The English in North America

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The English in North America

  1. 1.  By DJ Heston
  2. 2.  Colonists of the Chesapeake grudgingly accepted callous rulers for a chance at independence. Because tobacco plantations were so spread apart along the rivers the Chesapeake only had two towns: Jamestown and St. Mary’s City. Colonists relied on counties for local government. In theory, the colonists lived with four tiers of political hierarchy: King and Parliament Governor, council, and assembly meeting County court and parish vestry Family household known as little commonwealth Men greatly outnumbered women which deprived the Chesapeake colonies of little commonwealth.
  3. 3.  English servants composed three-quarters of the emigrants to the Chesapeake in the 17th century. Chesapeake emigrants were a subset of many poor people moving around England in search of food and work. Many emigrants died due to the different climate and intense labor of tobacco cultivation. Masters bought and sold contracts of servants and some were used to pay gambling debts. The courts almost always sided with masters when there were accusations of denying food or brutal punishments to the slaves by their masters. The colonists in the Chesapeake sacrificed comfort and life expectancy for an improved diet and a pride and autonomy of owning land.
  4. 4.  Tobacco prices plummeted in the 1660s and 1670s which led the wealthy planters to ride out the hard times and buy land while the lower class became more impoverished.  New regulations prohibiting the Dutch from the tobacco trade hurt colonial planter by reducing shipments and saturating the English market with tobacco.  Meanwhile, Governor William Berkeley and his cronies monopolized the public offices and abused power. Settlers moved further into the frontier to obtain land where they came into conflict with the native Indians. Berkeley denied the settlers requests to exterminate the natives when Nathaniel Bacon ignored the governor’s advice and launched attacks on the Indians. In 1676, after being charged with treason, Bacon rallied planters and servants and forced the governor and his supporters out of Jamestown. After investigating the planters uprising, the English crown sent an army to denounce Berkeley and restore order.
  5. 5.  The leading Virginians dramatically lowered taxes at the end of the 17th century which led to improved morale among planters. With a decline of indentured servants emigrating Chesapeake planters turned to African slaves who were a better investment. Early in the 17th century some blacks were freed and bought land and even married white women. Later in the century Chesapeake officials enacted new laws restricting blacks. Masters became convinced only pain and fear could motivate their African slaves. Free blacks lost rights to bear arms, hold office, vote, and employ white servants. Common and great planters shared in the psychology of race that held every white man superior to every black.
  6. 6.  In 1670 West Indian planters established a new colony called Carolina to honor King Charles II. Carolina officially belonged to eight English aristocrats known as the Lords Proprietor. Charles Town was founded at the mouth of the Ashley River in 1670. The Lords Proprietor offered incentives to English settlers of late 17th century, most notably – religious toleration. Carolina primarily attracted farmers and artisans of modest means. Male servants were able to acquire land once they were freed, a prospect that was denied to them in England, the Chesapeake, and Barbados.
  7. 7.  Former West Indians known as the Goose Creek Men dominated the assembly and council of Carolina. In 1702 the Goose Creek Men barred non-Anglicans from political office and establish the Church of England as the colony’s official, tax-supported church. The Carolina elite, displeased with the Lords Proprietor, convinced the crown to buy out seven of the eight lords. The transfer consolidated the political power of the planter elite. Native Indians relied on the gun trade and even raided other Indians for captives to sell as slaves. Carolina traders sought deerskins in exchange for their cloth, knives, rum, and guns. Indians depended on trade and killed double the amount of deer following the advent of trade.
  8. 8.  The colonists favored the more powerful Indian tribes which put the weaker ones in jeopardy of raids.  The Carolinians justified the enslavement of Indians as beneficial by sparing them execution and exposing them to Christian civilization.  In the early 18th century an army of Carolinians and allied Indians raided and destroyed most of the villages and missions of the of the Apalachee and Timucua Indians. The Yamasee came to regret their alliance with Carolina and rebelled with help from Catawba and Lower Creek Indians. The rebels ran low on guns and gun- powder and eventually had to make peace with Carolina. The Carolina Indians dwindled from a combination of disease, rum consumption, and slave raiding.
  9. 9.  With the help of slave labor, the cultivation of rice thrived and became the empire’s great rice colony. Suffering from a fear that the African slaves would rise in rebellion, planters resorted to harsh punishments and intimidation. After a rebellion in 1739, the planters thought of themselves as the innocent victims of vicious blacks. In the late 1720s Carolina officials and British imperialists founded the colony of Georgia. Georgia was the first and only British colony to reject the slave system. Until they could own slaves, the white Georgians considered themselves unfree. In 1751 the trustees reversed their decision and permitted slavery.

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