Although their statues grace downtown Hartford, Connecticut, few tourists are aware that the founding ministers of Hartford's First Church, Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone (after whose English birthplace the city is named), carried a distinctive version of Puritanism to the Connecticut wilderness. Shaped by Protestant interpretations of the writings of Saint Augustine, and largely developed during the ministers' years at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and as "godly" lecturers in English parish churches, Hartford's church order diverged in significant ways from its counterpart in the churches of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Focusing especially on Hooker, Baird Tipson explores the contributions of William Perkins, Alexander Richardson, and John Rogers to his thought and practice, the art and content of his preaching, and his determination to define and impose a distinctive notion of conversion on his hearers. Hooker's colleague Samuel Stone composed The Whole Body of Divinity, a comprehensive treatment of his thought (and the first systematic theology written in the American colonies).
Stone's Whole Body, virtually unknown to scholars, not only provides the indispensable intellectual context for the religious development of early Connecticut but also offers a more comprehensive description of the Puritanism of early New England than anything previously available. Hartford Puritanism argues for a new paradigm of New England Puritanism, one where Hartford's founding ministers, Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone, both fully embraced and even harshened Calvin's double predestination.