends, to pledge that they would leave on the next trip only to find a new Puritan colony in New England.

Winthrop was elected governor in 1629, before they even set sail. He was re-elected many times but also voted out of governorship a few times. As governor he was didn't want change of the Puritans very much. Winthrop tried to keep the number of executions for heresy to a minimum so they wouldn't end up like other failed colonies. He also didn't follow to many conservative practices such as veiling women, which many Puritans supported.

In the spring of 1630, John Winthrop sold all of his possessions and arranged to move his whole family to the New World. John and his wife were expecting a baby so he decided to leave her and his oldest son at home for the first year. Winthrop led a fleet of twelve vessels and seven hundred passengers to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His fleet was called The Winthrop Fleet of 1630. This was the greatest fleet ever to be assembled to carry Englishmen overseas.

Each family that was on the vessels to go overseas were supposed to be responsible for bringing their own supplies, but many jumped on board at the last minute with little or no food. They thought that god would have carried them the whole way. These people had to beg for food to others, but they also had little to spare. When the settlers reached land and saw what the new land was like, a large amount of them refused to get off the ships and wanted to sail back to England immediately. But there were the others that were so weakened by malnutrition that they were already dying. But the people who were dying of malnutrition weren't the only people dying. Within a few days of their arrival, John's son Henry drowned in a river. This situation made it even worse for John with both the people and his son dying. But Winthrop refused to give up. He grabbed control of the situation, confident that God was with them, he started to give the Puritans ideas. He rolled up his sleeves and began to build shelters. After he started to do it himself, the next thing you know, everyone in the colony was now doing what he was doing. Here is another speech by Winthrop about working as a family to be the best they can be:

"We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to give up our superfluities to supply others' necessities...We must delight in each other; make others' conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together... So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and...make us a praise and a glory, that men shall say of later plantations, 'May the Lord make it like that of New England.'"

(John Winthrop)

While on the ship, sailing to the New World, he began to keep a diary. In this diary were brilliant ideas. From the ship, Winthrop wrote out the Puritan vision of the New World. America was to become a city on a hill. A passage of what he wrote is written here:

"We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our god in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.'" (John Winthrop, A City upon a Hill).

Winthrop was saying how many Americans felt before and after the move. This American example of them being so strong could help shape many lives of people everywhere. With this self-confidence, the Puritans made it nearly impossible for them to fail. But soon when winter came, they found out how it was to be down.

Around two months after they set sail to reach the Massachusetts



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