Race and Redemption in Puritan New England

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As colonists made their way to New England in the early seventeenth century, they hoped their efforts would stand as a "citty upon a hill." Living the godly life preached by Winthrop would have proved difficult even had these puritans inhabited the colonies alone, but this was not the case: this new landscape included colonists from Europe, indigenous Americans, and enslaved Africans. In Race and Redemption in Puritan New England, Richard A. Bailey investigates the ways that colonial New Englanders used, constructed, and re-constructed their puritanism to make sense of their new realities. As they did so, they created more than a tenuous existence together. They also constructed race out of the spiritual freedom of puritanism.

Bailey contends that, as New Englanders of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries offered spiritual redemption to their neighbors, they found it necessary to define how they differed from one another, especially from the Native Americans and Africans living in the northern British mainland colonies. Race and Redemption in Puritan New England explores how these proponents of the New England variant of puritanism made race out of their offers of spiritual freedom, setting the stage for similar processes when physical and social freedom became more accessible for New Englanders of color in the generations following the American Revolution.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Beautifully researched and engagingly written, Speaking American breaks new ground in showing, city by city, the complex human forces that have given American English its individual character and vitality. It will become required reading for anyone interested in the history of English." --David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language and Words in Time and Place

"[A] stimulating read...Bailey's first book is ambitious and shows a scholar sensitive to irony, contradiction, despair, and hope. I look forward to the next one." --Journal of American Ethnic History

"Provocative...Readers will find in Race and Redemption much to ponder in the tragic history of race in early America." --Themelios

"An important contribution to our understanding of the intersections of race and religion in colonial New England. ... A well-researched book that illuminates aspects of the Puritan experience that have not received significant attention before this. ... Essential reading for specialists in Puritanism."--H-Net

"Fascinating. ... I recommend it most highly to anyone interested in Edwards, Edwards' world, and its socio-cultural legacies." --Douglas A. Sweeney, Director, Jonathan Edwards Center, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"This is a well-researched book that illuminates aspects of the Puritan experience that have not received significant attention before this. In view of this, Race and Redemption in Puritan New England should be considered essential reading for specialists in Puritanism in this region. Persons with more general interests in colonial America, religion, and race relations should also find this book to be valuable." --H-Net

"[T]his book begins to consider the fascinating and universal question of how a people intent on distinctiveness handled mundanity."--William and Mary Quarterly

"Many scholars will find this book important and insightful, whether they are interested in New England Puritans or the history of race. ...Race and Redemption in Puritan New England makes an essential contribution by revealing New England Puritan society in a new light." --Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Richard Bailey brings fresh eyes to familiar sources to argue that New England Puritans used racialized concepts earlier and more frequently than historians have supposed. The result is an account with which all historians of colonial America will need to grapple." --Erik R. Seeman, author of Death in the New World: Cross-Cultural Encounters, 1492-1800

"Richard Bailey uses the Puritans' commitment to 'do right in a world gone wrong' to explore the contradictory and sometimes hypocritical ways they sought to redeem their Errand into the Wilderness by offering redemption to Native and African peoples in their midst. He challenges us to confront the meaning of racial difference in Winthrop's 'City upon a hill,' and through that, in the nation that emerged from it." --James Sidbury, Professor of American History at the University of Texas at Austin

"Richard A. Bailey demonstrates better than anyone else has how African Americans and New England Puritans were drawn to each other religiously. For African Americans, Calvinism provided an emotional and conceptual structure that countered the pressures of racism and slavery. For white New Englanders, the promise of redemption for blacks mirrored Puritans' hope for their own salvation. Race and Redemption in Puritan New England shows how a theological common ground was established by such pressures and hopes. On this common ground-Bailey takes us right up to this moment-blacks and whites crafted the first North American abolitionism." --John Saillant, Professor of English and History, Western Michigan University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195366594
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/22/2011
  • Series: Religion in America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,043,742
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard A. Bailey holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Kentucky. He is Assistant Professor of History at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Neither Bond Nor Free": New Englanders, Race, and Redemption
1 Laying the Foundation for "a Citty upon a Hill": Faith, Works, Covenant, and Colonialism
2 When Image Unmakes the Man: The Consequences of Thinking about the Colors and Capabilities of "Others"
3 "I am come into the light: Confessions of Faith, Sermons, and Ventriloquism
4 "We are not to make Asses of our Servants": Exercising Authority over New Englanders of Color
5 "The art of coyning Christians": Redeeming Self and "Others" in Puritan New England Epilogue: The Happy Day Refuses to Come

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