The term “Puritans” began to be used in the middle of the 16th century, and it was applied to people characterized by great religious and moral earnestness, who were followers of Calvin. An important consequence of Calvin’s theory of presidential was the interpretation of material success and prosperity as signal evidence of divine grace: a successful man was certainly predestined for salvation. This explains why the countries where Calvinism developed, including the USA, have seen an enterprising, thriving middle class, bent on the making of money. A more subtle consequence – which was to have great effect on Victorian moralism – was the tendency to evaluate people from appearance and behaviour.
The Puritans met stern opposition in their country. This is why a group of them decided to look for religious freedom and start a new life in another land. The Puritans who migrated to America in the Mayflower are known as the Pilgrim Fathers.
This is how the American journalist Richard Lingeman described the mentality of the early settlers of New England: “Godly people, the Puritans believed, must live under the constant surveillance of their neighbors if they were to stay godly. They regarded humankind as incorrigibly sinful.”
Even if Puritans domination finished in 1660, it left a mark never to be completely extinguished in British and American society