Connections and Relevance of the Exhibit

Connections and Relevance

In their own ways, each page on this site is connected. Maps, religious thought, and laws are all related to each other. There are stories and context to all of the items in the exhibit. No matter the type of item, something affected its creation, whether that be a map, a law, or religious thought. 


In the collection of items there are laws that detail property rights and the ownership, or lake thereof, of land, as seen in the “Abstract or the laws of New England as they are novv established”. These laws that were established are driven by necessity and functionality, but also by puritan beliefs and ideals. 


Maps can describe and give context to stories, laws, and religious thoughts. Thanks to the maps of New England, stories can be followed, like that of Anne Hutchinson. After her banishment from the Massachusetts colony, she went to Providence to live out the rest of her days. The map details the location of Providence and the Massachusetts colony, and gives context to the story. One of the main goals of English colonization was to educate indigenous people about Christianity. The first bible printed in New England was a testament to that goal. John Elliot published a bible in Algonquin, which is the native language of a few indigenous groups. Maps give context and meaning to stories like these and show that maps are not merely locations on a piece of paper but are representative of unique stories. 


Maps can also demonstrate the priorities of the creator and the audience. For example, Captain Smith’s map of New England depicts the sizes and locations of forts, which indicates that either the creator or the audience was particularly concerned with safety and security. In the same map, there are depictions of creatures, which makes the observer see the area as mysterious and wild. Maps are used in this way to create a narrative for the reader and get the reader to think a certain way about an area or group of people. 


Maps themselves are connected. Many English colonies were established by the Virginia company. These colonies were depicted in maps, sometimes even in the same book. For example, in the book by Captain John Smith, there is a map of Bermuda and New England in the same book. Both of these colonies were established by the Virginia Company, and are connected through trade and transport. 


Governance was driven by religion in England and New England. Many of the acts and laws passed in New England had religious undertones. For example, in the “true relation of the proceedings against certain Quakers”, it is clear that there were religious reasons for the verdict. The trial, and subsequent summary by Edward Rawson, did not need to include the fact that the people being judged were Quakers. However, religion undoubtedly played a part in the steep penalties given out to the three Quakers (including banishment and death), as Massachusetts was a Puritan colony. In the case of Anne Hutchinson, the Puritan court of the Massachusetts colony held that her beliefs were not congruent with the beliefs of the colony and those of the magistrates, so she was banished. 


As evident in the western design, the Protestant English believed they were superior to the Catholic Spanish. Their conquest largely failed in its broad, excessive goals. However, this English sentiment of superiority can be seen in other fields. In the map called “A New and Correct Map of the World”, London cartographer Herman Moll asserts that he has used the most exact observations, but does England have the means of truly obtaining these observations. The map contains numerous errors and shortcomings but serves the greater purpose of advocating English literacy and knowledge (Golin). 


Further Reading: Michael Winship, The Times and Trials of Anne Hutchinson, 2005

Carla Gardina Pestana, English Conquest of Jamaica, 2017

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