Document A: ‘City upon a Hill’ (Modified)
The only way to provide for our posterity is to do justly, to
love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. We must be
knit together in this work as one man; we must take care of
each other with brotherly affection.
We shall be united in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our
God and delight to dwell among us, so that we shall see
much more of his wisdom, power, goodness and truth.
We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are
upon us; so that if we shall [behave badly] and cause God to
withdraw his help from us, we shall [invite] the mouths of
enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and cause their
prayers to be turned into curses upon us.
Therefore let us choose life, that we, and our [children], may
live; by obeying his voice, for he is our life, and our
Posterity: future generations
Prosperity: wealth
Source: John Winthrop (1588–1649), lawyer and leader of the 1630
migration of English Puritans to Massachusetts Bay Colony, delivered
this famous sermon aboard the Arbella to settlers traveling to New
Document B: ‘The Divine Right to Occupy the Land’
The Bible says: “I will appoint a place for my people Israel,
and I will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their
own, and move no more.”
The settling of a people in this or that country is the Lord’s
Now, God makes room for a people in three ways: First, He
drives out the heathens before them by waging war on the
Second, He gives a foreign people favor in the eyes of any
native people to come and sit down with them.
Third, He makes a country empty of inhabitants where the
people will live. Where there is an empty place, the sons of
Adam and Noah are free to come and live there, and they
neither need to buy it nor ask permission.
Heathen: a term used at this time to describe anyone
uncivilized and who did not believe in God
Appoint: assign; decide on
Inhabitants: people who live in a certain place
Source: Puritan leader John Cotton gave the following sermon to
members of his congregation who were immigrating to America in
1630. Cotton became a respected and influential clergyman in the
Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Puritans Guiding Questions
Document A:
1. Sourcing: Who was John Winthrop speaking to in this sermon? What do you
think is the purpose of this sermon?
2. Contextualization: Imagine what his audience might have been thinking and
feeling as they listened to him on the ship. Describe it below.
3. Close reading: What is the main idea of this speech? What do you think
Winthrop means when he says, “We shall be as a City Upon a Hill?”
Document B:
1. Sourcing: Who was John Cotton speaking to in this sermon? Why is he
speaking about settling in a new land?
2. Contextualization: In this sermon, who are the ‘inhabitants’ in the new land?
Who are the ‘foreign people?’
3. Close reading: What does Cotton say that God will do for the foreign people
when they arrive in the new land?
Corroboration: Using evidence from Document A and Document B, answer the
question below:
Were the Puritans selfish or selfless?