2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


Peter Gay on the Historiography of American Puritanism

Shih-deh Chang

Department of History, Fu Jen Catholic University

Peter Gay was born a German Jew. He fled with his family from Germany to seek refugee in the United States during the Nazi period. Gay’s historiography praises highly the idea of the Enlightenment. He regards freedom as its fundamental principle, stating that every man could enjoy freedom, including the freedom to realize him/herself, the freedom of speech, and freedom from the persecution of totalitarians. In Peter Gay’s studies of the historiography of American Puritanism, he regards the refugees from Nazism to be similar to the Puritan forefathers. Both fled from their homelands to seek freedom in America. He criticized the continuation of the practice of rigorous Puritanism in colonial New England that eventually hindered freedom.


Keywords: Peter Gay, Puritanism, Nazi refugees, freedom