John Winthrop

Paola Lozano, Ryan Barlow, Santiago Fredo, Frankie Harnandez

Biography of John Winthrop!

As an English family living in Suffolk, England, Winthrop's father was a rising country gentlemen who possessed a 500 acre estate bought from Henry VIII. Therefore, Winthrop belonged to the prestigious social class, the gentry, which were the movers and shakers of English society between 1540 and 1640. Winthrop's family's powerful social status was the catalyst for his future leadership roles in colonial American society.

Winthrop began his adult life as a devoted Puritan and a committed attorney. For 20 years he possessed no clear interest in overseas colonization, however the economic slump of the late 1620s as well as Charles I's anti Puritan policy made him jump at the opportunity to join the Massachusetts Bay company in their quest to plant a colony in New England. Winthrop was then elected governor of Massachusetts by the other members of the company.

For the remaining 19 years of his life, Winthrop was a father figure and pillar of leadership for the colonists. In the annual Massachusetts elections he was elected governor 12 times between 1631-1648. His colonial life consisted of three distinct periods where his roles and contributions to colonial society differed.

In the early 1630s, he was the creative driving force behind the colonists decisions, guiding them as they put down a network of organized towns, each having a church with its own self-professed saints.

In the late 1630s opposition to his role became more prominent and plentiful. Winthrop was incredibly displeased when the freeman (voters) insisted on electing a representative assembly that would aid Winthrop in all decision making. When colonists began leaving Massachusetts and migrating to Connecticut, Winthrop was incredibly offended, and interpreted their actions as a personal attack on him.

By 1640, Winthrop had become suspicious of all new ideas and influences, and was certain that his Massachusetts Bay colony was favored by God among all others. His own political policy was efficiently summed up in a 1645 speech, where he “defined the magistrates authority very broadly, and the people’s liberty very narrowly”(“John Winthrop” 6).

History displays John Winthrop as somewhat of a tyrannical ruler, with some critics viewing him as a visionary utopian, while others have seen him as a social reactionary (somebody who is an extreme conservative and opposes social progress). Regardless of how history sees him, it is undeniable that he was generally well respected and loved among the colonists. He displayed a passion for his colony and cared for his people in ways he best saw fit. Although he was often misguided and tyrannical in his beliefs and actions, he was loyal to his people till the end, and truly believed his way was the right way for his fellow colonists.

Citizenship and John Winthrop!

Definition of Citizenship: the status of being a citizen; the quality of an individual's response to membership in a community.

Did John Winthrop have Citizenship?

John Winthrop loved his Massachusetts Bay colony community with all of his heart. He had so much love for it, however, that he had trouble sharing the decision making process with other people. Besides his desire to have complete control over the decisions regarding the colony, Winthrop was a man of great citizenship. He acted as a father figure to those around him in his community and showed great compassion and love for his companions. On the journey to Massachusetts from England, he composed a lay sermon, “A Modell of Christian Charity,” in which he envisioned the people of the Massachusetts Bay colony in covenant with God and one another. He wanted his community to be what his religion described as “holy”, and urged his people to to adopt a combination of group discipline and individual responsibility in order to achieve immediate and lasting success for the colony. In addition to contributing to his community with his leadership, he was also the creative force behind the network of tightly organized towns that were built. Winthrop’s role as governor was not merely a figurehead position, as he was actively involved in the success of his colony, and the happiness of his people. John Winthrop was without a doubt a man of great citizenship.

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Integrity and John Winthrop

Definition of Integrity:

The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness

Did John Winthrop have integrity?

Attributing John Winthrop as a man with or without integrity is not a black and white issue. While he was a devout Puritan, a denomination of the Protestant church that adheres strictly to the rules and morals stated in the bible, he did not always display the integrity one would think a Puritan should display. He showed great religious intolerance, and when a woman named Anne Hutchinson took control of his Boston church in 1636 and wished to welcome the whole colony to her different beliefs, Winthrop viewed it as blasphemous. He had her formally tried before the Boston church, and then excommunicated. He was also often tyrannical in his rule, desiring complete power over all decision making in the colony. He was incredibly two-faced and dishonest in his handling of Roger Williams, the founder of the rhode island colony. Winthrop publicly branded Williams criticism of church-state relations as intolerable, but then secretly helped him flee to Rhode island. Winthrop did, however, display many morally admirable traits. He was incredibly loyal and loving to his people, as well as devoted to the success of the colony. He worked long hours and devoted much of his time to helping the people of his colony succeed. Throughout his life, Winthrop was both a man who often displayed integrity, as well as a man who often lacked it.


"John Winthrop." NNDB: Tracking the entire world. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2013. <>.

"God In America: People: John Winthrop | PBS ." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2013. <>.

"John Winthrop (American colonial governor) -- Encyclopedia Britannica." Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2013. <>.