Governing the Tongue discusses the importance of verbal communication in seventeenth-century New England society. Kamensky argues that early settlers were uniquely preoccupied with the act of speech and held to specific but unwritten rules about correct speaking.
The city upon the hill that Winthrop sought to create in New England is a different world from that of his alleged ideological heirs. For Winthrop, the stakes of getting the city right were high (and they continue to be). To build a lasting “city upon the hill” the Puritans needed to create a society held together by charity, mercy, and love.