AP US History
by Brian Lande
I have been watching the videos "America: The New Found Land and America: Home Away From Home", which are part one and two of a 13 episode educational series on American history that is produced by BBC and narrated by Alistair Cooke. Originally a British citizen, Alistair Cooke gained a deep understanding about the US, his adopted country, from being a major news correspondent for over 20 years. Using video footage, pictures and historical sites, Mr. Cooke reveals a broad and fresh look into American history, beginning with the first people to arrive on the North American continent, up until the present day. Parts one and two cover the pre-history of America until the early 1700's. Unlike most historical documentaries that can be dull, Alistair Cooke gives his personnel opinions,adds some humor to American history and uses colorful analogies to make "America" an exceedingly engaging series. He presents a great deal of superb information from the British point of view that was new to me. You will learn more about how small events in American history have indirectly affected some of the major events in our country's history.
by Brian Lande
"Gettysburg" directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, is a movie about the most famous Civil War battle of Gettysburg. It was difficult for me to determine one major theme in this movie which made it hard for me to see what message the movie was trying to convey, so it became boring or confusing.The theme was probably was about leadership. In "Gettysburg" you see good and poor leadership and the consequences of having poor leadership. Leadership is found in all the men in the movie and so it is displayed in many different forms. This movie made me think about why the Confederates wanted to leave the Union. From watching "Gettysburg" I began to see that the Civil War was very much like the American Revolution in several ways. The South felt that it was being repressed by an unfair government who did not share its beliefs. In this way the North, because of its large population compared to the South's few, did not allow fair representation in the House of Representatives and occasionally in the Senate. The North having policies against slavery tried to impose them on the south. This was very similar to Britain imposing its policies on the American colonies. The South also felt that because they had different beliefs and customs than the North, that they should be allowed to leave the Union. When the Union did not allow peaceful succession of the Southern states, the North sent its armies to forcefully bring the Southern states back into the Union. To the South this was an invasion by a foreign country. This was a new concept for me. If it had not been for "Gettysburg" I I'm not sure that I would have realized or learned from a book that the South felt that it was being invaded. My favorite parts of the movie were the Battle of Gettysburg reenactments. These reenactment were very real and well coordinated and, if I might add, very exciting!
Development of American Political and Governmental Theories
by Brian Lande
Colonists development of a theory of political independence and government was based on recurring crises beginning after 1763 during the aftermath of the French and Indian War. Though there were many events that lead to the development of a theory for political independence and government, taxation and trade regulations and other unfair laws were the main reasons for its development.
British laws enacted to tax and regulate trade in the American colonies which had the most visible influence on the development of an American theory of political independence and government were, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Act, the Quartering Act, unfair trade laws, and enforcement of the Navigation Acts. Many of these laws were seen as harsh and unfair since the American colonies did not have representation (only "virtual representation)" in the English parliament, thus not allowing them their right as English citizens to have a voice in the Parliament.
The Stamp Act put a hefty tax on many paper goods. The Townshend Act put a tax on lead, glass, paint, and other colonial exports. These laws lead to a great distrust of the government to levy taxes and lead to the theory that taxes should only be levied with the consent of the people. Under the Articles of Confederation, this theory was put into practice, and the states forbade the Congress to levy taxes ( only request taxes) without the consent of the states.
The Navigation acts which were first enacted in the 1650's to restrict trade, were now being enforced after the French and Indian War so as to lift Britain out war debts. Laws against the manufacturing of goods in the colonies along with laws that restricted trade with other countries were put into effect.
Another trade law that was enacted gave a monopoly on the tea trade to the British West Indies Company which was on the verge of collapse. In order to keep the British West Indies Company alive duties on shipments of tea to and from the American colonies were lowered to almost nothing. This lowered the price of the teas so much that it had no competition from other tea providers in the American colonies and foreign traders, thus, putting many smaller tea companies out of business and allowing for a monopoly on the tea trade. These trade laws encouraged the idea that trade should be regulated by the states and not by a central government which could grant favors. Thus under the Articles of Confederation the Congress was not allowed to regulate trade, only the states.
The Quartering Act was another law that influenced American colonists theories on independence and government. The Quartering Act allowed for British troops in the American Colonies to be boarded in colonists' homes while the legislature had to provide funds to maintain the British troops. This angered many colonists who now had to pay higher taxes to provide funds to maintain British troops and board them in their homes. The Boston Tea Party which is unrelated to the Quartering Act was another example of the use of British Troops which angered the American colonists. British Troops were sent to Massachusetts to keep order, but when a mob of colonists surrounded a garrison of troops they got skittish and when somebody yelled fire the troops fired into the mob killing six colonists. This bred a great distrust of large centrally operated standing armies.
All of these laws and regulations lead not only to the theory of political independence and government but to the Revolutionary War which freed the American colonies so that they could put their theories into effect. The Articles of Confederation was ultimately the result of the American theories of political independence and government.
Similar Problems of Rule Under the British and the Articles of Confederation
Taxation, trade and the military are important to all governments and their people. During 1763-1776 they were issues between the American colonies and England. Between the period of 1780-1789 they were an issue between the American states and the federal government under the Articles of Confederation.
Taxation was the main issue of the years of 1763-1776. The British, after fighting in the French and Indian War were in need of money to pay its debts. Since they had fought to protect the American colonies, they decided to tax the American colonies to pay for their debt. The thought of being used as a source of revenue and not treated as members of the British Empire outraged many of the American colonists. In protest of what they thought of as unfair laws, the colonists resisted any attempt to be taxed, so long as they were not allowed fair representation in the English Parliament.
The Sugar Act of 1764 put a tax on sugar, textiles, and other goods. A year later the Stamp Act of 1765 put a tax on all legal documents, newspapers and playing cards. Then in 1767 The Townshend Acts were put into effect to tax iron, lead, glass and other manufactured goods in the colonies. Colonist were angered over these new taxes, which they thought were too heavy and were levied without their consent.
Another issue present was that of trade. England, not wanting its colonies to trade with its enemies of France and Spain, enacted laws to make trade hard between the colonies and other countries. In 1650, a series of laws called the Navigation Acts came into effect, though they were not fully enforced until after the French and Indian War. Restrictions on the trade of certain items made business hard for many of the merchants who relied on the French and other foreign countries for the success of their business. Restrictions on what could be manufactured in the colonies also angered merchants, since they were not allowed to produce certain items in the colonies any longer. This also put many small business out of business. Heavy tariffs on colonial goods and imports form other countries made trade difficult and led many Americans colonists to believe that Britain was deliberately trying to hurt the colonial economy.
The military was another rough spot in the relations with Britain and the American colonies. Specifically it was the British troops in the American colonies during a time of peace, that was a problem. The British thought it was only logical to keep troops in America for the protection of their colonies. The British thought it only fair that since they were doing such a large favor for the colonies, that the American colonists would not mind providing the provisions needed to care for the troops sent to protect them. What the British didn't count on was that there would be such large opposition to quartering troops in colonists homes. That troops had to stay in colonists homes was not the only problem. The colonial legislature also had to raise taxes to pay for all the troops provisions. The colonies wanted the troops to be gone since they thought themselves perfectly capable of providing themselves with their own protection, using their own militias.
As between the American colonists and the British, the Congress under the Articles of Confederation had problems with taxation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Congress did not have the authority to collect taxes: only request funds from the states. Even then, the states were not motivated to always donate as much money to the Congress as they promised. This meant that the Congress did not have enough money to run a government or pay its bills. In America there was no strong central government to demand that taxes be paid. Taxes could only be collected with the consent of the people and state, thus leaving the American government constantly in debt. There were several attempts to collect taxes from the states, but all failed. Trying to solve the tax problems of 1763-1776 by requesting taxes instead of demanding them, the Congress found that the states were as unwilling to pay taxes now as they were during British rule.
Congress also lacked the power to regulate trade among the states and foreign countries. Results of this were that states taxed each other's products, quarreled over navigation rights on rivers that served as boundaries between them, and set up their own systems of tariffs on foreign imports. Foreign nations refused to negotiate commercial agreements with the federal government, because it was unable to enforce them. The Congress too had attempted to solve the problem of strict trade regulations that were in place during the years of colonial rule, by letting the states regulate trade. Several times the Congress tried to regulate trade, but many of the states were stubborn and unwilling to change their trade laws if they wouldn't profit from them.
The quartering of British troops in colonists' homes bred a great distrust of standing armies, and so the Articles of Confederation tried to solve the problem of having a standing army. It's solution was for the states to have their own militias and for the Congress not to be allowed to raise an army. Of course, this meant that there was no central training or unified army that could be operated by one government, instead of by many different state governments.
Many of the problems of taxation, trade and the military were solved when the U.S. Constitution was written in 1789. But even today there are still many problems over trade wars with other countries, military intervention, and questions over taxing. Taxes, trade and the military are all problems we continue to deal with in our county today and will most likely continue to do so in the future.
English Oppression: The Reason for Colonial Settlement?
by Brian Lande
Though the majority of the American colonies were settled to escape oppression in England, this was not the sole reason for colonization. The first colonies were settled by merchants from England who were eager to get rich fast by finding gold in the New World. Other colonies were settled by noblemen who were granted the right to set up colonies for their own purposes. However, many of the rest of the colonies were indeed set up to escape oppression in England.
The London Company (later to become the Virginia Company) was granted the right to settle in the New World and in 1607, a group of merchants planted the first permanent English colony in America called Jamestown. For the first few years, Jamestown was a failure. No homes were built nor were crops started to insure survival. Everyone was too busy looking for gold, but Captain John Smith's leadership eventually saved the colony from starvation. In 1609, Smith was injured and sent back to England. While he was away, the colony almost perished without his leadership and the winter was called the "starving time". For several years settlers were just employees of the London Company and they had no land to cultivate. Under the governorship of Sir Thomas Dale, this changed and he gave every man tracts of land as tenet farmers. This stimulated agriculture enough for them to enjoy the fruits (and, of course, the vegetables!) of their labor. Another factor that contributed to the newly found success of tJamestown was tobacco, which had become very popular in England and made tobacco farmers rich.
In New England, the main reason for settlement was to escape religious oppression in England. In December, 1620, a group of separatists called Pilgrims, arrived on the coast of New England. They had arrived in America to start a new colony where they could be separate from the Church of England and worship as they pleased. In 1628, a group of settlers known as the Puritans arrived in Salem, New England and set up the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Like the separatist Pilgrims, the Puritans came to the New World to escape religious persecution in England. The Puritans tried to reform the Church of England and purify it. The Church, not liking to be changed or criticized, made life hard for the Puritans and eventually forced them to seek refuge in America. The harsh laws enforced against the critics of the church led to the "Great Migration". In the next decade or so, 20,000 Puritans fled England for New England. The Puritan Church became the official church of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and everyone was compelled to support it or face banishment. Many Puritans were dissatisfied with the Bay Colony and sought new homes in the wilderness. In 1635, a small group of settlers, led by Thomas Hooker, settled Hartford, Connecticut. Other settlements that were established were Whethersfield and Windsor. In 1639, Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor joined together to became a unified government. Another Puritan dissatisfied with the Bay Colony was Roger Williams. He was a Puritan minister who believed in freedom of religion and was thus exiled from the Bay Colony by church and government officials. After leaving the Bay Colony, Roger Williams bought land and founded the Rhode Island colony in 1636. Under his leadership, Rhode Island allowed religious freedom and the separation of church and state. This attracted people of all faiths to Rhode Island.
Maryland was established by Lord Baltimore l and Lord Baltimore ll to provide religious freedom for Catholics. Although Maryland was settled to be a haven for Catholics, all religious denominations were welcomed with open arms. Puritans from England and the American colonies migrated to Maryland along with Presbyterians, Jews and Anglicans. Soon, Protestants (Puritans) outnumbered Catholics and so Lord Baltimore ll brought the Toleration Acts into effect. This Law provided that all Christian denominations could worship as they wished.
The Carolinas were settled, not to escape religious oppression, but because charters were given to eight noblemen to settle the Carolinas as they wished. North Carolina was a prosperous farming colony that attracted, Germans, Scots, Anglicans, French, Huguenots and Quakers.
Another settlement that was not settled because of English oppression was New York, formerly New Netherlands. The Dutch presence in America had irritated England for years. They saw New Netherlands as part of their claim to their North American claim, based on John Cabot's exploration. New Netherlands also separated the Southern Colonies from New England and violated English trade laws by trading extensively with American Colonies. New Amsterdam, which was part of New Netherlands, controlled an important and strategic harbor, that was also the finest on the east coast. So, in 1664, an English fleet sailed into New Amsterdam and ordered the colony to surrender to British rule. In honor of the Duke of York, New Amsterdam's name was changed to New York.
Quakers were a break-off of the Protestants and were persecuted by the Protestants in most of the colonies, and in Britain by the Church of England. William Penn was a Quaker and the son of a wealthy English admiral who was owed a debt by King Charles ll. When Admiral Penn died, the debt that was owed to him passed down to his son. Penn asked for a grant of land that became Pennsylvania. Penn planned a colony where there would be religious freedom and people of all races could live in peace. Pennsylvania was also one of the last colonies to be set up for religious purposes.
Georgia was the last of the thirteen colonies to be settled and was settled because of economic oppression. James Oglethrope wanted to settle a colony that would serve as a refuge for imprisoned debtors who wished to start anew in the New World. The colony also tried to stop Spanish expansion from Florida. Few ex-prisoners actually came from England, but many poverty-stricken people from the British Isles came to Georgia. The government of Georgia tried to set out fair laws about sharing land and about slavery. Unfortunately, the colonists disagreed with the government of Georgia and had the laws against slavery and land ownership repealed.
Though English oppression was the main reason for colonial settlement, it was not the only reason. Economic opportunity, grants of land, and territorial expansion were other reasons for settling the American colonies. For the first hundred or so years after the first settlement, escaping oppression in England was the primary reason to settle in the American colonies. It was not until Later in the later in 17th and the 18th centuries that economic resources were being tapped throughout the colonies.
The Importance of Theology and Politics In the 17th and 18th Century
Theology and politics were both important in the 17th and 18th centuries, though each one played notable parts at different times. In the formative years of the 17th century, the search for freedom to practice religious beliefs was one of the predominant reasons that the American colonies were settled.
In 1620, the Plymouth Colony was settled by English separatists, or those that wanted to leave the Church of England. Then, in 1628, the Puritans settled the Massachusetts Bay colony to escape religious persecution in Britain. Puritans believed that the Church of England was becoming corrupt, so they endeavored to purify the Church of England and hence their name. The Church of England, not liking to be criticized, made life hard for the Puritans, forcing them to leave England for America where they could worship as they pleased. Once in America, the Puritans enacted their own harsh laws for violations of any of their numerous religious or social rules. Some of these laws were so harsh that if a colonist violated or disagreed with the church or the many social laws, and was not of the same Christian denomination he could be evicted from the settlement and left to starve. Roger Williams was a Puritan minister who believed in freedom of religion and, because of his beliefs, was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by church and government officials. A few years later, Roger Williams bought land and founded the Providence colony in 1636, which later became Rhode Island. Rhode Island, under Roger Williams, allowed religious freedom and the separation of church and state. The government was no longer allowed to pass laws about religious liberty. As a consequence, Rhode Island attracted people of all faiths.
Lord Baltimore, a Catholic and a friend of King Charles l, obtained a tract of land to found a haven for Catholics who were being persecuted in England. The first Lord Baltimore died shortly after receiving the grant and so the grant for land went to his son, the second Lord Baltimore. In 1634 a settlement was established in Maryland. Although Maryland was set up for Catholics, there was toleration for all Christian denominations. People from the American colonies and England soon started migrating to Maryland. Soon Protestants outnumbered Catholics. To prevent any religious conflicts and discrimination against Catholics, Lord Baltimore, in 1649, had the Toleration Act passed. This provided that all Christians may worship as they please.
Quakers were a break-off of the Protestants. Because the Quakers believed salvation came from seeing the inner-light, they saw no need for formal churches or ceremonies and, because of this, were persecuted by the Protestants in most of the colonies and in Britain by the Church of England. William Penn was an idealistic Quaker and the son of a wealthy English Admiral who was owed a debt by King Charles ll. When Admiral Penn died, the debt that was owed to him passed down to his son. Instead of money, Penn asked for a grant of land that became Pennsylvania. Penn planned a colony where all creeds and nationalities could live together with religious freedom and in peace. Pennsylvania was also one of the last colonies to be set up for religious purposes.
The reason that politics played a more important role in the 18th century than the 17th century was that by the 18th century, the American Colonies and their governments and religious principles had been established well enough for England to begin to exert its power. In the mid 1600's, political issues started to play there part in colonial history. Politics though did not have much of an effect on colonies until later in the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the 1650's, a series of trade laws called the Navigation Acts, came into effect. Basically these laws stated that: (1) No goods could be shipped from the colonies except on English ships. (2) Certain goods could only be sold to England. (3) Goods being sent to other colonies must first be sent to England where a duty could be collected and then shipped back to the colonies aboard an English ship. Another law that came into effect was the Molasses Act , which placed a heavy duty on all sugar goods imported from the French West Indies. Laws were then put into effect that regulated manufacturing in the Colonies such as the Woolen Act of 1699, which forbade the export of woolen goods, and the Hat Act of 1732 which banned the export of beaver hats. In 1750, the Iron Act was passed. This prohibited the manufacture of iron products in the American colonies.
England was too busy with wars to bother to enforce their laws that were imposed on the American colonies. Most of these laws were thus ignored by the colonies and smuggling became big business. After the French and Indian War, things changed. England now had time to focus on the American colonies. Since the American colonies had benefited from the French and Indian War, England decided that the American colonies should help pay for the cost of the war that faced England with a debt. Furthermore, England had to maintain a large army in the American colonies to ward off Indians. In order to pay for the great expense of maintaining its army, England decided to start enforcing its laws and to add new tax laws. Through the Writs of Assistance, England began enforcing laws to stop smuggling between its colonies and other countries.
The new acts and taxes that England was about to levy outraged the American colonies, creating a great political fever that would eventually lead to the Revolutionary War. Politics, by the 1760's had become a major part of Colonial life, as seen through the many new laws and social problems.
The first major law imposed by the British Parliament was the Quartering Act of 1765. This act stated that the colonial legislatures must provide shelter, funds and supplies to meet the expense of keeping troops in America. The colonists of America were outraged by this. They saw no reason why they had to support an army in a time of peace. This law is what may have lead to the Third Amendment that states, "No soldier shall, in a time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." Later that same year, another Act was passed that affected everyone in the American Colonies--the Stamp Act. This law placed a tax on all legal documents, newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets and playing cards. Since this law affected everyone, it stirred up a ruckus in America. Patriotic societies such as the Sons of Liberty were organized to resist taxes. Tax collectors were mobbed in the streets by colonists who wished to resist the new law. Merchants vowed to stop importing British goods and products and the colonists boycotted British products. This widespread political outrage and boycotting finally forced the repeal of the Stamp Act.
Charles Townshend was responsible for passing the Townshend Acts of 1767. This law put duties on colonial imports of glass, lead, tea, paint and paper. The money earned from these taxes was used to pay for colonial officials such as governors. Before the Townshend Act, it was the local legislatures determined the income of governors and other British officials. Under Samuel Adams, the Massachusetts legislature urged the colonies to resist British taxes. Colonists responded to this with another effective boycott of British products, which led to another repeal of all of the Townshend Acts except for one on tea.
In 1770, tension increased between colonists in Boston and the Redcoats (British Soldiers). Just before the Townshend Acts were repealed an angry mob of colonists shouted insults and taunted British Redcoats. When the mob started to throw snow and rocks at the Redcoats, they got skittish and then when someone in the crowd yelled fire!, the soldiers thought they were being ordered to in defend themselves and they opened fire with their rifles, killing six civilians. In reaction to this, Samuel Adams demanded that all British troops be withdrawn from the city. Fearing revolt, Britain temporarily pulled all of its soldiers out of Massachusetts.
The Tea Act of 1773, gave a monopoly on the tea trade to the British East Indies Company. The new law reduced the duty the company had to pay when shipping its products to America which made their tea cheap. This lowered the price of tea and gave the British East Indies Company an advantage over companies that had to keep their tea at higher prices in order to pay for the duties. To show their anger for allowing a monopoly, colonists let tea from the British East Indies Company rot in warehouses. The Boston Tea Party took place on the night of Dec. 16, 1773, with Bostonians dressed as Indians who threw thousands of pounds of tea from merchant boats into the sea. The British Parliament then voted in the Intolerable Acts of 1774 to punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party. The Intolerable Acts closed ports in Boston, revoking the colonists rights as English citizens. They also deprived many Massachusetts citizens of the right to vote and tried criminals (not in the colonies, but in England) without an impartial jury. This law may have lead to other Constitutional Amendments such as the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments. Along with other laws, these acts led to the Revolutionary War. If Britain had not been so ignorant of the colonial view of government, they would not have had to fight the Revolutionary War and the American Colonies most likely would have been granted their Independence from Britain as Canada did.
Thus religion played a much larger part in the 17th century than in the 18th century, when Europeans had wished to migrate to the American colonies so that they might worship as they pleased. Later, in the 18th century, after religious rights and colonial government were well established, laws, unfair taxes and different political beliefs caused politics to play a larger part in colonial life than it did in the 17th century.
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