American Colonies New England Colonies - 8 By Pam Clark
The colonists that emigrated to New England were unique in comparison to those who emigrated to other English colonies in the 17 th century.
Most paid their own travel expenses, came with their own (one to two) indentured servants, and were devout, pious, people. They were artisans, shop keepers, and farmers who were not afraid of hard work. They relied of family members as their primary labor force.
As Puritans, they were determined to live in a way pleasing to God, and their strong work ethic, combined with a climate similar to England’s, allowed them to farm subsistence crops similar to those they grew in England. The cold climate and fast flowing rivers and creeks provided protection from disease.
As a result, they lived longer, on average to age seventy, and were survived by their large families of six or seven children as they had healthy children that grew to adulthood.
American Colonies New England Colonies - 8
New England grew through two waves of emigration, the second “Great Migration” brought the Massachusetts Bay Company, and a republican form of self government that elected its own government officials, legislature, and courts, and they were the only European republic.
By 1691, New England was comprised of the four colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
As New England grew in population, they also developed new forms of commerce that competed with England, much to England’s dismay. These included fishing, the “carrying trade” of shipping; importing and exporting, and traded primarily with the English West
Indies, forming a mutually beneficial trade alliance.
Boston ranked second only to England in shipbuilding in
the year 1714.
American Colonies New England Colonies - 8
Puritans were severe in their punishment of
“ sinners,” following the Old Testament and
English common law in the punishments
They burned the writings of other religions,
criminalized immorality, blasphemy, not
attending church, and witchcraft.
Minister Roger Williams went on to form the
Settlement of Rhode Island after he accused
church leaders in of not doing enough to
separate themselves from the
Church of England.
American Colonies New England Colonies - 8
American Colonies New England Colonies - 8 In the 17 th century, people were highly superstitious - looking for signs of God’s pleasure or displeasure, and assigned meaning to anything and everything imaginable: climate changes, failed crops, dreams, eclipses, deformities at birth, and even epidemics of disease were perceived portents of God’s grace if good, or Satan’s handiwork if destructive. During this superstitious time, women were accused of witchcraft at an alarming rate - accounting for most of the accusations. Ironically, 80 percent of the accusers were women. Although easy to accuse, witchcraft was difficult to prove. Until 1696, ninety-three cases of witchcraft were brought before juries in New England, and sixteen of those cases resulted in execution.
In 1692, the Salem witch trials eventually brought an end to the prosecution of witchcraft in New England.
Despite their superstitions, the New Englanders were more educated, they had more opportunity for improving their circumstances in life, and their hard work ethic and perseverance sustained a diverse and complex society unique to the English colonies.
American Colonies New England Colonies - 8
American Colonies Chesapeake Colonies - 7
American Colonies Chesapeake Colonies - 7 The Chesapeake colonists differed greatly form the New England colonists, as most of the emigrants were poor, young, white men from London and Bristol, who came as indentured servants. Only 14 percent of the emigrants were women in 1635. The mortality rate of indentured servants was high due to the labor-intensive work, the hot, muggy climate, as well as the slow moving waters, that facilitated the spread of disease. Malaria, typhoid, and other diseases wiped out over half of the population between 1625 and 1640, 15,0000 indentured servants were imported , and yet the population increased only 7,000 due to death. The government of the Chesapeake colonies was composed of “hard-driving merchants and planters of middling origins” (p. 139). The government was designed to benefit the wealthy planters, and gentry. As time went on, the rich tobacco planters became richer, and the smaller planters became poorer.
American Colonies Chesapeake Colonies - 7 By 1700 there were over 13,000 slaves living in the Chesapeake colonies. This was due to the lifting of the African trade monopoly, thus allowing more competition and lowering prices for slaves. Slave traders began making regular stops to the Chesapeake region, and slaves were now less expensive to use as a labor force than indentured servants were. Mortality rates had also dropped as the population became more resistant to the diseases of the region.
American Colonies Chesapeake Colonies - 7
Bacon’s Rebellion occurred as a reaction to increased taxation and the insensitive and callous government under the control of governor Berkeley, who favored the wealthy planters, thus igniting rebellion by the common planters who were tired of being unfairly taxed.
Nathaniel Bacon, gained support for the rebellion by promising to free indentured servants that joined his cause, and reduce taxes if he was successful in the rebellion. He also supported zero tolerance for Indian
presence in the Chesapeake colonies.
Although the rebels were able to drive Berkeley and his men from their plantations, Bacon died of dysentery and the rebellion lost its leader and fell apart in the end.
Due to the revenue that the tobacco crop brought to England, the English government sent troops to restore order in Virginia, and ousted govenor Berkeley.
American Colonies Chesapeake Colonies - 7 The wealthy planters realized the need for a more cohesive government, and became more sensitive to the smaller planter’s concerns. They reduced taxes, and by the 18 th century the small planters perceived the large planters as allies and guardians of their interests. Some of the common planters moved further into the interior or south to improve their circumstances, while other common planters remained in the colony and used Slave labor to bolster their productivity. British Background The first permanent Spanish settlement in the West Indies was in La Isabela in Hispanola in 1493. The first Portuguese colony in South America was São Vicente, founded in 1530. Soon, the Portuguese had established thriving sugar-based, slave-dominated colonies along the Brazilian coast. Throughout the sixteenth century, these two countries, themselves just liberated from Moslem domination, became the dominant imperial forces in the New World. In stark contrast, the English sent no explorers. Their attention was almost exclusively internal. While the Spanish had pulled themselves into national union under Ferdinand and Isabella, the English War of the Roses raged from until Henry Tudor defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1585 and was crowned the first king in the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII. For the rest of his reign, until his death in 1509, Henry VII put his efforts into rebuilding English government, securing alliances with Spain and France and reinvigorating the economy. His son Henry VIII, the most famous English king, continued Henry VII’s national building project. Henry VIII’s most important business was responding to the reformation, leading England away from the Catholic Church and creating the Church of England, with Henry at the head of the new denomination. All of this internal activity meant that the project of colonization was left to Spain, Portugal and, to a much lesser extent, the Dutch. The English did have one territory across a tiny part of the ocean that they could use as an laboratory for future imperial ambitions. Ireland had first been invaded by the English in the twelfth century, when a small area around Dublin became an outpost of English society. The boundary around this small crescent was called “the pale,” and so the rest of Ireland was considered “beyond the pale.” While the English were occupied with a variety of wars, including the War of the Roses, they lost interest in Ireland, and by the beginning of Henry VIII rule, it was clear that the English presence, even within the Pale, had deteriorated. Henry VIII and his daughter, Elizabeth I, rededicated themselves to capture of all of Ireland, and much of the second half of the sixteenth century was devoted to this reconquest. Just as the Spanish conquistadors invaded Mexico, the English reconquesters invaded Ireland. Laws were passed restricting Irish culture and forbidding the official use of the Irish language. English, Welsh and Scottish settlers moved to Ireland, displacing the Irish who were considered to be primitive barbarians. One of the major ideas of the Tudor reconquest was the establishment of great estates in Ireland, to be owned and run by lords sent by Elizabeth. One of her favorites, Sir Walter Raleigh, ruled for seventeen years over a 40,000 acre estate. His half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, was a particularly brutal leader of the invasion. He was famous among the Irish for having cut the heads off of the dead Irish soldiers and putting them on stakes which he used to line the path to his tent. When Elizabeth wanted to join the colonial scramble for land in the Americas, she turned to the reconquerors of Ireland to lead the way. Gilbert made an attempt to claim control of Newfoundland in1583, but his campaign failed. Raleigh brought settlers to Roanoke Island in 1587, hoping to create a colony named for Elizabeth, who was also called “the virgin queen.” So, Virginia would be her majesty’s first outpost in the New World. Unfortunately, Raleigh, who had promised to bring support and supplies to the settlers, found himself at war with the Spanish Armada, and when he finally returned, three years later, the settlers had disappeared. The problem for the English is that none of the land that was still not claimed by other Europeans was of much interest. The Dutch had taken the one excellent harbor, which they named New Amsterdam. The long peninsula of Florida was under Spanish rule. The French were already using the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, and they would soon establish a lively fur trade with the various societies speaking Algonquian or Iroquoian. All that was left was a rocky coast to north of New Amsterdam and a swampy to the south. The half-hearted attempts by explorers during Elizabeth I’s reign to develop colonies fell into general disinterest until the early seventeenth century. The First people of the east coast When English settlers began to establish permanent settlements along the North American coasts, almost all of the people they met spoke a language in the family linguists call Algonkian or Algonquian. They are in a subset of this language family called Eastern Algonquian. Many current place names (Massachusetts and Potomac, for example), names of animals (moose, skunk, raccoon and opossum) and names of plants (pecan, squash) are Algonquian words. The member languages of Eastern Algonquian are sufficiently different that people from only a few hundred miles away might not be able to understand one another, even though linguists can identify the family similarities among the languages. Map of Native New England 1640 Almost all the first societies in the first frontier, from Virginia in the south to Maine in the north, had similar social and economic structures. They lived in fixed villages (often moving from place to place by the season), with a fairly well-defined hunting area. They depended on some regular crops (maize, beans, squash and berries) as well as fishing and hunting. They had, as the historian William Cronon famously described, brought significant “Changes on the Land,” having cultivated, cleared and shaped their environment for generations. When English settlers first encountered these people, they had a difficult time understanding that the government of most of these societies was fair complex. Local villages were governed at regular meetings. The villages were often allied together in confederacies, with names like Wampanoag, Massachusetts and Powhatan. An elected official, or sometimes a hereditary leader, was referred to as the sachem. The English tended to view the sachem as the prince or king, which would only have been true in times of war. These confederacies, for the most part, were loose and held relatively little power, but the English had a hard time understanding the centrality and importance of each village. Virginia as one model of western development The Virginia colony began life as a business scheme, creating a model for many of the projects that would come to characterize the history of the American west. James I had succeeded as monarch upon Elizabeth I’s death, and several of the men who were close to court organized the London company. Sir Thomas Smythe and his partners had been involved in a variety of foreign schemes as part of the booming commercial life of London. One of his projects was also the creation of the crown colony in Bermuda, and he was also involved in trade with the East Indies. The King was eager to support these ventures to pay for expanding the navy as well as his own personal wealth. In 1606, the King granted a charter to create the London Company, permitting its representatives to establish a colony in a somewhat vaguely defined area between the Hudson River on the north and Cape Fear on the south. The company equipped three ships, which set sail in December. After a long and difficult voyage (they were stranded off the shore of England when the winds were against them) the sailors sighted land in April, 1607, just at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay. 104 passengers survived the trip (as many as 45 died onboard), and after searching for a place to make landfall, the ships finally let their cargo and the men off 40 miles up one of the many rivers feeding the Chesapeake. Of course, always aware of their patron, they named the river the James River and the new settlement James Town. The first years of the settlement have received an enormous amount of recent attention and interpretation. On May 13, 1607, the settlers chose a spot on the James River about 60 miles from the Chesapeake Bay, which they hoped they could defend against Spanish privateers. Marques de Villa Flores et Avila, Don Pedro de Zuñiga, the ambassador from Spain to England, had spies traveling up the river, and the first map we have is actually the one he sent back to Madrid. So the settlers were right in worrying that the Spanish might invade. The fort was made with wood cut from nearby, although in reality this was pretty swampy land, filled with mosquitoes. Because the tide came up the river this far, it did not provide decent drinking water, and the crops they initially planted failed. The first years were brutal. Fortunately, the nearby Rappahannocs were friendly, and they provided some minimal guidance. But what the men who came to Jamestown soon discovered is that this would be a hard place. “Now falleth every man to worke,” John Smith wrote. He was a veteran of a variety of military campaigns in the Mediterranean, and he had joined the expedition in part because it was understood that there might be battles. On shipboard, he may have tried to take over, and there is some evidence that commander of the three ships on which the colonists crossed the ocean, Christopher Newport, had considered executing Smith. Newport left in June, and the head of the colony, Edward Wingfield, proved incompetent. Soon the colony fell into petty squabbles, made worse by several attacks by members of the Powhattan confederacy. In addition (no fault of Wingfield), the region faced one of the worst droughts ever. He was deposed in September, and Smith became the effective leader. He was briefly captured in December by the Powhatans, and when he was released (through the intervention of Pocahontas, the daughter of the leader of the Indian confederacy, his reputation soared among the remaining settlers. The story of Pocahontas is often made into elaborate fiction, as in the Disney cartoon, but she was a real person who eventually died in England. Image of Captain John Smith The first years of the colony proved to be a disaster. Most of the settlers died. By the summer of 1610 the settlers were abandoning Jamestown when supplies came, bringing the new governor, Thomas West, Lord De La Warr. He engaged in military campaigns against the Powhatans, and he treated the settlement as a military outpost. It was only when one of the original settlers, John Rolfe, began to plant a crop he had learned about from the Indians, tobacco, that the colony finally began to get on a firm footing. He also married Pocahontas, which briefly stopped the low-level raids and battles with the neighboring people. By the end of the decade, the settlement was, if not thriving, at least surviving. In 1619 the colonists created an assembly to make laws, which would eventually become the House of Burgesses. It was also in that year that a ship let off the first group of Africans, who would eventually become the basis for slavery in the colony. At first, the colonists had no understanding of slavery, but by the 1660s the legal system had found a special unfree status for Africans. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the colony had stabilized around the cash crop of tobacco and the use of slaves to raise and harvest the crop. John Smith's map of the Virginia Colony Massachusetts Bay as another model of western development While Virginia established the first frontier as a fundamentally economic enterprise (something followed in the other southern colonies) the settlement of the area to the west of the Massachusetts Bay was made by people driven much more by their religious ideals. That is not to say that they were uninterested in making a successful venture. Rather, what drove many (perhaps most) of the settlers of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island were some pretty powerful ideas that filled much of northern Europe, southern England and southern Scotland. The religious transformation often called the Reformation, with the towering figures of Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox, depended on the fundamental change in communication that came with the invention of the printing press. Suddenly, the Bible was available to anyone who could afford a printed copy. The simultaneous transformation of the economy, with a push toward much greater trade and urbanization, meant that there were centers of learning where the printed word could be exchanged, and ideas from one part of Europe moved much more rapidly with the development of commerce. In England, the Reformation was wrapped up with the Tudors, and their intense desire to unify the nation under their command. Henry VIII viewed a male heir as a crucial component to his nation-building project, and when the pope would not grant him a divorce to marry a younger woman, he decided to divorce England from Roman Catholicism. Already a group of ministers at Cambridge University had begun to think about an English version of the Reformation, and these men, in particular Tindall (who translated the Bible into English) and Cramner (who began to organize the new “Church of England”). In the wake of the creation of the Church of England, a vast array of other groups began to try to understand the Bible and its meaning. Many read the letters of Paul, with the clear message that we are ultimately responsible for our own salvation, and came to believe that the new Church of England wasn’t nearly reformed enough. Such people wanted to remove all vestiges of the medieval church from religion, to strip the churches of art and symbols. They wanted, in short, to purify the church, and they began to be called, somewhat sneeringly, “Puritans.” Others went further. One group, Separatists, wanted to break wholly with the new church and have a congregation only of “visible saints.” One large contingent of this group left England for Holland, and then, when they managed to get a ship, went on the Mayflower in 1620 to settle a little outpost they called the Plymouth plantation. This was only a tiny foreshadowing of what would come ten years later. By the end of the 1620s, many Puritans, especially from the area north and east of London called East Anglia, decided that they needed to leave England and show, to their fellow Protestants, what a true Christian society looked like. They did not want to separate—they wanted to demonstrate the way to do things better. They wanted, as their political leader John Winthrop said, to create a “city upon a hill.” They saw this as a New Jerusalem, where government and religion would function in a harmony missing in the contentious politics that had descended upon England. (Parliament and the King were in constant battle over control of the future of the nation, which would ultimately lead to Civil War.) While this is usually discussed in colonial history classes in terms of the nature of Puritan ideas and the contrasts than can be made to Puritan society, in thinking about this as a frontier phenomenon, it is important to understand that the land we now call New England was occupied. Settlers wanted to take the form of towns in East Anglia, with central market towns surrounded by fields, and replicate those town structures in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. This was, in a real sense, a greedy way to use land. It had no place for the native people already living on such land. As a consequence, much of the early experience was of warfare, especially the Pequod war of 1637. As the native people were killed, died of disease, converted to Christianity (so-called “praying Indians”), or were forced north and west, the characteristic town organization, centered around the Puritan church and the meeting hall, laid the model for generations of migrants. As we will see, towns in upstate New York, in Michigan and even as far west as Utah took the New England spacial model. Also characteristic of the New England model was an often fierce individualism. This fit poorly with the Puritan ideal of community, and it led to a number of problems, the most dramatic of which took the human form of the remarkable Roger Williams. Williams felt that religious disputes were essential to a lively Christian faith, and when he became too argumentative, he was exiled to the Narragansett Bay, where he founded the town of Providence. It became attracted to a wide range of religious dissenters, including among the most extreme, the Quakers. Their welcome in Williams colony probably encouraged them to ask for land further south, where, under the leadership of William Penn, they founded Pennsylvania. Among Williams’ many objections to Puritan society was his view that the first societies had every right to this land as did the English settlers. He found few followers in his view that Indians and their land should be protected. Roger Williams Course Policies Course Calendar Style Guide Academic Integrity 6 of 7