Tag Archives: newspapers

Looking Back to Colonial Times from December 1895: Puritans versus Christmas


American attitudes toward Christmas haven’t always been so positive. But what could possibly be wrong with Christmas? Well, for the Puritans, the problem was their enemies celebrated Christmas.

Wait — let me back up and be a bit more modest with my claim. Here’s just a snapshot of a perspective from a time that was not better or purer, but certainly earlier, before the television age, before the middle class was allegedly indoctrinated by left-wing professors in colleges. On Dec. 19, 1895, The Sequachee News of Sequachee, Tenn., published the following italicized section under the headline “Colonial Christmas:”

The Puritans were sorely tried by the way in which Christmas was observed in the colony in 1658, and at the first General Court subsequently held the following law was passed:

“For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like either by forbearing of labor, feasting or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings as a fine to the country.”

The following from a letter from Amos Lawrence to his son, William K. Lawrence, then at school in France shows the beginning of the change of sentiment. Its date is December 27, 1830:

“I suppose Christmas is observed with great pomp in France. It is a day which our Puritan forefathers, in their separation from the Church of England, endeavored to blot out from these days of religious festivals; and this because it was observed with so much pomp by the Romish Church. In this, as well as in many other things, they were unreasonable as though they had said they would not eat bread as the Roman Catholics do. I trust and hope the time is not far distant when Christmas will be observed by the descendants of the Puritans with all suitable respect as the first and highest holiday of Christians, combining all the feelings and views of New England Thanksgiving with all the other feelings appropriate to it.”

I really like this line: “In this, as well as in many other things, they were unreasonable as though they had said they would not eat bread as the Roman Catholics do.”

I’m glad Amos Lawrence’s hopes turned out to be prophetic.

Unfortunately, Puritans were even worse in other areas. Other U.S. newspapers, before the television age, before the alleged indoctrination of the middle class by left-wing professors in colleges, published troubling articles about the American Puritans. Stunningly, they killed much, much more than the Christmas spirit.

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The Indian Advocate, Nov. 1, 1905, Critiques Puritan Treatment of Native Americans


…thirty-two exterminated native tribes…

I’ve been trying to understand the possibility that someone could be “spiritually enlightened” and radically unethical, at the same time.

Or, how someone could be wise enough to send down through the ages spiritual insight yet foolish enough to kill those who got in the way of worldly progress.

Here’s a perspective from The Indian Advocate newspaper, published Nov. 1, 1905:

“When the government committed itself to the Anglo-Saxon policy of civilization, reflected and enacted by the Puritans; it turned out to be, as might have been anticipated, not only of problematical advantage and uncertain success from an ethical standpoint, but disastrous to the fair repute of the nation and fatal to the life of the Indian. The melancholy humor of the somewhat timeworn witticism that ‘when landing upon Plymouth Rock, the Puritans first fell upon their knees and then upon the aborigines,’ is so unassailably in accord with historic facts borne out by the bloody roster of thirty-two exterminated native tribes, that the droll comment ‘it was a pity that the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock instead of Plymouth Rock landing on the Puritans,’ has more than a semblance of retributive justification. ‘The Puritans,’ says an historical writer in a volume fresh from the press, ‘adopted the Cromwellian method in which they had been bred and trained. They extinguished the Indian title (to lands) by the simple, sure and irrevocable expedient of extinguishing the Indian.’”

A Snaphot of Christianized Nationalism in the U.S., 1916


While there’s no precise analogy between our time and 1916, this newspaper clipping certainly holds some eerily familiar echoes:

From The Devils Lake World and Inter-Ocean, a newspaper in Devils Lake, N.D., June 29, 1916: nationalism It seems strange to sing patriotic songs in a sanctuary built for worshiping God.

But the issue then as now is not so much replacing one thing for another as conflating two unlike things.

Bishop and several masculine pronouns hook up, thanks to Charleston newspaper


In an otherwise great article about Bishop Charles vonRosenberg (who today confirmed my eldest daughter), the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., allowed several third-person-singular-male pronouns to hook-up with Bishop Gene Robinson.

A Charleston reporter forces Bishop Robinson to hook up with several "he"s

You’ve really got to watch who your pronouns refer to. (Also, never end a sentence with a preposition.)

The “he” at the beginning of the second pictured paragraph (above) should have been a reintroduction of vonRosenberg’s name.

Well, if journalists don’t need a good dose of Christian forgiveness, no one does.