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John Winthrope Essay, Research Paper

What was john Winthrop’s reason for venturing to America? Did he and his fellow travelers view their journey to America as a trip into the wilderness?

After john Winthrop sold all of his possessions and arranged to move his whole family from comfortable England to the rugged and dangerous new world. His wife Margaret was expecting a baby, so he decided to leave her and his oldest son at home for the first year while he went with the first group of settlers. He could barely stand the thought of being separated from his beloved wife, so they made an agreement that they would think of each other every Monday and Friday, between 5 and 6 pm. On April 71630, four ships with four hundred people set out from England across the stormy Atlantic. On board the ship, John Winthrop began the keep a diary. This remarkable document was lost after his death, but it resurface one hundred years later. The contents of the diary are astounding. From the ship, Winthrop laid out the Puritan vision for the New World. America was to become a city on a hill. He wrote: 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 presents help from us, we shall be made a story and byword throughout the world: we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us until we are consumed out of the good land to which we are going Two months later they arrived in Salem, Massachusetts. The settlers could scarcely believe their eyes. It was a total wilderness; except for a few huts and clearing made by previous settlers, there was nothing but forest. How could they raise crops to supply themselves in the coming winter? Each family that came was suppose to be responsible for bringing their own supplies, but many jumped on board at the last minutes with little or no food; they had to beg for food from others who had little to spare. Many of their provision had spoiled on the way. When the settle saw what the new land was like, scores of then refused to weaken by malnutrition that they were already dying. Within a few days of their arrival, John’s son Henry drowned in a river. The situation, confident that God was with them and would see them through. Rather than giving orders, he rolled up his sleeves and began to build shelters. He led by example and soon the world company was working as hard as he. Winthrop decided to move the colony away from Salem, someplace where they would have room to build houses and raise crops. After exploring the coast he led the colonist to what is now called Boston harbor. He ordered them to fan out, and they settle throughout the areas of Cambridge, Boston, Watertown, Roxbury and Dorchester. Realizing that they did not have enough provisions to last though the coming winter, he sent a ship back to England with one message for his son: Send food now! But the ship would take a long time to arrive. Governor Winthrop collected provision while the settles made shelters for the winter. They carved caves in the hillsides and dug holes in the ground. When autumn came, many began to fall sick and die. By November, Winthrop had lost eleven servants form his wife there was no hint of despair, and he never suggested that the rest of his family should stay in England. Fall turned to winter and hundreds died. The whole company was tottering on the barrel to pull their last handful of grain to give to a starving settler. Just as his hand was coming out of the barrel, someone shouted, ” It’s here!” At that moment a ship arrived, bringing new supplies of food, John Winthrop distributed the food and proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to God.


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