As of December 31, 2014, I retired from full-time teaching in Humboldt State University's Department of History. While this website will remain online, it is no longer maintained.
History 110 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
The Colonists - What They Created
Today, we continue our story with the next chapter that serves as a link between previous discussions about life in the Old World of Medieval Europe and life in the "New World" of North America's diverse Indian Nations. This link has been variously characterized as
- a congenial meeting of two people in a so-called "New World;"
- a collision between the civilized and the savages in an ancient world;
- the beginning of a genocidal rampage.
But there is another and very relevant way of looking at the relationship between the Old and New Worlds, as the map below illustrates. By the end of the colonial era in North America, conomic exchanges between the "old" and the "new" worlds demonstrates the existence of a global economic empire.
- To explain the importance of studying colonial history in the 21st Century.
- To understand the geographical claims of European nations in colonial North America.
- To examine the new economic model for the development of the English colonies.
- To study the characteristics of the early colonists.
- To explore the governance, economy, and social structure created during the 17th Century within each of three colonial regions: the Southern Colonies, the New England Colonies, and the Middle Colonies.
- To take an indepth exploration of three colonies - Jamestown in the south, Pennsylvania in the Middle, and Massachusetts in New England - and one of the most unusual of all the colonies - Georgia.
- To compare and contrast the political, economic, social, and spiritual development of the three colonial regions throughout the Seventeenth Century.
Goal #1 - To explain the importance of studying colonial history in the 21st Century
Six Reasons to Study Colonial History
- To realize that diversity in North America was here from the beginning and such diversity makes us uniquely American.
- Racial diversity - European Caucasians, North American Indians, African slaves
- Cultural diversity- Euro-American, Native American, and African. Each cultural group, in turn, embraced dozens, if not hundreds of different cultural characteristics.
- National diversity - French, Spanish, English, Dutch, 100s of different Indian nations.
- Religious diversity - Native American religions, Anglican/Church of England, Catholics, Puritans,, Jews, Quakers, Baptists
- Socio-economic - a few wealthy investors, a few of the "middling sort", a huge number of indentured servants, slaves
- Political diversity - the empowered, the unempowered, and the enslaved.
- Geographical diversity - mountains, mightly rivers, vast forests, excellent farmland, superior harbors.
- To understand the dominance of Protestantism. While religious diversity existed from the beginning of British colonization, the vast majority of Euro-Americans were Protestant - and a substantial minority were Calvinist. Thus, their religion was tied to the need to use their own individual resources to achieve spiritual and material success. This will shape the American psyche.
- To comprehend the full extent of the racist attitudes Euro-Americans held toward non-white people. Euro-Americans used discrimination, subordination, enslavement, paternalism, and finally, violent policies to deal with their racial fears and prejudices.
- To learn the origins of our political institutions. Some type of self-governance arrived very early in North America, even while the colonists were still under control of the British. Why? Geography. Britain had no choice but to honor the self government that arose in the colonies because it was too far away to maintain regular, centralized control.
- To study the development of the unique American character, attitudes, and practices. The majority of colonists were the outcasts of Europe, most of whom were seeking economic, religious, and political freedom from the shackles of European governments. When they landed in America and were forced to deal with the decidedly un-European factors of forests, Indians, wild territory, unlimited land, and the chance to become wealthy, they developed a uniquely individualist, entrepreneurial, "leave me alone while I make a buck" attitude.
- To gain an appreciation for the deeply-held belief in American Exceptionalism - that we are unique in the world, have a special destiny, and must spread our way of life into new territory.
There are at least two ways of understanding the belief in American Exceptionalism.
- America is an exception to the way people were granted rights and freedom. Our Founding Fathers realized that throughout history, we derived rights and freedoms only at the pleasure or discretion of an overarching authority that stood "above" them. That authority could be a king or queen or a parliament and that authority would decide what the people were allowed to have, or to do, or to keep.
It all flowed downward to the people from a controlling higher authority; human rights were allocated to the people, or distributed to the people, or permitted to the people by an empowered greater entity whose reason for existence was to impose order and structure. The Founding Fathers thus created a society that was an exception to this - rights would not be granted by an outside entity, flowing downward, but instead were innate, inborn and integral to each and every individual. You did not have to wait to have rights flow down to you, they would flow up, from you. You didn't have to petition a king or a parliament for your rights - you had them inherently - and the only way anyone could affect those in-built rights would be if you, voluntarily, decide to give them up.
- America is exceptional or better than other nations in every respect - economically, politically, socially, and militarily. Americans believe that the U.S. "is in some way a blessed and even providential national, one charged with a distinctive role in advancing the cause of liberty, equality, democracy, and prosperity in the modern world. As such, America is seen to have a 'mission,' a distinctive and definitive objective advanced by an actor on the historical stage." (Patrick J. Deneen, 2012) In other words, the United States is exceptional because Americans believe it to be exceptional. "Americans have always assumed that people everywhere share American political and moral ideas …. This underlies the idea that in every foreigner there is an American waiting to get out. It is an assumption that links the otherwise unlikely grouping of Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush and their mission to reform the world in the American image." ( Hilde Eliassen Restad, 2012)
Goal #2: To understand the geographical claims of European nations in colonial North America
Within 93 years after the first permanent British colony was settled in North America in 1607, the Spanish, French, Dutch, and British were deeply involved in the great race for empire. Colonization and the creation of empires had become common place by the early 1700s.
Spain - The first Spaniards to arrive in the "New World" - the conquistadores - were interested in getting rich. And for 300 years, they were quite successful. Beginning in the 1500s, the mines in Spanish America yielded more than 10 times as much gold and silver as the rest of the world's mines put together.
By 1600, the Spanish already had a rich empire in North America which included most of current day California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, and Texas, as well as parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.
These riches made Spain for a time the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth.
France - The French had established a strong trading colony in Quebec, had built a strong inland empire for fur trading throughout the Mississippi River regions, and had several settlements along important water routes.
Netherlands - By 1613, the Dutch were firmly entrenched in the trading economy in New Netherlands
The British, then, were among the last of the great European powers to gain colonial influence in North America. As the map below of world colonization by the mid-1700s indicates, Spain and France had a much greater foothold in the Americas than the English.
But remember, during the entire period of English colonization (1607 to 1776), the vast majority of America was populated by American Indians. Thus, it was not the European influences that were strongest in the 1600s - it was the Indian influence.
So, why did James I (1603-1625) seek a geographical claim to North America?
- First, you will remember that England was recovering from over a decade-long war with Spain. And even though the English were victorious, they needed a way to boast their economy. What better way than to have a colony rich with natural resources to exploit?
- Second, England had a serious surplus population and not enough food to feed them or prisons to house them.
- Third, England wanted to expand their empire - and because they were late to the game of empire, they claimed "new" land where they hoped to find rich resources.
- Fourth, the King had an economic motive based upon a new concept of economics - which brings us to our third goal for today.
Goal #3: To examine the new economic model for the development of the English colonies
The New Economic Model for Colonizing British North America - Mercantilism, Corporations, and Capitalism
- The idea of mercantilism was that the nation, not the individuals within it, was the principal actor in the economy. The goal of the economy, then, should be to increase the nation's wealth.
- Merchants believed that the world's wealth was finite and that one nation could only grow rich at the expanse of another.
- Therefore, the nation's economic health was dependent upon merchants who extracted and imported wealth from foreign lands while exporting very little wealth from home.
- Some merchants joined forces and formed chartered companies - or corporations. To meet their needs, merchants sought assistance from the king who, in turn, benefited from the expansion of corporations.
- Each corporation acquired a charter from the King. The charter gave the corporation a monopoly on trading in a particular region.
- Thus, the goal of both the English king and the financial backers - those who owned the corporations - was to make money.
- The corporate colonies, therefore, were ventures in capitalism - that is, they were based on an economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are privately or corporately owned and developed.
Goal #4: To study the characteristics of the early colonists
Characteristics of the First Colonists
- Most were young - over half were 25 years and under.
- Most were male.
- Most arrived alone - only 1/3 came to America with their families.
- Almost half were either indentured servants or slaves.
- Very few were wealthy and most were of the "middling sort" - neither very rich nor very poor.
- While all knew they could not immediately own land in many of the North America colonies, they knew they had a chance to improve their economic and social standings in a way that they could never accomplish in Europe.
- The vast majority were English, Scot, and Irish.
- Most worshiped in the Anglican Church; a smaller number were Calvinists.
- These characteristics remain largely the same throughout much of the colonial era, with three exceptions:
- Larger numbers of women arrive.
- More families arrive.
- More convicts arrive after the British Transportation Act of 1717 - about 50,000 convicts were shipped to the colonies, largely for non-capital offenses against property. Almost 2/3 of them went to the Chesapeake Bay colonies. (This number is far less than the 132,308 convict men and 24,960 convict women transported to Australia after the Americas outlawed transportation in 1776.)
- Many who settled in New England were Puritans and Separatists
The Puritans and Separatists - The Debate. After the Protestant Reformation, the biggest religious debate was about the proper way for a Christian to gain access to the will of God.
- For Catholics and more conservative Protestants, the traditions of the church contained valid, time-honored additions to what was found in the Bible. Given man’s fallen condition, no individual could presume to question the ancient, ceremonial truths of the established church.
- For the Puritans, the church had been corrupted through centuries of greed and abuse. Only the Bible provided a reliable account of Christ’s time on earth and the Old Testament contained a rich storehouse of vital truths. If something was not in the scriptures, it was a man-made distortion of what God intended.
The Puritans - who began arriving in Boston in 1630 - wanted to “purify” the Church of England. Thus they..
- Refused to sing hymns written by man, did not kneel while taking communion as there was no evidence that the apostles had done so during the Last Supper, did not make the sign of the cross when uttering Christ’s name, and did not recognize the system of bishops that ran the Church of England.
- Began their congregations with a covenant (a term they took from the Bible) between a group of believers and God. In turn, each congregation elected their ministers, all of whom were university-trained and who could be voted out by the congregation.
- Believed that ever since the fall when Adam broke his covenant of works with God, man had been deserving of perpetual damnation. God had since made a covenant with Christ and upon fulfillment of that covenant, offered grace to a small minority of people known as the Saints.
- Believed that because the identity of the Saints had long since been determined by God (predestination), there was nothing anyone could do to win salvation. No one could be entirely sure about who was one of the elect, but if a person was saved, he or she naturally lived a godly life. Thus, their conduct might indicate whether or not they were saved.
- Recognized states by which he or she might experience knowledge of redemption: God revealed to individuals the heights to which he/she must aspire and then the recipient experienced a profound sense of inadequacy and despair that served as a prelude to redemption or “saving grace.”
The Separatists (also known as the Pilgrims) - who settled Plymouth Colony in 1620 - were Puritans who believed that the Church of England was not a true Church of Christ. Thus they...
- Took their cue from Paul’s admonition to “come out among them, and be separate.”
- Believed that if they were to remain true to their faith, they must form a church of what were known as visible Saints - members of the elect who upheld each other in the proper worship of God.
- Excommunicated members of the congregation if they strayed from the true path and failed to correct themselves.
- “Prophesied” after each sermon about religious doctrine in which they worked as a congregation in a passionate search for the truth.
Both Puritans and Separatists were...
- Never sure where they stood in the eyes of God which contributed to constant introspection and the desire to achieve.
- Subject to an essential tension between their inward, spiritual lives - am I serving God or am I going to hell - and their outward, secular lives - I need to make more money and I can only do that by focusing on material means.
Goal #5: To explore the governance, economy, and social structure created during the 17th Century within each of three British colonial regions: the New England Colonies, the Middle Colonies, and the Southern Colonies
The 13 British colonies were founded and settled in many different ways. Additionally, the governance, economy, and social structure of each developed around the geographical realities of each colony. In turn, these geographical realities led to the gradual formation of three regional groups of colonies.
- New England Colonies - Massachusetts (1620), Rhode Island (1636), Connecticut (1636), New Hampshire (1638).
- Middle Colonies - New York (1664), Pennsylvania (1682), New Jersey (1664), Delaware (1638).
- Southern Colonies - Virginia (1607), Maryland (1632), South Carolina (1663), North Carolina (1663), Georgia (1732).
The New England Colonies. The New England colonies experienced much independence from Britain during their early years. By the 1690s - when all of the New England colonies were under control of the Crown - each colony still retained much control through two vehicles:
- Central governments, which were representative and responsive to the needs of the majority, and consisted of a governor and bicameral legislature. Officials were annually elected by white, free men who were church members and had sought salvation.
- Local government town meetings where all white male Church members who owned property gathered regularly to consensually decide matters of local importance.
The geography was hilly and mountainous with many rivers and densely-timbered forests; the soil was rocky.
The climate was the coldest within all three colonial regions because it is so far north; it had long, harsh winters and the shortest growing season.
The abundant natural resources included fish, whales, trees, and furs.
New England's society was
- Hierarchical - prominent families owned best land; inequality was God's will.
- Homogeneous - mostly white.
- Structured around Religious beliefs and values - religion determined social structure and maintained social order in a community where church and state closely related. Calvinist religions thrived throughout New England. In every colony but Rhode Island, civil law required every settler to attend worship services on the Sabbath and every taxpayer to contribute to the support of the clergy.
- Characterized by clustered settlements which encouraged the growth of strong vital communities and a rigorous sense of local order.
- Composed of four groups: small farmers; craftsmen and merchants; servants; Indians
New England's economy was characterized by:
- Small, family run farms and small household manufacturing endeavors. Farmland - typically 100-150 acres per family - consisted of fields adjacent to the clustered dwellings in town.
- Self sufficient families
who lived in clustered town dwellings
- Small towns surrounded by adjacent fields.
- Division of labor. The farm economy was rigidly controlled by division of labor within the family: men were responsible for field work; women were responsible for housework, gardening, dairy, hen house, etc. The reliance upon family farming meant little need for servants or slaves.
- Manufacturing and exporting their natural resources
The Middle Colonies. The middle colonies experienced diverse settlement. New York was settled by the Dutch, Delaware by the Swedes, and New Jersey and Pennsylvania by the English. By the 1660s, the English divided their territory into three chartered colonies: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Delaware was an unchartered colony until it became a state in 1776. The most democratic and inclusive of all colonial governments arose in Pennsylvania under the leadership of the Quakers and William Penn - all free men could vote, not just landholders and/or members of a recognized church.
The geography included flat land with rich soil, coastal plains that spread to the Appalachian foothills, and many navigable waters
The climate was milder than New England allowing for a longer growing season
The abundant natural resources included timber, fur, and rich farmland.
The Middle Colonies' society was
- Multiculture and very diverse - people from many parts of Europe and Africa lived in the Middle Colonies. The middle colonies were the most diverse and multicultural of the three regions. The population was culturally, linguistically, and spiritually diverse. People lived in small settlements throughout the colonies which encouraged the growth of small towns run by county governments.
- Somewhat equal for white men - almost every white, adult male owned land
- Diverse in religious beliefs and cultural values. People in the Middle Colonies displayed more tolerance than the other two regions.
- Composed of four groups: small farmers, craftsmen, merchants, service providers
The Middle Colonies' economy was characterized by:
- Commercial enterprises with small farmers growing diversified crops and craftsmen and merchants providing many services and resources. By the 1630s, the Dutch had created a strong commercial economy throughout the Hudson valley and the Swedes had created an independent fur-trading community in the Delaware River Valley.
- Hard working small farmers, craftsmen, and merchants.
- Manufacturing which included iron ore products - tools, kettles, nails and plows.
- Trade that included exported agricultural products and natural resources and imported European manufactured goods.
The Southern Colonies. Virginia was a corporate colony governed by a royal charter giving the Virginia Company complete control over colonial governance until 1624 when Virginia became a royal colony; Maryland was a proprietary colony which gave its Catholic owners, the Calverts, the right to appoint all governors and to control the government. North and South Carolina and Georgia were royal colonies which gave the King absolute power to appoint all governors and their councils.
The geography of the Southern colonies included rivers with deep water estuaries and natural ocean ports.
The geographyof the lower southern colonies included broad, coastal plains with rich soil.
The climate was the warmest within all three colonial regions, and it allowed for the longest growing season within the three colonial regions - 7 months.
The natural resources included rich farmland and fish.
The Southern Colonies' society was
- Biracial - primarily white and black.
- Unequal - social, economic, and political inequality. The minority of European colonists consisted of free men and women; the majority consisted of laborers: indentured servants, most of whom would become free after a contractual period; and slaves, who by the early 1700s, were a significant proportion of the southern population.
- Hierarchical and socially stratified according to wealth as dictated by English tradition: plantation owners; smaller landowners, merchants, and craftsmen; the servants; Indians; and slaves.
- Composed of five groups: landowners (large plantation and small farmers); merchants and craftsmen; servants; Indians; and slaves.
The Southern Colonies' economy was characterized by:
- Single crop economy - profitable, single crop farms growing tobacco, indigo, rice, hemp, and later on, cotton.
- Slave labor. The quest for huge profits, which depended upon a constant source of cheap labor, created an enormous slave population.
- Rural areas with sparse settlements
- Export of agricultural goods
Goal #6: To take an indepth exploration of three colonies - Jamestown in the south, Pennsylvania in the Middle, and Massachusetts in New England - and one of the most unusual of all the colonies - Georgia
Jamestown Chronology (Original maps of Jamestown http://www.virtualjamestown.org/maps1.html)
- 1606 Jamestown is settled
by the Virginia Company which began as a joint stock company. Any
"adventurer" who could pay 12 lbs, 10 shillings could purchase stock.
The Company hopes to increase its profits in this corporate venture.
- King James grants the Virginia
Company a charter to the "New World". According to the first historian
of the Virginia Colony, "The chief Design of all Parties concern'd was
to fetch away the Treasure from thence, aiming more at sudden Gain, than
to form any regular Colony." The charter proclaimed that "all and everie
the parsons being our subjects which shall dwell and inhabit within everie
or anie of the saide severall Colonies and plantacions and everie or anie
of theire children... shall have an enjoy all liberties, franchises, and immunities
as if they had been abiding and borne within this our realme of England."
This portion of the Charter provided the authority for the first legislative
assembly as well as provided the source of one of the colonists' greatest
grievances during the Revolution - England had failed to grant the colonists
the same rights as those citizens residing in the mother country.
- In December, 144 men and boys leave England
on three boats: Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. 105 are
to settle in Virginia and 39 are crew members.
- 1607 In May, 104 settlers choose an
island on the north shore of what they call the James River to build a
settlement. (One person perished on the trip.) Upon arrival,
the written instructions of the Virginia Company decrees the colonists
"were not permitted to manure or till any ground." Instead, they
were to trade with the Indians for gold and work at bringing in a profit
for the Company.
- In June, the first fort is finished,
a "triangle-wise having three bulwarks at every corner like a half-moon,
and four or five pieces of artillery mounted in them." (John Percy.) This is a drawing of James Fort (c.1609) by Pedro de Zuniga, a Spanish ambassador. The sketch shows a flag-like projection which is more probably an enclosed garden. The three sides and circular bastions at the corners are common to all three descriptions of the early fort. The two dots are most likely guard outposts.
- Mid-year, one settler, who is named "JR"
by late 20th Century archeologists, dies under mysterious circumstances.
Full skeletal remains were found located within the first wooden palisade,
indicating this young man died within a few months after arriving in May
1607. He had a lead bullet embedded in his lower leg. Painstaking
investigation indicates he was shot at fairly close range and died of the
injury. We know from the diaries of John Smith and John Percy that
a great deal of civil unrest existed from the wretched living conditions,
the disappointment that the settler were not going to get rich, hunger,
and disease - so it is clear he died at the hands of a fellow settler.
- Colonists meet Powhatan, the leader of
the united Powhatan Indian confederacy in the area.
- By the fall, 67 of the original settlers
- 1608 In January, the original fort
is destroyed by an unknown cause.
- Smith begins to train volunteers
to fight "amongst the trees" against any native attackers. Skirmishes
between the Powhatans and the colonists began on a regular basis.
Kidnappings and prisoner exchanges become more common.
- Smith leads the first colonial offensive
in Virginia and destroys a series of native towns and canoes along the
James River. Although no one died in this attack, it was a costly
and painful loss for the Indians.
- In April, supplies and between 40-60 new
colonists arrive from England.
- In the fall, the first women arrive in
Jamestown. (By the following year, about 100 English women lived
in Jamestown. The men were in Jamestown for over a year before an
English woman arrived, two years before a significant number arrived.
Although there are no official marriages recorded between the English and
native women, a Spanish visitor reported in 1612 that as many as "... 40 or
50 of the men had married with the salvages.")
- On September 10, John Smith becomes the
leader of the colony and begins a "food for work" program proclaiming,
"You see now that power resteth wholly in my selfe: you must obey this
now for a law, that he that will not worke shall not eate (except by sicknesse
he be disabled), for the labours of thirtie or fortie honest and industrious
men shall not be consumed to maintain an hundred and fiftie idle loiterers."
- In late September, another ship arrives
from England with new instructions from the Virginia Company that describe
a new mission: First, the colonists must find something in Virginia
of major value (gold, passage to the Pacific, or the lost Roanoke Colony);
and second, Captain Newport was to place an English crown on Chief Powhatan's
head thus rendering him a loyal prince of King James. Newport attempts
to carry out the coronation, but once Powhatan realizes that the crown
means subjugation to the English king, he forbids his people to bargain
with the English for food. Thus, the colonists face winter without
the necessary grain they needed to survive.
- 1609 Smith returns to England after
a serious injury and the colony begins to deteriorate.
- The "Starving Time" begins.
Supplies are low, nobody had planted enough corn to last through the winter,
and there is not enough to eat. They turn to eating "doggs, Catts
Ratts and myce" and some resort to boiling boot leather. Conditions
are so desperate that one man "did kill his wife, powdered her, and had
eaten part of her" before leaders discover his actions and have him executed.
At the beginning of the year, 500 colonists live in Jamestown; by the year's
end, 60 survive. Those who do survive are "so Leane that they looked
Lyke Anotamies Cyreing owtt we are starved We are starved... "
- 1610 In March, 60 colonists out of
the 500 who had arrived, are still alive. In June, the small number of survivors
abandon Jamestown, only to meet the new governor, Lord Delaware, who orders
them back, provides provisions to reinvigorate the colony, and places all
colonists under martial law until the end of the year.
- 1611 Captain Samuel Argall kidnaps
Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, and holds her for ransom.
Argall offers her freedom in exchange for English prisoners held by Powhatan.
Pocahontas is held first in Jamestown and then in other Virginia settlements
where she becomes educated in the Christian faith.
- 1614 Pocahontas is baptized, christened
by the name of Rebecca, and marries John Rolfe, a successful tobacco planter. Rolfe cross-pollinates Indian
tobacco with seeds brought over from England to make a sweeter tobacco
that suits the taste of Europeans. He begins sending tobacco to England.
- 1616 Virginia colonists export 2,300
pounds of tobacco to England.
- Rolfe takes Pocahontas and their
young son, Thomas, to England. Seven months later, in March 1617 on the
voyage home, Pocahontas dies, possibly of pneumonia. The ship returns
to England and Pocahontas is buried in a churchyard in Gravesend.
- 1617 Only 400 of the 2,000 settlers
who had arrived remain alive; only 200 are trained or fit enough to farm.
Most have trades - especially in the lumber, glass, and pottery services. Virginia colonists export 18,839
pounds of tobacco to England.
- 1618 Virginia colonists export
49,528 pounds of tobacco to England.
- 1619 The first Africans arrive in
the "New World" as indentured servants. Two officials in Jamestown purchased
them in exchange for food and supplies.
- In July, the first representative
assembly in the "New World" begins. The Virginia Company orders the
people of Jamestown "to establish one equal and uniform government over
all Virginia" and to provide "just laws for the happy guiding and governing
of the people there inhabiting." This is an attempt to give
Englishmen in American certain rights and privileges, common to the mother
country, that were guaranteed in the company charter; it is not intended
to establish self government. This first meeting is the beginning
of the Virginia General Assembly and a forerunner of the U.S. Congress.
- The first recorded laws concerning indentured
servitude are passed in Jamestown during the first General Assembly.
Indentured servitude in Virginia allows English servants to be bought and
sold freely, used as gambling stakes, transferred to another master through
a will, and taken by the sheriff for satisfaction of his master's debt.
- The Virginia Company adopts a new policy
for luring colonists to Virginia that allows individuals to own land for
the first time since the settlement began. Colonists who arrived
before 1616 would receive 100 acres apiece "to be held by them and their
heirs and assigns forever." Those who arrived later received 50 acres.
Tradesmen who chose to practice their trade rather than farm received four
acres and a house. Investors, including investors who lived
in the colony, received additional land if they paid ship passage
for indentured servants. Indentured servants received their allotment
after their service was completed.
- 1620 A large number of women
arrive in Jamestown - women recruited to become wives of the settlers.
This decision is indicative of a growing recognition that Jamestown must
be more than just a commercial settlement and that in order to have a prosperous
colony, it must be populated with families, women and children - and not
just eager adventurers in constant need of supplies from home. As
the Treasurer of the Virginia Company, Sir Edwin Sandys wrote in 1620,
"... the plantation can never flourish till families be planted and the respect
of wives and children fix the people on the soil."
- 1622 In March, Powhatan's
brother, Openchankanaugh leads a devastating assault on colonial Virginia.
More than one-third of all the colonists - 300 men, women, and children
- are killed in one day. Jamestown is spared because the people had
been forewarned by a "friendly" Indian. Survivors are ordered to move into
eight fortified settlements, one of which is Jamestown.
- 1624 Due to colonial strife
and low profits, King James I dissolves the Virginia Company and proclaims
the Virginia settlements a royal colony. Jamestown becomes the royal
colony of Virginia.
- John Smith publishes A General Historie of Virginia in which he includes this sketch showing Smith taking an Indian chief hostage during a battle. There is no other history that can verify this alleged event.
- 1625 Jamestown population is 1,218
people out of 8,000 total who had immigrated over the past 19 years.
Of those, 942 were males, 276 were females; 60 percent were between 15-25
years of age - only 8% was 40 years or older; 40 percent were indentured
servants. All 23 black residents are servants.
- 1640 The earliest recorded case
of enslavement occurs when the General Court for running away tries three
indentured servants. The two white servants are punished by an additional
four years of service. The only black servant is forced to serve
his master for the rest of his life.
- 1643 Government becomes bicameral,
forming two separate houses similar to the English Parliament. The
General Assembly becomes largely independent of England.
- 1644 The second major
Indian attack takes place in Jamestown. Somewhere between 400 and
500 colonists are killed.
- 1646 Opechancanough is captured
and killed. The General Assembly boasted that the natives were "so
routed and dispersed that they are no longer a nation, and we now suffer
only from robbery by a few starved outlaws."
- 1661 Virginia institutionalizes
- 1662 The General Assembly passes
a law, "All children born in this country shall be held bond or free only
according to the condition of the mother." Thus, if the mother is
enslaved, the child will be enslaved.
- 1667 The General Assembly passes
a law, "The conferring of baptism does not alter the condition of the person
as to his bondage or freedom; that divers masters, freed from this doubt,
may be more carefully endeavor the propagation of Christianity."
Thus, a Christian could enslave another Christian.
- 1669 The General Assembly passes
a law, "If any slave resists his master... and by the extremity of the correction
should chance to die, that his death shall not be accompted a Felony, but
the master... be acquitted from molestation since it cannot be presumed that
proposed malice... should induce any man to destroy his own estate."
- 1676 Nathaniel Bacon and his followers
rebel against the stern rule of Governor William Berkeley and his handling
of the frontier Indians. Bacon's troops attack and burn Jamestown
in September, but Berkeley escapes to the Eastern Shore. Bacon dies
of dysentery soon thereafter and the rebellion ends without its leader.
The aftermath results in the hanging of several dozen survivors and the
loss of much of the General Assembly's independence.
- 1699 The capital of Virginia
moves from Jamestown to Williamsburg.
- 1700 Jamestown becomes a plantation.
Its early buildings disappear and the land reverts to agriculture.
- 1893 The Association for the
Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) purchases 22.5 acres to preserve
and interpret the site. Between 1893-1903, the first excavations uncovered
the first Jamestown Church and the APVA rebuilt a replica.
- 1934 Jamestown becomes a National
Park on 1,500 acres, with all but the 22.5 owned by the APVA run by the
National Park Service.
- 1994 The first phase of the
APVA's Jamestown Rediscovery Project begins on the 22.5 acres it owns on
the island. By 1996, their archaeologists found the remains of the
first Jamestown Fort. Since that time, the archaeological findings
have changed the way we think about Jamestown.
- 2007 The 400 year anniversary
of the founding of Jamestown was celebrated throughout Virginia.
Pennyslvania. In 1681, a royal charter made William Penn, a Quaker, the proprietor of the only ungranted land left along the North American coast.
- The Quakers. Founded in 1647 by George Fox, the Quakers - called so because
Fox urged them to "tremble at the name of the Lord" - had several very controversial beliefs:
- All people had "divinity within themselves," an "Inner Light" would could guide them along the path of righteousness, and all who obtained such divinity could also attain salvation.
- Society should be strictly egalitarian. All men and women were equal, not only in society but in their religious meetings. No person had higher status than any others - therefore, they refused to bow to royalty or show their "social superior" the customary marks of respect like bowing and removing their hats.
- They were pacifists who refused to make war or swear oaths to a national entity.
- Thus, by 1660, the 40,000 English Quakers were suffering from severe persecution in England.
- In 1673, Fox returned from an American visit with the vision of a Quaker community in the New World. The idea caught the attention of William Penn, a convert to Quakerism in 1667.
Penn's father - a very wealthy man with close connection to the throne of Charles II - almost disowned his son over the conversion.
- Upon his father's death, Penn inherited a substantial estate, as well as a claim to a sizable loan his father had made to the Crown. Charles II gave Penn proprietary rights to a huge track of land in America.
- Thus, in 1682, some 4000 settlers - most of whom were religious dissenters like the Quakers, Amish, Baptists, and Mennonites - had arrived in Pennsylvania.
Pennyslvania's population tripled within five years and stood at 21,000 by 1700. About half were indentured servants and the remainder were families of free farmers and artisans.
People of diverse nationalities and religions came to the settlement, bringing experienced farmers and established merchants with trading connections.
- In Penn's First Frame of Government, drafted in 1682, colonists were guaranteed religious freedom, civil liberties, and elected representation. All free men were given the vote and the legislature they elected had full governing powers.
- Anyone who could buy land could own land, and thus a thriving colony of small, independent landowning farmers arose - no clustering towns.
- Penn worked hard to ensure that no politically powerful landlords would be in control of economically dependent tenant farmers.
- Penn's policies helped Philadelphia to become a successful trading seaport which was supported by commercial agriculture.
Quakers were pacifists who also believed the Indians rightfully owned the land. Thus, peace prevailed between the Lenni Lenapes - or Delawares in English (a tribe of the Algonquin federation) - and the settlers. Penn purchased all land from the Indians before colonization was permitted, prohibited the sale of alcohol to the tribe, strictly regulated the fur trade, and learned the Indian language.
Massachussetts. We can’t talk about the Massachusetts Bay Colony without first discussing Plymouth Colony which was officially absorbed into Massachusetts in 1691.
- Plymouth. In England, persecution of the Separatists had become so intense that in 1608 one congregation migrated to Holland.
A few members found, however, that their pure churches and communities could not flourish in Holland and be free from corruption, distraction, and cultural competition.
- Under the leadership of William Bradford, 35 Separatists left Holland and sailed to England where they negotiated with merchants from the Virginia Company. The Company agreed to advance the necessary funds to go to America if the Separatists who could not pay their passage would become indentured servants.
- In September 1620, 87 Separatists and several dozen others who were either willing to pay their own passage or were hired laborers sailed on the Mayflower bound for Virginia - a very large unchartered area.
- But they landed instead on the coast of present-day southeastern Massachusetts at what they called Plymouth. The people who now call Pilgrims landed in the winter with insufficient supplies and high expectations of beginning a new life on rich tobacco lands. Many of the passengers immediately wanted to leave.
- Massachusetts Bay Colony. By 1629, a prosperous Puritan named John Winthrop applied for a royal charter through his business, the Massachusetts Bay Company, to establish a model "godly community" of Puritans in northern America - what he called the creation of a model "City upon a Hill".
Winthrop set about to recruit devout Puritan families to join him in his religious experiment.
- In 1629, an advance crew traveled to Massachusetts to prepare shelters and clear fields for planting.
- In 1630, a total of 17 ships with 1,000 colonists - Winthrop included - arrived to create a "Modell of Christian Charity." The model, however, was not designed to be socially or politically democratic in nature - Winthrop was a religious radical, but a social conservative.
- Winthrop announced that separation between the rich and poor, landowners and workers was divinely decreed and that the only people who could vote were church going men who could testify to an experience of "saving faith" or desiring salvation through God.
- Social life was also rigidly regulated - every colonist was required to attend church and the church and government determined all standards for sexual conduct, personal behavior, business dealings, parent-child relationships, and marital life.
- The colony began as a trading corporation but by 1644, the company had evolved into a provincial government.
- The Bay Colony almost immediately experienced difficulties with the most populous tribe and the one most resistant to English expansion - the Pequots. In 1636, the Bay Colony declared war on the Pequots and the following year, the Pequots declared war on Connecticut after they were evicted from their ancestral lands.
- For the next year, the colonists began a calculated strategy of divide and conquer. Winthrop convinced the Narragansett - traditional enemies of the Pequot - to join forces with the English.
- The Pequot War did not end until all the men had been killed and the women and children sold into slavery. Then Connecticut laid claim to all Pequot lands.
- Five years later, the Massachusetts colonists had the chief of their former ally, the Narragansetts, assassinated so they could claim his land. Thus ended Indian resistance to English expansion in New England for several years.
- The Wampanoags of Plymouth was the only remaining tribe of any strength. In Chapter 3 of Foner, you learned what happened to this nation as a result of King Philips War with the Narragansett, Mohegans, Nipmucs, and Wampanoags. Indian resistance in New England was over, but the price had been high. Almost 20,000 English and Indians lost their lives in the war.
- In 1630, the colony began as a trading corporation, but by 1644, the company had evolved into a provincial government.
Georgia. Georgia was the last of the British colonies to be established in North America. In 1732, General James Oglethorpe and several of his wealthy English friends became trustees of a new colony. For the next 21 years, they would help Georgia grow and prosper, and then it was to revert to royal control. From the beginning, Georgia was to be a colony entirely different from the other Southern English colonies. The trustees sought three goals:
- To populate the new colony with a group of "worthy poor" from across Europe who would be given land, employment, and a new start in a better society. English, Germans, Swiss, Austrians, Scots, and Italian paupers as well as some debtors who were freed from prisons were selected if they were willing to work hard and professed to be Protestant. (Several hundred Jews managed to also migrate.) The trustees sponsored the resettlement of the first colonists, and then provided them with 50 acres of land, tools, and year's worth of supplies. You can see this desire to populate the colony with the hard-working poor of Europe in this quote and image from the 1733 publication of Reasons for Establishing the Colony of Georgia:
"It is undoubtedly a self-evident Maxim, that the Wealth of a Nation consists in the Numbers of her People. But this holds true so far only, as Employment is, or can be found for them; if there be any Poor, who do not, or cannot add to the Riches of their Country by Labour, they must lie a dead Weight on the Publick; and as every wise Government, like the Bees, should not suffer any Drones in the State, these Poor should be situated in such Places, where they might be easy themselves, and useful to the Commonwealth.
IF this can be done by transplanting such as are necessitous and starving here, and consequently unnecessary; it is incumbent on us, at this Time more particularly, to promote and enlarge our Settlements abroad with unusual Industry, when the Attention of almost all the Powers in Europe is turn'd towards the Improvement of theirs."
- To create a small, egalitarian farmers' utopia populated by virtuous persons. By giving land away and not allowing any settler to receive more than 500 acres, the trustees tried to prevent the rise of the plantation system that had dominated the other southern colonies. They also prohibited Georgians from selling land, outlawed slavery, and outlawed the importation and consumption of hard liquor.
- To make the colony a successful military buffer against Spanish Florida.
Consequently, Georgia developed an ethnically and spiritually diverse society unlike that of the other southern colonies. In 1752, after a great deal of unrest in the new colony due to Oglethorpe's desire to create an egalitarian society, the King made Georgia a royal colony. Thereafter, Georgia developed a comparable economy to South Carolina based upon rice cultivation and dependency on slave labor. Cotton dominated its econmy by the early 1800. On the eve of the Civil War, Georgia produced more cotton than any other state.
Goal #7: To compare and contrast the political, economic, social, and spiritual development of the three colonial regions throughout the Seventeenth Century
- The Southern Colonies were largely corporate in nature. This led to the growth of a plantation economy based on single crops – mainly tobacco and rice – that required slavery to bring in substantial profits. The economy encouraged the growth of widely-dispersed, isolated settlements.
- The Middle Colonies were more economically diverse, hosting small farmers, craftsmen, and merchants – all who depended on some sort of profit for their living. This led to the growth of a diverse economy that required a large number of indentured servants. The economy encouraged the growth of small, dispersed, but inner-connected settlements.
- The New England colonies were economically homogeneous, hosting small, self sufficient farmers living on family-run farms and a few merchants. The led to the growth of a homogeneous economy that depended on family and community labor rather than unfree labor. The economy encouraged the growth of close-knit, well-ordered, cluster towns.
- The Southern Colonies developed a socially-stratified society based upon English tradition. Society was bi-racial – white and black.
- The Middle Colonies developed a highly diverse society based upon many diverse languages, religions, and cultures. Society was multi-racial.
- New England colonies developed a homogeneous society. Society was mono-racial.
- The Southern Colonies were ruled by the plantation elite who developed a political system that honored local laws and customs based upon their elite, socially-stratified beliefs.
- The Middle Colonies were ruled by small town governments, each reflecting the diversity of settlement.
- New England colonies were ruled by religious leaders through small town meetings.
- The Southern Colonies lived by the Anglican faith. Religion played almost no role in politics and the economy.
- The Middle Colonies practiced a great deal of religious tolerance, accepting the beliefs of Quakers, Shakers, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc. Religion played a minor role in politics and the economy.
- The New England colonies practices a strictly Calvinist faith. Religion dictated the political, economic, and social lives of colonists.
Similarities among the Colonists and Colonial Regions
While each colony and colonial region differed from one another, from the very beginning, the regions also shared some important similarities.
- Most of the colonies were business enterprises financed by private companies or individuals. Most were expected to produce a profit.
- The colonists isolated themselves as much as possible from the Native Americans and created enclosed societies that were transplantations of the English world they left behind.
- The colonists believed themselves to be racially, culturally, and spiritually superior to Native Americans, as well as the slaves they imported from Africa.
- Each of the colonies developed class distinctions, largely between rich and poor, free and unfree, educated and uneducated.
- The colonists were part of a global empire. They could not effectively isolate themselves from the world around them - a world populated by Native peoples, as well as European colonists, explorers, traders, and missionaries. Further, they were tied by trade to Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa, as we can see by this map of colonial overseas trade.
Conclusions: The Colonists - What They Created
- Within the first century of European colonization in America, colonists had created strong governments, were involved in a wide array of agricultural and industrial activities, and had established societies that would forever shape the growth of the American continent.
- By 1732, three types of colonial governments existed within the 13 colonies:
- Royal colonies where the English monarch appointed governors and their councils.
- Proprietary colonies where the owners of the land determined the direction of government.
- Corporate colonies where corporations and their stockholders determined the direction of colonial government and economy.
- By the mid-1700s, three colonial regions existed - New England, Middle, and Southern - and all 13 colonies had become royal colonies.
- Capitalism and corporations came to the colonies with the first colonists. Five of the 13 colonies were corporate in origin: Virginia, Plymouth, Maryland, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Because England initially left colonization to corporate and individual private initiative, a capitalistic economy quickly emerged whereby small farmers, artisans, merchants, and aristocrats worked for profit. In time, some Americans created commercial monopolies that needed a constant source of dependent labor to augment their wealth.
- While the primary mode of economic activity in colonial America was farming, industrial production had also begun in the form of household manufacturing whereby families produced articles for their own use; and commercial industries for profit - fishing, lumbering, shipbuilding, flour milling, iron manufacturing. All such industrial production had two things in common:
- they took advantage of the cheap and abundant natural resources; and
- they used simple manufacturing processes that required little capital to convert raw materials into crude products.
- A great deal of political, cultural , socio-economic, religious, racial, and national diversity already existed in America by the end of the 17th Century. Rather than creating a "melting pot" of peoples who blended into a distinctly American personality, such diversity created a bubbling cauldron of cultural, racial, and social differences which resulted in many conflicts during these early decades – conflicts between:
- Protestants and Catholics
- Religious dissidents and traditional forms of religion
- European settlers and the indigenous peoples
- people of different social and economic classes
- People of different colors and nationalities
- Within the first few decades of settlement, European colonists began eliminating American Indian nations, as well as dispossessing and unempowering the American Indians who survived. While beyond colonial boundaries, Indians still outnumbered the colonists, their social and economic power within colonial borders had diminished.
- European colonists treated the Indians differently. Generally, Spanish and French colonists included Indians in social and economic lives of the community - although usually in an unequal manner. The English, however, established colonies that absolutely excluded Indians from social, economic, and political participation.
- Several nations had been almost exterminated - most notably the Pequot and the Huron.
- The nations of the coastal areas had lost the vast majority of their land - either by sale, invasion, war, or trickery.
- A small but powerful spirit of tolerance arose in colonial North America within the Quaker community of Pennsylvania.
- Throughout all the colonies, a small but vocal voice of resistance arose in response to the social, political, and economic status quo.
to Unit I Index