57 U. Louisville L. Rev. 467 (2018-2019)
Commonwealth as Civic Communion

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COMMONWEALTH AS CIVIC COMMUNION


                         Sarah   A.  Morgan Smith*


During   the seventeenth   century, some   of the most   robust  commonwealth
theorizing   in Anglo-America grew out of the religious movement of
Puritanism.  This Article focuses on the ways  in which Massachusetts's First
Charter  period  (1630-1689)   functioned  as aproving   groundfor   an ideal of
civic life that understands individuals as literally knit together into one body
(whether  speaking  of the body of Christ in the church, or of the body politic).
In particular, Ihighlight the work  of Puritan minister Thomas   Shepard   on the
connection   between  inward  and outward   government:   man  must first be able
to recognize   and  address  his own  sinful nature  by exercising  an   inward
government over his actions and desires in order to appreciate and
appropriately  participate  in the various forms  of  outward  government to
which  he falls subject.

                               1. INTRODUCTION

     A Model   of Christian  Charity  (Model), John  Winthrop's   exhortation  to
 the founding  generation of the Massachusetts   Bay  Colony,  is so well known
 for its fleeting reference to the new colony as a city upon a hill that we tend
 to forget that this image is really little more than a rhetorical flourish at the
 end of a very dense  work  of political theory.' Though  he never used  the term
 commonwealth, the speech is an extended meditation on the theme as
 Winthrop   offers a  vision  of a political community based on the radical
 application of  the principles of brotherly  affection  in the pursuit of the



     * Sarah A. Morgan Smith is a fellow and the Director of Faculty at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland
 University. She would like to thank the participants in the Future of the Commonwealth Symposium for their
 insightful comments and questions, and especially to express her gratitude to Colin Crawford for allowing her to
 look at the development of the concept in a place far away in time and space from contemporary Kentucky, but
 one with no less need for the kind of thoughtful interaction between legal education and civic education than that
 which he has modeled so well. As ever, thanks also to her first and best reader, Brian Andrew Smith.
     ' See John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity (1630), reprinted in 2 WINTHROP PAPERS,
 1623-1630, 282 (Stewart Mitchell ed., Mass. Historical Soc'y 1931). The speech was recognized as a
 significant statement of the ideals and aspirations of the colony very early on. A 1635 letter to John
 Winthrop, Jr. asks him to send a copy of the Model of Charity back to London. See Letter from Henry
 Jacie to John Winthrop, Jr. (Feb. 1634/35), in 3 WINTHROP PAPERS, 1631-1637, 188 (Allyn Bailey Forbes
 ed., Mass. Historical Soc'y 1943). For further analysis of Puritan society, see Sarah A. Morgan Smith,
 With a Publick Spirit: Community and Commitment in New England (May 2016) (unpublished Ph.D.
 dissertation, Rutgers University) (on file with the University of Rutgers Library).


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