Massachusetts Bay Colony
In 1623, the Council for New England issued a patent to the Dorchester Company, made up of English businessmen interested in trade, to settle in the American colonies. Cape Ann, along the Atlantic coast of Massachusetts, became a settlement, albeit one that didn't last longer than 1625. But the survivors, led by Roger Conant, founded Naumkeag (now Salem) in 1626.
During this time period there were further settlements around Massachusetts, including the towns of Mount Wollaston (now Quincy), Wessagusset (now Weymouth), and Nantasket.
In 1628, the Council for New England gave a group led by John Endecott a patent entitling them to land just south of the Merrimack River to just north of the Charles River, extending from sea to sea. This larger group of English Puritans settled on the shores of Massachusetts Bay. Between 1629 and 1640, more than 20,000 additional colonists made the crossing to settle in New England.
The Settlement at Salem
Endecott was soon sent to take over the settlement at Salem, and in 1629, King Charles I granted the charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first government was established in England, but in 1629, it moved to Massachusetts, and the government of the trading company soon became that of the colony. Men such as John Winthrop and John Cotton, along with other Puritan leaders, soon exercised absolute control, succeeding in their attempts to create a religious purpose for the colony they'd founded.
Putting the religious reforms of the Puritans aside, Puritanism valued hard work, a good business sense, and the need for education. Over time, these traits came to represent what America was all about. In a negative sense, people still use the term
The Role of Religion in Colonial Life
Because their beliefs were based on independent congregations, free of the church hierarchy that existed back in England, the settlers became known as Congregationalists. Attendance at Sunday services was mandatory, and with the work required to thrive in the colonies, that left little leisure time. There was no dancing, no real recreation. Ironically, life was reminiscent of times past. The punishment for any crime committed was harsh, and those who spoke out against the puritanical dictates were persecuted. Indeed, the Puritans proved to be as intolerant as the king they had fled. In 1636, Thomas Hooker led more than a hundred settlers from Massachusetts to Connecticut to escape what was perceived as the harsh rule of the Puritans.
The Quakers were banished from the colony when they dared to disagree, and others fled for religious and economic reasons to establish other New England towns. Among them was Roger Williams, a Puritan minister, who founded a settlement around 1635 that became the colony of Rhode Island.
From 1629 to 1660, the Massachusetts Bay colonists were pretty much independent of English control, because the English Parliament and the king had their own power struggles. Elder colonists used their financial muscle to influence adjacent settlements, and in turn the Massachusetts Bay Colony dominated proceedings of the New England Confederation, a military alliance the colonists had formed to stave off attacks by Native Americans and Dutch settlers. Members of this confederation — Connecticut, New Haven, Plymouth, as well as Massachusetts Bay — agreed to retain their independence while helping each other's militias. However, when the English monarchy prevailed in 1660, King Charles II tried to exert his influence over the American settlements, especially the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The colonists were a persistent people, holding their own for many years. But after 1674, England tried once again to subdue the rebellious Massachusetts Bay colonists, charging that they had violated the Navigation Acts, among other misdeeds. In 1684, England revoked the Massachusetts Bay Colony's charter, and in 1691, the colony was granted a new royal charter that essentially ended the form of government the Puritans had created. The right to elect representatives was now based on property qualifications rather than church membership. The hysteria and wild accusations in Salem in 1692 further eroded the Puritanical influence.