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1640-1649: Publishing; arts and music; popular entertainment; architecture; theatre.

As mid-century approached, houses and commercial buildings in the colonies became larger, more imposing, and more like those of Europe than, for example, the first homes of Boston, which had been one-story structures covered with thatch and put up at random. By 1636 the Dutch West India Company had built in New Amsterdam five large stone structures for use as shops, although most houses there were built of wood. William Coddington, who founded Newport, R.I., in 1639, two years later built a large townhouse of the type that had a central chimney and two or four rooms on a floor, rather than the older pioneer style house of one room with the fireplace at one end. The City Tavern, the first inn built in New Amsterdam, in 1641, was a four-story stone house, an excellent example of the Dutch colonial style. In 1654 it became the Stadthuys, or Town- House. The first of the great Virginia mansions was erected in 1642 by Gov. William Berkeley about three miles north of Jamestown. Called Greenspring, it was L-shaped, with a brick main wing nearly 100 feet long.


The first book printed in America, The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, was published in Cambridge, Mass. More commonly called the Bay Psalm Book, it contained new versions of all the psalms. Early editions had no music, but included explicit instructions on which tunes should be used for each psalm. Translations and tunes were crude, jog-trot ballads, easier to sing but much less interesting than older versions in Henry Ainsworth's or Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins' psalters.


The Sincere Convert by Thomas Shepard was published. The book presented Calvinistic theology in its most attractive form and gained such popularity that it went through 20 editions.


The first American word book, A Key into the Language of America, or an help to the language of the natives of that part of America called New England, by Roger Williams, founder of Providence, R.I., was published in London. Williams compiled his Indian language dictionary aboard ship during a journey to Southampton, England.


The oldest tide mill, a gristmill operated by the movement of the tides, was built at Hingham, Mass. It is one of the earliest examples of industrial architecture in the U.S.


The first great democratic note struck in the colonies was Roger Williams' The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, which asserted that the basis of power lies in the people and "that such Governments as are by them erected and established, have no more power, nor for no longer time, than the civill power or people consenting and agreeing shall betrust them with." Considered a dangerous book, it was burned by the public hangman in London. Williams fortunately had not signed his name to it.


One of the earliest American books for children, Spiritual Milk for Boston babes in either England. Drawn out of the breasts of both Testaments for their souls nourishment, by John Cotton, was published in England.


A severe attack on toleration was The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America by Nathaniel Ward. Professing to be the reflections of a shoemaker, the book attacked women's fashions, men with long hair, etc., yet proved one of the most amusing works of the seventeenth century.


The earliest painting of New York, by an unknown artist, also provided the first representation of a striped flag. The flag's four stripes symbolized the confederacy of four colonies: Plymouth, New Haven, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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