Pugnacious Puritans

by Carl I. Hammer (Author)
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Hadley, located on the Connecticut River at the far western frontier of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was settled from the colony of Connecticut to the south, and early Hadley’s social and economic relations with Connecticut remained very close. The move to Hadley was motivated by religion and was a carefully planned removal. It resulted from an important dispute within the church of Hartford, and Hadley’s earliest settlers continued to observe their very strict form of Puritanism which had evolved as the “New England Way.” The settlers of Hadley also believed in a high degree of colonial independence from the Crown. These beliefs, combined with a high degree of internal cohesion and motivation in the early settlement, enabled the community of Hadley, despite its isolation and small size, to play an unusually prominent and contentious role in three great crises which threatened the Bay Colony. The first Episode examines the refuge given by Hadley, at great risk and in defiance of the Crown, to the important English Regicides, Edward Whalley and William Goffe, between 1664 and 1676 when the surviving Regicide, Goffe, was removed to Hadley’s allies in Hartford where he was sheltered before disappearing from the record. The second Episode describes Hadley’s divisive support for Increase Mather and John Davenport in opposing the “Half-Way Covenant,” a dispute which split the New England churches over baptismal practice and church polity. The third Episode deals with an internal dispute within Hadley over the direction of the local school which then was caught up into the larger dispute over the Dominion of New England government imposed by the Crown after the suspension of the Bay’s Charter. Through the course of these troubles within the Bay Colony from the 1660s to the 1680s, the initial internal solidarity of the town fractured, and its original unity of purpose with the rest of Colony was eroded. This secular “declension” led to Hadley’s political decline from prominence into the pleasant but unremarkable village it is today.

Book details

Publication date
September 15, 2018
Publisher
Page count
134
ISBN
9781498566537