Early US History Book Review
How has our view of America before 1607 changed?
The Mound Builders, or Adena-Hopewell Culture, flourished around 500 BC and lasted until 400 AD when global cooling led to their decline. Eventually global warming and a northward Toltec migration revived this culture, but it was never quite the same. The city of Cahokia was erected near the site that would be St. Louis, and flourished for a time. After that, the Iroquois and Cherokee began to migrate north, providing a possible Mexican link between the southern peoples and the northern. The inclusion of goods such as corn and barley brought about an agricultural change as Indians then began to cultivate said crops, changing their way of life towards what is now recognized as the woodland folk, which included the Algonquin, who migrated from Siberia and were known to be a highly patriarchal society.
The coming of the Spaniards was not an easy time for the Native Americans, as they brought disease in the form of smallpox that killed many due to no known cure at the time. This also led to much fighting between tribes that was largely meant to increase their numbers so as to prove dominant to other tribes. Also thanks to Spain’s influence America was given its culture largely thanks to Spanish influence.
Attempts to colonize in Florida and New Mexico were fiercely resisted by the local Indian tribes. The lost colony of Roanoke stands as an example of the hardship and ferocity with which the Indians treated what they saw as invaders to their lands. Roughly 100 souls were thought to have simply vanished, though in truth they were either massacred or taken in by the Hatteras tribe.
How did New England try and ultimately fail to create a Puritan utopia?
The pilgrims, also known as separatists, were the driving force behind the secession from
England and the rule of the monarchy, and were blown by a storm towards
Massachusetts rather than New York where they had initially intended to land (Brinkley, 2000). The Mayflower Compact was the closest to a constitution that was written in that time, and was constructed to govern the people where England could not.
A large difference in religion was that in Massachusetts the ruling class were the
religious, where to the north it was the rich that made the rules. In Massachusetts
there was what was called the Rule of the Saints, in which roughly one quarter of the population qualified to be visible saints that could directly affect the budding New
In the 1630’s, in response to animosity between the people and Charles I, thousands of individuals, mostly of the middle class, made their way from England to
the colonies, fleeing the rule of Charles I. Despite New England becoming a utopia of religion and becoming tightly knit under the Puritan lifestyle it was bound to fail as the generation following began to only pay lip service to the religion, seeing it as less important than the other tenets of life amongst the colonies and thereby denying its overall importance as other factors such as The Restoration and King Phillip’s War began to press harder upon the colonies, forcing a rule that many had sought to escape. Through English rule the Puritan utopia that had been created swiftly faded away in favor of an American ideal that, while eventually realized, was not fully recognized for many years.
How did the Southern colonies become slave societies?
Initially planters hired on indentured servants for a period of 7 years, taking mostly those from Wessex and Mercia (Brinkley, 2000). Different from East Anglia, in Wessex it was simply accepted that inequality was a factor of life, that there were distinct classes that could not be changed.
The foundations of Jamestown were hard won and fraught with peril, as the death rate was horrendous to begin with, as the settlers were unprepared for the conditions that awaited them. In 1619 it was abandoned thanks to famine, though a relief effort eventually made it relevant again.
Virginia eventually developed into a class-specific society in which plantation owners hired indentured servants that were treated little better than slaves. Disease killed many, and a hierarchal system that placed landowners over others was seen to be the norm in this age.
In the 1650’s Oliver Cromwell became the savior of New England, and was fiercely opposed by Charles I, who was eventually executed not long after Cromwell’s victory. At that point New England was a free entity in all but name. All that was set to change however with the Restoration and eventually the rebellion that was led by Nathanial Bacon, which had long-reaching effects such as the eventual slaveocracy that erupted in Virginia when poor white servants ceased to make their way into servitude any longer.
Seeing as how the African slave trade had already been set into place at this time it was only a short step that allowed for slavery to become not only hereditary but quite common in the Virginia territory. In Carolina the slave culture had already been well established and unlike the Virginia slave culture it was quite a bit more lenient as the slave owners felt no remorse over owning slaves, and even gave days off and certain privileges. The Carolina slave culture was modeled closely after the West Indian slave society. Leniency was quickly abolished however after the Stono Uprising, in which a large group of slaves attempted to flee and were either killed or recaptured. Subsequent to this slaves were no longer allowed to be educated or to assemble for any reason.
Describe the “Revolution before the Revolution” of 1688-1773.
Early Americans, before they thought of themselves as Americans, were considered still to be under British rule and as such were not thought to have any independent rights, but responsibilities to their country (Brinkley, 2000). Taxation without representation and governance that was laid down by rulers an ocean away still held firm upon the established colonies, firmly establishing that despite their geographical difference, England still had the ultimate sway over the lives of those who had left its shores.
More than this, England restricted what those in British America could do on their own, such as make their own money, expand their colonies westward to newer, fresh land, or even practice their own laws when it came to such matters as smugglers and the like. England established a firm stranglehold over the colonies as Brinkley tells it, and did not begin to relinquish this hold until closer towards the actual revolution, when America staked its independence. Up until that time such figures as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and several others did what they could to undermine the British Empire and procure what they could for the colonies, working to repeal the hated taxation and other matters that King Charles and Queen Anne had imposed upon the colonists.
The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was the true tipping point of the start to the revolution. Up until that point the colonists had already been moving towards ill feelings and mild revolutions against the British Empire, from the slow and methodical abolishment of Puritanism to the general attitude felt and held by a good deal of the populace. Added to this were the many differing cultures and ideals that came in the form of the many other immigrants that made their way to America, families and individuals that owed no allegiance to Britain and struck on their own or became part of the colonies despite British rule.
In general the colonists were subjected to British rule despite being out from under the view of those in power, but eventually began to work against the British Empire in order to gain the freedom they so desired. Small acts such as working to create a stable government, enabling taxation with representation, and gathering militia to defend them against Britain’s military might were ways in which America began to form with great effort from the colonists.
Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People (7th ed.) New
York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2000. Print.
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