A Reforming People

Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England

By David D. Hall

With a New Foreword by the Author

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, index

Not for Sale in British Commonwealth except Canada

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7311-3
    Published: August 2012
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-3711-5
    Published: August 2012
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4401-9
    Published: August 2012

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In this revelatory account of the people who founded the New England colonies, historian David D. Hall compares the reforms they enacted with those attempted in England during the period of the English Revolution. Bringing with them a deep fear of arbitrary, unlimited authority, these settlers based their churches on the participation of laypeople and insisted on "consent" as a premise of all civil governance. Puritans also transformed civil and criminal law and the workings of courts with the intention of establishing equity. In this political and social history of the five New England colonies, Hall provides a masterful re-evaluation of the earliest moments of New England’s history, revealing the colonists to be the most effective and daring reformers of their day.

About the Author

David D. Hall is Bartlett Research Professor of New England Church History at Harvard Divinity School. He is author or editor of numerous books on American religious and cultural history, including Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment.
For more information about David D. Hall, visit the Author Page.


“[A] captivating study...offers aglimpse of a small slice of American religious history, challenging prevailing ideas about the nature of reform in Puritan New England."--Publisher's Weekly

"A bright history... and [a] reminder that we have inherited more than a few of our forefathers' growing pains."--Boston Globe

"A remarkably sophisticated and lucid work that ultimately shifts the established paradigm and opens up numerous avenues for further research."--Library Journal

"This book presents a well-argued thesis that will be of value to both specialists and well-informed general readers."--Booklist

"Hall effectively dispels the stereotype of Puritans as authoritative, intolerant, and repressive...an excellent study for any reader seeking a precise account of Puritan New England's accomplishments."--Magill Book Reviews

"Hall's book is persuasive, thanks to his detailed research...[his] prose helps to elucidate complex issues."--Providence Journal Arts Blog