The British Empire in America, 16601750 The Politics
The British Empire in America, 16601750 The Politics of Empire, 1660-1713 The Restoration Colonies From the 1660s through the 1680s Charles II, after restoring royal authority in England, extended royal power across the English trading system by implementing mercantilist theory through a series of Navigation Acts.
Simultaneously, King Charles created new colonies through royal grants of colonial land to loyal aristocrats and gentry while consolidating and subsuming other colonial governments under royal control. American colonials resisted these political efforts and the Navigation Acts. Charles II gave the Carolinas to his aristocratic friends and gave his brother James, the Duke of York, the land between
the Delaware and Connecticut rivers. James took possession of New Netherland and named it New York; the adjacent land was established as New Jersey. American colonials resisted these political efforts and the Navigation Acts. A series of popular revolts after the ouster of the king in the Glorious Revolution of
1688 ended this royal experiment in colonial integration. In its place a series of colonial governments were established in which English control was limited and most power remained in the hands of the colonial assemblies. The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina (1669) prescribed a manorial system with
nobility and serfs. Poor families in North Carolina refused to work on large manors and chose to live on modest farms. South Carolinians imposed their own design of government and attacked Indian settlements to acquire slaves for trade. South Carolina remained an ill-governed and violence-ridden frontier settlement until
the 1720s. Pennsylvania, designed as a refuge for Quakers persecuted in England, developed a pacifistic policy toward the Native Americans and became prosperous. Penn's Frame of Government (1681) guaranteed religious freedom for all Christians and allowed all property-owning men to vote and hold office.
Ethnic diversity, pacifism, and freedom of conscience made Pennsylvania the most open and democratic of the Restoration colonies. From Mercantilism to Dominion In the 1650s the English government imposed mercantilism, via the Navigation Acts, which regulated colonial commerce and manufacturing.
The Revenue Act of 1673 imposed a "plantation duty" on sugar and tobacco exports and created a staff of customs officials to collect it. In wars between 1652 and 1674, the English ended Dutch supremacy in the West African slave trade. The English also dominated Atlantic commerce. Many Americans resisted the mercantilist
laws as burdensome and intrusive. To enforce the laws, English officials pursued a punitive legal strategy. The accession of James on to the throne prompted English officials to create a centralized imperial system in America. In 1686 the Connecticut and Rhode Island colonies were merged with those of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth to form the Dominion of New England,
a royal province. Two years later New York and New Jersey were added to the Dominion. Sir Edmund Andros, governor of the Dominion, was empowered to abolish existing legislative assemblies and rule by decree. Andros advocated worship in the Church of England, banned town meetings, and challenged land titles.
The Puritans protested to the king regarding Andros's demands, but their protests went unheeded. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 In 1688 James's wife gave birth to a son raising the prospect of a Catholic heir to the throne. In response, Protestant Parliamentary leaders carried out a bloodless coup known
as the Glorious Revolution. Mary, James's Protestant daughter by his first wife, and her husband William were enthroned. Queen Mary II and William III accepted a Bill of Rights that limited royal prerogatives and increased personal liberties and parliamentary
powers. Parliamentary leaders relied upon John Locke's Two Treatises on Government (1690) to justify their coup. Locke rejected divine right theories of monarchical rule.
Locke's celebration of individual rights and representative government had a lasting influence in America. The Glorious Revolution sparked colonial rebellions against royal governments in Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York. In 1689 Andros was shipped back to England and the new monarchs broke up the Dominion of New England.
The monarchs did not restore Puritan dominated government, instead they created a new royal colony of Massachusetts. Colonies that were of minor economic or political importance retained their corporate governments or proprietary institutions while royal governors ruled the lucrative staple-producing settlements.
Imperial Wars and Native Peoples Between 1689 and 1815 Britain and France fought wars for dominance of Western Europe. These wars involved a number of Native American warriors armed with European weapons. The Spanish Succession (1702-1713) pitted Britain against France and Spain (Queen
Anne's War). So that they might help protect their English settlement, whites in the Carolinas armed the Creek peoples to fend off French and Spanish attacks. The Creeks took this opportunity to become the dominant tribe in the region. Native Americans also played a central role in the fighting in the Northeast; aided by the
French the Abnakis and Mohawks took revenge on the Puritans The New York frontier remained quiet due to the fur trade and the Iroquois' policy of "aggressive neutrality." Britain used victories in Europe to win territorial and commercial concessions in the Americas in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), solidifying Britain's supremacy and
bringing peace to North America. The Imperial Slave Economy The South Atlantic System The South Atlantic system was composed of land seized from the Indians, slave labor from Africa, and investment capital from Europe.
Ships loaded with European manufactured goods sailed to West Africa where the cargo was exchanged for African slaves. Then came the middle passage across the Atlantic Slaves were sold in the Caribbean and in North American colonies. The ships loaded with the sugar, tobacco and cotton produced in the colonies sailed back to England and France where the raw
materials were transformed into finished goods and exported to other countries Due to the Navigation Acts, by 1750 re-exports of American sugar and tobacco accounted for half of all British exports. Significant profits were made from the slave trade; 7 million slaves were brought to America between 1700 and 1810.
The slave trade changed West African society by promoting centralized states and military conquest. African people of noble birth enslaved and sold those of lesser status. The Atlantic trade prompted harsher forms of slavery in Africa, eroding the dignity of human life. The Africans that were forced to endure the "Middle Passage" suffered the bleakest fate.
Slavery in the Chesapeake and South Carolina After 1700 planters in Virginia and Maryland imported thousands of slaves and created a "slave society." Slavery was increasingly defined in racial terms; in Virginia virtually all resident Africans were declared slaves. Living conditions in Maryland and Virginia
allowed slaves to live relatively long lives. By the middle of the 1700s, American-born slaves formed a majority among Chesapeake blacks. The slave population in South Carolina suffered many deaths and had few births; therefore, the importation of new slaves "reafricanized" the black population. There were no American colonies in which any one African people or language became
dominant African American Community The acquisition of a common language and a more equal gender ratio were prerequisite for the creation of an African American community. As enslaved blacks forged a new identity in America, their lives continued to be shaped by their African past.
African creativity was limited because slaves were denied education and had few material goods. Slaves who resisted their rigorous work routine were punished with bodily harm, including amputation. The Stono rebellion in South Carolina was the largest slave uprising of the eighteenth century.
White militiamen killed many of the Stono rebels and dispersed the rest, preventing a general uprising. Stono's rebellion was only one among the 250 rebellions documented in the Colonies and later in the southern United States. In 1822, a conspiracy to incite 9,000 slaves became known as Vesey's Rebellion. After Nat Turner's Rebellion
in 1831, where nearly 60 white people were killed, Turner was executed. When the slave owners caught up with the rebels from the Stono River in 1739, they engaged the 60 to 100 slaves in a battle. More than 20 white Carolinians, and nearly twice as many black Carolinians, were killed. As a result, South Carolina's lawmakers enacted a harsher slave code. This new code
severely limited the privileges of slaves. They were no longer allowed to grow their own food, assemble in groups, earn their own money or learn to read. Some of these restrictions were already in place, but they had not been strictly enforced. Copied from http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/colonial/jb_colonial_stono_2.html
See also: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/colonial/jb_colonial_stono_1.html http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/sep09.html Slave Rebellion and Revolution Collective (group) actions also included running away together, but could also mean organized rebellion. Most important rebellions: Stono Rebellion, South Carolina, 1739 New York City, 1712, 1741
Gabriels Rebellion, Richmond, 1800 Veseys Rebellion, Charleston, 1822 Nat Turner, Virginia, 1830 Religious prophet led revolt of 60 slaves Killed 55 whites As the southern colonies became slave societies, life changed for whites as well as blacks. As men lived longer, patriarchy within the
family reappeared. The planter elite exercised authority over yeomen and black slaves. To prevent rebellion, the southern gentry paid attention to the concerns of middling and poor whites. By 1770 the majority of English Chesapeake families owned a slave, giving them a stake in the exploitive labor system.
Taxes were gradually reduced for the poorer whites, and poor yeomen and some tenants were allowed to vote. In return, the planter elite expected the yeomen and tenants to elect them to office and defer to their power. By the 1720s the gentry took on the trappings of wealth, modeling themselves after the English aristocracy.
The profits of the South Atlantic system helped form an increasingly well-educated, refined, and stable ruling class. The Northern Maritime Economy The South Atlantic system tied the whole British Empire together economically. West Indian trade created the first American merchant fortunes and the first urban industries.
The expansion of Atlantic commerce in the eighteenth century fueled rapid growth in the North American interior as well as seaport cities and coastal towns. A small group of wealthy landowners and merchants formed the top rank of the seaport society. Artisan and shopkeeper families formed the middle ranks of seaport society, and
laboring men, women, and children formed the lowest ranks. Between 1660 and 1750, involvement in the South Atlantic system brought economic uncertainty as well as jobs to northern workers and farmers. The New Politics of Empire, 17131750 The Rise of Colonial Assemblies
The triumph of the South Atlantic system changed the politics of empire. The British were content to rule the colonies with a gentle hand. American representative assemblies wished to limit the powers of the crown and maintain their authority over taxes. The colonial legislatures gradually won partial control of the budget and the
appointment of local officials. The rising power of the colonial assemblies created an elitist rather than a democratic political system. Neither elitist assemblies nor wealthy property owners could impose unpopular edicts on the people. Crowd actions were a regular part of political life in America and were used to
enforce community values. By the 1750s most colonies had representative political institutions that were responsive to popular pressure and increasingly immune to British control. Salutary Neglect "Salutary neglect," more relaxed royal supervision of internal colonial affairs, was a byproduct of the political system
developed by Sir Robert Walpole. Radical Whigs argued that Walpole used patronage and bribery to create a strong Crown Party. Landed gentlemen argued that Walpole's high taxes and bloated royal bureaucracy threatened the liberties of the British people. Colonists, maintaining that royal
governors likewise abused their patronage powers, tried to enhance the powers of provincial representative assemblies. Protecting the Mercantile System of Trade Walpole's main concern was to protect British commercial interests in America from the Spanish and the French.
Walpole arranged for Parliament to subsidize Georgia to protect the valuable rice colony of South Carolina. To resist British expansion, Spanish naval forces sparked the War of Jenkins's Ear in 1739. Or did they? Walpole used this provocation to launch a predatory war against Spain's American Empire.
The War of Jenkins's Ear became a part of a general European conflict bringing a new threat from France Militiamen captured the French naval fortress of Louisbourg but had to return it at war's end in 1748. Colonial merchants took advantage of a loophole in the Navigation Acts that allowed Americans to own ships and
transport goods. The Molasses Act of 1733 placed a high tariff on imports of French molasses, but sugar prices rose in the late 1730s, so the act was not enforced. The Currency Act (1751) prevented colonies from establishing new land banks and prohib ited the use of public currency to pay private debts.
In the 1740s British officials vowed to replace salutary neglect with rigorous imperial control. Act/Regulation Date Significance/Features
Navigation Act 1651 Required all crews to be at least 1/2 English in nationality Most goods must be carried on English or colonial ships Goal: eliminate Dutch competition from colonial trading routes
Navigation Act 1660 Required all colonial trade to be on English ships Master and 3/4 of crew must be English Long list of "enumerated goods"
developed, including tobacco, sugar, rice, that could only be shipped to England or an English colony Staple Act 1663 Required goods bound for the colonies shipped from Africa, Asia, or Europe to
first be landed in England before shipping to America. Act/Regulation Date Significance/Features Plantation Duty Act
1673 Required all colonial trade to be on English ships Master and 3/4 of crew must be English Long list of "enumerated goods" developed, including tobacco, sugar, rice, that could only be shipped to
England or an English colony Navigation Act 1696 Further tightened earlier Navigation Acts Created system of admiralty courts to enforce trade regulations and punish
smugglers Customs officials given power to issue writs of assistance to board ships and search for smuggled goods Act/Regulation Date Significance/Features
Woolens Act 1699 To prevent competition with English producers, prohibited colonial export of woolen cloth. Hat Act
1732 Prohibited export of colonial-produced hats. Molasses Act 1733
All non-English imported molasses taxed heavily to encourage importation of British West Indian molasses American Revenue 1764 Act (Sugar Act) Lord Grenville institutes new policies to generate revenue by combining new duties on imported goods with strict
collection provisions. Tax on French West Indies molasses was actually lowered, but enforcement attempted to end bribes and smuggling.
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