Essay on A New England Town: the First Hundred Years

1269 Words Oct 22nd, 2011 6 Pages
Kenneth Lockridge, A New England Town: The First Hundred Years (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1970)

Many historical texts about the American Revolution and the events leading up to it are generalized, unspecific and do not investigate the preliminary causes of the changes America underwent before the Revolution. However, A New England Town by Professor Kenneth Lockridge attempts to describe how the colonies in America developed by following the progress of a typical Puritan colonial town, Dedham, Massachusetts, from its inception in 1636 through its first one hundred years. It is Lockridge’s belief that colonial history can be better learned through thoroughly examining one specific town instead of shallowly studying many.
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Finally, Lockridge relates the timeline of Dedham to the overall development of New England and insists that the changes Dedham endures in its first one hundred years move New England from a European and Puritan perspective to a more unique and individual point of view.
Although on the surface it may seem as if Lockridge wrote this book simply to share the history of one New England town or connect this town to all of New England, his purpose is to remember the essence of “the world we have lost”, reexamine how this period in history is viewed and rediscover the origins of “American uniqueness” (xiv). He aims to accurately describe the state in which the community was before it underwent the change from English to American. He believes that that period of history is viewed somewhat incorrectly, perhaps because it directly preceded a major event—the American Revolution.
Lockridge’s thesis is that throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, America underwent a significant yet subtle and gradual change from European and Puritan traditions to uniquely American individualistic ways. This change completely affected the future of the nation. Lockridge acknowledges that many may notice the change and its significance, but they do not completely understand the causes and origins of it. He states that it was caused by the townsmen’s vanishing Puritan ideology and authority and this vanishes due to a variety of

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