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!

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