The Puritans never published John Winthrop's “city on a hill” sermon, A Model of Christian Charity, which vanished in the seventeenth century. When it reappeared 200 years later, scholars relied on a dubious cover-note to proclaim its foundational significance. Demonstrating how the Geneva Bible gave shape to Winthrop's sermon–and how the manuscript's whims helped make sense of its meaning–this essay reveals the role of textual form in the construction of American history.

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