In 1643 Covenanters forged a Solemn League and Covenant between the nation of Scotland and a Presbyterian God. Covenanters came to rule over Scotland, fall from power, and eventually occupy the fringes of Presbyterianism in the Atlantic world. Rooted in Scotland, they first colonized Ireland rather than Massachusetts and immigrated to America throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries rather than the 1600s. In that long process, Covenanters became to Presbyterianism what the Separatist Pilgrims were to English Puritanism—the fringe of an already outlying sect. They were religious purists who sought to recreate a heavenly ideal in their present world, and some of the earliest avowed antislavery advocates. Built on the works of thinkers like Samuel Rutherford, in Scotland and Ireland, especially Ulster, Covenanters and Seceders forged a memory of the brief time they ruled a Christian nation that they carried with them into the American colonies.
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