17th & 18th Centuries
17th & 18th Century Essays
Divining America is made possible by grants from the Lilly Endowment and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Reverend Stephen Williams (1693–1782), attributed to artist Joseph Badger, Boston, Massachusetts, ca. 1755; oil on canvas. From the site: “This portrait of the Reverend Stephen Williams of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, conveyed his social and intellectual authority. His clerical dress identified him as one of the most educated and important men in early New England society. His wig and the fact that he had his portrait painted at a time when very few people could afford to do so also marked Williams as a person of importance. Williams achieved notoriety when he was taken captive at the age of ten in a French and Indian raid on the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704.”
Samuel Davies (1723–1761), Presbyterian clergyman. From the Library of Congress site: “Samuel Davies (1723–1761) was the spearhead of the efforts of New Side Presbyterians to evangelize Virginia and the South. Establishing himself in Hanover County, Virginia, in the 1740s, Davies was so successful in converting members of the Church of England to the new birth that he was soon embroiled in disputes with local officials about his right to preach the gospel where he chose.”
Richard Mather, relief cut by John Foster, copyprint, ca. 1670. From the Library of Congress site: “Richard Mather (1596–1669), minister at Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1636–1669, was a principal spokesman for and defender of the Congregational form of church government in New England. In 1648, he drafted the Cambridge Platform, the definitive description of the Congregational system. Mather’s son, Increase (1639–1723), and grandson, Cotton (1663–1728), were leaders of New England Congregationalism in their generations.”
“The Wicked mans Portion. Or A Sermon (Preached at the Lecture in Boston in New-England the 18th day of the 1 Moneth 1674. when two men were executed, who had murthered their Master.) Wherein is shewed That excesse in wickedness doth bring untimely Death. By INCREASE MATHER, Teacher of a Church of Christ. [Two quotations] BOSTON, Printed by John Foster. 1675.”
Puritan catechism in The New-England Primer, entitled “Spiritual Milk for American Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, for their Souls Nourishment, by JOHN COTTON,” ca. 1650.
Elizabeth Clarke Freake (Mrs. John Freake) and Baby Mary, by an unidentified artist; about 1671 and 1674; oil on canvas. From the site: “Elizabeth Freake was born May 22, 1642, the daughter of Thomas (d. 1682/3) and Mary Clarke, in Dorchester, south of Boston. Thomas was a prosperous merchant who settled in Boston by 1643…
The “Geneva Bible,” 1560, title page. “The Bible and Holy Scriptures conteyned in the Olde and Newe Testament. Translated according to the Ebrue and Greke, and conferred With the best translations in divers langages. With moste profitable annotations upon all the hard places, and other things of great importance as may appeare in the Epistle to the Reader. Geneva: Printed by Rouland Hall, M D L X”
Crocodile hunting in Florida, in Theodor de Bry, “Brevis Narratio eorum quæ in Florida,” 1591, based on illustrations by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues; Part II of de Bry, Grand Voyages
The arrival of the French at Cape François, Florida, in 1562; entitled “Floridae Promontorium ad quod Galliapellunt, Gallicum ab illis nuncupatem [“The Promontory of Florida . . .”],” in Theodor de Bry, “Brevis Narratio eorum quæ in Florida,” 1591, Part II of Grand Voyages
The massacre at Jamestown colony (attack of Opechancanough Indians March 22, 1622), in Theodor de Bry, Part XIII of Grand Voyages, 1627
François Dubois, “The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Eve,” [August 24, 1572], date?
Illustration purportedly of the Prayerbook Rebellion, 1549, entitled “Rebellion in Devonshire” [marginal heading], London, 1560?. From the site: “This page extracted from an unidentified black-letter chronicle published during the reign of Elizabeth shows what is probably the earliest printed illustration of Exeter. It illustrated an account of the Western Rebellion of 1549, when Exeter was besieged for several weeks by objectors to the new prayer books which had been introduced by the Act of Uniformity. The woodcut bears no resemblance to Exeter and probably did duty in a variety of other publications to illustrate a range of battles around towns across Europe and beyond.”
Hanging and mutilation of Edmund Campion, English Catholic Jesuit, London, England, 1581 (detail); engraving in Giovanni Baptista Cavalleri, Ecclesiae Anglicanae Trophaea sive Sanctor Martyrum Rome, 1584. From the site: “the volume reproduced frescoes painted in the church of the English College in Rome in 1583 depicting the history of Christianity in England and Wales. In this engraving: ‘(A) Edmund Campion of the Society of Jesus preaches from the gibbet and is hanged along with Alexander of Rheims and Ralph Sherwin, an alumnus of this college. (B) Their bodies still warm, heart and entrails are taken out and thrown into the fire. (C) Their limbs are boiled, then suspended on the towers and gates of the city, in the reign of Elizabeth, the first of December, 1581.’”
“Nieu Amsterdam, cum Privilegio Ordinum Hollandiae et West-Frisiae,” engraving, by an unidentified artist (Dutch, mid-17th century), 1642–1643.
World map, 1565: Paolo Forlani, “Vniversale descrittione di tvtta la terra conoscivta fin qvi,” published by F. Berteli, Venice, 1565; based on an earlier map by Giacomo Gastaldi
The “Bay Psalm Book”: The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1640. From the site: “This humble and well-worn hymnal was printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Stephen Daye, first printer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is the very first book printed in what is now the United States.”
Gravestone of Phebe Gorham, d. 1775, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Portrait of Rev. John Eliot, by unidentified artist, 1659. From the Natick Historical Society site: “The ‘Apostle to the Indians,’ John Eliot (1604–1690) was born in Widford, England and educated at Christ College, Cambridge. He immigrated to New England in 1631 and was pastor of the church in Roxbury from 1632 until his death. Eliot began preaching to the Indians at Nonantum in 1646, first in English and later in their own language. He was instrumental in the founding in England of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England by Parliament. He assisted in the organization of 14 Christian-Indian communities. King Philip’s War caused the decline of the ‘praying villages,’ after the Indians were sent to Deer Island where they endured such hardships that few returned. Eliot also helped write the Bay Psalm Book and was the author of many other books and religious treatises, including the Bible that he translated into the Algonquian dialect.”
Thomas Smith, Self-Portrait, ca. 1680. From the site: “Thomas Smith was a seventeenth-century Anglo-American mariner and artist. … Besides his role as an artist, interpretations of Smith’s autobiographical painting suggest that he fought in naval battles and was a Puritan.”
Puritan church with a pulpit, pews, and no altar; center aisle, Old Ship Meeting House, Hingham, Massachusetts; built in 1681, restored in the 1930s, as photographed ca. 1933
Increase Mather, published sermon, 1682, title page: “HEAVEN’S ALARM TO THE WORLD. OR A SERMON, wherein is shewed That Fearful Sights And Signs in Heaven, are the PRESAGES of great CALAMITIES at hand, Preached at the Lecture of Boston in New-England; January, 20, 1680. Boston: Printed for Samuel Sewall. And are to be sold by John Browning at the corner of the Prison-lane next to the Town-house, 1682.”
John Edwards, published sermon, 1684, title page: “COMETOMANTIA. A DISCOURSE OF COMETS: Shewing their Original, Substance, Place, Time, Magnitude, Motion, Number, Colour, Figure, Kinds, Names, and, more especially, their Prognosticks, Significations and Presages. Being a brief Resolution of a seasonable Query, viz., Whether the Apparition of Comets be the Sign of approaching Evil? Where also is inserted an essay of Judiciary Astrology, giving Satisfaction to this grand Question, Whether any certain Judgments and Predictions concerning future Events, can be made from the Observation of the Heavenly Bodies? Both occasioned by the Appearance of the late Comets in England and other Places. London: Printed for Brab. Aylmer, 1684.”