What Does Johnson Claim Was the Single Most Important Formative Event in Early American History?

In the world of early American history, there are a plethora of events that shaped the nation into what it is today. However, one particular event stands out in the eyes of historian Paul Johnson; an event that he claims was the single most important formative event in early American history.

So, what is this event? Let’s explore.

The Event

According to Johnson, the single most important formative event in early American history was the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620. This was a significant moment because it marked the beginning of permanent European settlement in what would become the United States.

The Context

To fully understand why Johnson considers this event so crucial, it’s essential to look at the context of early America. Before European settlers arrived, Native American tribes had been inhabiting North America for centuries. However, when Europeans began to arrive, they brought with them new technologies, diseases, and ways of living that drastically changed life on the continent.

The Pilgrims

The Pilgrims were a group of English Separatists who fled religious persecution and sought religious freedom in America. They arrived at Plymouth Rock on November 21st, 1620 after a grueling journey across the Atlantic on board the Mayflower.

The Significance

Johnson argues that this event was critical because it marked not only permanent European settlement but also a new way of thinking about society and government. The Pilgrims established a self-governing colony based on democratic principles and individual freedoms. This model would go on to influence future colonies and eventually become foundational to American democracy.

  • Self-Governance: The Pilgrims established a system of self-governance based on mutual consent and agreement.
  • Individual Freedom: The colony was founded on the principles of religious freedom, which would later become a cornerstone of American society.
  • Democratic Principles: The Pilgrims established a representative government that allowed for the voice of the people to be heard.

The Legacy

The legacy of the Pilgrims lives on today in American society. Their beliefs in individual freedom, self-governance, and democratic principles are still foundational to American democracy. Additionally, their arrival marked the beginning of a new era in American history, one that would see significant growth and development.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Paul Johnson claims that the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620 was the single most important formative event in early American history. This event marked not only permanent European settlement but also introduced new ways of thinking about society and government that are still foundational to American democracy today.