Mature English Colonial Societies

Mature English Colonial Societies 9 Each of the four culture hearths exerted influence over other new settlements. Massachusetts spawned orderly, town-based, western settlement. Puritans also left the colony or were forced out for heretical teachings to found and populate other colonies. Plantation agriculture, and the sort of hierarchical, slave-based society it engendered, expanded south from the Chesapeake and north from Barbados to flourish in coastal areas of North and South Carolina, with tobacco production around Albemarle Sound and rice production on the Ashley and Cooper river systems. Even as the Delaware Valley and the Mid-Atlantic region became diverse, ethnically and economically, areas first colonized by Quakers continued to demonstrate a discernable Quaker influence; indeed, their very diversity should be viewed as the legacy of the Quakers. The backcountry settlements grew in size and influence throughout the colonial era. In some areas, this entailed conflict between established coastal authorities and more recently settled areas to the west, as happened during the Regulator crises in North and South Carolina and the Paxton Boys uprising in western Pennsylvania. British-based cultural and political institutions emerged throughout colonial North America. English people transplanted English common law and modified it to fit their American situation. Generally speaking, colonial assemblies in the seventeenth century were weak and were expected to bend to the will of Parliament, the monarch, and royally appointed governors and councils. In the eighteenth century, following the example of the English House of Commons, the colonial lower houses claimed financial authority and power over governors and councils. American assemblies, and the colonies themselves, developed with a minimum of royal oversight. Some scholars have referred to this as a policy of salutary or benign neglect. The English and French North American empires collided in the French and Indian War (known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War) from 1754 to 1763; one of the results was the removal of the French government from the colonial scene. The Ohio Valley was now fair game for the spread of English culture, much to the dismay of the Shawnee and other tribes. In the wake of the massive global conflict, Great Britain faced crippling debt, postwar depression, and the burden of defending a vast new empire. In response, Britain attempted to rein in its colonies; these attempts were met with stubborn popular, commercial, and legislative resistance. Still, most Anglo-Americans, even on the very brink of the American War for Independence, identified themselves as English and petitioned Parliament for relief based on their rights as English people. The regional distinctions, with their deep roots in colonial experience, lived on in the newly formed United States as separate regional cultures. The most obvious were the Yankee culture in the North and the planter culture in the South. The four broad categories of Englishness continued to exert influence into the early republic and beyond, although newly created Americans sought to craft their own distinct national identity. Matthew Jennings See also: Race and Ethnicity (Chronology); Race and Ethnicity (Essay). Bibliography Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Middleton, Richard. Colonial America. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996. Taylor, Alan. American Colonies. New York: Viking, 2001. English Civil War The English Civil War of 1642 1646 was fought between King Charles I of England and Parliament over fundamental questions of control of church and state. The king lost the war and was executed in 1649.
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