Last updated on: 8/19/2009 | Author:

John Winthrop Biography

Former Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Should the Government Allow Immigrants Who Are Here Illegally to Become US Citizens?"

[Editor’s note: In May of 1637, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered that no town or person in the colony should receive or host any alien without permission from the authorities. John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony defended the 1637 court order as follows:]

“If we heere be a corporation established by free consent, if the place of our cohabitation be our owne, then no man hath a right to come into us without our consent… If we are bound to keep off whatsoever appears to tend to our ruine or damage, then may we lawfully refuse to receive such whose dispositions suite not with ours and whose society (we know) will be hurtful to us.”

John Winthrop, “A Defence of an Order of the Court,” in Emerson Edward Proper, Colonial Immigration Laws – A Study of the Regulation of Immigration by the English Colonies in America, 1900

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Governor, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1637-1640, 1642-1645, 1646-Mar. 16, 1649
  • Attorney, Court of Wards and Liveries, Suffolk County (England), 1627-1629
  • Attended Gray’s Inn (England), 1613
  • Attended Cambridge University, 1602-1603
  • Attended Trinity College
  • Died in Boston on Mar. 26, 1649
  • Born in Groton, England, Jan. 22, 1588
  • His diary, commonly known as The History of New England, is considered one of the most important records from early colonial life in America