History of Colonial America - U.S. History. I INTRODUCTION History of Colonial America, colonial possessions or dependencies in the western hemisphere formed by European nations. European countries developed colonies for many reasons, but primarily to generate income. They used colonies to provide raw materials for trade and to serve as markets for finished products. English colonies eventually became dominant in North America because many settlers were drawn to their political systems. These systems encouraged representative government, religious toleration, economic growth, and cultural diversity. After Christopher Columbus explored the Americas in 1492, the nations of Western Europe--Spain, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, and England--created vast colonial empires in the western hemisphere. The Spanish empire in Mesoamerica (the lands from present-day Mexico to Panama) sent great wealth to Spain in the form of gold and silver. The Portuguese colony in Brazil and the French and English possessions in the West Indies provided sugar, a valuable crop to sell in European markets. In addition, the French, Dutch, and English colonies in North America exported huge quantities of furs. These goods stimulated the European economy and pushed forward a commercial revolution that expanded European trade and wealth. Yet within two centuries the number of European nations with colonial possessions in America began to dwindle as a result of conquests by rival nations. By 1700 England had pushed the Dutch out of North America, and in 1763 England and Spain divided the French empire in North America. Shortly thereafter, most of the British colonies on the mainland of North America revolted against imperial control and established their independence in 1776 as the United States of America. Three decades later, many of the colonies controlled by Portugal and Spain followed the example of the British colonies and gained their independence. By 1820 few European colonies remained in the western hemisphere. This article focuses on the history of the English settlements that achieved independence as the United States of America. It covers their experience during the colonial period, which lasted from 1607 to 1763; a separate article covers the era of the American Revolution, which began in 1763. Four themes are central to the colonial period of American history. First, property-owning settlers created an increasingly free and competitive political system based on representative institutions of government. Second, the diversity of religious belief among the settlers gradually eroded support for an established church and promoted a new ideal of religious toleration. Third, the settlers created a bustling economy based on communities of independent farm families in New England and the midAtlantic colonies and plantations owned by wealthy planters and worked by English indentured servants and African slaves in the Southern colonies. Fourth, colonial culture became more diverse after 1700 because of the influx of many African peoples--Senegalese, Gambians, Ibo, Yoruba, Kongo, among others--and various European ethnic groups--Scots, Scots-Irish, Dutch, and German. However, by 1763 the settlers had begun to fashion a common cultural identity rooted in the English language, English legal and political institutions, and the shared experience of life in America. II EUROPEAN COLONIAL VENTURES The colonial holdings of each European country developed in a distinct way. The Spanish established an authoritarian regime in Mesoamerica and imposed strict controls over the native peoples. The French and the Dutch in North America created fur-trading empires in which the native peoples retained their lands and their political autonomy. The English created settler-colonies, which were populated primarily by migrants from Europe and by slaves from Africa. British colonists excluded Native American peoples and pushed them ever further to the west. A Spain and Portugal Until 1600 Spain and Portugal were the only European powers with colonies in the New World, the term used by Christopher Columbus to describe previously unexplored lands in North and South America. In the 1520s Spanish conquistadors (conquerors) subdued the wealthy Aztec empire that ruled much of what is now Mexico. Over the next decade, they began to expand Spain's control over the Inca empire in Peru and over the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. During and after these conquests, millions of native peoples died because they lacked immunity to European diseases such as measles and smallpox. Thousands of Spanish migrants settled on Native American lands and used local people as laborers to raise wheat and livestock and to mine gold and silver. All of these products were sent back to Europe or sold to enrich Spain. The Spanish also forced native peoples to convert to Catholicism. Portugal focused on Brazil as its main colony in the New World. In the 1550s the Portuguese established a plantation economy in Brazil; they raised livestock and grew sugar and other agricultural products for export to Europe. The Portuguese tried to force indigenous peoples to work on these plantations, but the people resisted. European diseases devastated the native population. The Portuguese eventually met their labor needs by importing tens of thousands of enslaved African workers. Spain and Portugal ruled their American domains in a relatively strict or authoritarian fashion. Their kings dispatched administrators and other official representatives, called viceroys by the Spanish, to rule the colonists. Settlers in Spanish and Portuguese colonies had few opportunities to determine public policy or to develop institutions of representative government. In 1565 Spain established a fort in Florida to protect its fleets from attack by other European nations. The fort, called Saint Augustine, became the first permanent European settlement in the future United States. The Spanish also founded a dozen other military outposts and religious missions along the Atlantic coast, including one as far north as present-day Virginia. Native Americans soon attacked and destroyed most of these sites. Spanish adventurers searched for gold in large areas of the southern and western United States, but they had little success and so developed few Spanish settlements north of the Rio Grande River. B France France claimed the northeastern region of North America in the 1530s based on the explorations of Jacques Cartier in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The first permanent French settlement did not begin until 1608 when explorer Samuel de Champlain founded a trading post at the narrows of the St. Lawrence River. The site later became the city of Québec. In 1628 the Company of One Hundred Associates, a joint-stock enterprise run by merchants and court officials, took control of Québec and the surrounding region. Armand Jean du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, a French cardinal and statesman, founded the company. He was a strong advocate of colonization, and with his associates, he hoped to bring settlers to the area. The colony was known as New France, and eventually encompassed Acadia, the island of Newfoundland, Canada (the area drained by the St. Lawrence River), as well as French claims along the Mississippi River valley that were collectively known as Louisiana. Company members also wanted to exploit the rich resources of the region, and the king of France gave them exclusive rights to develop a trade in furs (see Fur Trade in North America). However, few French men and women made permanent homes in the new colony. The climate was harsh, and the French government discouraged the migration of Huguenots (French Protestants) and of young men who were potential military recruits in France. As a result, New France never developed as a colony for settlers. In 1698 its European population was only 15,200, whereas the population in the neighboring English colonies had already risen to 250,000. Despite the lack of settlement, New France prospered as a vast fur-trading enterprise. French explorers traveled deep into the North American continent seeking new supplies of deerskins and beaver pelts. In 1673 French missionary Jacques Marquette reached the Mississippi River in present-day Wisconsin. In 1681 explorer RenéRobert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, traveled down the majestic Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. He honored the reign of King Louis XIV (1643-1715) by creating the new colony of Louisiana and opening up a vast new region for French fur traders. Military and civilian officials sent from France governed the colonies of Louisiana and New France in an authoritarian but effective manner. They maintained order among the white population and assisted them in building churches and obtaining Catholic priests from France. Like the Spanish, the French had a disastrous impact on Native Americans. By introducing European diseases, French traders unwittingly triggered massive epidemics, and by creating a market for furs, they sparked wars among native peoples. The Iroquois, who occupied what later became New York state, profited from the fur trade more than other native peoples in the region. The Iroquois were numerous and lived in large towns of 500 to 2,000 people. Politically, they were united in a great confederation, known as the Five Nations or League of Five Nations, which included the Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, and Seneca peoples. In the 1640s the Five Nations went to war to control the fur trade between the French and the various native peoples who lived in the region. To win command of this trade, the Five Nations formed an alliance with the English colonies. They then forced the Iroquoian-speaking Huron people to move north of the Great Lakes, pushed a dozen Algonquian peoples westward into present-day Wisconsin, and made other tribes supply them with furs. In the 1670s the Algonquian tribes allied themselves with the French and attacked the Five Nations. After years of conflict, the Five Nations in 1701 agreed to a compromise settlement. Under this agreement, the Iroquois retained their primary role in the fur trade, but they abandoned efforts to dominate the native peoples of the West and promised neutrality in French conflicts with England. C The Netherlands The Netherlands (known from 1648 to 1795 as the Dutch Republic) founded the American colony of New Netherland in 1609 on land that is part of present-day New York. Its early settlers were primarily interested in developing the region's resources for trade. The Dutch government gave a commercial monopoly to the Dutch West India Company, which set up fur-trading posts at New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island and at Fort Orange (present-day Albany). The company also granted huge manors or estates along the Hudson River to wealthy Dutchmen, hoping they would populate the land with Dutch tenant farmers and thus encourage increased immigration. But the mother country was prosperous, so few permanent settlers came to New Netherland. Only 1,500 Europeans lived in the colony by 1664, making it the smallest of all the European colonies in North America. Dutch officials in New Amsterdam ruled with absolute power. The colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant, conquered the small Swedish colony of New Sweden and rejected the demands of English settlers on Long Island for a representative system of government. He also alienated the colony's small but increasingly diverse population of Dutch, English, and Swedish settlers with other unpopular policies, including high taxes. Consequently, in 1664, when English troops invaded the island, residents of the colony did not resist and subsequently accepted English rule. However, the influence of Dutch architectural styles and the Dutch language remained strong until 1720, when rapid growth of the English population changed the cultural character of New York. III DEVELOPMENT OF ENGLAND'S COLONIES English colonies differed from other European settlements because of the growth of self-government, which marked the colonies' early political development. The rise of self-government stemmed from two factors. First, most of the English colonies were founded as private corporate enterprises called proprietary ventures, and some time elapsed before the English government imposed direct controls on them. Second, many English colonists had participated in government at home, and they carried this tradition to America. England began its colonies during the 17th century when Parliament, the nation's primary legislative body, was increasing its powers at the expense of the crown. During these struggles over constitutional control, most English settlers in America supported Parliament and the idea of representative government. In the British colonies, representative government developed within three distinct types of colonies: royal colonies headed by a governor who was appointed by the king, proprietary colonies owned and managed by English proprietors, and corporate colonies that selected their own governors and political leaders. A Virginia Virginia was founded in 1607 as a trading outpost and became the first permanent English colony in the western hemisphere. King James I of England (1603-1625) granted the Virginia Company a corporate charter that gave authority over the colony to the company's shareholders and directors, who ruled through an appointed governor and a council of advisers. In 1618 the Virginia Company also created a representative assembly, the House of Burgesses, which was the first such assembly in colonial America. This step toward self-government was designed to encourage people who sought more freedom to migrate to the new colony. However, the company included a provision that limited the burgesses' power; the provision required the company to approve any laws that they enacted. Virginia soon failed as a trading venture because the native people had no valuable crops or products to exchange for English goods, and so colonists turned to farming. They increasingly began to settle on lands belonging to local Algonquian people. In 1622 a revolt led by Opechancanough, chief of the alliance of several Algonquian groups called the Powhatan Confederation, nearly destroyed the colony. Following this revolt, the crown accused the Virginia Company of mismanagement and in 1624 revoked its corporate charter. Because Virginia had begun to prosper by growing tobacco and exporting it to England, King James I took an interest in the settlement and made it the first royal colony. The king and his ministers then assumed the authority to appoint the governor and his advisory council and retained the House of Burgesses, though they made its legislation subject to approval by the king's top aides, the Privy Council. They also made the Church of England the official church in Virginia, so that all property owners in the colony had to pay taxes to support its ministers. These institutions--a governor and council appointed by the crown, an elected assembly, and an established Anglican church--became the model for England's royal colonies throughout America. B Maryland Another tobacco-growing settlement developed in neighboring Maryland as a proprietary colony. In 1632 King Charles I (1625-1649) granted ownership of the lands surrounding Chesapeake Bay to George Calvert, an aristocrat who held the title of Lord Baltimore. George Calvert died that same year and his son, Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, inherited the charter. According to its terms, Baltimore owned Maryland as a private estate and could hold or dispose of the land as he wished. As the proprietor, he also had authority to appoint public officials, to found churches, and to name ministers. Baltimore sent his brother, Leonard Calvert, to serve as the head of the new colony, but when Calvert tried to govern as he wished, the settlers resisted. The Maryland charter gave settlers the right to have a representative assembly but did not clearly specify its powers. Assembly members argued that the assembly had power to initiate legislation (and not simply to assent to the governor's proposals), and Baltimore grudgingly agreed. Baltimore, who had recently converted to Catholicism, wanted Maryland to become a refuge where his fellow English Catholics could escape religious persecution. To minimize conflicts with Protestant authorities in England, he instructed Governor Leonard Calvert to "cause All Acts of Romane Catholicque Religion to be done as privately as may be." In another attempt to protect Catholics, who were a minority in Maryland, Baltimore persuaded the Protestant-dominated assembly in 1649 to enact a toleration policy that granted freedom of worship to all Christians. C Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Religious refugees founded settlements in New England. One group of radical Protestants was known as Puritans because they wanted to "purify" the established Church of England. They left England to escape religious persecution. In 1620 a group of these Puritan Separatists, including some who had already left England for Holland, moved to America in a holy migration--a pilgrimage. Before they disembarked from their ship, the Mayflower, these so-called Pilgrims, as well as a number of other passengers, agreed to enact just laws based on the will of the majority. Because the Pilgrims lacked a proper charter from the king, the migrants contracted with each other in the Mayflower Compact to form a "civil body Politick." They established Plymouth colony in present-day Massachusetts and set up a system of political and religious self-rule, allowing each town and congregation to govern itself. In 1630 a much larger group of English Puritans, led by John Winthrop, migrated to America under an agreement with the Massachusetts Bay Company, a joint-stock company that held a charter from King Charles I. The company chose Winthrop to be the governor of its colony, and he and his associates took the charter with them to America. Once in the New World, they transformed the governing body of the joint-stock company, called the General Court, into a colonial legislature. In the General Court, each shareholder had a vote; in the colonial legislature each qualified settler was given a vote. Winthrop and his associates also created representative institutions within each town. However, to ensure rule by those they considered godly, the Puritans limited the right to vote and to hold office to men who were Puritan church members. This law excluded all women and about half of the men (all those who were not Puritans) from participating in the political life of the colony. The Massachusetts Bay Puritans also established Congregationalism as the state-supported religion and barred members of other faiths from conducting services. D Rhode Island In 1635 the Massachusetts Bay Puritans expelled Roger Williams, a Puritan minister at Salem, Massachusetts, because he questioned church doctrines and government policies. Williams founded a settlement in the neighboring region of Rhode Island, which soon became a separate self-governing colony with an elected governor and a representative assembly. In Rhode Island, as in Plymouth Colony, there was a complete separation of church and state. Each congregation could set its own rules and doctrines. Rhode Island and Plymouth differed from Massachusetts Bay colony in their guarantee of religious toleration, permitting Christians (and in Rhode Island, a few Jewish traders) to worship God as they pleased. E New Hampshire, New Haven, and Connecticut Beginning in 1636 additional Puritans left Massachusetts Bay because of religious conflicts or a desire to find more fertile lands. Some of these dissenters established settlements in New Hampshire, which was originally part of a land grant given to an English colonizer, Captain John Mason. The early focus of the New Hampshire towns was trade, so religion was not a central issue as it was in other Puritan colonies. Mason's heirs neglected the colony, so the New Hampshire settlements came under the protection of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from the early 1640s until 1679, when a new royal charter for New Hampshire was initiated. Another Puritan group purchased land from Native American people and began a settlement originally called Quinnipiac, but later given the name New Haven. The colony was an independent theocracy, as its leaders believed they had divine guidance to govern. Many Puritans also settled along the Connecticut River on lands originally claimed by the Dutch. They established their own towns at Windsor, Wethersfield, Saybrook, and Hartford, and eventually far outnumbered Dutch settlers. The Puritan colonists did not get along well with a local Native American group, the Pequot, and in 1637 New England's first major war broke out. Some Native American enemies of the Pequot joined in the conflict, and most of the Pequot were killed or sold into slavery. In 1639 the Puritans who had migrated to Connecticut adopted the Fundamental Orders, a plan of government that included a representative assembly and a popularly elected governor. In 1662 Connecticut and New Haven merged into a single colony with a government based on the Fundamental Orders. In the new colony, there was a firm union of church and state and a congregational system of church government in which each local congregation was self-governing. The colony gave voting rights to all men who owned 40 acres of land, rather than just to church members, as was the case in Massachusetts Bay until 1692. Land was relatively easy to obtain in Connecticut--and throughout New England--so a substantial majority of adult men gained the right to vote and to hold office. IV ENGLISH REVOLUTION As settlers set up their American colonies, a major political and religious conflict, the Puritan or English Revolution, began about 1640 in England and lasted for 20 years. Revolutionaries started an armed uprising, and after two civil wars, they deposed and executed King Charles I. They then established a republican commonwealth, led eventually by Oliver Cromwell, a Puritan and military hero of the rebellion. During these two decades of political strife in England, there were no new settlements in North America. The seven existing colonies largely governed themselves and firmly established the representative institutions allowed by their charters. During these years Virginia elected its own governor, following the lead of other colonies, including Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts Bay. By 1660 the government run by Cromwell had collapsed. During this period of turmoil, the American colonists developed their own ideas about political authority and government institutions. Three fundamental principles won broad support among the American settlers: (1) People can create their own governments by composing a written constitution or by transforming a charter into a political framework. (2) People have a right to govern themselves through representative institutions. (3) People can most effectively organize church-state relations by practicing religious toleration and by establishing either a single church or a system of multiple churches. V ENGLISH IMPERIAL POLICY In the first decades of settlement, England lacked a coherent imperial policy, and it created and governed colonies in a haphazard fashion. This situation began to change in 1660, when the English government reestablished its monarchy and placed King Charles II (1660-1685) on the throne. Although the king continued some of the old policies, such as awarding proprietary colonies to his supporters, royal bureaucrats now tried to assert central control over the American colonies by implementing an economic policy known as mercantilism. Mercantilists believed that a nation's strength was linked to the value of exported products and that colonies were established mainly to increase the wealth of the home country. The colonies produced raw materials, which were sent to the home country and manufactured into products that were exported. Often colonies were also markets for these finished products. To implement this policy, England began to pass legislation to ensure that it reaped more trade benefits from its colonial possessions. From 1660 to 1696, Parliament enacted a series of navigation and trade acts (see Navigation Acts) designed to enhance English prosperity by increasing regulation of colonial trade. The new acts required that goods going into and out of the colonies be shipped in English or colonial ships, and that certain articles, such as tobacco, sugar, and other tropical products, could go only to England. Other measures specified that non-English manufactured goods should first land in England--where shippers had to pay duties and merchant commissions--before the goods were sent to the colonies. Manufacturing in the colonies was discouraged if it competed with English products. A New York and New Jersey England went to war with the Dutch in 1664 to enforce these trading rules and to extend its supremacy in North America. Dutch merchants were active in the Chesapeake tobacco trade, so English forces tried to stop that lucrative commerce by attacking Dutch ships and seizing New Netherland and its spacious harbor at New Amsterdam. King Charles II gave the conquered territory to his brother James, the Duke of York (who later succeeded him as King James II). James divided the former Dutch colony into two proprietary provinces: New York, which he ruled himself, and New Jersey, which he gave to Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley for their loyal support of the monarchy. New Jersey developed representative political institutions with a proprietary governor and an elected assembly. However, in New York, James ruled through an appointed governor and did not allow the settlers to have a representative assembly. B The Carolinas Charles II created another proprietary settlement in Carolina, which had originally been given to an official in the court of King Charles I. The proprietor never developed the colony, so the same land was then granted to eight aristocratic supporters who eventually divided it into two colonies, North Carolina and South Carolina. These proprietors tried to create great estates owned by wealthy landlords and worked primarily by dependent peasants. Because the proprietors were reluctant to give ordinary farmers a voice in the government, representative political institutions developed slowly in the Carolinas. C Pennsylvania In 1681 Charles II made his final proprietary grant, a huge tract of American land given to William Penn in repayment for a private debt owed Penn's father. Penn, who was a member of the Society of Friends (more commonly known as Quakers), designed Pennsylvania as a refuge for fellow members of this religion. Quakers were persecuted in England because they refused to serve in the army or to pay taxes to the Church of England. Penn's Frame of Government, a written constitution that he drew up for Pennsylvania in 1681, guaranteed political and religious liberty. The document prohibited an established church and religious taxes and allowed Christians of any denomination to vote and hold office. To rule its expanding colonial domain, the English government created an elaborate administrative system presided over by the Lords of Trade. The lords were leading politicians who were appointed by the king to manage his American possessions and to increase the colonies' contribution to the English economy. To achieve their goal of creating a centralized empire without representative institutions, the lords tried to convert the corporate and proprietary colonies into royal colonies. This effort reached a peak during the reign of James II (1685-1688), who believed in the divine right of kings. Since sovereigns received their power from God, James II believed he should govern England and the American colonies with unlimited power. From 1685 to 1687 James II worked closely with the Lords of Trade to abolish the self-governing Puritan colonies in New England and to merge those settlements with New York and New Jersey, creating the vast Dominion of New England. The king appointed a governor, Sir Edmund Andros, to administer the dominion, and he gave his officials freedom to run the colony without any kind of representative legislature. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England (see England: History) cut short the expansion of the crown's authoritarian rule in America. Many Parliament leaders opposed James II because of his Roman Catholic faith and his absolutist beliefs. In 1689 Parliament offered the crown jointly to James's daughter Mary, who had remained Protestant, and to her Dutch husband, William of Orange. They received the titles Mary II (1689-1694) and William III (1689-1702), and in turn agreed to establish a constitutional monarchy. When popular rebellions in Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York overthrew the Dominion of New England that James had created, William and Mary restored colonial self-government in America. VI THE RISE OF AMERICAN ASSEMBLIES During the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), England and Scotland agreed to an Act of Union (1707) that created the Kingdom of Great Britain. Subsequently, during the reigns of George I (1714-1727) and George II (1727-1760), royal bureaucrats relaxed their supervision of internal American affairs. They preferred to encourage the growth of trade with the colonies in tobacco, rice, and sugar. Two generations later, British political philosopher Edmund Burke praised this trade-based colonial policy as being one of "salutary [healthy] neglect." The American representative assemblies seized the opportunity created by lack of strict imperial controls to increase their own powers. In theory, royal and proprietary governors were the dominant political forces in the colonies. They commanded the provincial militia, and they could recommend members for the upper legislative body or council, approve land grants, and appoint judges, justices of the peace, and other legal officials. In reality, the governors had to share their power with the American assemblies. The colonial legislatures copied some of the methods used by English politicians to boost Parliament's authority such as insisting on controlling taxes and on being consulted on appointments to public office. From 1700 to 1750 political power gradually shifted from the English-appointed governors and councils to the American-elected assemblies. British officials resisted, arguing that colonial assemblies were overstepping their bounds. First in Massachusetts and then in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, the assemblies showed their strength by refusing to pay their governors any salary for several years. The rise of the assembly created an elitist rather than a democratic political system in America. Most white men who owned property had the right to vote, but reflecting British political customs, only men of considerable wealth and status were expected to seek election to office. For example, in Virginia during the 1750s, seven members of the influential Lee family sat in the House of Burgesses, and along with other powerful Virginia families, dominated its major committees. A political elite also emerged in New England, where descendants of the original Puritans formed the core of colonial leadership. However, the assemblies lacked the power (and the military force) to impose unpopular decrees on the people. When New Jersey landlords in the 1730s enlisted public officials to drive tenants from disputed lands, mobs of farmers forced them to stop. In Boston, a crowd destroyed the public market building, demanding that peddlers be allowed to trade throughout the town after the assembly had banned such activities. These expressions of popular will demonstrated the extent to which a philosophy of self-rule had taken deep root in the British colonies. VII THE EVOLUTION OF COLONIAL SOCIETY The character of the social order in British North America differed markedly among the three main geographic regions: the Southern colonies, New England, and the Middle Colonies of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These differences were a result of the natural environment and of social policy. The great majority of migrants came from the landless classes of Europe, and their fate depended in large measure on access to land. A The South In the Chesapeake colonies of Virginia and Maryland, wealthy planters owned much of the settled land. From 1620 to 1700, planters imported about 100,000 poor young English men and women through a system called indentured servitude. In return for their passage across the Atlantic, food and shelter, and the promise of 50 acres of land, these servants agreed to work four years for the planter. Primarily as a result of disease, a majority of these servants died during their terms of service. Only one-half of those who survived were able to become landowners. The rest worked as tenant farmers or wage laborers on estates owned by large planters. By 1700 indentured servitude ended as the dominant labor system because England's population growth slowed, leaving a dwindling supply of indentured servants. In response, planters, who had emerged as the most powerful political and economic figures in the Southern colonies, began purchasing enslaved Africans as a labor force. By 1776 tobacco planters in the Chesapeake colonies and rice planters in South Carolina had imported 250,000 African slaves, and using their power in the colonial assemblies, the planters had enacted laws making slavery hereditary. Even Georgia, which was founded in the 1730s as a refuge for the British poor, had evolved by 1760 into a society that contained a small elite of rich planters, a larger group of farm families, and a mass of enslaved Africans. African slaves in the tobacco-growing Chesapeake colonies lived much longer than slaves on the sugar islands of the West Indies. Tobacco crops did not require as much intense physical labor to cultivate as sugar did, and there were also fewer epidemics on the mainland. In addition, tobacco planters could not afford to purchase new Africans continually and so treated their slaves better. By 1720 Africans in the Chesapeake were able to maintain their population levels by natural reproduction (which did not happen under slavery in the sugar islands). American-born slaves spoke English and created ties of family and kinship that united various African ethnic groups--Ibo, Yoruba, Kongo--in a single African American community. This community retained many African ways of doing things--carving wood in African designs, using traditional giant wooden mortars and pestles to hull rice, and building their cabins in customary ways. Slave life in the rice-growing lowlands of South Carolina, where Africans represented 80 percent of the population, was more oppressive than slave life in the Chesapeake region. Many slaves died from disease and overwork, and wealthy planters continued to purchase more slaves from Africa, thus maintaining the influence of African culture. Because all slaves in the British colonies lacked individual legal rights or any form of self-government, they could assert themselves politically only through personal acts of resistance to the work demands of their owners (see Slavery in the United States). B The North In 17th-century New England, Puritan-dominated governments used land distribution policies to create a society of small independent farmers, who were often called yeomen. These yeomen owned more than 70 percent of the land and worked to maintain a society of relatively equal property owners or freeholders. The rapid increase in New England's population--from approximately 100,000 in 1720 to 400,000 in 1760--threatened their hopes. The first settlers divided their ample farms to provide land for their children, and the next generations did the same. By the mid-18th century, however, many farmers faced a dilemma because their holdings were too small to split. New England farmers pursued a variety of strategies to preserve a society of freeholders. Some parents chose to have smaller families so that they could provide land for their children. Other settlers joined with their neighbors to petition the government for new land grants and migrated into the interior where they could carve new communities out of the forest. Eventually the more adventuresome populated the frontier regions of New Hampshire and what would later become Vermont. Still other farmers used their small plots more productively by growing high-yield crops such as potatoes and Indian corn rather than wheat. Corn offered a hearty food for humans, and its leaves furnished feed for cattle and pigs. Gradually New England developed a livestock economy and was able to preserve its freehold ideal. C The Mid-Atlantic A freeholding society also developed throughout most parts of the mid-Atlantic colonies of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. However, the ethnic and religious diversity of this region shaped its character more than landholding status. In 1748 a European visitor to Philadelphia would have found no fewer than 12 religious denominations in the city, including Quakers, Anglicans (Church of England), Swedish and German Lutherans, Scots-Irish Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. Many Quakers settled in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, they were the largest religious group and controlled the state's representative assembly until the 1750s. Because Quakers were pacifists, they avoided war with Native Americans by negotiating treaties and by purchasing, rather than seizing, their lands. The Quaker vision of a "peaceable kingdom" with peace and harmony among all people attracted many Europeans seeking to escape war, religious persecution, and poverty. Some Germans migrated to Pennsylvania as early as the 1680s, and thousands more followed in the 1720s. The largest group of German immigrants, nearly 37,000, landed in Philadelphia from 1749 to 1756. Many of these Germans (who were sometimes called the "Pennsylvania Dutch" to distinguish them from the residents of New York who spoke the similar-sounding Dutch language) settled in eastern Pennsylvania, but a significant number migrated down the Shenandoah Valley into the western parts of Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Most lived in communities where English settlers controlled the political organizations. German colonists engaged in politics primarily to protect their religious liberty and property rights. After 1720, tens of thousands of Scots-Irish also settled in Pennsylvania and in the southern backcountry. The Scots-Irish were descendants of Presbyterians from Scotland who helped the English conquer Catholic Ireland in the 1650s. Now these people sought greater religious freedom and economic opportunity in America. Many Scots-Irish pushed to the frontier, both in central Pennsylvania and in the backcountry of the Carolinas, where they wrested territory from Native Americans. Like the Germans, the Scots-Irish were determined to keep their own culture, holding firm to their Presbyterianism and promoting marriage within their own group. In this way the mid-Atlantic colonies remained a patchwork of diverse ethnic and religious communities, tied to one another by trade and by English-run political institutions. D Colonial Economies As the colonial farm economy grew in size and as thousands of migrants arrived from Europe and Africa, a wealthy merchant community developed in seaport towns to promote trade with the rest of the world. Although British merchants dominated the trade between Britain and the West Indies, colonial residents took over the trade between North America and the West Indies. They also carried exports allowed by the Navigation Acts, such as rice, flour, and fish, to markets in Europe. In Charleston, South Carolina, merchants imported slaves and carried rice to The Netherlands and southern Europe. In Baltimore and Philadelphia, traders shipped wheat and corn to England and the West Indies. Merchants in Boston and New York bought English manufactures and distributed them throughout the colonies; they also imported molasses from sugar islands and distilled it into rum. Traders in smaller coastal towns in New England financed hundreds of fishing voyages and carried their catch to markets in southern Europe and the West Indies. Merchants financed boatyards near every port to provide ships for these enterprises. Timber was plentiful and cheap, so colonial shipwrights could build relatively inexpensive vessels. By 1760 nearly one half of the merchant marine in the British empire was American-built. Urban merchants and manufacturers became a powerful force in American colonial society. These wealthy gentlemen had contacts throughout the world and brought new ideas to the colonies as well as a wide range of goods. They also dominated the politics of coastal cities, using their economic power to intimidate the artisan classes and enacting property qualifications to keep landless laborers from voting. European colonists, despite differences in social class, national origin, and religious beliefs, lived together rather harmoniously under the English political system established by the first settlers. And their numbers grew rapidly--from 250,000 in 1700 to nearly 1.6 million by 1760. The peaceful intermixing of groups was so striking that by the mid-18th century, Europeans, and the colonists themselves, were speaking of a new people called Americans. VIII THE STRUGGLE FOR NORTH AMERICA Beginning in 1689, England, France, and Spain fought a century-long series of wars for dominance in Europe and the western hemisphere. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) pitted England and its allies against France and Spain. In the American segment of the conflict, usually known as Queen Anne's War (17021713), England attacked Spanish Florida, and Spain retaliated by assaulting Charleston, South Carolina. In the Northeast, the French armed its Native American allies, who destroyed English settlements in Maine. In 1704 a force of French soldiers and Native Americans also attacked the western Massachusetts town of Deerfield, killing 50 residents and carrying at least 100 into captivity. New England militia joined British troops to seize Port Royal in Nova Scotia, but in 1710 a major Anglo-American expedition against French Québec failed miserably. The New York frontier remained quiet because the major native group in the region, the Iroquois, had adopted a policy of aggressive neutrality, trading with both the British and the French but refusing to fight for either one. Great Britain was frustrated militarily in America, but used its victories in Europe to win territory in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. (see Peace of Utrecht) Through the treaty, Great Britain obtained Newfoundland, Acadia (now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), and the Hudson Bay region of northern Canada from France, as well as access to the Native American trade. From Spain, England acquired commercial privileges in Spanish America. These gains solidified Britain's commercial supremacy in North America and brought peace for a generation. In the late 1740s, Anglo-American settlers and land speculators began to move into the Ohio River valley, which France had long claimed. The French responded with military force and sparked the last of four North American wars with the British, the French and Indian War (1754-1763). William Pitt, 1st earl of Chatham, the British prime minister, sent thousands of troops to America. Pitt exploited the numerical advantage of the British colonies (whose nearly 2 million inhabitants far surpassed the 88,500 settlers in New France) and paid the American assemblies to raise thousands more soldiers. In 1758 Anglo-American forces captured Québec and in 1760 took Montréal, completing the conquest of New France. The Treaty of Paris of 1763 made Britain the dominant European power in eastern North America. France relinquished its claims to New France and all French territory east of the Mississippi River. Spain gave Florida to Britain, and as compensation, took over French Louisiana west of the Mississippi, thus solidifying its claim to all of western North America. Britain had begun as a relatively insignificant country in 1600, but by 1763 it had become an influential European nation and a major colonial power. IX POLITICAL AND SOCIAL UPHEAVALS As Britain increased its overseas holdings in the mid-18th century, its American colonies experienced a number of crises that changed the nature of politics and society. Some of these crises--such as a conflict between long-settled regions and backcountry areas--were a result of American developments, but others, like the Great Awakening, stemmed from European influences. A Great Awakening The first of these upheavals was a series of religious revivals, often referred to as the Great Awakening. Influenced by religious revivals in Germany and Britain, evangelical ministers traveled through the colonial countryside and made emotional appeals for sinners to repent and to convert to the Christian faith in order to attain salvation. Enthusiasm for the new religious message of these evangelists reached its peak during the early 1740s. However, the revivalists' eagerness to convert people and their belief that anyone could preach the gospel divided many colonial churches. Conservative Old Lights believed the movement threatened established religion, while the more enthusiastic New Lights supported a more open or democratic approach to religion. The New Lights often formed their own congregations. These religious disputes prompted some established churches to seek assistance from political leaders. The Connecticut legislature, which was dominated by Old Lights, banned traveling New Light preachers from speaking to congregations without the minister's permission. In Virginia, the planter elite, who generally belonged to the Church of England, closed down the meeting houses of evangelical Presbyterians and used violence to suppress the prayer services of Baptist congregations. These attempts to suppress New Lights and other new denominations failed. The most important legacy of the Great Awakening was greater religious and political freedom in the American colonies. More colonists chose their own faith, and the upheavals undermined the dominance of established churches and promoted both religious toleration and a democratic spirit. As a Baptist preacher noted in the aftermath of the Great Awakening, "the common people now claim as good a right to judge and act in matters of religion as civil rulers or the learned clergy." B End of Salutary Neglect A second important political development during this period was the renewed interest of the British Parliament and royal bureaucrats in American affairs. British officials recognized the growing size and wealth of the mainland settlements and wanted to ensure their continued loyalty. The Navigation Acts of the 17th century allowed colonists only to produce agricultural goods and raw materials. Thus the acts reserved for Britain profitable enterprises such as manufacturing goods and providing commercial services including shipping and insurance to British residents. In 1732 Parliament made this ban more specific, prohibiting Americans from marketing colonial-made hats. The following year, Parliament passed the Molasses Act (see Sugar and Molasses Acts), which placed a high tariff on molasses imported into the mainland colonies from the West Indies. These taxes discouraged colonists living in port cities from distilling their own rum because local distillers competed with British rum producers. Then in 1750, Parliament extended the ban on colonial manufactures to iron products such as plows, axes, and skillets. Colonists also clashed with the British government because they lacked gold and silver coins and printed paper money to take their place. Ten colonial assemblies had established land banks to create a domestic money supply. These banks issued paper money and loaned it to farmers, who used their land as collateral. But some colonial assemblies, including the Rhode Island legislature, issued such large amounts of paper currency that it fell in value. When the assemblies required creditors to accept the depreciated currency at its face value, British merchants complained to Parliament. In 1751 Parliament passed a Currency Act outlawing land banks and prohibiting the use of paper currency to pay private debts. These economic conflicts angered a new generation of British political leaders, who believed that the colonies already had too much self-rule. During the French and Indian War, their anger turned to rage when American merchants continued to trade with the French, and many assemblies refused to levy taxes for support of the war. When the assemblies did act, they extracted concessions from the royal governors. For example, they insisted on control of the military budget and of the appointment of officers. By the end of the war, royal officials were determined to cut the power of the American legislatures. The era of salutary neglect had come to an end, and Americans had to choose between accepting increased British control or taking a more rebellious stance. C Establishment Versus Backcountry The westward spread of settlement created a third dangerous area of political conflict. Antagonism grew between backcountry settlers and eastern elites, composed primarily of wealthy planters and merchants. Many backcountry residents were religious dissenters who were also discontented with their economic status. Their farms, which they had often bought on credit from eastern land speculators, were new and far from established markets. Moreover, these western settlers had little money to pay their taxes and resented being governed by officials who were chosen by distant assemblies and royal governors. As western communities grew, they increasingly needed funds to build roads and bridges and to establish institutions for local self-government, but they did not find much support in the colonial legislatures. Eastern political leaders were slow to set up new counties in the West, and when they did, these counties contained huge amounts of land but had few representatives. Eventually, these conflicts between the backcountry and the eastern establishment led to some violent uprisings. In Pennsylvania, Scots-Irish immigrants who lived along the frontier took matters into their own hands when the Quaker-dominated assembly refused to push Native Americans out of the colony. In 1763 a band of Scots-Irish farmers, known as the Paxton Boys, attacked a small settlement of Native Americans called the Susquehannock and massacred 20 people. When Pennsylvania governor John Penn tried to bring the murderers to justice, about 250 armed Scots-Irish marched on Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin, who had built his reputation as a diplomat, intercepted the angry mob at Lancaster and arranged a compromise, narrowly averting a battle. In the backcountry of South Carolina, clashes between land-hungry white settlers and the Cherokee during the war with France also led to violence. A vigilante group, the Regulators, forcibly imposed order on outlaw bands of whites. The group threatened its own rebellion if the South Carolina assembly, which was controlled by the eastern side of the colony, refused to provide more local courts, fairer taxes, and greater western representation. The assembly satisfied some of the Regulators' demands, and a rival group of western vigilantes, the Moderators, persuaded the western settlers to accept the authority of the colonial government. In North Carolina, another Regulator movement supported an even broader political agenda and was quelled only after a heated battle. D Legacy of Colonial Development By the end of the colonial period in 1763, Americans lived in a new economic, social, and political world. As a result of sustained population growth, the mainland colonies had approximately two million residents and a dynamic economy. At the top of the society stood a capable group of leaders. However, this was also a society in flux. Religious upheaval strengthened popular democratic sentiment, while western rebels and imperial reformers began to challenge the established political system. This combination of dynamic economic development, internal social conflicts, and increased controls by British officials set the stage for a 12-year conflict over parliamentary taxes and administrative power that brought about the American Revolution (1775-1783). As historian Carl Becker suggested, the political situation in the colonies meant that the war would become both a struggle against England for "home rule" and a conflict over which social groups should "rule at home." Contributed By: James A. Henretta Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.