Alan Taylor's "The American Colonies" Chapter Summaries
Part One:The Encounters
Chapter Two: Colonizers:
1. Taylor makes a big issue over environmentalism—why?
The environment plays a big part in the analysis of European and North American colonies and their interaction and inevitable confrontation, due to the fact that, back then, the environment dictated the lives of its inhabitants. Today's society, with the advancement of technological and medical devices, is able to manipulate and conquer nature. We aren't as vulnerable to disease and deadly microbes because we now know to what extent they can harm us, and additionally we have developed treatment for such biological pathogens. So, in short, five to six hundred years ago, people were largely beholden to their environment, and therefore its effects were magnified. Therein lies the need for an inordinate examination of the environment.
2. What caused the expansion of Europe—and why?
First and foremost, it is of necessity that we differentiate between the two possible types of European expansion. The first being geographic expansion, which helped fuel the second: population expansion or multiplication. Geographic expansion, otherwise known as the acquisition and exploration of physical land, was made a reality for western European countries as commercial avenues grew and as certain navigational and ship-making techniques were improved.. Until finally, with the Iberian Peninsula leading the way, Europeans looked westward for expansion. They searched for islands and hoped to find a route to the eastern countries of China, Japan, and India—however, to find a completely knew landmass was unexpected. After only a short time, Europeans began to import North American crops. This had a dramatic effect on the overall European population expansion, and despite lingering plagues the European population multiplied. Of course there are other specific factors to account for, but this outlines the most important ones to consider.
3. What were the two major religions of the age of expansion? How do they come to impact the new world?
Christians and Muslims were the two dominant religious groups during the time. On the Continent, raging tensions ensued as the Christian leaders of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, instituted a reconquista and the Muslims tightened their control and influence of many territories. However, the Christians were the ones who took up religious conquests in North America. It was largely a competition between the two religious factions, and because the Muslim world was winning, Christians sought any and all avenues through which they could create converts and establish a long lasting Christian empire. The Christians found great success in the New World in terms of converting the natives because of the condition of the natives. The truth is, the Christians caused the death that came upon the natives, but both the natives and the Europeans were ignorant of this fact. So instead of doing whatever they could to dislocate themselves from the intruding Europeans, the natives sought help from the Europeans. Mainly because they had nowhere else to turn as their shamans failed them, their medicinal plants failed them, and all their previous answers to common struggles proved to be largely ineffective. Native American Indians were shakeable in their beliefs, and therefore were a receptive audience to the new Christian ideals.
4. Why is the Atlantic Ocean such a central vital environmental concern for the colonizers?
It is a massive body of uncharted waters. And according to most European estimates during the time, the Atlantic Ocean was three to four times larger than it really is—due to their failure to account for the whole North American Continent. So, although the journey to land from Europe's western coastline was quite achievable, Europeans had no idea. Additionally, the Atlantic waters were more violent than the calm Mediterranean currents they were used to--this aspect of the journey they successfully and accurately accounted for.
5. Once across the Ocean, what were contributions of the colonizers to the New England area?
The New England settlers had a drastic impact on the environment and native peoples, but their effects were hardly ever fortuitous; thus “contributions” might not be the right term to use. However, there are some that may consider the modernization of the natives that took place following their acquaintance with the Europeans as a contribution to the area. But otherwise, most everything the colonizers brought with them to the New World (disease, native subjugation, animal depopulation, and other adverse environmental effects) was detrimental to the area.
6. What does Taylor say about slavery in the new world?
Slavery in the New World was originally a phenomenon specific to the natives. However, due to the virtual extermination of the natives, Europeans looked to import Africans as their new labor force, as they seemed to be a lot more resilient to European diseases. Soon millions of African slaves worked the New World colonist's farms and plantations.
7. How significant was Renaissance science and technology to the colonizers?
Renaissance thought was extremely influential to the maritime exploration that ensued after the fifteenth century. Likewise, the colonizers benefited from the Renaissance inventions, technological advances, mathematics, science, and information. Furthermore, new techniques for farming and improving everyday life arose as a direct result of Renaissance thought.
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Chapter Three: New Spain. [Using bullets or short paragraphs, summarize Taylor’s assessment of]
Spanish Conquests of central and south America were gruesome. Aided by many factors including specialized weapons made of forged steel, war dogs, horses, and deadly microbes, conquistadors presented a formidable enemy. Despite these advantages, Cortez and others relied on native populations for assistance.
The price of success meant murdering many hundreds of thousands of people. Claiming divine approval, the conquistadors quieted their consciences, and disease-ridden natives just validated their claims all the more. And all for the sake of acquiring riches.
It was a vast network of investors and conquistadors that enabled the conquests of the Americas. Single men left Europe in search of booty in the form of slaves, gold, and land, and investors enabled their pursuits. Spanish law outlined the correct steps to take in acquiring land in the Americas as well as the correct dealings with slaves. With the utmost brutality and with a complete disregard for human ethics as well as their own religious beliefs, they raped, pillaged, and plundered to no end. However, they got what they came for; Cortez (the quintessential example) was the wealthiest man in Spain when he died.
New Spain maintained a largely autonomous existence due to its distance from Spain and because of the bureaucratic friction that prolonged any decisive action by government officials. Which in turn allowed American settlers and conquistadors to ignore most everything that they didn't agree with. So, in short, Spain was never able to consolidate its possessions in the New World with complete control.
Thousands of Spanish immigrants flooded newly established cities in the Americas as people looked to the New World as a great opportunity for individual success and prosperity. As Native Indian slaves died off, African slaves were imported and their mulatto babies as well. As interracial procreation ensued due to the fact that Spanish women scarcely traveled to the New World, the local government officials created a hierarchy known as the castas that enforced racial discrimination amongst the various inhabitants of New Spain and helped to manage the colonists social pecking order.
Spain's most lucrative possessions in the New World shifted from the Caribbean and Hispaniola regions to the central American cities of Mexico and Peru due to their denser populations and more abundant minerals. The Spanish crown also established administrative regions known as viceroyalities which were governed by an appointed viceroy.
6. Gold & Silver:
Gold and silver constituted the main purpose of oversees exploitation and conquests. It was the money that Spain sought, and the other European countries alike. Violent and barbaric acts were undertaken in the hopes of finding gold and silver. Eventually, Spain, by way of its direct possessions in the New World, attained vast amounts of precious metals. France, England, and the Dutch also reaped the good of New World exploitation by stealing it from the Spanish. While Spain's influx of precious metals actually (in the end) damaged its economy by inflating its money supply and consequently raising prices, other European nations prospered from increased trade.
Chapter Four: “The Spanish Frontier”:
1. Florida became the focus of Spain—why? How?
Northern expansion stagnated due mainly to the parasitic nature of the Spanish conquistadors. Because they relied on the horticulture of central America for sustenance, the northern nomadic tribes who failed to develop such practices failed to be viable prey. Therefore, it wasn't until the abandoned Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca that interest grew in the northern parts—now labeled North America.
After eight years among native tribes in and around Florida, de Vaca became renowned for a certain extraterrestrial medical healing power that led to his eventual freedom and reconciliation. After being reunited with his fellow Spanish conquistadors, he grieved his past atrocities towards the people who had given him refuge, and from then on preached pacifistic methods of winning over the natives.
His testimony after his return also sparked the exploration of the north including Florida, as he hinted to prosperous tribes reminiscent of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. De Vaca inspired one Hernando de Soto of Cuba to take up exploration in Florida, as well as his successor Luis de Moscoso. This initial interest subsided, however, because conquistadors found nothing of value in the northern parts. Although, soon another revival of northern interest took place as the Spanish were dealt serious blows by the French and English raiders in the Gulf between Florida and Cuba. The Spanish began to build fortresses as well as missions along Florida as a way of protecting the riches of Central America, and thus Florida became the central focus.
2. Spain reaches west to New Mexico—use of the Adelanto system. Who was Onate?
Onate was the adelantado who pushed north along the Rio Grande Valley seeking riches. What was supposed to be a pacification mission turned into a ravaging of native pride. Finally, after having taken a town from the so called “pueblos” and draining them completely of their resources, the natives retaliated by killing Onate's brother Juan de Zaldivar. As a way of instilling fear amongst the thousands of natives who surrounded him, Onate massacred and mutilated many villagers in Acoma—a Pueblo village. Onate continued a fruitless conquest and eventually the colonists and Franciscans caught on, as did the Viceroy who eventually ended Onate's service to Spain.
3. What significance can be attached to New Mexico Missions?
The missions proved to be quite effective in converting natives to Christianity, and most Franciscans were welcomed as they were true to their doctrine (for the most part), and set good examples unlike their conquistador counterpart. However, many Franciscans lost favor as the natives questioned the spiritual power of the Spanish doctrine and death lingered due to continuing epidemics. The Franciscans asked a lot of the natives by destroying their vast cultural practices and introducing their own culture and religious practices abruptly and without consultation. And although many were baptized and converted, true success is debatable as it is believed that many Native Indians retained much of their beliefs and simply added the new ideas to their own by compartmentalizing the two.
4. What was the Pueblo Revolt, how did it begin and what happen to cause the fanaticism?
There were two revolts by the Pueblo people, the first occurring in 1680 and the second in 1696. As death from disease ensued, it discredited Christian spiritual dominance among the natives. Friction between the Hispanics and friars led to unification of the Pueblos and nomadic tribes. The Hispanic and governing colonists hit the last nerve of the Pueblos after demanding large sums of tribute and harsh labor during a cataclysmic drought that took the lives of thousands of Pueblo workers. Hungry, disease-ridden, restless, and grieved the Pueblo peoples revolted. Led by Pope, the Pueblos pushed back the colonists, burning crosses, rejecting Christian teachings, and reinstituting their own culture. A second revolt (the revolt of 1696) was an attempt to hold New Mexico, but the colonists prevailed and once again claimed dominance. From then on, the two peoples’ mutual existence was increasingly peaceful as both groups learned from the bitter conflicts.
Chapter Five: Canada & Iroquoia [a shift in geography, a new culture, and very different group of Native Americans]
1. What were the two major Native American cultural groups? How were they distinct?
The two major Indian cultures of northeastern North America were the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples. Aside from separate locations, they differed in many ways including unique languages. Additionally, the Algonquians were not horticulturalists and distinctly relied on fishing and mobile hunting, whereas the Iroquoian employed both hunting and horticultural measures to ensure an adequacy.
2. The key for economic development was the fur trade of New France. Why was that so?
The fur trade was a great source of profit for the French colonists, and unlike gold, silver, and other precious metals it was easily transportable. Additionally, the fur trade bypassed violent conflicts with the Indians due to the fact that fur trading was a mutually agreeable transaction that relied on no forced labor or violent coercion that was necessary in the production of gold and silver.
3. How and why did trade develop? Discuss.
Trade developed as trade always develops: as a result of differing products, a mutually growing interest, and perceived beneficial outcome by both parties. In this case, it was the French interest in Furs due to its highly attractive resell value, and the natives interest in the high yielding manitou (or spiritual) French objects that fueled the development of a vast trading market between the two peoples.
4. How did the fur trade operate in its widest applications?
Fundamentally speaking, the fur trade really mimicked much of how businesses and business partners act and interact with each other today. Just like how businesses fight for control of regions as a way of accessing a larger range of consumers, European traders sought more trading opportunities through widening their reach. In like manner, the natives (acting as consumers) worked towards expanding their communication and trading opportunities with the Europeans as a way increasing their number of possible suppliers, which in turn lowers the prices of goods—this is reminiscent of how people nowadays will compare multiple businesses hoping to find the cheapest prices.
There are, however, many differences between how modern trade and primitive forms of trade operate. For one thing, violence and physical confrontation between traders today is unheard of. This aspect, however, is clearly evident in the way traders operated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during the time of European colonization of North America, as the Native Indian tribes fought their rival or neighboring tribes for contact with Europeans and the Europeans (Dutch, English, and French) fought amongst themselves for contact with the natives.
5. Analyze and characterize The Five Nations. Who were they?
The Five Nations Iroquois was a violent band of Iroquois tribes that united during the sixteenth century after many years of brutal conflict. After the advent of Deganawida and peace solidified a united Iroquois, they shifted their sights to external tribes including other Iroquois-speaking tribes who refused to join. Waging war was a completely different phenomenon to the Five Nation Iroquois who's culture entertained communal killings and tribal torture. It seemed like a never ending conflict. As death rates soared due to new disease, the Five Nation Iroquois sought revenge (as they falsely believed their hardships were the result of sorcery) by killing and capturing men, women, and children from neighboring tribes. In retaliation the neighboring Indians attacked the Iroquois, and the conflict grew between the Indians as each sought revenge and replacements for their grossly depopulated communities.
6. What impact did old world disease have upon new world natives?
As is evident in the Spanish sphere of influence, diseases unknown to the natives prior to European colonization devastated the Native Indian numbers. The logistics of Native Indian life were completely altered with the arrival of European weapons and tools, to the point where Indians lost their art of creating stone tools and weapons; rendering them completely reliant on European colonists—which only fueled the spread of disease as more and more natives sought the European traders. So, it was an epidemic of the highest degree.
7. How important was the formation and development of Dutch trade system & involvement?
Dutch arrival was extremely influential to both the natives and the French colonists. After establishing Fort Orange along the Hudson River, the Dutch became the French colonists' worst enemy, as they possessed superior tools and equipment constituting a better trading partner. As French fears grew, so too did the fears of southern Iroquois who new that they would lose their Dutch suppliers to the northern tribes who had access to nicer fur pelts. So, as a way of ensuring their mutual survival, both the French and Iroquois refused to make peace; hoping that with war the Dutch and northern tribes would remain separated. In one sentence: Dutch arrival to the New World created more friction and procured more violence.
8. In the new world the French brought the militant Jesuits to Catholicize the new world. Did it work?
No, in the end the Jesuits became simply a means to an end. Due to their increasingly complicated and, to the natives, unreasonable demands, the Jesuits became not friends but enemies to the Huron. Disease also added to Huron confusion and angst of the French colonists. Although, the Huron dared not expel the French as they had become so reliant on their practical innovations. Despite their failures, French Jesuits did convert many natives throughout their travels—although only in word and not in deed did the Indians subscribe to Christian teachings. In conclusion, I would say that, overall, the attempt of the Jesuits to create true Christian followers was a failure.
Part Two: The Colonies
Chapter Six: Virginia 1570-1650
1. Who were the promoters and what did they desire to do?
English promoters such as Sir Francis Drake, Sir Richard Grenville, and Sir Waltere Ralegh were the daring, gambling folk of their day. They wanted England to expand its trade and colonize North America, and in promoting such ideas they were given the name “the Promoters”. The Promoters constituted the few willing to venture to the New World on their own dime in hopes of enriching themselves as well as in tribute to their country--as is evident in their naming of the New World colony “Virginia” after Queen Elizabeth's virginity.
2. What was the social composition of the Virginia colony?
Poor English farmers constituted the overwhelming majority of Virginia colonists.
3. Who were the “sturdy beggars”?
“Sturdy beggars” defines poor men and women who suffered from a physical disability of some kind.
4. What was the role of Roanoke?
Roanoke was England's first attempt at creating a plantation colony in the Americas. However, it proved to be a failure as the soil was infertile and the prospect of an easier, quicker way of getting rich by hijacking Spanish ships drew people away.
5. Who was Powhatan? What is the character of the Native Americans in the area?
Powhatan was the most powerful Indian chief on the eastern seaboard during the seventeenth century. Commanding thirty tribes, he held the power of life and death over his subjects and was widely respected.
The Native Americans in and around where the English colonists had settled held fast to a certain mobility in their lives directly related to the changing of seasons. They were fishermen, hunters, gatherers, horticulturalists, warriors, shamans, and chiefs that lived very primitively, but with some degree of intellectual adeptness and basic innovative techniques for survival. Algonquian speaking natives, who, like their northern counterparts, employ a radical spectra of cultural practices; including violent and otherwise grotesque behavioral perversions.
6. There are 8-10 paragraphs in the above section, what is topic of each paragraph?
1. Introducing and categorizing Chesapeake Bay.
2. Describing the native inhabitants and characterizing their behavior as the year progresses.
3. Explaining what necessitated the natives behavior outlined in the previous paragraph and the implications of those causes.
4. Further explaining the natives way of life.
5. Comparing the English cultural repertoire by succinctly outlining the cultural practices of the natives.
6. Introducing Powhaten, the Indian chief.
7. Classifying the native governmental system (aka. Powhaten).
8. Outlining Powhaten's governing techniques.
9. Shifting to collective war techniques.
10. Contrasting native warfare with European warfare.
7. What was the encounter of Powhatan Indians and colonies? According to Taylor, who had the higher culture upon the encounter of the two peoples?
“The encounter” section in Taylor's book denotes the Powhatan Indian and English colonial relations.
In Taylor's opinion, the English, although claiming to be superior (and were superior technologically), are the true barbarians. He uses the very words of English colonials to belie their faith and Christian values. They view any culture different from their own as being groundless and amoral, while they are the uninvited, cared to guests who plot to murder their benefactors.
8. Jamestown becomes significant because:
1) It was established by the order of the new King James I
2) Many colonists went there in search of gold
3) Jamestown became known as a “death town” due to the number of colonists who died upon arrival
4) The colonists refused to work despite the governor's strong advice to do so
9. What was the cause of violence?
The English, by harassing the natives, created friction between the two peoples. They demanded the Powhatan Indian's food when the natives hadn't enough for themselves.
10. What is the significance of tobacco? Discuss this in detail.
Tobacco saved the English colonies from utter neglect as it increased interest following the many years of substandard living and death that had so destroyed popular opinion. At significant profits, tobacco products saved England's North American exploration and colonization, and introduced a new medium of wealth. In both Maryland and Virginia, tobacco constituted the priority of cultivation efforts and the single most profitable crop.
Chapter Seven—Chesapeake Colonies
1. What does it mean to be a commonwealth?
Essentially, a commonwealth describes a collection of men who share an ideology and live cooperatively together.. In other words, a commonwealth is a state consisting of men who are united by law and the common interests of the collective body.
2. Why are labor, health, and profit the driving motives of Chesapeake settlers?
As the majority of settlers were poor, hungry beggars on the streets of England, many saw the New World as an opportunity for a better life. Labor was scarce in England, health a luxury of the rich, and profit a dream. So, settlers sought those things in the New World that they could not have in England.
3. What sources of labor were there in the Chesapeake?
Farming, in general, was the main source of labor for the settlers of Chesapeake—especially of tobacco products, as they shipped millions of pounds to England annually. However, some were artisans, shop keepers, and craftsmen. While the administrative jobs remained exclusively for the uppermost echelon of people.
4. Why is prosperity a concern of the area? What is there about the class structure?
Of course, the higher up the hierarchical chain the more prosperous you were liable to become.
5. Rebellion—why did it come? For how long would it endure and remain an issue?
A rebellion ensued due to the oppressive nature of the governor, Berkeley, and his fellow elitists. By disregarding the common peoples demands for lower taxes and in denying them the right to exterminate the natives—for purely selfish reasons—the people revolted. Nathaniel Bacon, the rebellion's leader, successfully drove out Berkeley from Jamestown, but died soon thereafter leaving the rebellion without someone to direct its path, allowing Berkeley to return. However, the King believed that Berkeley was at fault, and so he sent a contingent of men to suppress the fighting in Chesapeake.
6. What significance can be attached to the frontier? Who was this character Berkeley?
Prior to making war with the Indians, the colonists left Jamestown for the purpose of evading taxes and indebtedness. While on the frontier the colonists struggled with the natives for land, eventually leading to a fully developed war. With war, the colonists went to Berkeley for approval of a genocidal massacre of the natives. However, due to his business relations with the Indians, he refused. So, the frontier acted as the rebellion's epicenter of development.
7. Who were the great planters? Where did they come from? How and why did this arrangement come about? What were the characteristics of the planters?
The “great planters” were the wealthiest agricultural entrepreneurs. After the rebellion, Jeffreys became governor of Virginia for a short while until the King discharged he and his men leaving the wealthy planters to take control.
Over many years of displacement from their unmannerly and ruthless ancestors, successful agricultural workers began to develop a sense of cordiality while still retaining materialistic focuses.
8. Discuss the whole issue of the coming of slavery—why, when, from where, and for what purpose?
As the end of the seventeenth century approached, agriculturalists shifted their investments in indentured laborers from poor whites to African slaves. Although more expensive, the blacks proved to be a better investment as their life-long service outweighed their negative price differential when compared to English servants mere four years of service. Additionally, England removed restrictive laws that previously inhibited certain men from participating in the slave trade. This change brought more African slave traders to Chesapeake, which in turn stabilized prices.
Prior to the massive overhaul of indentured workers in Chesapeake, African slaves made up only a small fraction of the population. Of course this changed, and with that change other reforms ensued that worked to limit free blacks and black slaves. Because the African slaves soon constituted close to half the population, white administrators and common planters began to fret a slave rebellion due to their numerical advantage and perpetual mistreatment. The new laws included restrictions on black gatherings and movement throughout the city. Many other liberties were completely striped including the right to vote, bear arms, have legal representation in court, marry, and manage their own land. Moreover, taxes were significantly raised and blacks' livestocks were given to the poor whites.
Crucial treatment of the black slaves was a direct result of white fears, and it showed the brutal extreme the colonists were willing to go in order to ensure their safety and well-being.
Chapter Eight—New England:
1. Analyze and identify the Puritan values of the period and place?
Puritans were a radical religious sect who opposed the Church of England, and actively sought to reform it. Their mantra for ecclesiastical reform espoused a more individualized approach to everything spiritual. Instead of complicated rituals and traditions, the Puritans longed for a more simplistic and personal relationship with God by encouraging people to read the Bible and form prayer groups. Moreover, they worked to eliminate the rhetoric of distant bishops, and instead focused on the teachings of local ministers.
In the New England colony, Puritans believed that poor soil for farming would bring them closer to God, while nutrient rich soil corrupted the mind and body. Essentially, the Puritan doctrine worked to appease hard-working people in teaching diligence, discipline, and humility. Puritan presence also brought about a revival of strict regulations outlawing formerly common practices such as adultery, gambling, drunkenness, and blasphemy.
Despite a massive restoration of Christian morals and values, the Puritans did not recognize subscribers to or devout followers of the Puritan faith to be saved. Instead, they preached of an all-powerful God who, although I suspect they would never say it this way, arbitrarily determined who was saved and who was destined for eternal damnation.
2. Who were the “Puritans”? Why are they so incredibly important to the study of American history?
The Puritans were the Church of England dissenters who proposed a new approach to Christianity.
American history incorporates the English Puritans for the purpose of explaining the American colonists of that faith, and on a larger scale, the developmental stages of the thirteen colonies who eventually separated themselves from England and declared themselves a sovereign state—The United States of America. So, in analyzing the Puritans you are actually analyzing the people who would eventually constitute America.
3. Why were Puritans concerned over the British Monarchy? Also, with the Anglican Church?
They see themselves, as followers of the faith, superior in all regards. According to the Puritan disciples, the bishops, priests, and church head (the king) constitute unscrupulous dictators and perverters of the doctrine, and they hated the Church of England because it was inseparable from the English monarchy and its corruption.
4. What was the “Great Migration all about?”
The Great Migration, John Winthrop as its promoter, was the most significant emigration of Puritan English natives to the New England territory. Colonists in the New England territory fared much better than Virginia colonists. Their more northern location distanced New England residents from many diseases that were common in Virginia.
5. Why did New England attract a different set of immigrants from the Old World compare to the Chesapeake region?
It was largely a result of Puritan connections with John Smith and his publications that enticed them, instead of others, to the New England territory. The Puritans were of the middling class and paid their own way. Contrastingly, in the Chesapeake region, immigrants constituted the poor and homeless that the King expelled from England.
6. Why was the advantage of climate and population ratio more beneficial than in the Chesapeake?
The cooler climate and rapid streams found in the New England colonies resisted the dysentery and malaria that was rampant in Chesapeake, and the New England population was able to multiply much faster as a result. Additionally, New England residents enjoyed a more egalitarian male to female ratio, which also facilitated population growth. And although Chesapeake received thousands more colonists annually, New England's healthy environment allowed for the greatest population increase over time.
However, New England colonists suffered from colder, longer winters. Moreover, labor was more extreme in comparison to Chesapeake because very few servants or slaves inhabited New England. So then, it seems climate and population ratio benefited the health and progress of New Englanders, but nevertheless their lives remained strenuous.
7. Discuss the relationship of land and labor in New England. What was the social relationship of Puritans?
In New England, there was plenty of land and labor to go around. Almost every man had land of his own to cultivate crops and nurture livestock. Although, there were no servants or slaves to work the land. So, the larger families found in the New England area (due to healthier conditions) would work cooperatively to provide for themselves.
New England's social hierarchy was nothing like that of England, the Chesapeake, or the West Indies because there was no real social hierarchy to speak of. Only a slight social superiority could be found in and around the seaports and amongst the most successful farmers, but because there were no monopolies in New England and government was largely decentralized social status became an indistinguishable phenomenon.
8. Analyze and compare and contrast family life in New England. Pay attention to the role of women.
Families in New England operated much like in Chesapeake, England, and the West Indies. Men acted as the head of the household, and women were expected to submit. In New England, however, families were more dependent on each other as they were responsible for laboring over the land, livestock, and household duties, unlike in Chesapeake households where servants and slaves did most of the work. This interdependency explains New Englanders genteel and caring character.
A more cohesive societal structuring contributed especially to female codependency, aiding their general influence and fueling a rise in political significance—despite not being able to vote or hold positions in government.
The Puritan faith also added to the success of New England families, as it compelled sexual discipline and a logistical family structure.
9. Why was commerce the major source of economic sustenance and development?
Commerce (or trade) always necessitates wealth. That is how wealth is effectuated in the world, groups of people (businesses) turn commodities such as timber, iron, platinum, copper, and oil into valuable tools and desirable products such as houses, boats, wagons, railroads, machines, fuel, and tools of all kinds. Today, commodities and the products that become of them are extremely more diverse and eccentric, but the laws of economics have not changed—a service industry cannot fuel an economy, their must be profitable trade.
In New England, despite not having a valuable crop to cultivate and sell for a profit like that of Chesapeake's tobacco product, they improvised by making use of what they did have—timber. The New Englanders had massive amounts of timber at their disposal in the dense forests of northeastern America, and so they developed numerous shipyards. Building countless ships fueled another source of wealth in fishing and maritime transportation. The vastness of their shipping industry was essential because it allowed for accelerated fishing, and in turn accelerated profits as they provided food for the slaves of the West Indies and the people of the Iberian Peninsula. Meanwhile, extensive shipbuilding provided jobs and attracted more skilled artisans and craftsmen to the area.
New England's economy was propelled not by one crop and a group of aristocrats, but through their resourcefulness, social equality, and intensive labor—much like capitalist America we know and love today.
10. Why was Massachusetts known as the “Bible Commonwealth” Why all the concern over education?
Massachusetts was known as the Bible Commonwealth because it, more than any other New England colony, had incorporated scripture into society by using it as the template for laws and government. Education produced literate people, and being a spiritual community that urged personal interpretation and reading of the bible, this was highly sought after.
11. What was the pull of puritans to the New World? From whence came the disputes & discontent?
Puritans migrated to the New World so as to disengage themselves from English religious dogma and corruption. They sought reform of the Church of England, but opted to do it from afar—i n contrast to the Separatists who wanted a complete severing of their beliefs from the Church of England.
12. Why was there such a flap over the Witchcraft issue? Where did it occur?
People hadn't an understanding of science, and as a result formed flawed hypotheses based on religious ideology explaining their afflictions. In New England, witchcraft was more extensive because of the strict Puritan faith. Massachusetts, (especially in Salem) witchcraft trials were very common, but Virginia and other colonies also held witchcraft trials.
13. For what reason was there declension according to Alan Taylor? Was the declension myth or fact?
New England's perceived significance dwindled as the English marketed them as irrelevant and inconsequential masses. And after all Puritan hope for revolutionary reform died as the English monarchy was restored, New England suffered because of its ties with the Puritan movement. However, New England Puritans, as a result of the jeremiad, experienced a revival of their morals and fundamental values. Some degree of cultural evolution did take place, but the key principles that laid the foundation for Puritanism held strong. Therefore eliminating the prospect of declension during the time.
Chapter Nine—Puritans and Indians:
1. Alan Taylor in this chapter reveals an insightful awareness of the culture and contributions of the Natives. Give a bulleted list of his concerns:
◦ The natives were not completely illogical in their practical pursuits for survival.
◦ Although they were great in number and shared an expansive cultural background, they lacked widespread political unity and instead opted for individualized communities led by a sachem chief.
◦ The natives' horticultural expertise was beyond that of the Europeans.
◦ Much like their Iroquois counterparts, the native Algonquians assumed labor responsibilities specific to their gender, unlike the class gradations that generally differentiate Europeans work-duties.
◦ Female Algonquians would collect food, prepare food, craft things, and assume other duties around their living quarters, while men would leave home to hunt, fight in wars, and other more demanding activities.
◦ Women assumed a steady pace of work and men a variable work schedule.
◦ Native peoples shifted locations throughout the year for the purpose of assimilating to the climate change, as opposed to the colonists who had fixed housing.
◦ The Algonquians had no money system, and consequently had no economy. This was largely a result of their mobile living, but also due to their culture and belief system that underemphasised material wealth and riches, sharply contrasting the colonists' materialism.
◦ The natives were less prone to steal, and instead lived and worked in unison, providing for each other in times of need.
1. What was the issue of property? What was meant by tribute? Were the natives exploited? Why?
Private property was not a practice of the Indians. They did not buy or sell land, but rather land was distributed by a chief. The colonists, on the other hand, would exchange property regularly through the use of deeds—documents that notated personal ownership of land.
As the colonists multiplied and colonies expanded, the natives were forcibly pushed off or tricked into forfeiting their lands. Using religion to mask any wrongdoing by claiming the Indians were heathens and they the saints, the colonists quieted their consciences much like the Spanish conquistadors did in New Spain.
Soon the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies united to create an alliance against the Indians. In retaliation to no Indian malice or ill will, the colonists required tribute in the form of wampum that was then traded to the Abenaki Indians for beaver furs and finally exported to England for a profit. With this, the New England colonies had found a commodity that could be shipped to England to offset heavy transportation costs.
The Puritan New Englanders, it seems, did not constitute the moral and just Christians that were initially introduced in the book. And with the combination of the witch trials and especially cruel policies towards the natives, they can be regarded, in my best estimation, as being the very barbarians that they so despise.
2. Discuss the issues and causes of the Pequot War.
The Pequot war was the first of many violent conflicts following the arrival and assimilation of colonists in the area. After demanding an inordinate amount of wampum from the Pequots as tribute, and subsequently being rejected, the colonist's rage amplified and war ensued. Unlike native warfare that resulted in very little death over many years, the English introduced massacres that wiped-out entire villages in a matter of a few hours. And even more horrifying was the colonists' tactic of pitting the natives against each other so that they would essentially exterminate one another.
Over time, the native tribes vanished from existence through death or in merging with a neighboring tribe due to displacement and an insufficient population.
3. What was the deal about “praying towns?” What did it purport to do?
New England praying towns came about following extreme public criticism of the Pequot Indian massacres and other atrocities towards Indians. In theory, the praying towns were supposed to isolate natives into stationary communities so the New Englanders could inculcate them into their culture. In this way, the Indians' souls would be saved. However, akin to the behavior of Floridian and Central American natives, the Indians would generally only conform partially to the colonist's ideals and practices while still maintaining their own. The colonists disagreed over the success of the praying towns and the Indians that submitted themselves to the towns varied substantially (evident in the fact that some adopted the colonists culture completely becoming informants and spies against their former tribesmen), but in the end war defined colonist and Indian relations, working to discredit the praying towns supposed goal of converting the Indians peacefully.
4. Why 1676 did war break out as “King Philip’s War?” It eventually became what type of war?
King Philip's war (named after the Indian chief Metacom who the colonists referred to as King Philip) was the deadliest conflict between New England colonists and Indian natives. Initiated, of course, by the New Englanders, King Philip's war defined a more elevated violence as the natives began to acquire muskets and other technological advancements that previously gave the colonists the upper hand.
Eventually, the natives had exhausted all of their resources (mainly gunpowder) and could not defend themselves. Subsequently, the war transformed into an annihilation of the Indians.
5. What ultimate end came as victory, and yet, end in defeat?
To the allied Indians the colonial victory was vacuous, for with victory the Indians were rewarded the worst possible lives as social outcasts amongst the arrogant New Englanders.
Chapter Eleven—Carolinas—A Century of Develop: (1670-1760)
1. The general area covered by the Carolinas as Taylor lays it out on the map 1740 consists of a large coastal area south of Virginia, east of the Appalachian Mountains, north of Florida and of course encased by the Atlantic Ocean. What was the economic, political, social, cultural, and environmental character of this great swath of land during the century identified?
◦ Carolina was ruled by a handful of aristocrats
◦ Slaves worked the white's plantations
◦ Excruciatingly hot summers and relatively cold winters made for uncomfortable living
◦ The land was extremely fertile
1. Who were the colonists? Why did they come, what was their environmental fate?
The colonists were of a varied sort from the Great Planters to the poor servants and slaves. The poor came as the Lords Proprietor offered exceptionally generous and appealing land, reasonable taxes, and religious toleration. Great Planters migrated to the Carolina territories because they were promised uncompromising control of their slaves and indentured servants, as well as large plots of land.
As the colonists became increasingly unhappy with the Lords Proprietor's inattention to their defenses and well-being, revolution initiated a transfer of property rights from the Lords Proprietor to the English monarchy. This, in turn, empowered the Great Planters and worked against the commoners.
2. Why does Taylor have a section in which he discusses the gun trade?
The gun trade was an integral part of colonial exploitation of the natives. By introducing guns to the natives, the Carolina colonists elevated inter-native warfare and put extra stress on the environment. Deer were exploited by the natives as the natives were exploited by the colonists creating a vicious degenerative cycle where only the colonists win.
3. Raiders—what is being revealed about these groups?
Driven purely by materialistic gain and an elitist mentality, the raiders seek to kill the other group, enslave them, and trade with them—fueling the first two.
4. Just as sugar was the crop of the West Indies, so did rice become the crop of Carolinas? Why?
Rice flourished in the sub-tropics of the Carolina colonies, and the slaves being imported had knowledge of the crop making it easier for the elites to exploit them.
5. What good reasons does Taylor have for discussing “terror” in the territory?
Taylor explains the terror tactics that were employed by white planters to keep the black slaves in check. Because the slaves had a formidable majority, the planter elite had adopted more harsh tactics to maintain a certain level of fear amongst the slave population and quell any “treasonous” regimes.
6. Finally, the issue of Georgia is discussed. What role does Oglethorpe play?
Oglethorpe acts as the initial and direct governor of the Georgia colonies. Soon after, he returns to England and fulfills his rightful place among the other trustees.
7. What is Taylor’s final conclusion about this area during this century?
The Georgia and Carolina colonies had copied the West Indian system: a few whites exploiting numerous slaves to make a profit. And because of this, the colonies experienced certain repercussions such as impending external threats due to the open plantation system and distraught slaves who would kill for their freedom.
Chapter Twelve—Middle Colonies—The 17th Century of Development:
Concurrently with the development of New England there came an equally significant establishment in the area we will now call the “Middle Colonies”:
1. Between the Chesapeake and New England, from the broad Hudson River, west to the Appalachian Mountains, south to Virginia boundary lay an area of land with a new vibrant economy and a diverse society developed—why?
Labeled the “Middling Colonies” due to their location between the English colonies of Chesapeake (south) and New England (north), temperature was such that it was warmer than New England but healthier than the Chesapeake. This was then a very profitable area for horticultural businesses and modest families. Large rivers that stretched many hundreds of miles enabled vast networks of trade. Because of the many perks of the area, the colonies population growth was significant; in turn procuring a diverse society of people.
2. What was Taylor’s assessment of the Dutch Empire?
In the seventeenth century, the Dutch constituted the world power and boasted the strongest economy; much like how the United States compares to the rest of the world today. To get to be the city on a hill, the Dutch did a lot right—starting with separating themselves from Spanish dominion. Taylor goes into more detail as to how the Dutch reached their pinnacle, including discussing the advantageous characteristics of their location and the importance of maritime superiority.
3. Make a list of Dutch (New Netherland) contributions to the area: (bullet points)
• new culture
1. What was the status of religious dissenters in the Middle Colonies?
While the dutch controlled the Middle Colonies religious toleration was in the forefront, and therefore all religions were accepted.
2. Why did “New Netherlands” falter? What vacuum was created by it? How did England become the heir of the territories?
New Netherlands failed to develop long lasting roots due to an overwhelming population differential with the English, Spanish, and French. England tricked the Dutch, although Taylor is not clear whether it was intentional or not, by sending warships to the Americas leading the Dutch to believe they were destined for New England so as to quell Puritan rebellion during the time when they were actually set out to capture New Netherlands. Upon their arrival to New Netherlands, the English greatly outnumbered the inhabitants and quickly achieved victory; laying claim to all of the surrounding territories.
3. What was the issue involved in the conquest? Discuss the “covenant chain?”
Conquest was interrupted by conflicting interests by the French, Iroquois, and English. Eventually the English allied with the Iroquois establishing the covenant chain.
4. What is the background account for establishing New Jersey?
New Jersey acted as the King's town for imposing imperial interests.
5. More important, how did Pennsylvania become the center of the Middle Colonies?
Pennsylvania had fortuitous weather conditions which promoted population growth. Also, the male to female ratio was such that it also facilitated growth.
6. What was the status of religion in the Middle Colonies? This is detailed section—why?
Toleration of a plethora of varying religious practices was the established way. Many important philosophers also migrated to the Middle Colonies for a more tolerant intellectual environment; this includes John Lock, a character that proved very influential to the founding fathers as evident in the constitution.
7. What argument can be made of Taylor’s contention that there was widespread diversity?
Naturally people assimilate due to a likeness of thinking, creating concentrated communities of similarly minded people. America today may serve as an example of this idea of human diversity and the rareness therein--which is what makes the United States special.
© 2011 gclitty
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