In 1630 English Puritan John Winthrop declared the Massachusetts Bay Colony he and his brethren should work to be as a "city upon a hill," a religious community whose harmonious relations would exalt the God they served. But Winthrop's vision of a holy society was not the only one for North America. In fact, the Puritan vision of a "city upon a hill" was not even the first. A century earlier Fransciscan friars from Spain had settled parts of what would later become the state of New Mexico in an attempt to turn the region's Native American communities into outposts of Spain's Catholic Church. As early as 1539, Franciscans had accompanied Spanish conquistadores in building missions among the indigenous communities of the Zuni and Hopi. What followed was more than a century of occasionally violent religious contact, conflict, and exchange. The documents collected here provide an introduction to the major themes and turning points of the Franciscan attempt to convert the American Southwest.
Mark Norbeck, El Paso Community College