It is extraordinarily difficult for secularized, twentieth-century Americans to understand the Puritan inheritance. They see the Puritans through a haze of competing mythologies. On the one hand there is the famous remark of H. L. Mencken to the effect that Puritanism was the nagging fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy, and on the other there is the pietistic hagiography to which all are subjected each year at Thanksgiving. Each, of course, is a gross caricature, and neither begins to come close to capturing the intellectual sophistication of Puritan theology and political theory. The difficulty is that the Puritans seem to have inhabited another, long-gone world.