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SOURCE: Shepard, Hetty. 1997. "Diary of a Puritan Girl." Excerpt from Part Two in America Firsthand:
Readings from Settlement to Reconstruction, 68-72. Robert D. Marcus, David Burner (editors). Volume One.
Fourth Edition. Boston, MA: Bedford Books.
Diary of a Puritan Girl
In the decades following the Pequot War, the English colonies had prospered greatly in both wealth and population. By the middle of the seventeenth century they clearly dominated the territory they uneasily shared with various Indian tribes. The Puritan ministers continued to preach the strict religion and prophesied the coming wrath of God on a new generation for its growing desire for silks and ribbons, merriment and games. Then, in 1675, these ritual jeremiads turned into a temporary reality. King Philip, sachem of the Wampanoags, hoping to forestall total subjugation to the English, assembled about half the Indians of New England against the Puritans and their Indian allies. Alden Vaughan, speaking of both Indians and
Puritans, has written: "A higher percentage of the population suffered death or wounds in King
Philip's War than in any subsequent American conflict."
Hetty Shepard's diary accurately reflects this important transition period for the Puritan, experiment in New England. She made her first entries at age fifteen while living with her parents in Rhode Island. Her family then sent her to Boston in 1677 to keep her away from the war. Her diary offers an engaging picture of the life of a young Puritan woman and reflects the social, political, and religious strains of this dramatic era. Samuel Checkly who according to her diary set her heart 'fluttering, " eventually became her husband.
Adeline E. H. Slicer, ed. "A Puritan Maiden's Diary," The New England Magazine 11 (1894-95), pp. 20-25.
Modernized by Elizabeth Marcus.
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December 5, 1675 I am fifteen years old today, and while sitting with my stitchery in my hand, there came a man in all wet with the salt spray. He had just landed by the boat from
Sandwich, which had difficulty landing because of the surf. I myself had been down to the shore and saw the great waves breaking, and the high tide running up as far as the hillocks of dead grass. The man, George, an Indian, brings word of much sickness in Boston, and great trouble with the Quakers and Baptists; that many of the children throughout the country be not baptized, and without that religion comes to nothing. My mother has bid me this day put on a fresh kirtle and wimple, though it not be the Lord's day, and my Aunt Alice coming in did chide me and say that to pay attention to a birthday was putting myself with the world's people. It happens from this that my kirtle and wimple are no longer pleasing me, and what with this and the bad news from Boston my birthday has ended in sorrow.
December 25, 1675 My Cousin Jane, visiting today, has told me much of the merry ways of
England on this day, of the yule.log, and plum puddings, until I said that I would be glad to see those merry doings; but she told me it was far…