The Long Cold Civil War: Part III –The Puritan Insurgency

First of all, I apologize for my overdue discursus on the subject of American demography. It seems that I can only do about one sequel a year. Also I ask for forgiveness for the length of these pieces.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I’m fascinated by demographics and genetics, which I view as two sides of the same coin. And, as most of my readers are American, I’ve long been interested in what makes America tick. It is my contention that America has been involved in a “long, cold, civil war” since before the founding of the American Republic in 1789. This contention simmers for the most part and actually broke out in hostilities during the War Between the States. It’s still with us and in my opinion explains to a great degree the socio-political divisions –such as gun control–that roil us to this day.

In Part One, I described the four major British sub-groups that populated the American Colonies. (The information for this comes from David Hackett Fisher’s Albion’s Seed and James Webb’s Born Fightin’.) In Part Two, I explored the electoral implications of this phenomenon as it pertained to the 2016 election. Much of the emphasis was on the Scots-Irish who populated the South and its subsequent “vassal states”, i.e. Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana and Missouri and California (the last state during its cultural ascendancy ca 1940-1995). Andrew Jackson was the exemplar of this group.

At this point we will examine in more detail that group which made up New England and spread its influence along the Northern tier of states, especially Oregon and Washington State. As noted in Part One, the majority of this British sub-group came from the English Midlands and the Danelaw region which hugs the east coast of England. Their politico-religious ideology was Puritanism and they formed the backbone of Cromwell’s republican insurrection against King Charles I and the High-Church Cavaliers who supported him. (These Cavaliers were the group that migrated to Virginia and formed the Planter class of the South. Together with the Scots-Irish they formed what became the ethnic group that made up the Confederacy.)

To understand the mindset of the Yankee aristocracy of New England, which is the paradigm behind American Exceptionalism, we must hearken back to the England of the Reformation, which erupted in Civil War. The leader of this rebellion was Oliver Cromwell, who lead the “Roundheads” against King Charles I Stuart and his “Cavaliers”.

[Editor’s note: the majority of what follows comes from Chapter 7, “On the Edge of Prophecy: Puritan England and Hope of Israel”, pp 121-146; Barbara Tuchman, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour.]

There were underlying economic tensions behind this rebellion; the Roundheads were dispossessed or small landholders and their religious ideology gave them a martial edge that allowed them to carry the day over the more High-Church and dissolute Cavaliers. Their piety was decidedly iconoclastic or as they would say, “puritan”. And even though they came from the lower strata of the gentry, their moralism allowed them to look down upon Charles and his aristocratic followers.

It was during this time that a peculiar religious doctrine known as “Anglo-Israelism” started bubbling to the surface. It taught that the British peoples (as well as certain other Northern European nations) were the descendants of the so-called Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. This was a type of “birthright” theology which implied that there was a racial aspect to salvation history. This of course was completely at odds with orthodox Christian doctrine which taught that the Church is Israel and that anybody, whether Greek, Scythian, Edomite, etc. could be “grafted on to the stock of Abraham”.

It’s unknown when and where the Ten Lost Tribes doctrine first arose but it added an additional moral component to the Reformation. Unfortunately for the Reformed movement in England, and in particular, the Church of England, it took on a life of its own and its devotees began to look at the Anglican Church as just another iteration of the Roman Church, which for them was the original “Whore of Babylon”.

Anglo-Israelism also had political implications for the Jews of the Diaspora. In 1290, King Edward I “Longshanks” had ordered the mass expulsion of the Jews from England. This expulsion remained in force until Cromwell became Lord Protector in 1653. Previous to his ascension, Puritan theologians had been in contact with Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam, looking for ways to reverse that expulsion and allow them to move to England.

The theological reasons as far as the Puritans were concerned were manifold: first to convert the Jews to the Puritan version of Christianity; second, to send these new Jewish Christians to Palestine; and third, to await the second advent of the Messiah. Since the Puritans had eschewed icons, images, vestments and other vestiges of Anglican “popery”, they thought that the Jews would convert en masse to Christianity more easily.

To be sure, the philo-Semitic impulses of the Puritans was admirable in its own way. The feeling of some type of racial solidarity with the Jews (the remnants of the two Southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin with smatterings of Levi) must have played some role in this kinship.

The heterodox doctrines that animated them cannot be dismissed. The Puritans seemed to go out of their way to antagonize their countrymen in their style of dress and dour demeanor. As William Cunningham wrote of them: “The general tendency of Puritanism was to discard Christian morality and to substitute Jewish habits in its stead.” In retrospect, the Puritan subculture and Cromwellian ascendancy proved to be an embarrassing episode in British history, easily and enthusiastically forgotten.

This didn’t seem to bother them at the time however. Their reliance upon hebraicisms and endless Old Testament virtue- spiraling led many of their more extreme elements to embrace the Arian heresy outright. Some went to the stake firm in their conviction that Jesus was not the Second Person of the Trinity. Even the more moderate Puritans demanded in one of their petitions to King James I, that “they no longer be required to bow at the name of Jesus”. This may not have been intellectual Arianism (in that they rejected genuflections as well as sacrament and vestments) but it is certainly telling in its own way what they thought about the Jesus’ divinity, at least when push came to shove. In time, their Congregationalism would inevitably lead to outright Unitarianism, particularly in New England.

What was lost in all this was that, despite the subsequent (and massive) unpopularity of the Puritans, there was much to be found wanting in the Established Church and the overall laodicean spirit of the age. When viewed in this light the “hebraic spirit” was a welcome antidote to the “hellenic spirit of the Renaissance”. This was the opinion of Matthew Arnold, one of the more popular Puritan theologians. In Arnold’s view, the hellenic spirit was encapsulated by the formula “to think right”, whereas Hebraism was “to do right within the law”. Arnold had no quarrel with the hellenic spirit but had come to believe that it “had lost its moral fiber”. As such, Arnold said that it showed “a signal affinity for the bent which was the master-bent of Hebrew life”. “Our race has yet…a strong share of the assuredness, the tenacity, the intensity of the Hebrews.”

For their day, and despite their intense moralism, the Puritans were the most radical sect around. The Puritans had felt harried by the State, which had long seen itself as the “sword of the Church”. Their “mania for the Old Testament developed directly out of their experience of persecution by the Established Church” according to Tuchman. “The Church hounded and harried them, even to the gibbet, because of their refusal to acknowledge any authority other than the Bible and their own congregation.”

Worse, “[t]hey hated the episcopacy with the same passion that the first Protestants hated the [Papacy], and for the same reason: that the hierarchy, whether episcopal or papal, were self-appointed intruders between man and God –intruders whose perquisites and power, all too clearly of human origin, made a mockery of religion. The essence of the Puritan faith was the right of every man to interpret God’s law, as embodied in the Bible, directly to himself and to appeal to that law over any other, whether temporal or ecclesiastic.”

This of course is a type of Gnosticism which is almost as startling as was their penchant for iconoclasm. It was also politically radical and James I saw right through it from the start in his famous retort to their leaders: “No bishop, no King”. Their denial of hierarchy which led to their congregationalism in the spiritual sphere could only lead to republicanism.

It was this spirit that James’ son Charles I had to contend with during uprising that ultimately led to his execution at the hand of Cromwell.

When things had irretrievably broken down between Parliament and Charles I, the lessons of the Old Testament proved too seductive for the side of Parliament, especially the Puritan “Roundheads” who made up the backbone of its army. “In the Old Testament they found not only justification for slaying their enemies, but also exhortation to it.”

In their view, Charles was the hated Rehoboam, the son of Solomon “who hearkened not unto the people but answered them roughly, ‘My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions’, and upon that the Ten Tribes revolted with the cry, ‘To thy tents, O Israel!'”

The republican impulse of the ten Northern tribes had always been pronounced. Especially since the the tribe of Judah had viewed the kingship of Israel as their divine prerogative. The cleavage of the united Israelite kingdom of Saul, David and Solomon resulted. The Puritans however did not desire to secede from London but to conquer it and replace the monarchy with a commonwealth.

Under Cromwell, the “Lord Protector” and his son Richard, they succeeded, but only for a time. Their rule was for the most part disastrous and whetted the appetites of the English people for a restoration of the Stuart dynasty.

Though they failed in England, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams across the ocean in America.



  1. Michael Bauman says

    George you validate my long held belief that the American Revolution was an extension of the English civil war.

    The Arian spirit of Protestantism cannot be denied. The denial of the Incarnation is redolent in both opposing camps however.

    Each posits mankind as ruler so the fight for power is inevitable.

  2. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I should have laid a bet; at the least I should have posted my prognostication in one of the Freemasonry threads: George would soon be turning to Anglo-Israelism.

    George, you should have lived in the 19th century; you could have added to the musty forgotten tomes about the Masons, the Kazhar Ashkenazim, Anglo-Israelism, the Stone of Scone, etc. And how could pre-technical people have built the Pyramids, anyway?

    Same stuff that gave us the Book of Mormon….

    • George Michalopulos says

      O.k. you lost me. I don’t believe in ten lost tribes theology. The Puritans, a lot of them anyway did.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I suppose my point is that Anglo-Israelism is totally insignificant as regards Puritan theology, American Protestant religious development or anything else. It’s a tiny historical sideline.

        Now, there have been a couple of interesting Anglo-Israelism sects in modern times, the main one being Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. But these are just historical/cultural oddities. And even that one is now defunct.

  3. George Osborne says

    George….. I must take issue with you regarding the overall character of Great Britain during the Cromwellian period. You state that the period was “for the most part disastrous.” That, I believe is objectively untrue. By any measure, GB was stronger both economically and militarily than at any time before and certainly less dependent on the largesse of France or Spain. The Stuarts both before and after the Revolution sought and were generally granted by secret treaty generous stipends from these two powers to circumvent dependence on Parliment. The social fabric was strong; however, Cromwell’s great failing was that he was unable to stem the greed of the nobility and upper class who looked at the opportunity for public services as an opportunity to raid the coffers with bribes, appointments, and government jobs. Remember when he dismissed the new Parliament “of the Saints” and called them whoremongers and “no Parliament?” The Restoration returned to the status ante bellum and finally led to the Glorious Rebellion (so-called.) No, I think Cromwell was a light that was unable to long illuminate a very dark room! You may want to read Antonia Fraser’s biography of Cromwell – very good…warts and all! 🙂

    • George Michalopulos says

      Largely true but then again Cromwell was particularly nasty to the Irish.

      • Gus Viviades says

        Read Sowell’s Ethnic America and you will see the Irish deserved it. There were 66 Irish Catholics in the British Parliament at the time of their hygienically self-inflicted
        potato blight and none of them mentioned the famine, preferring instead dogmatic casuistries just like those of Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi today.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Me Osborne, if I may: while Oliver’s reign was successful, that of his son was not. I’ll leave aside for the moment Oliver’s atrocities at Drogheda, etc. When all was said and done, his memory was so execrated that London mobs dug up his grave, hanged his corpse then drew and quartered it.

      • George Osborne says

        Ah George… the old Drogheda massacre issue. In actuality…while it was certainly an atrocity… the incident did conform to the norms of warfare in the 17th century. Drogheda was under siege and was given the opportunity for honorable surrender in the face of overwhelming odds. They refused. In this event, Cromwell let his troops off the leash and the town was sacked. While a horrible event, the Irish have made Drogheda into part of their anti-British mythology of oppression and so it has passed into popular myth. Again, I invite you to do some research. As far as Richard was concerned, yes, certainly, he was a failure but that is no stain on his father’s contributions or what the Commonwealth tried to accomplish. Cromwell’s remains were not desecrated until after the Restoration when Charles II went on a systematic witch hunt to seize and punish all those who took part in his father’s death. It was not a London mob. It was the public executioner acting under judicial orders who exhumed the body, hung it on the common gibbet and then buried the remains under the scaffold. As a side note, Cromwell’s embalmed and tarred head was displayed on the London Bridge for many years. Eventually, a storm blew it down and Cromwell’sdaughter bribed a guard to give it to her. It was taken to Cambridge and buried in an anonymous courtyard of his old college there. It has rested there ever since. Look, I know you’re a Royalist at heart (so am I, actually!) but Cromwell has gotten a bad rap. If his influence translated into America, it was not his per se but the underlying Puritanism of New England which religion he shared. A very Happy Nativity to you and yours!

        • George Michalopulos says

          Mr Osborne, when you’re right (re: Drogheda), you’re right. While nasty, it was prosecuted under the normal military conventions of the time, no doubt. What was unfortunate was Cromwell’s oration on it to Parliament upon his return from Ireland. Not only does he praise God for the destruction of the Irish but it solidified in the minds of the English Protestants that the Irish as a whole were barely-human ape-men, deserving of any type of suffering that they experienced. This type of thinking set in motion the indifference that the English felt for them during the Potato Famine and descended into a vicious cycle of terrorism and violence throughout the 20th century.

          • George Osborne says

            When you’re right, George…you’re right. I absolutely agree with you regarding the later demonization of the Irish by the English. From the very beginning, the English saw Ireland as nothing but a conquerable province from which large land holdings could be dealt out to the favored. I wonder how you will treat the Irish issue when you get to the anti-Irish movements in America as …perhaps…scions of the 1650s? A joyous Nativity to you and your house!

  4. The first Greek churches were built by Benakis at New Orleans and Mobile, Franco-Spanish slave ports for Greek ships under other flags. The word Ku Klux Klan
    comes from the Greek Kuklos or Cyclos. The south was the source of modern fraternities and neoclassical architecture, which emulated the Greeks while the north emulated Rome and Harvard degrees are still in Latin. Greeks preferred to live in the south and Jefferson learned Greek from a Greek named John Paradise, the first naturalized American. AHEPA, GOA and Smyrna all happened in 1922 because it was the year Lenin won his civil war so he lent Attaturk Chechens because the Turks could not kill their neighbors in Smyrna and Greece had participated in League support for the Whites. As most USA Orthodox churches readily took the Czar’s money, Lenin proceeded to sell them. He succeeded in selling all ten seminaries but the churches began cloaking themselves with non-Russian ethnicities. As can be seen in Kourides centennial history of the NYC Cathedral, some ghetto churches in major cities had already been organized as private chapels of Masonic Athena Brotherhoods which became the model for AHEPA. Further proof of the lie of the AHEPA KKK canard is that most incidents against Greeks took place in Northern areas like Wisconsin settled mostly by central Europeans who saw the Greeks as extensions of their Russian 1848 oppressors. Kourides wrote that New York State had a law chartering that all Orthodox churches belonged to Moscow, making the Athena Brotherhood necessary.

    • V. Rev. Andrei Alexiev says

      I don’t know much about Greek American history, other than the fact that most Greek churches here were part of the Russian mission up until the 1917 Revolution.
      But I’m at a loss to understand what ten seminaries you are talking about. Please explain.
      Also, when you say that Central Europeans saw the Greeks as”extensions of their Russian 1848 oppressors”, are you referring to the Hungarians and the Poles? Again, not quite sure what you mean. Have you documented evidence of this?

      • Gus Viviades says

        I heard Hopko talk about the ten seminaries, saying that the books were sold to colleges and still have the original bookplate of ownership. But I have been unable to document this via Proquest. Indeed, Proquest shows that BOTH the Greek and Russian churches greatly exaggerate their points. Most Greek churches had some Russian ties, but not all. And, yes, Mark Twain and Abe Lincoln were both influenced by central Europe 1848 refugees in their hatred for Russia. But the Greeks also suffered at the hands of the Russians, esp Ignatieff and Eastern Roumelia.