Crevecoeur and Puritan Beliefs

4 April 2015
A comparison of St. John de Crevecoeur’s environmental views with Puritanism.

This essay examines the difference between Puritanism and Crevecoeur’s views. Specifically, the contrasting views of motivational force and the influencing factors that shaped individual character are presented. While the Puritan’s actions were driven primarily by religious beliefs and a fear of not living in accordance with God’s commandments, Crevecoeur believed that the environment shaped a man’s character. Crevecoeur’s views are explored through a comparison of a migrant’s life in America with the life he would have had in Europe.
Religious suppression of the Puritans in England led to the Great Migration of the 1630s and to the creation of New England on the shores of America. These early Puritan settlers hoped to establish a purified society far from the corrupting influence of England, one that would be in accordance with divine will. Puritan preaching applied lessons from the Scriptures to individual lives, offering moral and socio-economic guidance and sought to provide for the common welfare through communitarian organization and to that extent, indirectly laid the foundation for the modern, democratic and capitalist societies of today (Wake Forest University Web site).

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In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber points out that the Calvinist belief in predestination of salvation or damnation of souls led to a level of anxiety, on the part of individuals, to avoid actions that would be seen as that of the damned by society. This led to conscious planning of one’s day-to-day behavior in accordance with God’s will. Thus, labor became a duty to God (Serendipity Web site). This fervent belief in predestination and duty to God benefited the Puritan settlers by virtue of being able to work hard towards establishing a prosperous economy and communities in a new, unknown land.

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