Massachusetts Historical Society


A Constitutional Culture: New England & the Struggle Against Arbitrary Rule in the Restoration Empire


Adrian Chastain Weimer, Providence College

This is a virtual event.

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In A Constitutional Culture, Adrian Chastain Weimer uncovers the story of how, more than 100 years before the American Revolution, colonists pledged their lives and livelihoods to the defense of local political institutions against arbitrary rule. With Charles II’s return to the English throne in 1660, the Puritan-led colonies faced enormous pressure to conform to the crown’s priorities. Those resisting the crown included not just freemen (voters) but also people often seen as excluded or marginalized such as non-freemen, indentured servants, and women. Together these people crafted a potent regional constitutional culture in defiance of Charles II that was characterized by a skepticism of metropolitan ambition, a defense of civil and religious liberties, and a conviction that self-government was divinely sanctioned. Weimer shows how the dissenters expressed this constitutional culture through fast days, debates, committee work, and petitions. Equipped with a ready vocabulary for criticizing arbitrary rule, with a providentially informed capacity for risk-taking, and with a set of intellectual frameworks for divided sovereignty, the constitutional culture that New Englanders forged would not easily succumb to an imperial authority intent on consolidating its power.

The virtual program begins at 6:00 PM and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.

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