The following deals with events, conflicts, and people during 1619-1700.
DISCLAIMER: This does NOT serve as a replacement for reading Chapter 3.
Although the colonies were bound together by language and allegiance to mother England, their purposes in the New World were not the same. Below the rocky shores of New England, everyone wanted to make the big bucks. But above them, it was all about religious freedom.
But where did these religious freedom-seeking Purtians come from? Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation flame with all those Theses and John Calvin made it grow even bigger by stating that God was all-powerful and all-good, while we humans were the worst. Henry VIII was digging this reformin’, but it took a while for it to be implemented. Puritans and Calvinists were forced to go to church and sit among the damned (they were predestined for hell; the Puritans weren’t).
Eventually, the Catholic James I threatened to expel all the Separatists out of the country and out went the first group to Holland in 1608. They feared their children would become Dutch and with the help of the Virginia Company, purchased a ship called the Mayflower to get the hell out of there. The passengers weren’t all Separatists and they didn’t originally land at Plymouth Rock. Semantics, semantics!
The signing of the Mayflower Compact signified the first majority-rule democracy in the New World. But during their first winter, nearly half of them died off, but when it was finally all over, they had a huge Thanksgiving feast in November of 1621. William Bradford was the local badass and had fears that not everyone wanted to seek god in the New World. Plymouth eventually merged with Massachusetts in 1691.
In 1629, another group came to further their faith and England’s glory. The Massachusetts Bay colony didn’t want to completely separate from the Church of England, just from the bad stuff. In the 1630s, migration exploded to 70,000 Brits. About 20,000 went to the Bay. Another mo-fo not to mess with, John Winthrop, set the colony straight and made it the place to be in the New World.
But inside the utopia of the Bay, there was trouble. Churchless men couldn’t vote, town governments were inclusive of the rich, and the provincial government was essentially just Winthrop shouting out orders. Worst of all, only the Puritans ruled. However, back in the England, it was pretty much the same thing, only with the Anglicans, but clergy couldn’t hold political office. Also, if you kissed in public, you got in trouble with the law.
After a little skirmish, four Quakers were hung in Boston for ‘flouting’ (disregarding) the Puritans. Anne Hutchinson was among other famous dissenters. Though she was a Puritan, she took the idea of predestination way too far and would later be killed in New York by Indians. Roger Williams was even worse! He thought we should actually pay Indians for their lands and didn’t want government to regulate religious behavior.
Williams fled to Rhode Island with the help of Indians in 1636. He quickly reformed the Rogue Island to ensure that people could freely worship what they chose and that government couldn’t make people adhere to a religion or pay taxes to a church. The island became extremely independent and was made up of exiles who angrily agreed with Williams.
On our tour of the colonies, Connecticut is next with yet another group of Puritans. This group, however, declared a democracy right away in the Fundamental Orders of 1639. It would later make its way into the state constitution of Connecticut.
Back when the Pilgrims arrived in 1620, the Indians had huge numbers. The EuroDiseases quickly killed 3/4 of the Native American population. The new settlers gladly scooped up the now-empty land. The Plymouth-native Wampanoags and their chief Massasoit immediately allied with the Pilgrims, foreseeing danger on the horizon. They all had Thanksgiving together soon afterwards. Seriously! I should have written that a few paragraphs ago. Did they organize this textbook with a dart board?!
With the influx of settlers in the 1630s, the Indians decided things were getting out of hand. The English, however, struck first and massacred most of the Pequot tribe in 1637. In the ultimate move of irony, they attempted to convert the remaining Indians to Christianity by showing them how good their god was.
The Indians would have their day when in 1675. King Philip’s war was started by the titular (nothing to do with breasts) king. Philip formed an alliance with many of the surrounding tribes and assaulted English settlements all over the place. The last safe haven for the English was Boston. But no worries, the war ended in 1676 with the capture of Philip. Some 50 towns lay in ruins and traitor Indians were sold into slavery. Philip himself was hung, drawn and quartered, and then beheaded. The oh-so-coveted triple threat!
The first-ever time there was union in America came in 1643 with the alliance of four Puritan colonies in the New England Confederation. It was kind of like NATO in that they had each other’s backs when the enemies came a-knocking. Each state was granted two votes in their assembly, which megapopulous Massachusetts hated. Although it was pretty weak, it was progress!
Before the English Civil War, the King let the colonies do whatever the hell they wanted and Cromwell pretty much did the same. Once the Puritan rule of England was over, King Charles II wanted to do away with the negligence towards the colonies. Secret agents were sent over to find out that royal orders weren’t taken seriously and Rogue Island was well, rogue. A royal sanction was given to the Island in 1663 as a new, more-religious charter was awarded. The coup de gras came when the Massachusetts Bay had their charter revoked in ’84.
The crushing hand of the King continued when in 1686, the New England dominion was formed. It improved colonial defense and limited American trading to only countries ruled by England. The head of the dominion was Edmund Andros, who put heavy restrictions on free speech, revoked all land titles, and unfairly taxed the people. Back over in England in 1689, the Protestant ruler of the Netherlands, Dutch King William, married the English Queen Mary, King James II’s daughter.
The news of the Glorious Revolution spread like wildfire and Andros was forced to flee from a mob in women’s clothing. He was hastily shipped back to England. Their mini-revolt did nothing and Massachusetts got a new royal charter and governor. Most people were still riled up and it took a while for them to calm down. In the meantime, the English government instituted ‘salutary neglect’ and let the colonies do their thing, though English officials still ruled the courts.
Over in the Netherlands, the Dutch won their independence from the Spanish with the help of now-Protestant England. They rapidly built up a small empire and challenged old buddy England for rule of the seas. No surprise, they got sent home crying. The Dutch still remained strong with the help of the Dutch East and West India Companies.
The Dutch West India Company had built up New Netherland on the Hudson River for the sale of furs. They then bought up Manhattan Island at crazy low prices. Today, the land is among the priciest in the world. New York City, first called New Amsterdam (they were so original), was originally a company town. It had no religious tolerance in mind and the Dutch Reformed Church ruled.
From the start, the Dutch colony was doomed as Indians would go on massacre after massacre. New England refused to help them and most of that Confederation wanted to wipe out the Dutch with a combined army. The Swedes, coming out of thin air, suddenly joined in on the fun and set up a colony on the Delaware River. The Dutch swiftly killed out New Sweden and went on with their colony, which was still doomed.
In 1664, King Charles II gave the land of New Amsterdam to his brother, the Duke of York. I sure hope you can connect the dots. The Dutch didn’t put up a fight, but their impact on American can still be felt in Santa Claus and waffles.
Up north in Pennsylvania, the Quakers were shaking things up. They refused to support the Church of England and outlawed oaths, which were popular among Puritans. The Quakers were extremely pious. They would turn the other cheek until it hurt and always contended for religious and civic freedom. They were led by William Penn, who wanted to create a safe haven for Quakers, who were persecuted back in England. He secured a charter in 1681. He heavily advertised the colony with pamphlets that promised large land grants.
The migrants to Pennsylvania comprised of English, Swedish, Dutch and Welsh. Penn then bought up more land from Indian Chief Tammany, yes the Hall one. Indians were even welcomed in the Quaker paradise. But Penn’s generosity would be his undoing as many of those who immigrated there did not share his humanitarian views and caused unrest.
Catholics and Jews still couldn’t hold office, there was no army, and there was no slavery. Besides that, there wasn’t much else in Pennsylvania, which grew to be the third largest colony by 1700. Penn would die full of sorrow as no one appreciated his liberal reforms.
The colonies that were stuck in the middle– New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania had it made. The soil? Amazing. The rivers? Spacious and full of manufacturing potential. Logging industries raked in the money. Even better, it was diverse with loads of different ideas all coming together. This could only mean the start of one thing: democracy!
Ben Franklin, though born in Boston, moved to Philly in 1720, where he fell in love with liberty. By then, most colonies were coming out of the shell of religious dogma and were alive. Population was peaking and transportation was improving. The British would come to realize how much the Americans were thriving without their help. It wouldn’t last that way for long…