On Thursday, June 21, the Pratt Room was buzzing with talk of Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams as Francis Bremer, Professor Emeritus at Millersville University, brought a packed house back to 17th century America. He chided those who would be quick to criticize the Puritans' actions as "morally wrong". Bremer told those of us sitting around the table what he always impressed on his students, that every society sets boundaries for beliefs and behavior. While today's boundaries are much broader, his contemporary example is Mormons being prohibited from practicing polygamy in the United States.
Bremer's latest book First Founders: American Puritanism in an Atlantic World deals with some of the lesser known characters in early America. I found the anecdotes that Professor Bremer shared about these characters the most interesting part of our conversation; it gave us the opportunity to see the individuals in the context of a larger world and through the lens of their own cultural.
The lunch audience appreciated Professor Bremer's presentation and, as usual, asked challenging and thought provoking questions that led the discussion deeper into subjects as diverse as the disappearance of original manuscripts to the "laziness" of scholars who depend on second- and third-hand sources for their research.
The Congregational Library is so fortunate to have so many original manuscripts and records from the Puritans and those who followed. Francis Bremer's books, including First Founders: American Puritanism in an Atlantic World and Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction are available to read and borrow at the Congregational Library, and for purchase through many booksellers.
If you missed this event and would like to experience a bit of it, there is a video inteview with Francis Bremer on our YouTube channel.