Question 1. Compare and contrast the four groups of English colonies in America (Chesapeake, New England, Middle Colonies, and Carolinas).
New England colonies consisted of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts while Chesapeake included Maryland and Virginia. Regarding Middle colonies, the region consisted of Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Carolinas encompassed both the Northern and Southern Carolina.
The plantation elites ruled the Carolinas. They developed an aristocratic way of life and ensured they kept in touch with the culture overseas. The political system respected local laws. Since they were royal colonies, the king had the authority to appoint governors and councils. With Middle colonies, rulers were from the county government. Each county government reflected the diversity of the people. Conversely, New England colonies consisted of a religious hierarchy. The leaders exercised their rules through small town meetings. The political structure of Chesapeake consisted of the legislative body called the House of Burgesses. Besides, the aristocracy held power. The royal governor appointed by the king of England selected his council. The role of the inhabitants was to select representatives who formed the lower house.
The Carolinas were mostly corporate in nature. They concentrated on plantation economy by growing single crops such as Tobacco, sugarcane, and rice. Substantial profits of the plantation economy were realized due to slavery. Regarding Middle colonies, they were economically diverse. They hosted craftsmen, small farmers, and merchants. The groups depended on profits for their living resulting in the growth of a diverse economy (Greenberg 180). Similarly, the growth of small, scattered, but interconnected settlements were due to the economy. The economy of New England colonies was homogeneous. It encompassed small, self-sufficient farmers and merchants. In this colonies, families operated farms and businesses. Moreover, the economy depended on the labor from the community and family. The growth of the economy led to the development of close-knit, well-ordered cluster towns. The economic system in Chesapeake entailed commercial farming and tobacco. Besides, the growth of the economy was as a result of cultivation and plantation system.
Both the Carolinas and Chesapeake were Anglicans; however, the religion did not play a significant role in the economy and politics. The New England colonies lived strictly by Calvinist faith. Every aspect of life was based on Puritan. Moreover, religion had a significant influence on politics, economy and social lives of colonists. A specific religion did not dominate the Middle colonies. Religious tolerance gave way to beliefs of Baptism, Shakers, Quakers, and Presbyterians. Religion had little role in the economy and politics.
Chesapeake consisted of small families and many lower-class workers. The plantation aristocracy disproportionately held the social and political power. In New England colonies there was no great gap between the wealthy and poor. The colonists developed a homogeneous society. With Carolinas, the society was bi-racial. People were grouped as white and black. Colonist developed a socially stratified society. Conversely, the Middle colonies had a highly diverse society. The society was based on diverse culture, religion, and language.
First, colonists in the four colonies were part of the global empire. It was difficult for the colonists to isolate themselves from the world populated by traders, Native people, missionaries, and explorers. Moreover, colonists were tied to each other by trade to Africa, Mediterranean, and Europe. Second, all the four colonies developed class distinctions. There was the difference between the rich and poor in the society, educated and uneducated, free and unfree labor (Greenberg 230). Third, the colonists considered themselves to be superior compared to the Native American and slaves. Their superiority lied in the race, culture, and religion. Fourth, the colonists created a boundary that isolated them from the Native Americans. The enclosed society created was a reflection of the English world.
I think that the best group included Middle Colonies and Carolinas. The Middle colonies had a highly diverse society. Since the society embraced the multi-racial system, the diverse workforce that consisted of merchants, farmers and craftsmen encouraged the growth of the economy. Similarly, due to the diversity, the colonies were able to live in peace and unity. Carolinas lived in fertile farmland that enhanced the growth of tobacco and rice. The colonies were best suitable for survival due to the free labor from slaves that allowed aristocrats to cultivate large tracts of land.
Question 2. Describe what kept the colonies together in the years leading to the American Revolution and then describe what threatened to tear them apart in its aftermath.
Factors that Kept Colonies Together
First, the four colonies had shared identity. Although the colonies had different traits, they were still under the British Empire. With regards to social life, the colonial elites of regions such as Philadelphia, New York, and Boston perceived their identity as British. They embraced the British style of etiquette, fashion, and dance, although many had not visited Britain. Additionally, the rapid growth of the British economy resulted in increased import of British goods thus unifying the colonies. Since factories in Britain yielded more than the demand, the only way the surplus would have been disposed of was by exporting them to British colonies of North America.
Second, colonies remained together because of the British political heritage. The political structures of many colonies were based on the republicanism. According to many Americans, the system of governance run by colonies was a reflection of the British Constitution. The King corresponded to the colonial governor while the House of Commons was similar to the colonial assembly. The colonies drew their code of law from the English law.
Third, the colonies shared threats and conflicts which increased efforts to coordinate military and judicial matters. In the year 1670s, royal governors in the colonies proposed to implement approaches that would have coordinated military matters. For instance, royal governors made successful negotiations on the Covenant Chain that calmed the Middle colonies’ frontiers. The French and Indian War was an extension of the American’s European conflict. Due to the war, the unity among Americans increased. Individuals from different colonies fought together. Moreover, British military offered training programs to Americans who then fought their mentors during the American Revolution.
Factors that Threatened to Tear Colonies Apart
First, colonies felt threatened by the economic hardship that made civilians to lose their zeal for self-sacrifice. Production during wartime, resulted in steady inflation since the government was in control. After the American Revolution, the rising cost of living and collapse of businesses meant that a few individuals had the chance to survive on their wages comfortably. During the economic upheaval, the British nearly stopped the operation of the Fishing industry in New England and the supply of manufactured goods to Americans.
Second, labor clashes and race riots affected the peace in the colonies. Americans experienced sporadic race riot during the postwar period (Greenberg 250). After the war, white soldiers came home to find blacks had occupied their jobs. Similarly, black soldiers returned with a new sense of justice and were determined to exercise their rights as citizens of America. Therefore, due to the differences in ideology, the rate of race riots increased. Third, after the end of the war, American soldiers returned home but encountered a new strain of influenza. Many people fell ill, and other died. Fear of the flu threatened the unity of Americans since most of them avoided public gatherings.
Greenberg, Amy S. A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 US Invasion of Mexico. New York: Vintage Books, 2013.
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