What John Winthrop and Adam Smith Sought in the New York

American Literature


This work is set to uncover what John Winthrop and Adam Smith Sought in the New Work, America. The analysis would also describe their dream and analyze whether or not they were successful in achieving it. The analysis endeavors to prove that John Winthrop achieved his dream by bring democracy into America and also uniting people together through imposition of Christian virtues and values of love and unity. The analysis also endeavors to show that Adam Smith succeeded in describing how capitalism can promote social and civil betterment.


John Winthrop was the first governor of Massachusetts. He was influential but many perceived him with mixed reactions and perceptions. Some admired and some loathed (Holland 4). However, as time goes, his efforts begin yielding fruits and he started gaining fame, respect and became among the most influential person in American History. This is evidence by Holland (4), where he describes how Nathaniel Hawthorne acknowledges Winthrop’s more admirable virtues and contributions. John Winthrop is one of the colonialists who shaped the identity of America significantly. He can rightly be called the father of exemplary American exceptionalism. For example, in one of his famous writing entitled “A Model of Christian Charity”, it is apparent that Winthrop envisions for a new society full of mercy. He believes that mercy, which brings love, is the best way of bringing unity of the new community. Closer look at Winthrop’s writings reveals that he aims at the radical unity of the people of God at Massachusetts Bay through mercy and the inward love granted only by Christ’s possessing soul. He believes that mercy needs to spring from love if real unity and harmony are to be achieved in society. John Winthrop is a person who envisions bringing people together by teaching them to show love on one another and to fulfill the covenant made between man and God as shown in the Bible. He wanted to prepare the people at Massachusetts Bay to be a good example to the world (Litke 200). He warns his people of the dire consequences of their failure to meet the high bar God has set for their community. He wanted his people to succeed because he believes that success is a reflection of God’s favor towards men. John Winthrop expected the colony to do what God expects of man or else they will not get the blessings from God. One justification that places him as an exemplary American exceptionalism is apparent in a statement which John Winthrop argues that “If our hearts shall disobey and get seduced and worship other gods, our pleasures, and profits, and serve them; it is proposed unto us this day that we shall certainly succumb out of good land wither we pass over this past sea to possess it (Litke 201). In addition, closer analysis of Winthrop’s writing shows that their aim at Massachusetts Bay was not based on worldly power but rather faith and knowledge of history. They were to make America a place to be imitated by the world by setting up good example. They did not want to conquer and rule the Massachusetts but wanted to act as missionaries and pass the word of God to the people so that they could live according to God’s will and be example to others. Apart from instilling good Christian virtues to Americans, it is important to note that another most influential contribution made by Winthrop and the Puritans is that they introduced the America’s culture of democracy and law. In virtually all his speeches, he urges people that the work of setting up both civil and ecclesiastical power must be done by mutual consent. He changed the composition of leadership to the benefit of all. For example, when he arrived at Massachusetts, the governors in power were decidedly class conscious, personally ambitious, and imbued with a sense of godly mission but Winthrop changes the situations to allow any desiring adult male to apply for freemen position. John Smith is another person who contributed to American literature. He was one of the early colonizers of Virginia. He is well known for his notorious self-promotion. Like John Wimpthon, John Smith was born in England and since his childhood and adolescence, he is portrayed as ambitious and adventurous. He was a realist. He was aware of the perils and dangers of emigrant and at the same time optimistic that life in the new world is afforded. There is a sharp contrast between John Smith and John Winthrop. The major difference is that John Smith envisions America based on secular elements whereas John Winthrop envisioned America based on the religious principles. Smith’s vision are considered real and became dominant political philosophy. One of his major experience is when he was dealing with American Indians. Many historians believe that he employed brutal and exploitative colonization process in dealings with American Indians. However, other historians such as Leo Lemey believe that John Smith intentions was to free all humanity from oppression and want. John’s writings shows that despite the challenges and trials, his endeavors were to promote successful English colonization. He wanted a situation where those individuals with natural ability are allowed to rise to leadership position, irrespective of their social origin.  His American Dream was motivated by the experiences he had gone through while in England. Source reveals that Smith and other relatively low-born Englishmen had impacted to the society even more positively than most “gentlemen”. That is why he did not discriminate Indians because he believe that they could achieve all that the English had accomplished. Unlike other colonialists who believed that they were superior and looked down upon or dominate others, Smith sympathized with Indians desire to protect their land.


The foregoing discussion has reveals that both the John Winthrop and Adam Smith shaped the America by describing how America should be. Whereas John Winthrop envisions American characterized by unity and democracy, Adam Smith envisions America characterized by capitalism and social betterment. Smith argues that a capitalist society is more likely to enjoy more benefits associated with more profits realized by competition.


Holland M. Remembering John Winthrop—Hawthorne’s Suggestion. Perspectives On Political Science [serial online]. Winter2007 2007;36(1):4-14. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 27, 2014. Whybrow, Peter C. “COMMENTARIES: Adam Smith’s American Dream: Time To Take Stock.” Psychological Inquiry 18.1 (2007): 57-59. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Oct. 2014. Litke, Justin B. “Varieties Of American Exceptionalism: Why John Winthrop Is No Imperialist.” Journal Of Church & State 54.2 (2012): 197-213. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.

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