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There Once Was a New England

A few years ago, I was talking about Timothy Dwight to an audience of people old enough to appreciate both his Christian orthodoxy and his old-fashioned patriotism.  When I mentioned Dwight’s passion for farming and his devotion to agriculture as a way of life, a man from Dwight’s adopted state of Connecticut informed me that there are now fewer than 50 people in the entire state who list themselves as “farmers.”  If one adds to that sad statistic the decline of Yale, which Timothy Dwight made into a great college, then one begins to realize how far New England has fallen from its place as a “city upon a hill.”

New England’s glory rested on the foundation of the most homogeneous population of any region in the history of North America.  Nathaniel Ward, author of the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, said cheerfully, non-Puritans “shall have free liberty to keep away from us, and such as will come to be gone as fast as they can, the sooner the better.”  East Anglian English founded and conquered what became the six states of New England proper and later moved their culture to Long Island, Northern New Jersey, most of Western New York, part of Western Pennsylvania, about half of Ohio and Indiana, parts of Southern Michigan and Northern Illinois, a little bit of Wisconsin, and almost all of the original Oregon.  As David Hackett Fischer shows...

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