Friday, December 14, 2012

Colonies in Crisis: Imperial Rivalries, Expansion, Diversity, and Unexpected Problems in Governance

Well, after a long hiatus, I'm back! So, let's get right to work, shall we?

Overview of Main Points
  • In the 1650s, the English government was rebounding from a civil war led by Oliver Cromwell and now had a newly powerful Parliament.
  • They perceived significant economic benefits for England through trade (such as mercantilism) and competition against the Dutch.
  •  In 1660, King Charles II was restored to power. However, he needs money and fears going back to war with the Dutch. He sought to cultivate wealthy investors and merchants and would exchange to them land titles in North America for loans. This, along with renewed warfare with the Dutch, results in more colonial expansion--England gained additional colonies in the Caribbean, as well as New York, the Carolinas, and Pennsylvania.
  • King Charles II will also authorize new trade ventures (such as the Royal African Company, which was a monopoly on slave exportation to North America).
  • The English government is now more committed to English settlers expanding the backcountry, although that would trigger many rebellions in the 1670s. To administer this rapidly changing, super-diverse place, the Crown will try to impose a more strict form of governance after 1676. English officials will discover that the settlers are eager to protect their "liberties".

English Politics-- 1640s and 1650s

  • 1642-1651--English Civil War--King Charles I was beheaded by order of Parliament, monarchy was abolished, and civil war rages between the King's supporters (who want the monarchy restored) and the Puritans (who want more representation by a godly government).
  • 1653-1659--Oliver Cromwell is in charge and Puritans dominate Parliament.
  •  Because so many Puritans have migrated to the Caribbean and sugar plantations are making so much money, English become very pro-Caribbean. Money made over-seas keeps domestic tax rates lower.

~ Change in economic policies.

Economic Policy

Mercantilism--The belief that colonies exist for the sole benefit of the mother country.

Navigation Acts
  • Series of provisions passed by Parliament in the 1650s and 1660s designated to bolster English trade position internationally, boost the navy, and strengthen economic connection to the Atlantic colonies.
  • Goods from the colonies are shipped to England in English ships, with English crews.
  • Goods to the colonies had to originate from English ports.
  • Creates huge numbers of job in England over time, lessens the "push" out of England, starts England down the road to becoming a naval superpower.
  • Tightens connection between England and its North American colonies.
  • Makes North American colonies economically valuable and worth keeping. A broader bunch of people are now interested in success of the North American colonies.
  • Dutch interpret Navigation Acts as hostile and are one step away from declaring war.

Rivalry with the Dutch

Anglo-Dutch Sources of Conflict
  • England and the Netherlands want the same things
  • They are pursuing the same methods (overseas expansion, Caribbean plantation, increasing their naval forces)
  • They are trying to settle and trade in the same places
  • They share, at the highest level of government, an unflinching Calvinistic conviction that God is on their side militarily and prosperity is a sign of God's favor
  • Conflict between these two Protestant nations seemed inevitable--they will go to war several times in the 17th centry
Opening the doors to diversity
  • The Dutch had accepted all religious and political refugees into New Amsterdam--they wanted to attract a sizeable population
Long Island in the 1650s
  • South end--Dutch
  • North end--5,000 or so Puritan families
  • English believe Long Island is controlled by the Plymouth colony (Separatists)
  • Dutch believe Long Island is under their control and try to tax it
  • The in-migrating English are strong and a potentially troublesoe group
In the 1650s, the English go on the offensive
  • Navigation Acts--a series if provisions designed to bolster English trade position internationally, boost the navy, strengthen economic connection to the Atlantic colonies
    • These Acts provoke Dutch traders
    • The English get aggressive in the Caribbean--they expand to control more sgar islands (fighting the Dutch and Spanish for prizes, like Jamaica and the other islands, which were the most lucrative properties in North America.
    • The English use pirates to policce their coastlines when necessary--periodically, they will license pirates as mercenary military contractors (they get to keep what they can steal, they get to disrupt other nations' businesses, and they get to create terror and bad conditions for investments).
    • The English also have their eye on the Hudson Valley.

Sorry it has taken me a while to post. I know my hiatus was long, but I have been very busy with school, writing for, and interning with the New York State Historian. It has been a stressful and hectic past few months, but now that I'm on break for a month from school I should be able to update this blog on a more regular basis!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Founding of Boston, Massachusetts

"God Almighty in his most holy and wise providence, hath so disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity, others mean and in submission." ~~ A Model of Christian Charity ~~The Honorable John Winthrop, 1630 ~~Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor Boston, Massachusetts was founded in 1630 by English Puritans fleeing religious persecution. On March 29, 1630, a fleet of eleven ships carrying 700 people sailed from England to Massachusetts, and their leader was the Honorable John Winthrop. In 1630, before embarking on their journey to New England, Winthrop gave a sermon which he called A Model of Christian Charity but is more commonly known as "the city on a hill sermon" in which Winthrop preached that the Massachusetts Bay Colony should be a shining example of...Christian charity. The colonists forst settled in Charlestown but later relocated to Trimoutain, which was renamed Boston after Boston, England where most of the settlers hailed from. The Puritans hoped to create a godly society but instead created a society just as intolerant as the one they had left. They were persecuted for their religious beliefs but in turn, they persecuted the Quakers, who they called a "cursed sect". Between October 1659 and June 1660, three Quakers were hanged in Boston. Despite that, the new colony flourished. In 1631, the first sailing ship built in America was launched from Boston and soon the shipbuilding, fishing, and whaling industries thrived. So many historic events happened in Boston and there are many important landmarks around Boston. We'll learn about them in future posts. Until then, keep making those oh-so-important historical connections!

A Very Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials

From June through September 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted off to Gallows Hill for their punishment--hanging; another man was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on charges of witchcraft; and hundres more faced accusations of witchcraft. These months, which are known for the period of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, was the unfortunate product of mass hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts. In 1689, Samuel Paris, a wealthy Barbados planter and reverend, traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to take over the congregation and preach there with his wife, daughter Elizabeth (whose nickname was Betty), neice Abigail Williams, and slave Tituba. Betty and Abigail began acting strangely in 1692, convulsing and having high fevers. Four years earlier, in 1688, a 13-year-old girl named Martha Goodwin exhibited the same behaviors after having an argument with luandress Goody Glover. Two days later, the other two Goodwin children started exhibiting the same behaviors. Glover was arrested, tried for bewitching the Goodwin children, and later hanged. A doctor who attended to Betty and Abigail suggested that witchcraft may have been the cause of their strange behavior. At the request of a neighbor, Tituba baked a "witch cake" (a cake of rye and the urine of the "afflicted" girls) and fed it to a dog. According to an old English folk remedy, feeding a dog this kind of cake would counteract the spell put on Betty and Abigail. The reason the cake is fed to a dog is because the dog is believed to be a "familiar" to the Devil. Being pressured to say who caused their odd behavior, Betty identified Tituba and two other woman named Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne and accused them of witchcraft. This accusation, along with petty jealousies and hatred of the young girls towards citizens in their town, was the start of the Salem With Trial. Although dozens were arrested and tried before her, Bridget Byshop (or Bishop), who was hanged at Gallows Hill on June 10, 1692, was the first to be convicted of witchcraft. She owned two taverns in Salem, wore bright red dresses often, and would flirt with the men of the village. But was she, or any of the other 18 women and men who lost their lives due to witch hysteria, really a witch? We may never know the answer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony

Massachusetts Bay Colony was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston. The colony was founded by the Massachsetss Bay Company, which included inestors in the failed Dorchester Company, which had established a short-lived colony on Cape Ann in 1624. However, the second attempt at colonization, which began in 1628, was very successful with over 10,000 people migrating to New England in the 1630s. The population was mostly Puritan and its government was run by leaders who were strongly influenced by Puritan beliefs. Before the arrival of the English, the area of Massachsetts Bay was the territory of several Algonquin-speaking tribes including the Massachusett, Nauset, and Wampanoag. The Pennacooks occupied the Merimack River valley to the north and the Nipmuc, Pocumtuc, and Mahican occupied the western lands of present-day Massachusetts; however, some of these tribes were under tribute to the Mohawk who were expanding aggressively from upstate New York. Early in the 17th century, famed European explorers Samuel de Champlain (known for the settlement of New France, which is present-day Quebec City in 1608 when he was only 21-years-old) and John Smith (a leader of the Virginia Colony based at Jamestown between September 1608 and August 1609) chartered the area. The first five ships to the Massachusetts Bay Colony sailed from England in 1629 and by 1642 more than 21,000 Puritans had emigrated to Massachusetts. This event, known as the Great Migration, established the basis for a stable and thriving society.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Founding of Plymouth Colony

In November 1620, the first Puritans to emigrate to America were a group of separatists known as the Pilgrims. They had already feld to the Netherlands in 1608, but they eventually came to believe that the Dutch were corrupt. A decade later, fearing that their children were being drawn into the culture, they decided to emigrate to the Virginia Colony (which is MUCH larger than the state we know today). The expedition was financed by a group of investors who hoped to establish a base for profitable trade. In September 1620, the Mayflower, carrying 150 settlers and crew, embarked on its journey to Virginia. However, the ship was blown off course and landed hundreds of miles north on Cape Cod. The 102 people who survived the journey established the colony of Plymouth. Before landing, the Pilgrim leaders drew up the Mayflower Compact--the first written frame of government in what is now the United States. William Bradford and Edward Winslow, two of the colony's leaders, published an account of their adventures aboard the ship and in the New World titled Mourt's Relation in 1622.

Hey y'all!

After a long hiatus due to school, I am glad to be back and have plenty of time to update this blog and help all of you learn more about American history and help you all continue to be able to make the connections you need to make between the past so you can know how we got to where we are now. This past semester at school has given me some amazing things which I hope will shine through my writing, especially in later posts when I discuss the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. I also had the pleasure of working with children in the local high school and helping them to understand that history is more than just facts, names, and dates. However, academics aside, this month has brought me some amazing opportunities. I won an essay contest held by Brad Meltzer, author and host of "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" on the History Channel, the write-up he did of my winning entry can be seen here: Also, I will be starting tutoring in social studies at my local branch of the public library, and I have an upcoming job interview with the New York Public Interest Research Group to help put an end to hydraulic fracturing (also known as hydrofracking) in the state of New York. Keep an eye out here for updates on all things American history. New blog posts will be up soon!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bacon's Rebellion

The Context
~~Tobacco prices were dropping due to over-production
~~Backcountry farmers were being bombarded with new taxes
~~There were no political opportnities because there hadn't been elections in more than a decade
~~There were struggles over the hogs; the Susquehannok began to raid the freely roaming animals which belonged to the backcountry farmers
~~The backcountrymen ask Governor Berkley and the House of Burgesses for immediate action; the backcountrymen want all Indians killed and want war against "all Indians in general for they are all enemies"
~~Governor Berkley and the coastal elites want to build year...on lands owned by elite speculators; they also want to use "friendly" Indians (the groups who trade with the English) as a buffer against "hostile" Indians (the groups who trade with the French) further down.

Nathaniel Bacon agrees to lead an alread-convened militia to kill Indians, without the approval of Governor Berkley. War against the Indians turns into a war against the coastal elite power. Bacon's army marches on Jamestown and burns it, wreaking havoc on coastal Virginia. Coastal slaves are promised freedom by both sides, but Bacon is on the rise. In late summer 1676, Africans join the poor whites in the rebellion. Berkely, desperate to regain control, strikes out at Bacon's army and at all Indians (killing Indians was his key to establish his credibility with the backcountry farmers). Bacon dies suddenly and there is a leadership vacuum; eventually, the armed rebellion collapses but not before entire backcountry race relations are destabilized. Governor Berkley, to set an example, hangs a few of the rebellion leaders, but he does pardon hundreds more.

Consequences of Bacon's Rebellion
~~Backcountry Englishmen gain political clout; now the government can't ignore their wishes.
~~Genocidal assumptions shape backcountry culture--Indian killing becomes a rite of passage for young Englishmen and is described as "defense", such as killing wolves or "other pests".
~~Indians leave and go over the mountains, joining with the Shawnee of Kentucky. The Indians who stay in the backcountry will assimilate or live in near-isolation.
~~There is an immediate sharpening of the color line and the outlawing of miscegenatory marriages; this in turn tightens race-based servitude and expands political participation of white men regardless of class status.
~~English completely stop importing indentured servants from Europe.
~~Race will trump class as a marker of social standing in the colony.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Colonial Chesapeake: The Land of the Haves and Have Nots

In the Colonial Chesapeake, coastal planters were the "ruling class". They were early arrivals to the Chesapeake and thus had control over the cleared lands on the riverfront. They were closer to ports, abundant in political influence, and were "orderly" families that would intermarry frequently to create a dense network of political power and wealth, known as a "little commonwealth". The coastal planters would often buy both servants and slaves to work, multiplying their plantations' productivity. It is also important to say that these coastal planters lived upriver because in other parts of the Colonial Chesapeake, such as the backcountry, life was a whole different story.

What is a backcountry?
~A backcountry is territory beyond the core settlements (think borderlands); the territory is usually on the peripheries of imperial power (meaning, the Crown didn't pay a lot of attention to what was going on in the backcountry).
~Because of the weak imperial presence, the colonial governments had to be satisfied with influence rather than control.
~The backcountry was usually the leading edge of colonial expansion, and therefore was often more volatile because the colonists were trespassing on Indian lands.
~There was a greater frequency of intercultural contact, interdependency, and cultural bleeding in the backcountry.

Where is the backcountry?
~The backcontry's location changes over time as the colonists expand further west.
~In the Atlantic colonies of the 17th century, English and African migration reaches only about 100 miles beyond the coast by the 1640s--although peripheral, but the Empire's center is in England.
~After the final defeat of the Powhatan in 1644, the English (and a few African) settlers spread up right to the foothills of the Appalachian range. The coastal rim was now well-established. Now the interior becomes the periphery and culturally distinct.

Why do backcountries form?
Backcountries form for a lot of different reasons, here's the reasons for why the Chesapeake backcountry formed.
~Because of loss to the indigenous population there was less populated land.
~Export crop production (tobacco) requires a lot of land.
~Land in the interior is generally cheaper than on the shore, or free.
~Late arrivals to the colonies cannot find well-wooded land on the coast.
~Some colonists were lured there by greater opportunities for trade; there were animal-rich rivers and eager customers who might be blocked from coastal trade.
~Some English settlers do not want the burden of government (no tax officers, no land lords, no overseers of the poor, no one to make one fence in cows and other livestock, and no one to prosecute you if you killed an indigenous trespesser or steal a feral hog).

The Chesapeake Backcountry (1620-1675)
~Elites invest in the fur trade with the Susquehannock Indians in the interior--Virginia and Maryland elites wanted to encourage Indian residency and productivity (buying corn so that they can plant more tobacco), and wish to limit English settlement.
~Cheap lands for tocacco cultivation lures poor men and former indentured servants into the interior. Tobacco is difficult and expensive to transport once above the "fall line" and they are forced to gorw more if they want to make a profit.
~Livestock is a predictable supplement to their incomes--they don't fence in their cattle and hogs, which creates a mess in the Indians' fields.
~The indigenous are triple-pressured--there is an increased commodity of hunting for pelts, radical transformations of the landscape by these new European animals, and there is competition for lands.

Gender, Race, and the Chesapeake Backcountry
~The English sex ratio was skewed--there were far fewer Englishwomen in the backcountry than there were men, and there were some miscegnatory (interracial) marriages.
~Without women and children, the colonists who lived in the backcountry needed to purchase laborers, but they had very little cash to do so.
~There was an overrepresentation of enslaved Africans in the coastal areas--this causes a great resentment among backcountry farmers.
~Backcountry Englishmen felt disenfranchised by laws that connected proof of ownership (a paper title) with a political voice.

Although living in the backcountry was fine for some, there was a lot that could have gone wrong because:
~There was very little military protection--the backcountry was often the front line of conflict because it was often the source of conflict itself.
~There were few guarantees that one's property claims (pre-emption rights) would be recognized--farmlands might have to be forfeited if someone with a paper title shows up.
~The colonists who lived in the backcountry were perceived as "wild" or "rude" or "uncivilized" by one's coastal countrymen--they were sometimes referred to as "our wood kern".

Backcountry Pressures Lead to War
Metacom's War (1675) was a war provoked by livestock, land competition, language, religion, and culture. Metacom is Massasoit's second son--when Massasoit died, his son Wamsutta took over but died mysteriously on a visit to the English. Metacom is increasingly annoyed at the English's sights and swagger. Metacom mobilizes in 1675; it was a multinational coalition which made a series of devastating raids.Early victories went to Metacom and his forces; because of his forces, parts of western New England burned to the ground. At first, the English were not very coordinated and suffered appalling losses. It wasn't until Metacom's supplies were running low, and the English had formed an alliance with the Five Nations of the Iroquois to form the Covenant Chain, when the tides of Metacom's War had changed. The English benefitted greatly from using Iroquois troops as a mercenary force. In 1676, Metacom was killed and the English won.

The Progressive Era's Reform Movements: A Summary

The Progressive Era was a period of widespread social activism and political reform in the U.S. from the 1890s to the 1920s. The main objec...