The legacy of ” A city upon a hill”

 

John Winthrop, the first leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and devout Puritan, wrote A Modell of Christian Charity, to facilitate the development of a strong community, as he and many other puritan settlers were on their way to the new land on the ship Arabella. In his sermon he discusses how the colonist should treat each other in order to ensure the survival of the new colony as well as listing the three reasons for differentiation of rank in society. He notes that firstly, God demonstrates his wisdom in creating different ranks of man, each rank is meant to respect each other, and lastly it brings mankind closer together so that through love and respect we can also depend on one another. To finish his sermon, he states “For wee must consider that wee shall be as a city upon a hill”, meaning that the colony must follow those three guidelines in order for the community to survive because they will be watched by outsiders and if they fail as a community they will have failed God and their beliefs. Winthrop intended for the community to lead by example with Puritan beliefs, due to him and many other Puritans not being able to live under Charles I, who was against the Puritan ideology. Winthrop wanted each class to work together and be able to rely on one another for a properly functioning community, but today we have conflicts amongst majority of Americans in regards to beliefs, gender conformity, politics, and many more. In some regards the “city upon the hill” is still in tact in that America is still one of the leading countries for opportunity and equality, and in some aspects Winthrop was expressing a faith in American Nationalism that would predate the founding of the United States in 1776 which in a sense gave way to the idea of our first amendment. The key difference being that Winthrop was enforcing Puritan ideals and today we focus on a separation of church and state although religion does come up a lot in politics. John Milton on the other hand had different intentions on the meaning of “a city upon the hill” in his speech given to Parliament in 1644, he titled it AREOPAGITICA, in reference to the speech given to the ancient counsel of Athens in regards to the diminished power of the Aeropagus counsel, elders of the community, that would meet on top of a hill. Milton referenced the City on the hill to demonstrate just like the Aeropagus lost rights from the council, people elected from the community, the English people lost their rights when parliament put restrictions on literature. Both Winthrop and Milton are similar in their use of a “city upon a hill” to demonstrate the importance of freedom but they differ on what it means to be that city on the hill. Winthrop means to lead by example with puritan beliefs while Milton means to demonstrate the effects of restriction on their freedom, but they both are stressing the importance of freedom and respect of different ideas which in most aspects is still held in todays world although it is not always as effective as some may wish it to be.  The recent Women’s march that began in the united states was a movement seen all around the world, demonstrating just how important America is to the rest of the world. Marches were seen across the globe in support of women’s rights, although here in America women have more rights than many other women across the globe. The point being that America is still a “city upon the hill” in that across the globe we as a nation have influences everywhere. What happens in America is discussed globally whether that be good or bad. With such a powerful country and an emphasis on freedom of speech and equality, America is constantly in the spotlight and scrutinized for everything that happens as a nation. For example, the election of Trump is globally talked about and has many other governments not only responding on social media in response to Trumps winning the election but also taking political matters into their own hands to support international efforts that trump has just attempted to stop funding for. America will always be “the city upon the hill” I think because with such a powerful country that is so different and so free compared to most other places in the world, we will always be scrutinized for being essentially the symbol of freedom.

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2 thoughts on “The legacy of ” A city upon a hill”

  1. I think the main idea is comparing the use of “City upon a Hill” by Winthrop and Milton. However, I’m not sure I understand the reference to modern politics and how it is relevant to the rest of the post. If you elaborated on that it would strengthen the claim immensely.

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  2. I think the most original part of this post is its use of multiple sources like Milton. I think as an improvement you should veer away from current politics. It may add relevance but it does not add to the source content we are analyzing.

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