Debating – and Creating – Authority: The Failure of a Constitutional Ideal in Massachusetts Bay, 1629-1649, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Debating – and Creating – Authority

The Failure of a Constitutional Ideal in Massachusetts Bay, 1629-1649, 1st Edition

By Elizabeth Dale


174 pages

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Paperback: 9781138724556
pub: 2019-11-04

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This title was first published in 2001. In the tight frame of its first twenty years, Massachusetts Bay dramatically altered its constitutional order from a theocracy to an oligarchy, led by magistrates who created their own authority and defined the limits on their almost unlimited power. Debating-and Creating-Authority examines this shift in constitutional order at various levels and looks in particular at the efforts to create the theocracy and its subsequent collapse in terms of a fundamental democratical flaw at the centre of the theocratic ideal.


’…a useful contribution to the literature on Puritan New England.’ Journal of American History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Imagining a polity; A system at odds with itself; Crises of authority; Failure of authority; Authority and orthodoxy; Reinterpretations; Untethering the beast; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Elizabeth Dale, Assistant Professor, US Legal History Department of History, University of Florida, Gainsville, Florida, USA

About the Series

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General