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George W. Waller is one of the scholars who are widely recognized for the great work in exploration of Puritan concept as well as other pieces of writings in the nineteenth century. As a result of his work, the term puritan today has gained applicability in various manifestations especially in the American life. Most of the times, illusions are seldom metamorphic. Waller stipulates that resemblance between some behavior facets as well as the manner in which the New England colonists acts prevails. However, he contends that individuals who examine puritan’s characteristics in the lineaments of later America repeatedly try to maintain that there prevails a definite link between the American developments; which are present and its Puritan heritage (Waller, 1973).

Waller evaluates the study on the origins of American mind that was conducted by Max Savelle. After critical evaluation of this study in his book, Waller establishes that Puritanism seem to have been resolutely entrenched in the American experience as well as in the up-and-coming American mind of the 19th century. He also found out that from New England, Puritanism continued to radiate its influence in the civilization of the American and it brought with it merits as well as demerits.

Waller also agrees with Ralph Barton Perry’s conclusion that from that period there seem to be no end yet. On a critical evaluation, Waller agrees that the puritans instilled in England’s people as well as the institutions in America elements such as courage, self-reliance as well as sobriety.

Waller continues to mention that Americans are still drawing upon spiritual vigor reserves that have been accumulated. Additionally, he proposes that Puritanism could be considered to have a very significant influence on the progress of American civilization. This is one of the assumptions that are seldom put to question by renowned writers throughout the history. However, some of the writers differ in regards to Puritanism aspects that have significant influence. Others have disagreed ferociously concerning the question of whether or not the influence has brought merits or demerits in the lives of the Americans. It is worth noting that at any rate, such disagreements are enormous for deliberation apart from indirection in the restricted scope of Waller’s book. The book has succeeded in keeping nonstop curiosity concerning the original settlers in America, regarding the Puritanism’s nature during its prime moments in America especially in the 17th seventeenth and early 18th centuries (Waller, 1973).

History of Puritanism in America

Wailer describes puritans as individuals who can be seen to have insightful effects on the culture of the American.  Puritanism is a force, both in political, social and cultural sphere that prevailed until around 1728. This is the duration in which the center of the country started to shift to the south.  An era described to be the age of reason was significantly ushered in through European social philosophy.  The book contends that various historical forces brought major effects on the shift of America from a religious retreat towards an economic as well as political source of power. The puritanical wisp of religious deliberation as well as the moral judgment has continued to significantly influence the social and political points of views in America. 

Beliefs of Puritanism in American

The book on Puritanism by Waller indicates that the puritans in America believed in the total Depravity. That is, they believe that through the fall of Adam and Eve every individual in the whole universe is born with sin. This is the formulation of the puritans’ concept of Original Sin. The book also elaborates the aspect of unconditional election which is common in the history of Puritanism in America. This is a common belief that God saves only the individuals he wishes to save.  Therefore, God selects few individuals for salvation. The book refers this to be a notion of predestination. Waller has clearly indicated a belief that has been common among the puritans in America. The belief of partial atonement, that is, believing Jesus died for the selected few and therefore it wasn’t for the benefit of everyone (Waller, 1973).

Waller indicates that Irresistible Grace is a concept that is common among the puritans. This facet means that the grace of God is given freely; therefore, it cannot be earned or denied. The grace refers to saving as well as transfiguring authority of God. Perseverance of the saints is an aspect that has been stipulated in the book to elaborate that, puritans in America believes that individuals who are chosen by God usually have the full power to interpret God’s will as well as well as power to live uprightly. Therefore, they believe that even if everybody seems to rebuff grace after experiencing its power, an individual will be going adjacent to the will of God. The puritans believe that such things do not happen to them.

Truth about puritan according to Waller’s book

Waller has elaborated the truth concerning Puritan commonwealth which is an experiment by the Massachusetts-Bay that tries to make religion to be the scheming force in civil life.  He argues that there is an obstinate attempt to regulate life of people in America. According to Waller, there is a subdued tendency to free use of the brain power. He deliberately discarded ideas regarding civil liberty as well as the potential of liberated development. Waller contends that puritan commonwealth distorted the lives of the people. He even questions whether the ideas were a healthy creation of its time or rather a preserver of free establishments in American. He sees it as supportive effort of intelligent that has been advocated vigorously by the leaders in order to uphold the European values’ heritage to its colonies as well as expand civilization regardless of the rigors of New World circumstances.  

The book has critically elaborated the merits and demerits of puritan commonwealth. Waller mentions that as times goes by, the interests, prejudices of people, points of views regarding Puritans, puritan’s ideals, their purpose as well as their concrete achievements have been exceedingly encouraging in some circumstances and unfavorable in others (Waller, 1973).

The Puritan Way of Life

The Puritan in His Age

In his book, Waller elaborates various aspects of puritan as a way of life. He describes Puritanism as a point of view in which aspects such as life philosophy as well as value codes were introduced to New England by the settlers who were the first in the early 17th century. Waller contends that from that time, Puritanism has turn out to be one of the incessant factors in the lives of the Americans as well as their thoughts. In his book, Waller remarks that any account on the elements that have contributed to the formulation of the so called American mind must have originated from Puritanism. Indeed it can be considered to be the only factor that has led to this view.

Waller contends that if we make attempts to spell out these traditions, it is certain that there is need to mention such points of views as the “isms" being one of the lucid Jeffersonian democracy liberalism; the Hamiltonian formation of conservatism as well as government. He also outlines several issues on the racial aristocracy Southern theory, New England’s Transcendentalism of 19th century as well as views concerning the commonly spoken border individualism (Waller, 1973).

It is mentioned in the book that amongst all those factors, Puritanism continues to be a widely conspicuous, unrelenting as well as fecund facet that highly contributes to the American life as well as mind set of the people. Its function in American contemplation could be said to be the most overriding one. It has been noted that the Puritans descendants have continued to carry at least some lifestyle of the Puritans mind in various pursuits of their life. Puritans have spread widely all over America as well as playing a leading role in various fields of activity.

The book shows that the force of Puritanism’s has been highlighted due to the fact that it was the first of these civilizations to be entirely expressed. It has also stimulated various elements that have endured long after the disappearance of the original doctrine. The book emphasizes that in devoid of some Puritanism understanding, it can be construed that there is no understanding of America. It has become apparent that Puritanism has unquestionably been shaping the country; Waller says that it is more simply described than defined. This has frequently been a major controversy in the last decade according to the book. The reason for this is that, different people have diverse points of views on the issue. Predominantly of topical years, it has been considered hazardous to talk about puritanism’s demerits in America. Even if individuals may try to revolt against the previous generations’ ideals that have swept over the current period, Puritanism continues to become a favorable target for numerous marksmen. The book recognizes that writers have seldom been tepid even though some have disagreed with critical ideas of Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker (Waller, 1973).  

The Puritan Oligarchy

The book has critically analyzed Puritanism oligarchy. This has been found to be a true expression of the New England unlike in the ancient England. Waller evaluates the Bible Commonwealth that was predicted by Ames, Bradshaw as well as other writers who had evaluated the aspect of Puritanism. The book contends that Puritanism was never recognized in the mother country. However, the book remarks that commonwealth bible that rejects Puritanism ideas was not extensively opposed by the kings as well as the bishops. This is said to have disenchanted the Puritan leaders due to the fact that a significant part of the population in the New England decided not to sympathize with the reform movement introduced in the wake of Puritanism (Waller, 1973).

It has been noted in the book that even in the time of triumph, especially when the monarchy was overthrown by Ironsides of the Cromwell, most of the Puritan leaders found themselves incapable to put up the government using the elect that they had dreamed of for a long time. It has been said that the very proposition that was made in Barebones Parliament that was famous led to the disbanding of that body as well as the announcement of the territory. The book contends that Oliver Cromwell was stern Independent; his ideals seemed to be distant from squaring the ideals of Cotton as well as a Norton.

The book Therefore suggest that the New England need to turn if the people would like to study clearly concerning the true Puritan State placing more focus on its distinctive elements. For instance, if they would like to study about the congregations whose independence has its roots   from a covenant with God, It also shows the need to understand a civil government whereby the members of the Church participated, a system of educational that was designed to support the traditional religion, a firm moral code as well as the repression of heresy. Puritanism ideals have significantly spread all over in America. They are considering to have originated from the New England which is referred to as a Puritan civilization’s laboratory (Waller, 1973).

The book has indicated the fact that Massachusetts Bible’s founders have confidently stated that Puritanism is expected to continue reigning forever. According to them, it was not considered to be a social or a religious experiment; rather it is intended to carry out God's instructions. Those founders also says that despite that, the ideals had been in America for 5 to 6 years but the people were only overwhelmed to clear the forests, plant their inadequate crops as well as build their houses before the  alarming weaknesses became visible.  Not long time from then, the ministers were grumbling about the broad-spectrum turn down of godliness. Moreover, they were probing their souls to find out why there was general moral decay. They even started warning people saying that God was unhappy with them and their demeanor. Prior to the end of the 17th century, it became apparent that people had recognized that experiments of Puritanism in American had failed (Waller, 1973).

Regardless of their solemn debates, fasting as well as unceasing prayers, the restructuring synod of the 1679 shed little light to the causes of decline. The book contends that there was profanation in the colony. The leaders pointed out that swearing as well as drinking excessively had become frequent; people had started breaking the rules of observing the Sabbath day. More interestingly, the love of wealth seemed to have supplemented the love of God. Moreover, parents had started to neglect their children and people significantly ignored Christian education. However, Waller contends that people failed to recognize that these things would have a far reaching negative effects in the lives of the Americans. The book indicates that the leaders contended that if only people would look deeper, they would have found in the rear all human nature. By this they meant human being’s ordinary desire to get hold of the superior things of this world as well as their inherent dislike of moderation.  

The clash of issues

Since the seventeenth century was the grand age of religious literature, Waller argues that in America, it can be considered to be the century that had exemplary century of Puritan literature which seems to have brought a controversy that has taken center stage of the debates. The book elaborates that it has become complex for the modern reader to value Puritanism. The major clashes that have been emphasized in this book concern the Puritanism’s ideals and the religion, politics and culture of the Americans.

Puritans viewed life as an unrelenting moral fight back. Waller also demonstrates that puritan literature made an attempt to represent life accurately.  Additionally, the book contends that puritan literature was realistic and it was viewed by some people as a modern naturalism though in the service of a diverse discernment concerning reality. The enormous formation of the Puritan creed as Waller has asserted seem only significant  to most students at present only when  recognize that its  ideals rested upon an unfathomable deceitful conviction on the view that  the world conformed to an explicit and ascertainable truth. The book also connotes that they can only recognize these ideals when they recognize that the human subsistence was to be grounded on the terms imposed which could only be stipulated in this truth (Waller, 1973).

The Puritan Literary Attitude

The book has literary valued Puritanism and the society which seem to have embraced the ideals. The Puritans, just like other Americans between the 1860’s and 1990’s had a very unique attitude towards life as stipulated by Waller. They saw themselves as a covenant people, that is, people who are selected to institute reformation in the universal. In such typology of the mission of the Americans, as expressed by Waller, the war seems to represent a punishment that is inflicted on the sinning individuals so that they would seek redemption. The war has also been taken to portray Christian Revelation that was later followed by the formation of the Protestant.   American war of seeking Independence as well as the French Revolution culminated in the thrash about universal liberty without division on the basis of race or color (Waller 45).


Puritanism in Early America with a clear focus on the Problems in American Civilization is a book that has clearly demonstrated various aspects of Puritanism in the American history. However, in this book, George Waller’s views seem to be a kind of self-improvement tract that favors the early puritans. Waller has used formulaic principle of the spiritual life history in America which was borrowed from the New England by the puritans to espouse their worldly wisdom. Waller impounds the Puritans’ work ethic as he explores other factors that have been instrumental in upholding of Puritanism in America. Puritanism ideals have been depicted in the book as having embraced the ethical morality as well as modernized its thoughts in the process. This has made it possible for successive generations of American readers to ascribe to the ethical heritage of Puritanism even without having to clinch to its spiritual doctrine.  Waller has evaluated testimony especially from witchcraft trials, as well as selections that are gotten from various diaries in order to document the attitudes of Puritans in the direction of religion, politics and culture in America.

Wailer has evaluated Puritanism as a way of life which has significantly influenced the American people. The book has also explored the manner in which the colonizers inculcated Puritanism into the American people. It is worth noting that Puritanism is attributed to various changes of people’s mentality formation in America throughout the history.


Waller, George M. (1973). Puritanism in Early America: Problems in American Civilization. 2nd ed. Lexington: Heath.