The Mayflowers: Pilgrims, Puritans, and Plymouth with Marc Callis

The Mayflowers: Pilgrims, Puritans, and Plymouth with Marc Callis


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Of the English colonial endeavors on the mainland of the New World, only Virginia, and New England has their origins in the early 17th century. Virginia, first settled at Jamestown in 1607, is the earlier of the two. However it is New England, first settled at Plymouth in 1620, that has managed to captivate the imagination of Americans whenever they think of those early years. That most uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving, celebrates the inaugural year of Plymouth Colony, rather than the earlier colony to the south.

The first few decades of New England were epic times -- when pioneers braved the wilderness to build the Calvinistic ideal of God’s Kingdom on Earth when relations with the Indians were still relatively peaceful, and internal divisions manageable. It was a time when people still held onto the hope that the “city on a hill” that would change the course of human civilization for the good forever might actually be a physical as well as a spiritual reality, and that God’s Word would truly govern every aspect of human society.

This conversation will discuss pilgrims and puritans: women, men, and children led by courageous leaders such as William Bradford and John Winthrop, who braved the sea in wooden ships (three of which were actually named “Mayflower!“) to found a society not rooted in religious tolerance, but rather in their own deeply-held convictions of how God willed humans to live. They referred to themselves as “Visible Saints,” and for a few decades, shaped the course of New England life virtually unchallenged. We will learn about them: why they came, what they built when they arrived, and how, ultimately, they became victims of their own success -- the prosperity of their colonies assuring that after 1660, New England would become a far different place.

Led by Boston historian, archaeologist, and published author Marc Callis, we will explore the beginnings of English civilization in New England. We will discuss the people who migrated to New England, and why they came (including the difference between the Pilgrims and the Puritans), and what kind of society they sought to construct once they arrived. As religion was the primary motivation for the founding of both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, the conversation will include a crash course in English Puritan religious beliefs, including what made “The New England Way” unique. Towards the end, we will examine the forces that began to emerge around 1660, in large part due to the colonies’ own success, and that started to unravel the founders’ visions of a commonwealth of the saints.

Trained as a historian and archaeologist, Marc has worked at history museums and community colleges all over the US. His historical interests, which have led him to author numerous historical articles, academic and popular, for publications in the US and Europe, range from architectural history, to the Spanish Empire, to Mesoamerica and the pre-Hispanic North American Southwest. His current historical project is a book about the Presidio (i.e., old Spanish fort) San Agustin del Tucson in Tucson, Arizona. Additionally, Marc likes to shoot photographs, paint, build models, and write cosmicist fantasy in the tradition of HP Lovecraft. In 2017 he published his first collection of stories and novellas entitled "The Esoteric Order of Dagon."

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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