American History – Module Two. The Colonial Experience

Abstract

The essence of this paper is to outline the way white Europeans changed the socioeconomic status of Native Americans. Secondly, it will explain the slave trade and its influence on North America, especially from an economic perspective. Thirdly, the relationship between British colonies and mainland colonies in North America is explained. Significantly, this essay also details the community of tobacco growing Chesapeake. Finally, the essay focuses on the revolutionary changes of undercurrent ideological views of slaved population and the revolt into increased constitutional liberty as depicted by the Great Awakening.

Introduction

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries marked a revolutionary period in American history. During this era, many explorers and traders from Europe made their conquests in America bringing with them their ideologies, customs, and governance. Consequently, the movement from Europe had diverse intentions. However, the American destiny was undergoing a change from the uncharted wilderness with many resources. This is the colonization of the American continent. This essay expounds on the diversity of colonial America while also focusing on the expansion of New England territories. Slavery is also a significant factor in American history. The colonizers used slaves from Africa to perpetuate their economic intention making them work in farms. New England marked the area of today’s Northern America firstly colonized and controlled by the organized military. It consisted of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The main economic activities during the time were agriculture, fishing, and lumbering. The expansion of New England, together with other factors, ensured the discovery of the New World (North America and South America).

European Colonization: North of Mexico

Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that European’s attempt to form colonies in the north of Mexico was met with several challenges. Prior to the 17th century, due to their unpreparedness and lack of financial powers, European conquest was cut short by staunch resistance from indigenous Americans. However, European intentions were renewed in the early 17th century because of increased national and religious rivalry as well as increasing the growth of the quest to expand commercially.

The European settlement of the 17th century contrasted from one colony to another, with English colonies growing large. England’s first established settlement began in 1607. Many English persons, with a gender-balanced population, flocked to America in search of better economic stability. As a large surplus population entered the North, indentured servitude increased. Religious persecution of dissidents also forced many Englishpersons to travel to the New World.

There was also a remarkable difference in the economies of colonies. The Netherland’s emigrants, Swedish and French settlements heavily depended on fish and fur. However, New England was more diverse than in other colonies. Small family farms, together with urban communities, marked the organization of the economy in New England. Chesapeake colonies were largely involved in tobacco farming. On the other hand, Carolina and the British West Indies had many plantations of rice, coffee, cotton, and sugar.

The Beginning of English Colonization

Many factors led to the English colonization of America. Firstly, contrary to the earlier perception of America as a place of Spanish oppression, Englishpersons realized that America could provide commodities that were not available in England. The poverty level also increased with many people turning beggars. Therefore, when the option of finding refuge in America presented itself, many people from England flocked to North America. Notably, the English faced many challenges in their conquest to colonize America. Many people died because of diseases that broke out. Some people went without food, thus having to subsist on frogs or snakes.

Virginia: Life and start of Slavery

As opposed to life in New England, the society in Virginia consisted mainly of men without families. Diseases were rampant and many people died. However, people moved to this region because of flourishing farming, a result of many tobacco growers. There was a shortage of labor, too, and most Virginians relied on indentured English before going into full slavery.

By the mid-1660s, the number of English indentured servants had decreased significantly. This is because few English traveled from England. As the birth rate in England decreased, competition for jobs among the jobless dropped sharply. Secondly, the great fire of London in 1666 meant that there were many works for rebuilding England. This reduced the number of people crossing the Atlantic into North America, and subsequently the number of people willing to work on farms. The demand for slavery increased. Many planters in Chesapeake started enslaving Africans. It is imperative to acknowledge that Africans did not come directly from Africa, but from Barbados, Caribbean colonies and New Netherlands. During this period some Africans still enjoyed privileges to own lands. However, Maryland and Virginia formed laws that reduced the freedom of Africans, making them servants.

Foundation of New England

The history of founding New England in the New World cannot be understood without understanding Puritans. Puritans were rebels from the English common Roman Catholicism. This group (Puritans) objected to church administration and practices which had no Biblical relevance. In particular, Puritans objected to the elevation of a priest with power above the congregation. Separatists’ quest to break from the Church of England intensified late in the 16th century. Therefore, Puritans first migrated to Holland. Later, the group comprehended the importance of exploring and establishing colonies in the New World.

Dimensional Change Dynamics in Colonial New England

Despite the fact that many Settlers in New England differed from the Church of England, many of these people differed in religious doctrines. Some believed that the Church of England just needed reformation, while others had the idea of renouncing the church. Many people also differed in the way new members would be recruited, about baptism, and how to undertake the Holy Communion.

Differences in ideologies of running the church led to the formation of many new colonies. For example, Hooker established the first English settlement with voting rights beyond church members in Connecticut. Another sterner group, established in New Haven, was setting up high standards of morality. Roger Williams also established the Rhode Island colony having broken away from the Massachusetts Bay colony with the idea of observance of Sabbath day and that whites should pay Indians for land.

New England slowly integrated into Atlantic commerce also as it broke away from the close-knit system of the business. The number of traders increased. New Englanders also extended their trade into fish, fur and timber sales not only to England but also to Catholic Europe. Some of them invested in shipbuilding and transportation of the wine, sugars, and slaves. This increase in business expanded New England’s potentials and established great merchants. Many New Englanders also tried converting Indians into Protestants. Some Indians changed their way of life and adopted English, living in praying towns. When New Englanders went to the war against enemies, many Indians died. The survivors were later used as servants and slaves.

The Salem Witch Scare

It was during the year 1691 when there was the witchcraft scare in New England. An Indian slave named Tituba was accused of witchcraft practices. Many social stresses defined New England during its development stage. As discussed earlier, wars (King Philip’s and Pequot wars) promoted slavery of the Indian community. By 1637, many Indian women and their children worked as household slaves in New England.

Tituba had a master who was a credit agent in Barbados, but later became a minister in Salem, Massachusetts. When two girls from Tituba’s neighborhood showed strange physical problems of convulsions, Tituba tried to help. He used ‘witch cake’ rye meal and urine to countermagic. However, Tituba and two girls were arrested and judged. Later, Tituba confessed that his confession was false.

Struggles for Power in Colonial America

The late 17th century and early 18th century marked power struggles between France and England. Every colony wanted to dominate over the other. There were also power struggles between Algonquin and Iroquois amongst Indian groups. Interestingly, there was an interconnection between different power struggles. Since the French were outnumbered, they depended on Algonquin-speaking Indians for support. On the other hand, Native Americans heavily depended on English and French for the supply of wealth and ammunition.

The Great Awakening

The colonization of America and the establishment of New England marked the transformation of societies under these colonies. Religiously, many transformations also took place. During the eighteenth century, spiritual needs grew. However, the Congregational churches could not satisfy the community as formality grew and people drifted away from religious virtues.

The Great Awakening revived many religious groups. A wave of evangelism grew, taking over many countries including America. In New England, many people adopted the belief that God works more through individuals and not churches as a whole. Several separate congregations also established during this time, contributing significantly to the formation of many supporters of different revivalists groups: New Lights and Old Lights.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the colonization of America had great significance to both the Native Americans and emigrants from Europe. The society’s socioeconomic activities transformed over the years. The English established their territories in America with the intention of developing and improving their lives. Due to the increased unemployment and competition in England, many English moved to America where they served as indentured servants. Other groups, the Puritans, had different motives. Puritans wanted to move away from the Church of England and Roman Catholicism. The flourishing investments in America contributed significantly to the economies of New Englanders. On the other hand, the slave trade gained significance as many settlers turned to large-scale farming. Finally, there was social transformation with the establishment of revival churches in the eighteenth century. All these factors, coupled, led to the expansion and establishment of New England colonies.