The Mayflower 400 Years Later

Instructor:  Arlin Larson

  • Thursday Afternoon
  • 1:00 – 3:00 pm

In 1620 a small band of English refugees, fleeing religious persecution, landed at Cape Cod. Hounded from England, they had first settled in Leyden, Holland, more tolerant than England, but still not hospitable to a radically individualistic and local spirituality. At Plymouth, these Puritans were free to begin a new way of life unhindered by the British Crown, nor did they meet opposition from indigenous people, the Wampanoag, already decimated by recently introduced European diseases. Augmented by a much larger emigration in 1630 to nearby Boston, the Pilgrims pioneered a highly democratic and communitarian society, one that was to contrast starkly with the aristocratic and libertarian society created in the slavery-based American South. In this course we will first examine the social and religious controversies that caused the Pilgrims to flee from Europe. Next, we will consider both the colonists’ voyage and the question of why the indigenous people had been so weakened by disease. Finally, we will trace the Puritan society’s development and explore its contribution to American life in what Colin Woodard calls “Yankeedom.”

Required Text(s): None

The Rev. Dr. Arlin T. Larson has taught Senior College courses on a variety of topics in philosophy and religion. He received his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is a retired from the First Congregational Church of Searsport and served as Historian of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.