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Robert Kennedy's United States History Class

Learning Objective Prompt:

Discuss the four major reasons for English colonization.


Discuss the key differences between the New England (northern), Middle, and Southern Colonies. Provide at least ONE example from each set of colonies (northern, middle, and southern). Be sure to identify how mercantilism was legally enforced and identify why.



For more information please read through this article: Early British Colonies

When the problem of external political instability was solved, England started to colonize . Until that time England found it more profitable to raid Spanish treasure ships. Queen Elizabeth commissioned freebooters such as Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake to carry out this task.

A voyage by John Cabot on behalf of English investors in 1497 failed to spark any great interest in the NEW WORLD. England was divided in the 1500s by great religious turmoil. When HENRY VIII broke with the Catholic Church in 1533, decades of religious strife ensued. Finally, under Henry's daughter ELIZABETH, the English were prepared to stake their claims.

Although England was an island and therefore a seafaring nation, Spain was the undisputed superpower of the seas in the 16th century. Many of England's adventurous sea captains found that plundering Spanish ships was a far simpler means of acquiring wealth than establishing colonies.

Sea Dogs and the Spanish Armada These sea dogs, including Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, and the infamous John Hawkins, helped provoke the eventual showdown between Elizabeth I's England and PHILIP II'S Spain.

Until the late 1500's England was not strong enough to challenge Spain openly for the products of the New World. PHILIP was certain that his great fleet of ships would put an end to England's piracy. In 1588, one of the greatest turning points in world history occurred when Spain's "invincible" ARMADA of 130 ships sailed into the English Channel. Despite their numerical inferiority, the English ships were faster and easier to maneuver than the Spanish fleet. With the aid of a great storm, Elizabeth's ships humiliated Philip's navy, which returned to Spain with fewer than half their original number. This battle marked the beginning of the end of Spain's domination of Europe and the Western Hemisphere. More importantly for England, it marked the dawn of the era of permanent ENGLISH SETTLEMENT of the New World.

English mercantilists were not ready to exploit the wealth of the New World until the late 1500s. At this time there was the establishment of the first permanent English colony on the mainland of North America which was the result of growing commercial capitalism seeking profits and outlets for investments.

A third reason England was motivated for colonization was it provided an opportunity to solve some of her internal problems by shipping troublemakers to the New World . The decline of feudalism with its serfdom and the development of cash markets for farm crops brought important changes to rural England. The growing demand for wool by English weavers caused many landowners to change from grain farming to sheep raising.

Because the Industrial Revolution made wool a profitable product landowners kicked tenants off the land and put sheep on it (called the enclosure movement--1590s). This displacement from the farms of a large number of tenant farmers saw many of these unemployed move to the cities. As the new Industrial Revolution was in a state of transition it could not absorb all the people right away . Hence problems of unemployment and food and housing shortages resulted in increased crime as well as the number of people who went to debtors' prison. Internal religious problems developed after 1603 when the Stuarts came to power in England. These problems will be discussed in more detail when the settlement of the individual colonies are discussed .

Fourth , England was forced to compete in the world market for colonies for economic survival. The most familiar mercantilistic argument for the advancement of colonies in the New World was that they would expand British trade, stimulate shipping, create a market for English manufacturers, and provide a supply of valuable raw materials such as gold, silver, food stuffs and naval stores (masts, pitch, spars, and tar).

Last, but not least, was the continued hope of finding a northwest passage to the Orient.

Sea dogs

SEA DOGS were English mariners of the Elizabethan era employed by the queen to harass the Spanish fleets and establish a foothold in the New World. Among the most prominent sea dogs were Francis Drake, John Hawkins, Humphrey Gilbertand, and Walter Raleigh. These sea captains possessed exceptional maritime and military skills as well as a burning desire for capturing Spanish treasure.

Discuss the key differences between the New England (northern), Middle, and Southern Colonies. Provide at least ONE example from each set of colonies (northern, middle, and southern). Be sure to identify how mercantilism was legally enforced and identify why.

The Colonies:1607-1785

Think about the following study guide prompts when responding to the learning objective. 

  • Compare and contrast New England with that of the Southern colonies. Special emphases should be given to the political development of the two sections particularly the principle of balance and hierarchy.
  • Define puritanism. In your defintion discuss the historical origins of the movement; discuss the differences between the Congressionalists, the Presbyterians, and the Separatists.
  • Discuss the background to and the development of New Plymouth and how it represents the principle of "Salutary Neglect".
  • Discuss the development of Puritanism and its impact on the American value system.
  • Discuss the significance of the Protestant Work Ethic in American History.
  • Define and discuss the objectives for Congregational Puritanism in Massachusetts Bay and describe HOW they tried to carry out these objectives.
  • Discuss HOW the first generation Congregationalists FAILED to reproduce their religious experience which led to the MODIFICATION of the values and institutions of the church and the people themselves.

New England v. Southern Colonies

New England

The New England social, political, and religious structure is that of a centralized society based around the township as the foundation of the society. The town was the center of public life as groups of men and women voluntarily covenanted together to live by certain rules.

The community constructed a meeting house where church services and town meetings were held, formed a town government, passed bylaws regulating agricultural practices, and "warned out" those individuals who refused to accept local ordinances.

During the early years, the land was distributed to freemen (male adults who subscribed to the covenant) on the basis of the settler's investment in the project, and on his ability to use the land. The house lots were clustered around the meeting house; the fields were located on the town perimeter. A man with a large family got more than one with no children. For example in Northampton, Massachusetts, the head of each family received 15 acres and three additional acres for each son. Half-dozen sons were a real economic asset in such a situation.

No one was expected to pay quitrents or other feudal dues. Townsmen were obliged, however, to contribute to the minister's salary, pay local and colony truces, and serve in the town militia. When a group of settlers wanted to establish a new town they obtained permission from the General Court to settle a new block of land of approximately six square miles adjoining an older one. The settlers laid out the main street, the village green, the centrally located church, the school, the town lots, and fields adjacent to the town. All freemen or male adults who had subscribed to the covenant were eligible to draw for the town lots and to make use of the undistributed woods and meadows. Only landholders could vote in the town meeting, where local business was transacted, but anyone might attend. The covenant provided that town business be decided at semi annual town meetings. At these meetings representatives to the General Court were elected and seven selectmen were chosen to administer community affairs between town meetings.

Also at the meetings, matters relating to town lands were decided, taxes to pay the minister's salary set, and provisions for poor and incompetent people made. This system of establishing new towns carried with it certain disadvantages. The original inhabitants retained control over the future distribution of undivided land and thus tended to develop into an upper class.

Opposed to them were the late-comers:

The freemen, who acquired small amounts of land and who voted but who were denied the land-distributing privilege (voting in the use of undivided land by other latecomers) of the original inhabitants; and the landless renters or laborers, who lacked even the right to vote. These late-comers formed a disgruntled majority. Disputes between the old settlers and the new often ended with the latter moving west to still newer settlements. Throughout most of the 1600s this plan of settlement worked well in New England and insured that the culture and religion of the original colonists were carried to the new frontier more or less


The geography of New England, with its mountains, rock-studded soil and harsh climate, had a tremendous impact on the economic, political, and cultural development. Had the mountains not existed and the soil been more fertile, the spread of New England towns might not have been so orderly. New England's geography as well as her religious institutions Prevented the emergence of large plantations worked by servants or slaves; its rock-studded soil and harsh climate produced noncash crops.

New England’s economy, because of the region's geographic conditions, only diversified economic activities developed. The majority of the colonists turned to subsistence farming while the rest took up fishing, lumbering, shipbuilding, trading and small-scale manufacturing. The country's first iron factory was started by 1644, and rum was manufactured from molasses shortly thereafter. By the 1670's New England's diversified economy was well established.

The religion of the area also made the plantation system impossible in New England. According to the Congregationalists' philosophy as discussed, man must live together in the "possible world of God's grace." To do otherwise (live in the natural world) was sinful. Hence the church was organized into small independent congregations or townships.

The local political structure, like the local religious structure, was centralized around the town. Both the town meeting and the Congregationalists' Sunday service took place in the town meeting hall. As discussed with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the right to vote was held by many males since the early attempts of the first-generation Congregationalists had failed to keep the tight political control over the colony they had desired. This proved to be the case with most of New England.

Compared with England where property qualifications prevented most people from voting, or with the Southern Colonies where Blacks--"free" or slave--had no political rights, the New England governments had become somewhat democratic. However, relatively few voters actually bothered to participate (DIFFERENTIAL ATTITUDE) in colonial or town elections so most offices went uncontested. Furthermore, those elected to office consistently came from the wealthiest and most established levels of the community.

Education and general life-style was a particular concern of the Puritans in New England. They felt it was necessary for godliness that everyone learn to read the Bible. By 1640, 130 university alumni had come to New England and they wanted their children to have the same advantages they had had. Consequently, parents were required to teach their children to read or to send them to a village school. The public school system was created in Massachusetts in 1647.

At this time the General Court required each town with 50 or more families to support a primary school: each town of 100 households was required to establish a grammar school which boys entered at the age of eight or nine. They studied Latin and Greek, and little else, for six years. At the end of that time they were prepared to enter Harvard College, founded by the Massachusetts government in 1636. Soon after its settlement Connecticut passed similar laws and, from the 1640s on, New England had probably the most literate population in the Western world. Socially, New England is viewed as a "closed society" as latecomers were never give ·the same social or political acceptance as the original families. As explained when discussing the expansion of New England, this was one of the primary reasons for the expansion.

The Middle Colonies

Middle Colonies - Economic Activity & Trade

There were considerable differences between the New England, Middle and Southern regions. Economic activities and trade were dependant of the environment in which the Colonists lived. The geography and climate impacted the trade and economic activities of Middle Colonies. The Middle Colonies exported agricultural products and natural resources. The Middle colonies are often called the breadbasket colonies because they grew so many crops, especially wheat. The Middle colonies built flour mills where wheat was ground into flour, then shipped to England. A typical farm was 50 to 150 acres consisting of a house, barn, yard and fields. The Middle Colonies were also able to manufacture iron ore products such as plows, tools, kettles, nails and large blocks of iron which they exported to England.

Americans have often prided themselves on their rich diversity. Nowhere was that diversity more evident in pre-Revolutionary America than in the MIDDLE COLONIES of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. European ethnic groups as manifold as English, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, Scots-Irish and French lived in closer proximity than in any location on continental Europe. The middle colonies contained Native American tribes of Algonkian and Iroquois language groups as well as a sizable percentage of African slaves during the early years. Unlike solidly Puritan New England, the middle colonies presented an assortment of religions. The presence of Quakers, MENNONITES, LUTHERANS, DUTCH CALVINISTS, and PRESBYTERIANS made the dominance of one faith next to impossible.

The middle colonies included Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Advantaged by their central location, the middle colonies served as important distribution centers in the English mercantile system. New York and Philadelphia grew at a fantastic rate. These cities gave rise to brilliant thinkers such as Benjamin Franklin, who earned respect on both sides of the Atlantic. In many ways, the middle colonies served as the crossroads of ideas during the colonial period.

In contrast to the South where the cash crop plantation system dominated, and New England whose rocky soil made large-scale agriculture difficult, The middle colonies were FERTILE. Land was generally acquired more easily than in New England or in the plantation South. Wheat and corn from local farms would feed the American colonies through their colonial infancy and revolutionary adolescence.

The middle colonies represented exactly that — a middle ground between its neighbors to the North and South. Elements of both New England towns and sprawling country estates could be found. Religious dissidents from all regions could settle in the relatively tolerant middle zone. Aspects of New EnglandSHIPBUILDING and LUMBERING and the large farms of the South could be found. Aptly named, they provided a perfect nucleus for English America.

The South

The Southern Colonies developed distinctly and in great contrast from New England. The South or the Plantation society was a decentralized society with scattered agricultural units which consisted of mostly small farms which were controlled by a growing class of great planters. Unlike New England very few towns existed in the area.

The plantation system developed largely around the production of tobacco and rice. Thus, this system developed in those regions where geographic conditions encouraged the production of these crops. The fertile coastal plains of the South came to be known as the tidewater region and were threaded by countless navigable estuaries and streams. Even though the tidewater soil was fertile, it was thin and was quickly exhausted by tobacco crops. Ocean-going vessels could sail right up to the plantation wharves, making it unnecessary for the planters to transport their produce to export centers or towns. This geographical advantage helps explain why there was the development of an independent and self-sufficient plantation society.

The South's economy was a specialized one with each colony only having one or two main crops such as tobacco, rice, or indigo. American agriculture throughout the colonial period was relatively self-sufficient. Even the large planters who produced mainly for sale raised food and other commodities needed for themselves and their slaves.

In periods of depression when tobacco or rice prices were low, planters were more likely to diversify their production. Actually, most farmers in the Colonial period might be classified between the extremes of self-sufficiency and specialized commercialism.

The religion of the area complemented the decentralized nature of the South in the form of the Anglican church with its parish system.

Like New England the religious and political units complemented each other; hence, the local political unit was also called the parish or county. In England the political division of a county for the local civil government also usually corresponded to the ecclesiastical parish. Never did a governing class take its political duties more seriously than they did in the South; power carried with it the duty to govern. Although all colonies had a restrictive suffrage throughout the colonial period, it should be noted that Virginia had a law of compulsory voting. In a few other colonies occasional statutes provided punishment for the qualified voter who did not appear at the polls; however, it is uncertain how strenuously the law was enforced.

The continuous existence of such legislation in Virginia from the early days until after the American war for independence testifies to the persistent belief that government was a duty. If the ordinary voter was required to cast his ballot, men of greater substance were expected to carry heavier burdens. Just as the owner of a large plantation had tasks of management thrust upon him from which he could not escape, so also he had political duties from which he could not shirk. Almost from the beginning, the House of Burgesses strictly required all members to be present at the opening of each session.

A Burgess who failed to attend the convening of the House was, according to an Act of 1659-60, fined 300 pounds of tobacco for every 24 hours of unexcused absence. At the opening sitting, the Speaker would read letters from · members explaining their absence, and their reasons would be approved or rejected. It was not unknown for the House to be so offended by an explanation that the Speaker would issue a warrant for the member's arrest, holding him in custody until he offered suitable apology. The roster of the House of Burgesses was a list of leading planters. The upward political path from the seat of the vestryman (local church official) or justice of the peace to the Governor's Council was guarded all along the way by the local gentry. Seeking a political career without their approval was hopeless.

Although there were less than 100 seats in the House of Burgesses in the mid-eighteenth century, nearly all prominent Virginians of the century had served an apprenticeship in the House. This concentrated political power in the hands of a relatively few large landowners is aptly illustrated by the situation on the Virginia Council (the Council is the upper house in the House of Burgesses). Between 1680 and 1776, 91 men served on the Council and nine families provided about one-third of the total number .

One Virginia lady was related by birth or marriage to 17 of the 91: two were husbands (at different times); seven were sons or grandsons; and eight on the Council were married to her daughters or granddaughters. The Robinson Affair of 1766 gives us a valuable clue to the morals and customs of the Southern aristocracy. When John Robinson, Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses and Treasurer, died in May 1766 the administrators of his estate discovered that Robinson, while Treasurer of the colony, had drawn on the public funds to the extent £250,000 which he had lent to scores of his friends.

As the accounts of the estate unfolded, it appeared that there was hardly a Virginia family of prominence that had not been helped in distress by Robinson's generosity with the public funds. Robinson had apparently made the public treasury a relief chest for the ruling aristocracy.

Two points of interest come out of the Robinson Affair. First, Robinson had never used any of the funds for his personal benefit--except insofar as he was benefited by the gratitude of his friends. Second, when the facts were revealed, the leading Burgesses hardly reproached Robinson for his acts and came near praising him for his excess of virtue. It appears the Robinson Affair revealed a community where public power and privilege belonged to a select few.

During the years of the American war for independence and the first decades of independence, the Burgesses selected (almost exclusively from their own membership) the Virginia governor's, council members, judges, military officers, and delegates to federal conventions. Their personal knowledge of each member of the Virginia ruling class qualified 'them to distribute public dignities and burdens with an impressive, if not quite infallible, wisdom.

In New England, as well as the South, two terms--BALANCE and HIERARCHY--characterized the political values and culture during the colonial period. Balance and hierarchy lent stability to political relationships and guaranteed all citizens, both in England and in America, their rights and liberties as freeborn Englishmen. Englishmen as well as American colonists placed their faith in the English Constitution which provided for a balanced government by mixing and blending the three socio-political orders of (1) monarchy, (2) aristocracy, and (3) democracy. These three socio-political orders were represented by working branches of government in the (I) King, (2) the House of Lords, and (3) the House of Commons, respectively.

More than anything else, students of eighteenth century political culture feared an imbalance in the distribution of authority and responsibility among the three political branches. They believed history demonstrated that too much monarchical domination in decision making, without appropriate aristocratic and democratic checks through the other two branches of

government, had the dangerous potential to destroy know liberties. Thus political tyranny was a threat to both the aristocracy as well as the democracy.

On the other hand, too much power in the hands of the democracy, the ordinary citizens, had the equally disastrous effect of forcing society into anarchical directions. Imbalance in authority favoring the democracy would result in threatening known liberties and stability of society, as commoners vied with one another to grab scarce socio-economic rewards, such as private or public property, higher social position, or greater community prestige. History had already demonstrated under Bacon's Rebellion that too much aristocratic control would lead to mob violence as excessive greed of the plutocracy would incite the mob. Hence, the most stable societies balanced the socio-economic orders of democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy in the branches of government so that no one order would gain ascendancy . It was the only way to avoid the extremes of tyranny or anarchy.

These assumptions may be summarized in the phrase hierarchical conception of balanced Government. Every subject in the realm had his or her place; to violate that place was to threaten the very foundations upon which known liberties through the ages had been constructed.

In America there was no resident titled nobility; yet the talents of individuals and the wealth they were able to acquire as a result of this talent did serve as the basis for distinction between the "lower sort" and the higher orders in the colonial social hierarchy (talent = wealth = social hierarchy). Prospering colonial families were forming themselves into community and colony-wide leadership elites.

Committed to the proposition that success in the socio-economic sphere conveyed the right to legislate and to execute that legislation for the general citizenry, the colonial upper classes believed that only those of demonstrated capacity should rule (success and wealth =right to rule).

This DIFFERENTIAL attitude assumed that common citizens would submit in matters of state to men who by wealth, occupation, birth, and/or social position had the breadth of vision to act in the best interests of the body politic, thereby preserving and enhancing liberties. Wealthy and prominent men were less likely to be corrupted by power and to turn the public trust to private advantage. They also had demonstrated that their intelligence was keener and their wisdom perhaps more fully developed. As men on both sides of the Atlantic contended over the prerogatives of authority, it was realized by some Americans that the life of their system, or the known liberties of all citizens in the colonies, depended upon avoiding tyranny from above or anarchy from below. After 1763, a major shift in the direction of imperial policy confirmed the worst suspicions of these Americans who became fearful that English policy makers were distorting the hierarchical conception of balanced government and threatening their liberties.

Throughout the South there was no public education because of the nature of the plantation system. This is because the wide scattering of plantations and farms along the rivers made the establishment of churches and schools both difficult and expensive. Consequently all education was private. This led to the development of a well-educated ruling class with experience in self-government at the plantation, county, and colonial levels.

Socially, the South was viewed as an "open society" with its "Southern hospitality." Travelers were generally greeted with a free meal and a place to sleep in exchange for stories df their adventures and news of what was happening in the county or colony in general. However, it should be pointed out this hospitality did not meant the aristocrats were eager to take newcomers into their ranks.

Most of the residents of the Chesapeake area (Maryland and Virginia) were lower-class and middle-class Englishmen, at least half of whom had come to the colonies as indentured servants. Over one-third of the members of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1663 had begun their colonial life as indentured servants.

It is important to understand the differences between these two sections of .t..he country in order to understand the origins of (1) the Civil War and (2) the formation of our two--party system. It is quite clear that the economic, social and, therefore political values and institutions of the two sections are opposed to each other. After the British were defeated in the American war for independence and a new government was drawn up, the question became which set of values and institutions would the new government represent--those of the North or those ofthe South?

In order to answer this question, a political struggle began between the two sections. This led to the formation of our present two-party system, as each side formed a pressure group to try to get the new government to represent its interests, values and protect its institutions.

By 1860, it became apparent that the North had won this political battle when Lincoln and the Republican party (there were no Southerners in the Republican party) won the election that year. The South saw its only recourse as succession from the union in order to form a government that would create a political environment which could meet their needs by supporting their institutions and "life-style.


To be a Puritan in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was not a simple, clear-cut thing. There was no formal organization, no political party, not even a church called "Puritan." It was a social movement that was not clearly defined and often underground and revolutionary. In many ways it was a movement aimed at recovering a "lost" way of life-- communal values. The leaders of the movement almost never used the term "Puritan," in fact it was a word used most often by their critics.


To be a Puritan in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was not a simple, clear-cut thing. There was no formal organization, no political party, not even a church called "Puritan." It was a social movement that was not clearly defined and often underground and revolutionary. In many ways it was a movement aimed at recovering a "lost" way of life-- communal values. The leaders of the movement almost never used the term "Puritan," in fact it was a word used most often by their critics.

Puritanism originated in England in the mid 1500's when a group of religious reformers sought to "purify" the Church of England of bishops, church courts, and other remnants of Catholicism.

The English Crown, which under Henry VIII had renounced Catholicism, replaced it with the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, or the Church of England as it came to be called, retained many aspects of Roman Catholic theology and ceremony.

During Queen Elizabeth's reign (1558-1603), a noticeable trend toward Protestant doctrine and ceremony developed. By the time King James I (1603-1625) came to the throne, some Englishmen were content with the Anglican Church as it was; others hoped to reintroduce much of the ritual and some of the tenets of Catholicism, although they had no desire to return to papal control; and still others took an extreme Protestant position.

The extreme Protestants were called Puritans because they wanted to "purify" the Anglican Church still further. With official Anglican doctrine the Puritans had no quarrel; but they wished to do away with bishops, deans, and all clergy above the rank of parish priests, to abolish set prayers, and to reorganize the Church either by a hierarchy of councils (Presbyterianism), or on the basis of a free federation of independent parishes (Congregationalism).

The Puritans were mostly members of the urban middle class. Engaged in trade and commerce, they resented James' arbitrary and illegal taxation and wanted to secure laws for the protection and expansion of English commercial interests.

Puritans all agreed on what was wrong with the Anglican Church, but they disagreed on how to make it right. They all relied on the Bible for guidance and they all extracted different opinions from it about how God wanted his Churches to be run. Consequently by the late 1500s early 1600s Puritanism was divided into three main groups:

Presbyterians wanted a central authority or a hierarchy of councils and accepted all comers into the faith. They made no distinction between 'visible saints' and inhabitants as the Congregationalists did. The Congregationalists were organized into independent parishes with each congregation governing itself (but with a state supported religion) and was made up of only true believers--'visible saints' versus inhabitants.

The Congregationalists wanted to purify the Church from within, but later established the colony of Massachusetts Bay, for religious reasons, as internal improvements were found to be impossible in the Old World. The Separatists, the most radical group, felt the Church could not be purified from within and to support such a corrupt institution was like shaking hands with the devil; thus, they wanted to separate and form their own church.

The Separatists also felt that each congregation had the right to completely govern itself and thus rejected the idea of a state imposed religion--separation of church and state. The two leading religious sects in England were Presbyterian and Congregationalist, and both took much of their theological beliefs from John Calvin. Although the Separatists were the smallest group within the Puritan movement, they were considered the most dangerous by the Crown because they were the most radical.

With the continued growth of the Separatists in England the Anglican Church and governmental authorities became quite hostile towards the movement. Consequently , between 1608 and 1609 many of the Separatists fled to Holland--Leyden and Scrooby--where they eked out a hard living.

After living in the Netherlands for some time, many of the Separatists feared that they were losing their distinct identity as their children were losing contact with their native English culture and they themselves were prevented from participating in the Dutch guild or union system.

With these problems , plus the fear that Spain (a Catholic country) might conquer the Netherlands , led some Separatists, among them William Bradford (later to become governor of the colony), to organize a movement to go to the New World where they might have a more favorable environment.

Money presented the major obstacle to their plans so they petitioned for a land patent and a loan from the Virginia Company of London. According to the terms of the contract that was drawn up, they would accompany a body of non-Pilgrims on a voyage to some of the unclaimed lands of Virginia and the company would also advance them 700.

In return the colonists would work seven years for the Virginia Company . At the end of this time, all the profits derived from fishing or trading would be divided between the settlers and the merchants. On September 16, 1620, the Mayflower sailed with 101 people for the New World . A baby was born on the way over so 102 people arrived at Cape Cod on November 11, 1620, too late to plant any crops.

This area was outside the domain of the Virginia Company, and consequently the settlers became squatters. They were without legal right to the land and without specific authority to establish a government, a serious matter since some sailors who were not Pilgrims threatened mutiny.

Before disembarking, and in order to avoid anarchy, 41 men agreed to "covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politick." The Pilgrim leaders drew up and signed the brief Mayflower Compact. Consequently, a contract or social compact voluntarily drawn up by the settlers themselves became the foundation of government in early Plymouth.

Every member had the right to vote for the governor and his assistants, which meant that everyone had a voice in determining policy. Hence, the Mayflower Compact stands with the Virginia Assembly of 1619 as the foundation to our basic principle of self-government.

The seeds of self-government in the House of Burgesses and the Mayflower Compact were the products of the constitutional evolution within England which dated back to the Magna Carta of 1215.

These transplanted ideas (germ theory) were eventually to be modified and molded into institutions, in some cases so distinctly as to embody eventually an American character.The Compact was the foundation of the colony's government and served as such until 1686 when the King combined the colony with the rest of New England in a vast new colony called the Dominion of New England. Plymouth never received a charter from the King and was the only colony not to do so. However, the Council for New England which had control over the area by way of a charter from the King did grant a patent for title to the land in 1621 giving each settler 100 acres. (The boundaries of the patent were not spelled out at this time.)

The fact that the colonists from the Plymouth colony were able to govern themselves from 1620 until 1686 (when the King combined them with the rest of the New England colonies into a vast new colony called the Dominion of New England) demonstrates a good deal of neglect on the part of England in administering her colonies. It is because of this neglect and other situations that will be discussed later that the period from Jamestown in 1607 until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 will be defined as a period of "salutary neglect."

The phrase "salutary neglect" is justified in describing this period because all of the colonies within a relatively short period of time were able to become virtually independent, acknowledging allegiance to whatever authority had control in England, but making their own laws, trading · where they pleased, defending themselves without help from home and working out and developing their own institutions and value system.

The significance of this period is that it allows the American Revolution as an evolutionary process to take place. It is during this time that the colonists in Virginia, Georgia, New Plymouth and the rest of England's continental colonies were developing their own economic, political, social and cultural identity. This new identity was a reflection of the new set of values and the new ways of doing things that led to the development of new institutions that were emerging from the colonies. This can be exemplified in several ways:

First by the colonial practice of annual elections of all officers--governor as well the colonial legislature--on a definite date. This practice became popular throughout the colonies and still survives in the federal government, with the election of the President, senators, and representatives on the same day. Next, in the area of representation, the differences were significant. In order to vote or hold office in the colonies a man had to be a land owner or freeholder in the colony, county or town where he was running for office--GEOGRAPHIC REPRESENTATION.

The English believed in VIRTUAL REPRESENTATION-­ representation of classes and interests rather than of localities. The concept held that, since all of the interests of the empire's citizens were considered in Parliament, all were therefore "virtually" represented in that forum. It made little difference that large numbers of Englishmen did not actually elect representatives to

Parliament; this was irrelevant because the members of that body represented not the concerns of individuals or locales but rather the interests of the nation and the empire as a whole. Hence, American institutions began to diverge from English institutions at an early age. The divergence occurred during the formative stage in colonial development thereby allowing the colonist to develop their own way of doing things . This had a major impact in the decade after 1763 when the period of "salutary neglect" ended and England tried to enforce her institutions, values and ways of doing things on the colonists.

A statement from John Adams made to Thomas Jefferson in 1818, reflecting back on the developmental growth of the colonies best describes this process .

"But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people .... the radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution ."


While the Colony of New Plymouth was struggling along in the 1620s, a dozen fishing and trading posts were founded along the New England coast from southern Maine to Massachusetts Bay, and in some cases without permission. One of these trading posts established in 1626 was developed at present day Salem and was taken over by a group of leading Congregationalists in 1628.

After obtaining a charter for the Massachusetts Bay Company from King Charles I in 1629, when Anglo-Catholic pressure began to be severely felt, the Congregationalists voted to transfer charter, government, and members to New England.

The colony got off to a fast start with a well-equipped expedition in 1630, with 11 ships carrying 900 to 1,000 men and women who founded Boston and seven other towns nearby. The transfer of the Massachusetts Bay charter and the results of the transfer represent an important element in the development of American institutions.

With both the charter and company in America, the colony became practically independent of England. The "freemen," as stockholders were then called, became voters and elected the governor, deputy-governor and assistants who made up the upper branch of the legislative assembly. Thus, neither the King nor Parliament had any say in the Massachusetts government. The franchise or right to vote was restricted to church members, which prevented non-Congregationalists from participating in the government.

In 1635, the English government tried to revoke the Massachusetts Bay Company charter, but the colony refused to return it. After numerous delays and pleas from Massachusetts, plus internal political and religious problems within England, England finally was in a position to revoke the charter in June of 1684 after allowing almost 50 years of self-government to develop. "Salutary neglect" again became the unofficial policy of the English government which allowed for truly American institutions, such as "geographical representation" versus "virtual representation ," to be developed within the American environment out of the European model.

Between 1686-1689 England attempted to end "salutary neglect" with the creation of the Dominion of New England . The Dominion was a vast new colony which included all of New England plus New York and New Jersey .

The Dominion was to serve several purposes. Most important , the Dominion was designed to promote urgently needed efficiency in the administration of the English Navigation Acts. The Navigation Acts sought to stitch the colonies more tightly to the mother country and to cut off American trade with countries not ruled by the English Crown. The Dominion was also an attempt to lighten the cost of Administration and generally tighten the overall control of the colonies. Finally the Dominion was aimed at bolstering colonial defense in the event of war with the Native Americans and the French in Canada.

The headquarters for the Dominion was in Boston and Sir Edmund Andros was made the governor of the new colony. Andros, who had been a professional soldier, had shown earlier as governor of New York that he could be a skilled colonial administrator.

At the demand of King James II all colonial legislatures were dissolved , and Andros and the local councils appointed by the King assumed all of the judicial and legislative power .

Andros charged quite rents and laid heavy restrictions on the press and schools. The results of Andros' actions forced the colonists, accustomed to unusual privileges during long decades of neglect, to the edge of revolt. Meanwhile in Europe, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 disposed of James and created an opportunity for the colonists to rid themselves of the Dominion.

When word reached Massachusetts that William and Mary had been offered the crown in England, the Congregationalists wasted little time in jailing Andros and his council in what resulted in a bloodless revolution by over 1,000 armed colonists. The justification for the overthrow was that the Dominion was part of James' tyrannical policies and was no longer a legal or valid institution. Massachusetts, though rid of Andros, did not gain as much from the upheaval as she had hoped. In 1691 she was ·made a royal colony, with a new charter and a new royal governor. Worst of all, the privilege of voting, once a monopoly of church members, was to be enjoyed by all qualified male property owners.

The rise and fall of the Dominion marks a turning point in American history. Success would have led to the unification of the colonies under two separate governors; if successful, the rest of the colonies would have been combined into a Southern Dominion and the reduction of colonial self-government would have taken place. Also, if successful, there would have been no colonies to become states after the American Revolutionary War and, possibly, no American Revolution .

The seventeenth century Puritans were men distressed by what they saw happening in their world. They tried to hold on to the old communal ideology of the Middle Ages against an environment that strongly favored the individualism of the merchant capitalist. These merchant capitalists may be better understood by comparing them to today's radical reformers, men and women committed to far-reaching institutional change. Thus, the Puritan who saw England as once being a land of simplicity, homely virtue, and order now saw the new society as corrupt in every way .

Even in matters as minor as dress or hair styles, the Puritan saw only decay. For them the solution to the problem was discipline. But discipline was not to be totally imposed by force. Instead, true order had to grow out of the free voluntary but guided decisions of individuals to live "godly" lives. This led to the ultimate goal, which was to reform society, to create a purified commonwealth in which order would flow naturally from the guided will of the citizens.

To the Congregationalists within the Puritan movement the answer was to create "a city upon a hill" or a commonwealth to serve as an example to the rest of the Christian world. In this new commonwealth the Congregationalists would try to explain, justify and guide the economic, social, and religious spirit of man in the new modern capitalistic environment with the works of God. The Congregationalists as well as all Puritans in general stressed


(2) thrift,

(3) discipline, and

(4) hard work, concepts which have been long accepted by man at different times. As theconcepts were developed by the Puritans they would later form what has been called the "Protestant work ethic," involving serious commitment to work and self-discipline.

The objective of Congregational Puritanism was to help the individual to have a guided religious experience. This is best exemplified by the following quotes:  

The whole object of the Puritan experience was to trace its course in himself and to produce it in others. It is an experience for which the church may prepare a man, and after which it may claim to guide him, but which its essential nature is beyond the church's control.

This process of reproduction of the ideal environment to allow the individual to reach a spiritual level or have a religious experience was the function of the state, as it was to actively enforce the covenant. The covenant consisted of three components: First, there was the covenant or agreement with the state which was the tool that would be used to create the ideal environment by which the laws and purpose of God would be carried out. The Congregationalists felt governments existed for the purpose of enforcing obedience to God. Although the religious experience was an individual one in that each individual communicated with God to reach a higher spiritual level, it was the state that would create the ideal environment by which the individual would be able to reach the psychic level that would allow him to communicate with his God. The Puritan theory of the state was based upon the Old Testament and its hypothesis of original sin. This theory was painted with a coat of capitalism which brought forth the evil and competitive nature of man.

"Had Adam transmitted undiminished to his descendants the image of God in which he had been created, no government would have been necessary among men; they would all then have done justice to each other without the supervision of a judge, they would have respected each other's rights without the intervention of a policeman."

But the Bible said and recent experience had proven that without the policeman, the judge, the jail, and the law, men would rob, murder, and fight amongst themselves . As a result, a coercive state was needed to restrain evil impulses, or prevent man from exercising his natural liberty--which he enjoys in the state of nature.

Second, was the covenant or agreement which the individual entered into with the church. The church was the vehicle that allowed man to receive the grace of salvation by reaching a new spiritual level. Church attendance and its financial support were required from all.

The church was made up of two groups of people: ( 1) The elders or "visible saints" who gave visual proof that they had received God's grace by explaining their spiritual state to other "visible saints" or (2) the inhabitants who were people who hoped to reach a new spiritual level and thus prove they were also predestined . Finally , there was the covenant man made with God for salvation.

There was a strong element of individualism in the Congregationalists' creed where every man had to work out his own salvation. According to the covenant, each person had the responsibility of either accepting or rejecting God and salvation. The Congregationalists referred to the world outside of their state as the "natural world" and the world within their state as the "possible world of God's grace." Although the Congregationalists believed God had predestined some people to salvation and damned others throughout eternity, they also believed in monitoring themselves for signs of grace, hints that God had in fact placed them among his "elect."

It was argued if one were a member of this select group he would willfully fulfill the elements of the covenant and try to live according to Scripture by battling sin and eradicating corruption. Thus it was suggested that only those who had been predestined would seek the "possible world of God's grace."

In 1637, Anne Hutchinson carried this theological argument of predestination to its logical conclusion when she claimed that a holy life was no sure sign of salvation and that the truly saved need not bother to obey the law of either God or man. This was high heresy for which the Congregationalist magistrates had little choice but to banish her, lest she pollute the entire religious experiment.

For the Congregational Puritan, religion was classified as an experiential religion where the individual communicated directly with his God (within acceptable limits) to reach a new spiritual state and re-enforce that he was predestined. The experience was a real and important aspect in the life of the first generation Congregationalist who allowed himself to transcend his worldly environment to reach this new spiritual state or a level of self-awareness . Once this spiritual state or self-awareness had been reached, the individual realized the potential of his own soul and captured the feeling and understanding of the self and its interrelationship to the infinite, the infinite being God.

The result of this experience was a sense of completion, or the part being united with the "whole." This spiritual state or sense of completion was called grace: the final acceptance of the self and one's fellow man within the framework of an ordered community.

The essence of the Congregational Puritan experience was the receiving of this grace. The conversion to or the acceptance of grace separated the Congregationalists from the mass of mankind and endowed them with the privileges and the duties of the "elect."

To become a church member or a "visible saint" a person would have to allow his spiritual state to be examined by the church minister and other saints. If his experience was found unacceptable or not in agreement with the minister and the other saints it was rejected as not being reflective of God's grace.

Concept number three: Discuss HOW the first generation Congregationalists FAILED to reproduce their religious experience which led to the MODIFICATION of the values and institutions of the church and the people themselves.

The problem for the Congregationalists was that the religious experience and the purity of the religious experiment was only a one-generation experience. The first generation Congregationalists failed to maintain control over the Colony for three reasons:

For the Congregationalists, church membership should not be a presumptive right as it was in the Catholic church or the Anglican church, but instead should be a joint decision made by a would-be member and those already in the church.

People who were obvious sinners or ignorant of Christian doctrine were automatically rejected. But what about the "outwardly just" and those who were scripturally knowledgeable, but who lacked compelling evidence that they had experienced God's grace?

In the late 1630s, with the Great Migration in full swing and new arrivals clamoring for admission to the churches, the Congregationalists found it easy to be very critical in evaluating a person's spiritual state. By the 1650s, however , the Great Migration was over, applications were down and some of the saints began to have second thoughts.

Second, the decline in membership appears to have come about partly because the religion was not meeting the needs of the "Second Generation." The Congregationalists tried to put restrictions on social mobility and thus created tensions between the desires. practices and values of merchant capitalism and the Congregationalists' concept of a controlled society. This tension and resulting conflict caused most young people to simply decline to submit themselves to such religious and personal scrutiny .

Merchant capitalism was a form of individualism: Puritanism. particularly Congregationalism as it was practiced in Massachusetts. was a communal ideology developed in an environment which favored and encouraged individualism . Thus, it was not an accident that Anne Hutchinson's supporters were drawn mainly from the ranks of the better-off merchants of Boston, and that it was individual merchants who were often severely disciplined by their churches for their attempts to get the highe st prices the market would bear .

This is exemplified by Robert Keayne. Keayne was a striking example of mobility in early Massachusetts. Starting as a poor butcher's boy near London , he had won considerable success as a middleman in the making of clothing before he migrated to Boston in 1635. By .¢.e time he died in 1653, he had accumulated an estate worth ,000, an enormous fortune for that time.

Because he had tried to be a good Congregationalist as well as a successful businessman , Keayne felt the conflict between business success and the Congregationalists faith. Because of some of his successful business dealings and because he was a member of the church, he was criticized , fined, and forced to make a public confession of repentance .

When he finally retired from business, he spent five months just before his death in 1653 writing a 50,000 word will , in which he defended the actions for which he had been condemned. This document shows how hard it was for the first generation Congregationalists to justify worldly success. How long could this better-off merchant class continue to support the church? How long could the growing numbers of nonmembers be compelled to attend church? These questions raised created problems that ministers could not defer. Also, the magistrates found it harder to defend the policy of withholding the vote from otherwise qualified taxpayers because they were not church members.

By the mid- l 650s it was clear that if nothing was done, a majority of the people soon would be living in a state of original sin. Ifthat happened, how could Puritan values and, for that matter, the Congregational church itself, remain the dominant force in New England life? Third, what really helped bring about reconsideration of the membership policy were the concerns of non members' parents about the souls of their children, who could not be baptized.

By 1660, it had become clear that many of the children (second generation) of the first generation settlers were not having their own conversion experiences even though they had been baptized as youths. The difficulties of the situation were compounded when this second generation had children of their own--the grandchildren of the original saints. Could these children be baptized?

Theoretically, each congregation could make up its own mind. But the problem was so universal that the ministers of the colony tried to find a common solution. This common solution led to two modifications in church practices , which marked the beginning of the end for the first generation Congregationalists religious experiment. They devised what became known as the Half-Way Covenant of 1662.

The Half-Way Covenant recommended limited--or halfway--membership (baptism) for any child descended from a church member--even a grandparent or great-grandparent--who was known not to be a sinner and who was willing to accept the provisions of the church covenant. Since there were four grandparents and eight great-grandparents, this meant that almost every infant had some claim to baptism .

Although half-way members and their children could be baptized, the sacrament of communion and a voice in church decision making were reserved for full members. Halfway members could later apply for full membership , if they had a spiritual experience. By 1664, the right to vote was extended to halfway members .

The ministers' motives were obvious: They wanted to bring as many people under the umbrella of the church as possible . If they could not do it through conversion, they would accept baptism as a halfway measure.

At the time the Half-Way Covenant was not universally accepted . Opponents of the Half-Way Covenant argued that it reflected a slackening of religious practice. To the aging saints who made up the largest group of opponents, the solution was not to make membership easier but to hold the line and force their grandchildren to face the same emotional and spiritual tests they had had to face.

In order to solve the problem of the merchant class--particularly as Boston, Salem and other towns along the coast came to have larger and richer classes of merchants--it became clear that the old Puritan values would have to give way to a new, more relaxed and liberal form of Protestantism with which the new capitalists could feel comfortable---the Covenant of Works.

For the first "First Generation" there was no religious tolerance in Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Most Congregationalist leaders feared the unsettling consequences of religious enthusiasm such as occurred in the 1630s with Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson.

In Europe, as in early Massachusetts, people were very dogmatic about their religious beliefs and the idea that there was room for more than one opinion on any important question seemed foolish to them. There was only one true and godly answer to any question, and it would by a sin to tolerate any point of view or mode of behavior that was not God's way. To tolerate a different religious view was to undermine the works of God as they understood them. This was looked upon as a threat to the social order. There was no democratic government in the early years of Massachusetts and the "visible saints" of the colony had no interest in creating any or in protecting individual freedoms. To John Winthrop, who served as the governor or deputy governor of the colony for 19 years, democracy was the "meanest and worst" of all forms of government. According to one clergyman, "If the people be governors who shall be governed?"

During the voting in town meetings and in the church, Congregationalists did not practice majority rule but argued and sweated their way toward a consensus. The objective of the migration in 1630 had been to establish a religious experiment in order to create a desired life-style, thus the life-style had to be protected by the most careful regulation of the details of life.

In order to preserve class restrictions, a Massachusetts law of 1651 regulated the dress code:

"No person ...whose estate...shall not exceed the ...value of 200 pounds , shall wear any gold or silver lace...upon the penalty of 10 shillings....The selectmen of every town ...are hereby ...required notice of apparel in any of the inhabitants ...and whosoever they shall judge to exceed their ranks costliness and fashion of their apparel.. .the selectmen ...shall have power to assess...."

In the towns , there were numerous sets of rules and requirements: for church attendance, fence maintenance, the management of livestock, the number of days that men had to work on public roads, bridges, and dams. Blasphemy or any contemptuous or

profane act such as Sabbath-breaking and adultery were viewed not only as sins but as crimes, and perpetrators were prosecuted.

In order to carry out this objective the saints made certain that power stayed in the hands of the first generation godly minority .

When the Congregationalists first arrived, about one percent of the population were freemen with the privilege of voting; but in a few months popular pressure compelled Winthrop to enlarge their number. Not until 1634, however, did Winthrop concede the freemen their right to elect colony officials annually--a right guaranteed by the company charter.

By 1644, the General Court (the legislative body of the colony) was composed of an upper chamber of assistants and a lower chamber of deputies, two from each town. Despite this representative machinery, the magistrates and ministers maintained

their power by requiring that a man actually be a church member in order to exercise the right to vote.

There was an anti-capitalist environment and philosophy in early Massachusetts that deemed individual profit and desires for the highest profit to be sinful. This was viewed as having a greater concern for oneself than one's community . Any sort of self-seeking ambition or individualism was a betrayal of the spiritual welfare of the community .

Hence, there was no laissez-faire economy since the saints wanted to control the economic development of the colony for the good of the religious experiment. By passing such laws as were necessary, they even set the price a laborer might charge for his service.

With the "Second Generation" religion--as already discussed , religious tolerance gradually developed for the "Second Generation" Congregationalists starting with the Half-Way Covenant of 1662. This continued until the 1690's when the Half-Way Covenant gradually developed into the Covenant of Works. Also, as mentioned, the English Crown had attempted to take some of the bite out of the religious bark when it repealed the colony's charter in 1684 and the issued a new one in 1691. Religious tolerance carried with it important political consequences and had a significant impact on the colony. With religious tolerance came political liberalism and a more democratic society.

Govermment--again as discussed, starting in the early years of the colony's development there was no representative government nor a desire by the "visible saints" to create one. However, as a result of the changing economic and religious conditions within the colony, there was a liberalizing of the voting requirements . The following six points chronologically demonstrate this liberalization :

1. In 1630 the number of freemen eligible to vote was 12.

2. In May of 1631 the number was increased to 130 after some political pressure was brought to bear.

3. In 1634 Governor Winthrop conceded the freemen their right to elect colony officials annually and thus established a representative form of government. This occurred when each town received the right to elect two deputies who could advise the General Court. However, the deputies could only initiate legislation. They could not vote on it until 1644 when the House of Deputies became a formal branch of the General Court.

4. By 1644, the population of the colony was about 15,000 with 1,708 eligible to hold office and vote. Out of a population of 15,000, it is estimated that there were only 3,750 males of voting age (over 16), which means by 1644 one of every two adult males held the franchise to vote. This was a higher percentage than in England or anywhere else in Europe.

5. In 1664, two years after the passage of the Half-Way Covenant, the right to vote was extended to all halfway members.

6. In 1691, the new charter, which made Massachusetts a royal colony, also gave voting privileges to all qualified male property holders . Thus, democracy seeped into Massachusetts Bay Colony although unwanted by the "visible saints."

For the second generation, the economy--as the Congregationalists failed in trying to recreate the proper environment in order for their people to live at a spiritual level by having experienced conversion, they intellectualized the symptoms of the religion to the point where they lost the spiritual feeling.

This can be exemplified by comparing the change in the nature of grace between the first and "Second Generation" Congregationalists. The sign of God's grace, prosperity, for the first generation Congregationalists, came in time, to seem more important than the grace itself to the "Second Generation ." The transformation which took place between the first and "Second Generation" Congregationalist Puritans explains the confusion of ethics problem which many people face when studying the nature of the Puritan character. This also explains why American legend praises the Puritan Fathers for contributions--such as religious liberalism, democracy in government, and a laissez-faire economy--which are not justly deserved.

It is necessary to keep in mind that one of the important reasons for this transformation was because of the influence of the American environment as it interacted with the principles of the Congregationalists' religion . The elements of the American environment--its harshness as well as its abundance of land--re-enforced the worth of the individual against the communal ideology of the Congregational Puritans in Massachusetts.

This combination of events created what some called a "deadness of soul" as the "Second Generation" failed to develop a spiritual level that was comparable to the first generation.

By the mid-eighteen hundreds "Second Generation" Congregationalists’ values had become apart of the American value system as demonstrated by the following quotes:

Pastor Henry Ward Beecher said "God has intended the great to be great and the little to be little. Poverty was evidence of sinfulness the poor had only themselves to blame."

The Gospel of Wealth theory developed by Andrew Carnegie in the 1870s was a quasi-religious principle that held that the acquisition of wealth was a mark of divine favor, and that the rich therefore had a moral responsibility both to get richer and to direct the affairs of society.


Georgia, founded in 1732, was the last colony to be established by the English in North America.

Georgia resulted from a combination of factors that initially had no connection but which were merged by time and place so that the first was the defense of South Carolina's frontier against the Spanish.

The second major reason was introduced by James Oglethorpe and his philanthropic friends who wished to use the new colony as a haven for debtors languishing in English prisons. However, once the charter was issued, the original concern for debtors disappeared, as the Trustees sought instead the "worthy poor." The charity colonists were small tradesmen or artisans who represented many occupations.

As the Trustees themselves expressed it, they would take "such as were in decayed Circumstances, and thereby disabled from following any Business in England ...".

Finally, the last objective was a mercantilist experiment in the area of agriculture production. Silk and wine were the only two agricultural products advocated by the Trustees that received any serious attempt at production. The Trustees believed that Georgia could save England the £5oo,ooo paid out annually for silk imported from Italy and France and that 20,000 persons could be employed in Georgia, with an additional 20,000 people in England who would work into finished products.

The agricultural experiment was to meet with the same result in Georgia as it had in the rest of the Southern colonies--failure. Rice became the major crop after the Trustee period. The Trustees felt the people they sent over would become a "self-sufficient peasantry raising silk and wine.

The Trustees of Georgia were prominent men in English society who were able to obtain grants of public money in order to transport and settle the "worthy poor. The Trustees were bound to philanthropic or humanitarian action by the charter, which forbade them from owning land, holding any office of power or trust, or receive any income from their efforts in the colony--making Georgia different from all other proprietary colonies. The Trustees were to control the colony in this manner for 21 years, at which time they would tum the colony back to the Crown and Georgia would become a royal colony.

The Trustees' greatest efforts towards settling Georgia came in its first decade, mainly before the Spanish War for the Austrian Succession (1743-1748) and the harsh restrictions frightened off prospective colonists. The implementation of the restrictions can best be illustrated by the agricultural planning and land granting policies the Trustees used to try to achieve their threefold program--defense, philanthropy, and mercantilism.

The land policy, which limited the poor unfortunates to 50 acres of land and those who paid their own way over to Georgia 500 acres, might be called the most important control mechanism the Trustees' possessed to promote their ideas. By 1752 some 245,984 acres of land had been granted in 2,840 individual grants. Only 329 of these grants exceeded 50 acres in size. Not until June of 1752 were grants of more than 500 acres made. "The worthy poor" were not allowed economic freedom. for they might lose their property; hence, land was not granted in fee simple so that they could not mortgage or sell it.

As Georgians were to be citizen-soldiers to defend the empire's frontiers, land would only be granted and inherited in tail-male. which would a soldier for each 50 acre A prohibition against slavery was also linked to the threefold objective.

Poor unfortunates could not afford slaves and should not live in a slave this might discourage them from working. From a military viewpoint, slaves could not be soldiers because they might desert to the enemy. Several results of the Trustees land policy are obvious.

First and perhaps foremost, because the policy limited land ownership, it kept many good settlers from coming to Georgia, especially Carolinians who would have been in many ways the best colonists. This policy also prevented most settlers, charity or adventurer, from realizing their full economic potential or from freely using the land resources of the colony as they wished.

Secondly, the population for the colony dropped drastically after 1741. During the first eight years of the colony, the Trustees sent over 1,810 charity colonists and another 1021 more came over on their own for a total 2831.

By the 1752 census the population had dropped down to 1,735 whites and 349 blacks. Hence, the harsh restrictions and lack of opportunity were taking their toll on the colony's economic, political and social stability.

For example, many settlers, after several bad crop years, abandoned their lands and went to Savannah or left the colony entirely. Had they owned their land in fee simple. they could have sold or mortgaged it to secure the needed capital to tide them over the bad years or to improve their land enough to make it pay. Much land simply remained unused. By 1738 some 58,995 acres had been granted but only 1,000 acres were reported as being under cultivation.

Politically the colony was poorly organized with no representative government. The government was entirely in the hands of the Trustees except that the command of the militia was vested in the governor of South Carolina.

The government was entirely in the hands of the Trustees except that the command of the militia was vested in the governor of South Carolina. Given the intelligence of the Trustees, this insistence upon retaining all authority in their own hands is strange because it went against colonial experience. By the time Georgia was founded, there was a well worked out system of colonial government in which colonists participated. Yet the Trustees ignored this system and the English tradition of self-government.

The only explanation for this is that the Trustees must have felt the only way their priorities could be carried out is if they ruled the colony and that the success of their objectives made up for any negative consequences of lack of self-government. Yet the insistence by the Trustees upon retaining power in London is one of the things that almost ruined Georgia. The Trustees did not understand the importance of the government to the colonists and their participation in it. For the colony to succeed, the colonists needed to face their own problems, and grow economically and politically. The Trustees never understood that human self-development is important and cannot be directed and molded from without. This inflexibility plus the failure to allow the colonists to participate in the government was the Trustees' greatest political failure.

In England when the "worthy poor" were invited to settle in Georgia and were told about the restrictions before they came over, they did not have a problem with them since they were unable to enjoy most of these rights in England. However, by the time the "worthy poor" had come to Georgia and had a chance to settle, they found it impossible to live off only 50 acres of land and to be without slave.

The model of South Carolina to the north, with its large plantations and slave labor which provided a chance for social mobility for its residents, proved to be an undermining influence creating dissatisfaction and a higher level of expectations.

Because the American environment in the form of abundant land provided opportunity for economic and social advancement, the level of expectations changed for the "worthy poor" and Americans in general. The colonists who settled in America soon developed an appetite for government participation and economic self-determination.

As a result of their experiences in Georgia and other colonies, a different set of values and ways of doing things developed in the American colonies which were quite different from Europe.

Hence, the significance of the American environment and its impact on the American mind and the American value system was that the availability of land created opportunity for those who were willing to work for it and had the ability and talent to make the most out of their environment.

There was a renewed interest of settlers in Georgia at the very end of the Trustee period. This stemmed from the ending of the Spanish War in 1748 and the abandonment by the Trustees of their earlier and more visionary ideas and tight controls for Georgia. As the Trustees gave up control, plantations and economic growth become more like that of South Carolina. Had the Trustees allowed human selfishness freer reign from the beginning, the colony would have filled up more rapidly and would have experienced greater economic success. But the Trustees said more than once, this was not their aim in settling Georgia. Aid to the unfortunate and security for the southern English frontier in North America were more noble aims, even though they interfered with the settling of the colony.

A choice was necessary, and the Trustees held to their choice for almost two decades until they were convinced that their scheme would not work. By 1750 many of the Trustees no longer cared about their dream for Georgia or even about what happened to the colony. In July of 1752 the Trustees convened for the last time and passed their authority over the colony to the English government and Georgia became officially a royal colony.

For more information please read through this article: Early British Colonies