I’m continuing to slowly work my way through the series which starts in Calvin’s Geneva and slowly builds up to the American Revolution and along the way shines a bright spotlight on the central importance of Protestantism to British and American politics in the Early Modern Era.
Episode 1: Bruce Gore starts the series by asking why the descendants of Puritan colonists in New England and Scots-Irish Presbyterians in the backcountry played such a starring role in the American Revolution. The obvious answer is their religious and cultural background.
Episode 2: Bruce Gore traces the seeds of radical republicanism back to John Calvin’s theology.
Episode 3: Bruce Gore traces the spread of Calvinism from Geneva to England and Scotland and explains how John Knox and George Buchanan fleshed out a political edifice upon Calvin’s theology.
Episode 4: Bruce Gore explains how Puritan colonists in New England and Scots-Irish Presbyterians in the backcountry transplanted their culture to North America in the 17th century which was an age of major religious turmoil in England, Scotland and Ireland.
Episode 5: Bruce Gore focuses on the Scots and the persecution of Presbyterians in Scotland that followed the Stuart Restoration in the late 17th century. This sparked a wave of migration to the American colonies which began to change their religious demographics.
In this episode, Bruce Gore focuses on three waves of Calvinists who settled in the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries – the New England Puritans, Scot Presbyterians and Scots-Irish Presbyterians – and how religious dissenters who rejected the Anglican Church who had a long history of clashing with the Anglican establishment became the demographic majority in colonial America.
It is important to remember what was fresh in mind to the newly arrived American colonists at the time: the events of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the reigns of Bloody Mary and Elizabeth I, the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, Louis XIV, the Thirty Years War, the Killing Times in Scotland, the Restoration and soon the Glorious Revolution and rise of evangelicalism.
Note: It goes without saying that all of these events molded and deeply influenced the Anglo-Protestant ethnocultural core of America. All sorts of ideas which we associate with “classical liberalism” and the American Constitution were in fact the product of this largely forgotten period of history. The idea that the people are sovereign, for example, had long been in the air before John Locke and had been developed in the American colonies before John Locke wrote a word.