McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader, Nineteenth-century America’s most popular school book, also testified to America’s early theocratic form of government:

McGuffeys Sixth Eclectic Reader, 1879

Their form of government was as strictly theocratical insomuch that it would be difficult to say where there was any civil authority among them distinct from ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Whenever a few of them settled a town, they immediately gathered themselves into a church; and their elders were magistrates, and their code of laws was the Pentateuch…. God was their King; and they regarded him as truly and literally so….13

Daniel J. Boorstin in his book The Americans: The Colonial Experience, owrites concerning the differences between early Puritan thought and later Constitutional thinking:

Compared with Americans of the 18th or the 19th century, the Puritans surely were theology-minded…. Yet what really distinguished them in their day was that they were less interested in theology itself, than in the application of theology to everyday life, and especially to society. From the 17th-century point of view their interest in theology was practical. They were less concerned with perfecting their formulation of the Truth than with making their society in America embody the Truth they already knew. Puritan New England was a noble experiment in applied theology. …for testing a theology, for seeing whether Zion [the Kingdom of God] could be rebuilt if men abandoned the false foundations of the centuries since Jesus – for this New England offered a rare opportunity.14

Why not in one unspoiled corner of the world declare a truce on doubts, on theological bickering? Here at last men could devote their full energy to applying Christianity – to building Zion.15

The history of the New England pulpit is thus an unbroken chronicle of the attempt of leaders in the New World to bring their community steadily closer to the Christian model. The New England meeting-house … was primarily a place of instruction. Here the community learned its duties … so they could better build their Zion in the wilderness, a City upon a Hill to which other men might in their turn look for instruction…. In New England the ministers were, in their own words, “opening” the texts of the Bible by which they had to live and build their society. The sermons were thoroughly theological and yet thoroughly practical … for converting saints and building Zion.16

The Ten Commandments were, of course, in the foreground of their thinking, but the Bible as a whole was the law of their life. For answers to their problems they drew as readily on Exodus, Kings, or Romans, as on the less narrative portions of the Bible.17

The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay said that they started from “the lawes of God” rather than the laws of Englishmen.18

The most dramatic and most obvious [changes in Puritan laws from the laws of England] were in the list of capital crimes. To those crimes punishable by death under the laws of England, the colonists by 1648 had added a number of others, including idolatry (violations of the First Commandment), blasphemy, man-stealing (from Exod. 21.16), adultery with a married woman, perjury with intent to secure the death of another, the cursing of a parent by a child over 16 years of age (Exod. 21.17), the offense of being a “rebellious son” (Deut. 21.20.21)…. These were clear cases where the laws of Scripture were allowed to override the laws of England.19