Puritan Smackdown: Be round if you would

Posted on May 21, 2012. Filed under: 17th century America, Colonial America, Puritans | Tags: , , |

My favorite passage from John Winthrop’s diary is this, from August 3, 1632:

“After dinner the deputy [Thomas Dudley, Winthrop’s periodic rival] then demanded of him [Winthrop—he wrote about himself in the third person in his diary] the ground and limits of his authority, whether by the patent [the colony’s charter] or otherwise. The governor [Winthrop] answered that he would challenge no greater authority than he might by the patent. The deputy replied that then he had no more authority than every assistant (except power to call courts and precedency for honor and order). The governor answered he had more, for the patent making him a governor by common law or the statutes, and desired him to show wherein he had exceeded, etc.

“In speaking this somehwat apprehensively, the deputy began to be in passion and told the governor that if he were so round he would be round too. The governor bade him be round if he would. So the deputy rose up in great fury and passion and the governor grew very hot also, so as they both fell into bitterness, but by mediation of the mediators they were soon pacified…”

So if you ever time travel back to Puritan New England in the 1630s, you’ll know what to say if you want to fight. Just bid someone be round if they would.

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