Morgan’s Puritan Ethic

Historian Edmund Morgan proposed that the values and idea’s ingrained in the actions of early Americans drove them to carry out the American Revolution. These values are what he refers to as the Puritan Ethic and he claims the same ethic can even been seen motivating Americans today. Part of the ethic he claims pushes all persons to find their true calling in life, as revealed by God, to become the best and most complete person they can be in that calling. It called for diligent work as well as thrifty, frugal saving. Morgan bridges the tightening leash of British laws, such as the Townsend Acts and lack of representation, with an infringement on Puritan Ethics. The Americans couldn’t be living lives with the best interest of the common in mind when their rights were being taken from them. They disagreed with the King who was not virtuous and did not have the best interest of the colonists in mind, as they believed he should. The ethic also spilled into manufacturing in the North as the ethic instilled a sense of hard work and diligence to make a living. In the south the same ethic ran directly contrary to slavery, yet as it was seen as wrong, it still continued until a point in the future when in would be revisited and abolished.

Morgan was able to support all his points with primary source material as well. It was well thought out and planned, but at times seemed like he was stretching his argument too far. The Puritan Ethic might just as well be Work Ethic. Something ingrained in most people out of the necessity to get things done and provide financial security.

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