A study of American political theories may appropriately begin with an examination of the ideas of the colonists who laid the foundations upon which the national structure now rests. Puritanism was primarily a religious and not a political movement. Its central doctrine was that the spiritual element in worship is of far greater importance than the ceremonial element. The system of government adopted by the Puritans was what might perhaps be called theocratic in character. The most cursory view could not fail to reveal the predominant position of the clergy. A democratic tendency is seen in the method adopted in the formation of new communities by the Puritans. The use of the contract as a basis for the establishment of a "body politic" was a widespread practice in the New England colonies. The refusal of Friends to take up arms was a matter of greater importance.