Transgressing the Bounds: Subversive Enterprises Among the Puritan Elite in Massachusetts, 1630-1692

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This study offers a new interpretation of the puritan 'Antinomian' controversy and a skilful analysis of its wider and long term social and cultural significance. Breen argues that the controversy both reflected and fostered larger questions of identity that would persist in puritan New England throughout the seventeenth century: How much room for individualism among them of a more 'cosmopolitan' nature? How did they respond to those who did not share their celebrated tolerance toward Quakers, Indians, and outside influences in general? Central to Breen's study is the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massuchusetts, a private military company modelled on the fashionable 'artillery gardens' of London. Essentially an elite social club, this organization attracted a heterogeneous yet prominent membership whose diversity contrasted with the the social and religious ideals of the cultural majority.