Anniversary: Boston, 1630, a ‘City on a Hill’

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16: Love American history? Well, celebrate with Boston today! On Sept. 16, 1630, the name of an area known as Shawmut, Mass., was changed to “Boston.” The story of Boston, however, begins a few years before 1630—and it includes a sermon and a group of Puritans. (Wikipedia has details.) In 1625, William Blaxton was the sole resident on what is now Boston Common. Three years later, the Cambridge Agreement in England allowed Puritans to form part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony’s leader, John Winthrop, outlined his vision in a famous sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity,” which first popularized “City on a Hill” in relation to American culture. (Check out Search Boston, a Boston tour site, for more.) Boston’s early history is complex and occasionally took tragic turns, but it’s that early vision people will be celebrating this week.

In today’s Boston, religion remains a hot topic. Just one example in 2010 is atheist Michael Newdow, famous for challenging religious references in public schools, currency and the pledge to the American flag. Newdow remains active, according to a Wall Street Journal blog.

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