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English and American Colonies Essay

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Updated: Mar 19th, 2021

The Spaniards became the foremost European nationals to establish foreign territories. They established massive empires, from the present day west coast of America through the Caribbean islands, to South America. They were interested in gold bars, silver and other valued metals which they smuggled out to Spain and stored like personal possessions. This increased their might in Europe, prompting other nations to search for colonies of their own. Their model of governance laid emphasis on forced labor before their government changed tact and took to establishing haciendas, by accumulating vast tracts of land (Ayers, Gould, Oshinsky & Soderlund 34).

The French arrived and made contact with natives under the pretext of friendship, before converting them and taking over their land in search of precious metals. They initially settled in the present day Quebec, before taking up expansion of their territories. Similarly, the Dutch had a similar mode of transaction. It should be noted that all these nations gave prominence to the trade of precious metals and had immigrants providing labor in their farms (Ayers et al., 35).

In spite of harboring the same intentions, the main difference was that English settlers were willing to establish permanent settlements in these territories. It should also be noted, that the Englishmen bore no qualms about emigrating in large numbers, in a bid to escape religious persecution back at home, while the other nations send pockets of explorers and servicemen to champion their course. It has also been reported that the population in England was growing at alarming rates; hence there was scarcity of land. Most merchants had also evicted their farmhands, fortified their premises and shifted their focus to sheep rearing. This was carried forward with the optimism of profiting from the flourishing wool trade. The young and jobless citizens inevitably had to leave in order to make ends meet (Ayers et al., 38).

Socially, a difference in ideologies is believed to be the main cause of this occurrence. It is believed that the widespread emigration to America had come to an end in the 16th century. Subsequently, the purist, reformist and cavalier emigrations had ceased; hence there was little influence from the British culture in these colonies. This implied that ideological shifts occurred. People instituted new governance structures which were entirely different from those in England (Griese 7).

England’s economy was significantly affected by the wars waged against the French and Indians. This forced them to slap additional levies on all their colonies abroad. As a result, the American colonies sought alternative methods of processing their raw materials internally. This move helped them reduce the taxes paid for access to ports and other facilities. This additional revenue helped them establish economic empires of their own hence the creation of self-sustaining economies. In addition, the English society had bureaucratic systems, which did not give people equal opportunities at gaining wealth. In the colonies, every male was either given a parcel of land to cultivate or allowed a free hand to engage in a business venture of his choice (Griese 10).

Geographically, America is a rugged territory. This made it difficult for the Englishmen to navigate the battle fields during the revolution warfare. In addition to this, the strategic location made it easy for the French to deliver supply aid in the course of the war. As a result of this, Washington’s army defeated the Englishmen with relative ease due to their wit and mastery of the terrain (Griese 12).

Unfair political representation in the English government was a source of conflict between the colonies and England. These territories yearned for representation in the English parliament and other government levels, a feat that was not being implemented as quickly as they expected. Subsequently, they opted to formulate their own governance systems which was people driven and pushed for equitable representation of persons. This initiative culminated in the signing of the declaration of independence (Griese 14).

These colonies were established in order to serve economic interests of the colonialists. They assumed that wealth in the form of gold was abundant in Jamestown (later renamed Virginia). After they discovered the gold did not exist, they thought about discarding the region and looking for fresh lands to conquer. This thought angered John Smith, who convinced them to establish fortifications, take up the cultivation of crops and reserve lumber for fire (Shelley 8). Mr. John Rolfe, another of the settlers cross bred tobacco from the West Indies with that which grew in the wild. This was a positive step, because it helped ease the demand for the product back home in England. Maryland came up for the same reasons; although, it was also used as a haven for Catholics. Georgia was established as a barrier between English and Spanish colonies, providing refuge for English debtors in the process. Although the most common religion in these territories was Anglican, Maryland was established by a catholic refugee. The protectorate granted religious freedom to inhabitants since it attracted many catholic and protestant settlers alike (Shelley 10).

Northern Colonies majorly came up as places of safety from religious harassment. Massachusetts arose after pilgrims from Plymouth and those at Massachusetts Bay escaped from the influence of the Church of England. It then followed that former Massachusetts inhabitant’s lay claim to Connecticut and New Hampshire. Rhode Island was established to house religions that were not allowed in Massachusetts. It is noteworthy, that colonies in the south were established over longer time frames as compared to those in the north (Shelley 9). Virginia came up in 1607, Maryland, in 1634, North and South Carolina in 1663 and lastly Georgia in 1732. In contrast, the northern territories were established in a span of 18 years, with Plymouth coming up in 1620, Massachusetts Bay in 1630, Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1636, and finally New Hampshire in 1638. It is worth mentioning that both regions had a colony that granted religious autonomy to worshippers. Economic activities were also rife in both lands, albeit in different magnitudes, as were havens for outcasts, debtors and religious dissidents (Shelley 10).

Works Cited

Ayers, Edward. Gould, Lewis. Oshinsky, David. & Soderlund, Jean. American Passages: A History of the United States. 4. New York, NY: Cengage Publishing, 2006. Print.

Griese, Eva-Maria. How England Lost the American Colonies. Norderstedt: GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print.

Shelley, Fred. Political geography of the United States. New York, NY: Guilford Press, 1996. Print.

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