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12 Cards in this Set

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1) What is Lockridge's objective, as outlined in the introduction?
Lockridge's objective is to dispel the myth that early New England towns were immediately American, even in their beginnings. He seeks to show that it took quite some time, in this case one hundred years, for the typical seventeenth-century New England town to develop the American values and political systems that many believe were simply automatic.
Did the Dedham settlers see a contradiction between hierarchy and harmony in their community? Why or why not?
Though there was a clear hierarchy established early on in Dedham, the settlers still preached the message of mutuality. They saw no contradiction in this idea. Though Christian love was to be practiced towards all men, and the settlers supposedly strove to treat all men equally, they were Puritans, and one of the basic beliefs of Puritanism is the inequality of men, as some men are God's "chosen," and some cannot help but to be sinners. This contradiction of hierarchy and harmony is well-illustrated by their belief that only the "chosen" should be allowed to gain membership of their church. (pp. 10-11)
3) Why did the original Dedham settlers divide only 3,000 acres (less than 5 square miles) among themselves when they were granted 200 square miles? What does that say about their attitudes and values?
The original Dedham settlers chose to parcel out small areas of land in common fields to the men of the town in order to maintain control of the town, its members, and their activities. Obviously the founders of Dedham were extremely interested in preserving their control not only over the "social priorities" (p. 12) of the town, but the town's land, and the crops that were grown on it. Giving out small sections of land in town areas helped them accomplish this goal. In addition, they were concerned that if they gave out large portions of land to be set up into individual farms, the town would "[disintegrate] into isolated farms." (p. 13)
Dedham, according to Lockridge, was a "Christian Utopian Closed Corporate Community" (p. 16) Explain. How does this counter conventional wisdom regarding early New England settlement?
In general, America likes to think of themselves as a place where diversity can flourish. Americans also, according to Lockridge, tend to believe that this policy began as soon as the settlers set foot in New England. (p. xi)However, the idea of a Christian Utopian Closed Corporate Community directly contradicts this notion. Dedham was not a land of free religion, as the modern mind often thinks, and it was certainly not open to diversity. Members were encouraged to be as equal to each other as possible, in every possible way. Diversity was not applauded here. Additionally, while America prides itself on the fact that anyone was welcome to join its ranks, even in the 17th century, this was not the case in Dedham. Admittance to the town was difficult to gain, and the town members were intolerant of those unlike themselves, like the Native Americans. (pp. 15-16)
5) What was the "half-way" covenant, and why, according to Lockridge, was it implemented?
Because the Dedham church was so strict about who it allowed into its church, requiring not only an understanding of the word of God, and a desire to follow it, but an "inner grace experience," fewer and fewer descendants of the original Dedham settlers were being baptized into the church. If this pattern had continued, the church would have dwindled into non-existence. However, the half-way covenant was implemented, that only required that the prospective member "understood, believed, and would try to obey the word of God as revealed in the Bible." (p. 34) This half-way membership allowed new members to participate in every church ordinance except communion, and virtually guaranteed that their offspring would also be baptized into the church, guaranteeing its continued existence. (p.34)
6) Dedham's political life "was a thing unto itself, full of contradictions which the modern mind is hard put to resolve but which were no contradictions at all to the mind of the seventeenth century" (p. 38) Explain.
Although the basis of Dedham's politics was Christian love, Dedham often made undemocratic political decisions that the modern mind, with its knowledge of the democracy, would immediately condemn. However, at the time of the Dedham's inception, and for many years afterwards, democracy was essentially nonexistent. While the modern mind always has the fundamentals of democracy to base their political ideals upon, the Dedham settlers had only their idea of what was best for all, tainted by their own political experiences in England. Because of this, some of their political ideas were contradictory to the modern mind, as they were in such contradiction with democracy, an idea foreign to Dedham, but firmly ingrained in the minds of modern Americans. (pp. 37-38)
In what ways was Dedham society "unmistakably American?" (p. 75)? In what ways was it not?
Dedham was, in at least one way "unmistakably American," in that it was a land of endless possibilities. A man was, in theory, given an enormous opportunity unthinkable in England at the time. For the first time in their lives, the aristocracy was virtually nonexistent. Nearly every man, servants included, was given the chance to try their hand with the land. Every man was equal, a fundamental American value. However, it is this equality itself that made Dedham un-American. Every man had a remarkably similar life, with the same religion, lifestyle, and possessions as those around him. There was no upper class, no social change whatsoever. Though in the land of equality, this seems fitting, once one examines the fact that because of this lifestyle that quickly became set in stone, a man had no chance for advancement, it becomes clear that Dedham life was closer to communistic than democratic. America was the land of opportunity, but these men had only the opportunity to continue the same pastoral life of their ancestors, neither increasing or decreasing their status in the world. It was, to put it simply, a stagnant society, hardly something associated with America. (pp. 75-77)
"Dedham's age of utopian communalism contained within itself the seeds of change." (p. 79) Explain.
Dedham was, in at least one way "unmistakably American," in that it was a land of endless possibilities. A man was, in theory, given an enormous opportunity unthinkable in England at the time. For the first time in their lives, the aristocracy was virtually nonexistent. Nearly every man, servants included, was given the chance to try their hand with the land. Every man was equal, a fundamental American value. However, it is this equality itself that made Dedham un-American. Every man had a remarkably similar life, with the same religion, lifestyle, and possessions as those around him. There was no upper class, no social change whatsoever. Though in the land of equality, this seems fitting, once one examines the fact that because of this lifestyle that quickly became set in stone, a man had no chance for advancement, it becomes clear that Dedham life was closer to communistic than democratic. America was the land of opportunity, but these men had only the opportunity to continue the same pastoral life of their ancestors, neither increasing or decreasing their status in the world. It was, to put it simply, a stagnant society, hardly something associated with America. (pp. 75-77)
In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Dedham's largely subsistence economy remained essentially the same, and its relatively classless society remained intact as well. What, then, accounted for the "uneasy tension" (p. 117) that gripped the community by the end of the seventeenth century?
During this period in time Dedham was split into four separate Precincts. These Precincts, however, were still a part of the town of Dedham. Because of this, though the members of each Precinct wanted to create their own town identity, they were still attached to the larger town of Dedham, the other members of which they had little in common with. In addition, their loyalties were torn between more than one town. Though the close proximity to other towns with differing views would likely not have bothered the Precincts were they separate towns, because they were constantly forced together because of their identity as the town of Dedham, it created an awkward situation. (p.115-117)
Compare the town meeting of the early 1700s to that of Dedham's early utopian age. Which was more "aristocratic?" What development above all others, according to Lockridge, accounted for the fact that Dedham residents "changed their political behavior." (p. 135)
The town meetings of the early 1700s would likely have been virtually unrecognizable to the town members of the early eighteenth century. While the town meetings of the Puritan utopia of the 1630s were decidedly aristocratic, with a group of five selectmen essentially running the town, with little or no supervision. Though these selectmen were still present in the early 1700s, they were closely supervised, and the incumbent was rarely reelected, unlike in previous years, where the selectman seat was basically hereditary. Additionally, the town elected numerous other town officers to assist the selectmen, and committees to decide specific issues, a far cry from the 1600s, when the selectmen controlled every detail of the town. This change was brought about for many reasons, but, according to Lockridge, the main reason was the separation enforced on the town, which "[widened] the popular role in politics." (p. 135)
scribe the two "contradictions" (pp. 136-138) Lockridge sees in Dedham's maturing society at the turn of the eighteenth century.
he first contradiction Lockridge describes is the fact that although the town members of Dedham had finally managed to gain control of their town as a whole, rather than as a small group of selectmen, these same town members began to take their issues to the county court rather than the Dedham town meeting, making much of the power gained by the town much less valuable. The second contradiction dispels the image of the traditional New England town. Though Lockridge tells that people like to imagine the early New England town as both peaceful and democratic, it is clear that Dedham, this was not the case. As Dedham inched toward their "democracy," violence exploded in the town. The peaceful town of popular myth was never to return, for democracy was not possible without violence. (pp. 136-138)
How, as Lockridge suggests, might have the social, religious, and political developments of Dedham's first one hundred years influenced the American Revolution some forty years later?
The closer Dedham moved towards a democracy, the more they wanted to retain it. No townsmen were begging to go back to the aristocratic rule of before. The town members had had a taste of democracy, and Lockridge suggests that it is experiences like the transformation of Dedham that motivated the colonists to overthrow the British aristocracy, and to be so vehement in their refusal to accept an "American [aristocracy]" during the American Revolution. (p. 188)