Comparison Of New England, Southern And Middle Colonies
To begin with the quest for national greatness, benefit and religious crucial, began to investigate and conquer the North America. Through the 1600s and the early-1700s, three major colonial regions, the Southern colonies, the New England colonies, and the Middle colonies, created and developed, and the economic freedom from land owning attracted people to the North America. Though, during and after the French-Indian War, colonies united to resist British policies and finally declared their independence in 1776.
The three colonial regions blossomed quite differently regarding the economy. English colonists first settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Failing to find gold, however, people in the southern colonies grew tobacco and rice as marketable commodities. Since tobacco plantation was labor-intensive, many of the population was indentured servants and black slaves. Because of the high mortality rate and unbalanced sex ratio, headright system was created in order to attract more settlers. In New England, due to the poor soil condition, people mainly relied on fishing, and lumber. Also, the Navigation Acts stimulated shipbuilding industry. The Middle colonies were based on growing grains and trading with European nations as well as other colonies.
Furthermore, according to professor Foner, each colony experienced distinct political development. In Virginia, the crown appointed governor, and local elite oversaw the colony’s advancement. There was also the county court, or the Justices of Peace. Only the colonial assembly was elected. The House of Burgesses, established in 1639, was the first legislature in Jamestown. Contrary to Virginia, Maryland was a proprietary colony settled in 1632. The charter granted Cecilius Calvert “full, free, and absolute power”. In New England, the principle of consent was fundamental for Puritanism. In Plymouth, according to the Mayflower Compact, adult men agreed to obey the “just and equal laws” enacted by chosen representatives. In Massachusetts, self-governing towns were prevailing. The congregational church and school were established in each town, and the church and state were closely interconnected. The Body of Liberties issued by the General Court allowed for slavery and admitted inequality. Freemen in Massachusetts elected their governor, but the democracy was confined to church members, opposite to that in Plymouth where the voting did not require church membership. In the Middle colonies, the proprietor William Penn appointed council in Pennsylvania. Male taxpayers and other freemen elected the assembly, resulting in most of the male population qualified for voting.
Each colony also differed in cultural development. In New England, trying to purify the English church and society, the Puritans established the Bible Commonwealth. They believed in moral liberty, which was subject to authority compared with natural liberty. Puritans were guided by the omnipotence of God, doctrine of election and predestination, doctrine of covenant and doctrine of calling. However, they were not tolerant towards outliers in the community. Puritans were gradually losing control when religious heterogeneity increased as population grew. In addition, judgment of religious and political establishment was inevitable due to Puritan’s belief in individual comprehension of Bible. The Middle colonies had diverse religious groups, including Quakers, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and etc. As for the Southern colonies, it maintained loyal to the Church of England.
Even though these colonial regions developed distinctively, they united to combat British policies imposed on them during the 1760s and 1770s. After a series of war, including the French-Indian War, Britain was in huge war debt. Believing that colonists were responsible for paying off the war debt given that they had acquired lots of land from the victory, Britain designed a series of taxes to gain money among the colonies, beginning with the Sugar Act in 1764 which only affected merchants, a small proportion of the population.
Since British noticed that colonists were smuggling to avoid taxes, and colonies possessed high degree of political autonomy, the Parliament and the King felt necessary to remind colonies of their duty to serve mother country. However, the Stamp Act in 1765 triggered tremendous grievance among colonists. Unlike the Sugar Act, Stamp Act affected numerous people. Required to purchase special paper and pay taxes for it, colonists were furious. From their perspective, the Stamp Act was passed by Parliament where no colonists voted and taxing them without representation was similar to taking away their property without consent. Virtual representation in the Parliament was also unacceptable for colonists. Therefore, delegates from nine colonies gathered and conducted the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765, discussing the opposition to the Stamp Act. At that moment, people were still proud of being part of the British Empire; they felt that their rights as British citizens were compromised. With the help of crowd movements such as Sons of Liberty, colonial’s resistance to Stamp Act was successful, resulting in the Parliament’s repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766.
Although the conflicts between Britain and America as well as those within the colonies concerned colonial elite that resistance against Britain might cause turmoil at home, inter-colonial cooperation and communication was enhanced. The relationship between colonies and Britain became increasingly intense witnessed by Townshend Crisis, Boston Massacre, and Boston Tea Party. Reacting to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament enacted the Intolerable Acts, which colonists viewed as posing threat to their political freedom. Therefore, the Continental Congress adopted the Continental Association, and more small towns and rural areas joined the resistance. Still, some colonial leaders did not favor severing the tie with Britain because of pride of British membership and fear of further turmoil. In New York and Pennsylvania, unable to achieve a consensus on their position against Britain, many leaders stagnated from further resistance.
With the widespread of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, American independence gained extensive support. As Paine insisted, “membership in the British empire was a burden to the colonies, not a gift.” Finally, on July 2, 1776, the Congress declared the United States as an independent nation, and America soon gained international recognition.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below