Understanding Historical Change
American History as a reflection of English culture and institutional arrangements as well as developing American consciousness
The colonization period in America was marred by various events ranging from immigration to acquisition of lands. It was at Roanoke that England made its first attempt to colonize America, led by Captain John, but this ended up being a failure on their side. In the 1600s, the first shipload of immigrants, mostly from England, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the territory. During that time, Spanish colonies, such as West Indies and Mexico, were thriving and already established. As the British further infiltrated North America, they got a clear picture of the “new heaven” and their urge to settle increased rapidly (Jenkins 9). Soon, they started establishing cultural patterns for the Americans and came up with laws and cultural features that are still applicable today. English migration into the country immensely increased during the “The Great Migration” with most of these migrants coming as indentured servants and another percentage searching for better life opportunities.
There are various factors that led to the immigration of the English settlers into America. Colonies such as Pennsylvania and Maryland were settled by individuals from Britain that were seeking freedom from religious persecution. This lead to the adoption of Christianity among the locals. Obligatory days of fast and thanksgiving were also introduced (Jenkins 15). Most of the pilgrim separates were escaping from the Church of England and America provided them a haven. Another reason for their infiltration into the territory was economic gains. America was a fertile land, rich with diverse resources. Southern colonies such as Carolina and Virginia had various cash crops, such as tobacco, that were exported back to England. Tobacco farming and trade in parts such as Maryland became popular because of its commercial benefits (Jenkins 11)
The land was abundant in the colonies, and most of the settlers were either given for free or purchased cheaply. Over time, with the available raw materials, they also set up industries that further increased their profits. The hunger for gold and silver led several settlers into Northern America, most of them driven by the quest to amass wealth. In early 1700, England had several individuals that were facing imprisonment, due to their failure to pay debts. Most of these debtors ended up escaping to America with the aim of avoiding punishments in their native lands. Some businessmen in England also paid for indentured servant and debtors travels to the colonies, and once the debt was worked off, they began their life.
With the introduction of the Head right System, the English migration into America steadily increased. The system, run by the London Virginia Company, gave 50 acres of land to colonists that paid for it in their way. British colonies expanded rapidly in the American territory, and this was attributed to the rise in the number of settlers living in the country. It is then that the American paradigm started emerging. The English came along with their culture, administrative systems, and educational structures. As they amassed wealth and gained profits, they set up schools where their children attended. Initially, the natives were not allowed to access education but this changed over time especially during the industrialization period.
They were credited with coming up with the American educational system that still stands today. Culturally, the settlers had a significant impact on the language used in their colonies as well as the modes of dressing. As they migrated into America, they brought with them different types of clothes and fashion, and this was soon emulated by the natives. English was the primary language that was spoken in the British colonies as well as their educational systems.
As the English settlers set up colonies expanded to Plymouth, South Carolina and Jamestown in the 1600s, they also came up with administrative systems that still have a defining influence on the Americans in the modern day. Some of the laws that were majorly applicable in England were introduced in the new colonies in the American territory. The colonialists introduced a criminal and justice system that was aimed at dealing with crimes in the provinces. Those found guilty of major crimes were either imprisoned or placed a death penalty. Administrative and criminal officers were mandated with the roles of maintaining peace and order.
Courts were set up in various colonies, and they were granted jurisdictions over the local legal matters and disputes. Judges overseeing these courts were hardly professionals but were mostly political and religious leaders. Juries were only served when the case was of an extensive magnitude or when the case of the death penalty was involved. The Quakers came in trying to institute their laws on minimizing death penalty and encouraging use of jails. However, their principles were overruled by the English law.
As the population in the thirteen British colonies increased in the 1700s, the legal system became more the same with that of the England court system. The number of lawyers and juries in the colonial courts increased and by the end of 18th century, jury trial, just like in England, was common in America. By 1740, defendants in the colonies were allowed to have lawyers that would help them win cases. The legal and criminal system in America has undergone a lot of transformations, but it is still a reflection of the English system.
The English settlers were also credited for their infrastructure development and coming up with social amenities. Upon their arrival in Northern America, most of them succumbed to tropical diseases such as Malaria. Some of them got infected with water-borne diseases and later died due to lack of medical facilities in the new regions. As the population of the immigrants increased rapidly, they initially set up healthcare facilities in Southern Carolina and Virginia. The hospitals were primarily for the settlers. However, in the 1700s, the hospitals were constructed in all the thirteen British colonies, and the natives were also allowed to seek treatment. The services offered by these institutions kept improving as more facilities were purchased from England.
Apparently, this form of infrastructure development projected the American medical care and systems. In the modern era, most of the healthcare facilities in the U.S. are similarly run like those in Britain. Other than health institutions, the English colonist also played a significant role in developing transport systems that made it easier for the people move from within the thirteen British colonies. South Carolina and Massachusetts were initially based on the Caribbean infrastructure models, but these were transformed by the settlers.
In summary, we can reflect on the influence the English culture has had on America. These include:
Tobacco farming. This has been adopted up to date for its commercial benefits. Socially it has influenced more smoking culture in America.
Adoption of Christianity. The religion has become adopted by majority of Americans including huge attendance of church and cultures such as thanksgiving have become a tradition.
Infrastructure development: The English men built health facilities due to suffering of tropical diseases. This has been adopted by the Americans and more developments have been made.
The influence colonization had to the Americans is undeniable and the adoption of various cultures is clear. Americans have positively adopted them.
American Revolution: Crisis Decade
The American Revolution was a restoration and not a revolution. One of the reasons why it is considered a restoration is that it hardly entailed regime changes, but the creation of a new country and a fostered democracy. By the time the America Revolution began, the citizens of the thirteen colonies were getting fed up with the British rule. It was the British government that decided the countries that could trade with the various colonies, and this means that some of these regions lagged behind economically. Most of the colonist advocated for free trade but were denied the chance by the English rulers (Jenkins 33).
Additionally, the administration kept on increasing its tax rates on the people and this further frustrated their efforts to benefit from their businesses. The British deliberately put taxes that could annoy the Americans. In 1765, the British parliament passed the Stamp Act, and this required that individuals purchased stamps for newspapers. The money directly went to the king of Great Britain. Most people disagreed with the laws and this further led to an increase in rebellion from the colonies. With the increasing pressure, parliament repealed the Stamp Act but passed the Declaratory Act that allowed it to tax any colonies at whichever time it chose.
The increasing rift between the colonies and the British (Jenkins 36) rule led to the beginning of the American Revolutionary War in Boston and Lexington. The decision by both sides to engage in war after years of verbal attacks was driven by the fact that both believe force would sort out their issues. Washington’s army drove the British from Boston and New York in 1777.
In the same year, the Battle of Saratoga, American soldiers also forced British troops to surrender (Jenkins 38). Major fighting shifted to the southern part of the country to colonies such as Southern Carolina and Georgia. General Nathanael Greene was the leader of the rebels, and his tactic of converting individuals into patriots, rather than loyalists, was the reason behind his success in various battles. The signing of the peace treaty in Paris marked the end of the American revolutionary war (Jenkins 38). The push for the Declaration of Independence began as early as 1776 when Congress met to discuss the way forward. King George III of Britain was on the frontline in accepting the independence of the thirteen colonies and the recognition of the U.S.
The American Revolution was a restoration, and this is supported by various historical facts. As the revolutionary war took center stage, regime changes were hardly witnessed in the country. The British colonies had already set up various institutions and systems that were applicable in the everyday lives of the people in the colonies. Legal and educational systems, as well as health care facilities similar to those in England, were functional. After the signing of the peace treaty in Paris, everything remained the same apart from the self-rule that the Americans enjoyed. Most of the government and administrative systems that were integrated by the English colonists are still applicable in the modern day America.
The seeds of democracy, for instance, had been planted in the British colonies long before the Declaration of Independence. As the American revolutionary war began, it served as a restoration of the democracy which was confirmed during the signing of the Paris treaty. After the colonies broke away from the English rule in 1776, the newly governed self-states began emulating the democratic process where the central government had sovereign powers. In 1783, after the end of the revolutionary war, the administrative leadership that was set up during the British rule was restored. Leaders were elected into political positions, and they were mandated with the roles of serving their people. The states withdrew from religious interferences, and this played an instrumental role in enhancing secularization of the nation. The stability enjoyed during the pre-revolution era was steadily restored after the declaration of independence.
The American Revolution played a critical role in challenging the existing structures of society that had been put in place by the British rule and promoted a sense of equality among the people. The Americans in the colonies were tired of the poor governance from the English, and they demanded a regime that could protect their rights and promote equal allocation of resources. The Revolution was considered as a conservative movement and a restoration that was aimed at improving the lives of the Americans. The fight for equality was driven by the American elites that were against the British inferiority treatment. In the immediate post-revolutionary era, the U.S. was declared an independent state a constitution was drafted to help in protecting the rights of the citizens that were limited during the British rule. The self-rule enjoyed by the Americans was more of a restoration and not a revolution.
In summary, we can gather the response to English policy by the Americans. They include:
Formation of shadow governments due to lack of representation in the parliament. When the British said the Americans had no right to complain, the Americans in return formed their own governments that were built on protest and resistance.
Trade boycott. Americans showed resistance in the Boston tea party where they dumped taxed tea shipments into the harbor. This was due to the huge taxes that had been implemented on commodities.
Launching war of independence and developing of own political identities. Colonists controlled their colonies which were set for sovereignty of people, rejection of royalty, aristocracy and corruption. The British rule was never in favor of the Americans and thus the latter retaliated.
The colonies began writing their own constitution and appointed George Washington as commander of continental army.
On 2nd July, there was a voting for declaration of independence, on 4th July 1776 there was declaration of independence and drafting of the declaration.
The Americans finally got their independence. This shows commitment and loyalty to the country.
Jenkins, Philip. A history of the United States. Springer, 2017