Settling the Northern Colonies
I. The Protestant Reformation Produces Puritanism
- 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. Luther had several explosive ideas including…
- The Bible alone was the source of God’s word (not the Bible and the church or pope).
- People are saved simply by faith in Christ alone (not by faith and good works).
- His actions ignited the Protestant Reformation.
- John Calvin preached Calvinism which stressed “predestination” (those going to Heaven or hell has already been determined by God).
- Basic doctrines were stated in the 1536 document entitled Institutes of the Christian Religion.
- Stated that all humans were weak and wicked.
- Only the predestined could go to heaven, no matter what.
- Calvinists were expected to seek “conversions,” signs that they were one of the predestined, and afterwards, lead “sanctified lives.”
- Calvinists are famous for working hard, dusk to dawn, to “prove” their worthiness.
- The impact of Calvinism has been vividly stamped on the psyche of Americans, and been called the “Protestant Work Ethic”.
- In England, King Henry VIII was breaking his ties with the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the 1530s.
- Some people, called Puritans, were influenced to totally reform (“purify”) the Church of England.
- The Puritans
- Believed that only “visible saints” should be admitted to church membership.
- Separatists vowed to break away from the Church of England (AKA, the Anglican Church) because the “saints” would have to sit with the “damned.” These folks became the Pilgrims.
- King James I, father of the beheaded Charles I, harassed the Separatists out of England because he thought that if people could defy him as their spiritual leader, they might defy him as their political ruler.
II. The Pilgrims End Their Pilgrimage at Plymouth
- The Pilgrims or Separatists, came from Holland, where they had fled to after they had left England.
- They were concerned that their children were getting to “Dutchified.”
- They wanted a place where they were free to worship their own religion and could live and die as good Pilgrims.
- After negotiating with the Virginia Company, the Separatists left Holland and sailed for 65 days at sea on the Mayflower until they arrived off the rocky coast of New England in 1620, a trip in which only one person died and one person was born.
- Less than half of the pilgrims on the Mayflower were actually Separatists.
- Contrary to myth, the Pilgrims undertook a few surveys before deciding to settle at Plymouth, an area far from Virginia.
- The Pilgrims became squatters, people without legal right to land and without specific authority to establish government.
- Captain Myles Standish (AKA, “Captain Shrimp”) proved to be a great Indian fighter and negotiator.
- Before leaving the ship, the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact, a set of rules by which to obey.
- Though it wasn’t a constitution, it did set the standard for later constitutions. It also set the first step toward self-rule in the Northern colonies.
- In the winter of 1620-21, only 44 of the 102 survived.
- 1621 brought bountiful harvests, though, and the first Thanksgiving was celebrated that year.
- William Bradford, chosen governor of Plymouth 30 times in the annual elections, was a great leader, and helped Plymouth to survive and trade fur, fish, and lumber.
- In 1691, Plymouth finally merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
III. The Bay Colony Bible Commonwealth
- In 1629, some non-Separatist Puritans got a royal charter from England to settle in the New World. Secretly, they took the charter with them and later used it as a type of constitution.
- It was a well-equipped group of which about 11,000 people came to Massachusetts.
- John Winthrop was elected governor or deputy governor for 19 years, helping Massachusetts prosper in fur trading, fishing, and shipbuilding.
IV. Building the Bay Colony
- Soon after the establishment of the colony, the franchise (right to vote) was extended to all “freemen,” adult males who belonged to the Puritan congregations (later called the Congregational Church), making people who could enjoy the franchise about two fifths of the male population.
- Un-churched men and women weren’t allowed into matters of government.
- The provincial government was not a democracy.
- Governor Winthrop feared and distrusted the common people, calling democracy the “meanest and worst” of all forms of government.
- Religious leaders wielded powerful influence over the admission to church membership.
- John Cotton, a prominent clergy member, was educated at Cambridge and had immigrated to Massachusetts to avoid persecution for his criticism of the Church of England.
- However, congregations could hire and fire their ministers at will.
- Still, there were laws to limit Earthly pleasures, such as a fine of twenty shillings for couples caught kissing in public.
- The Puritan concept of Hell was very serious, frightening, and very real.
- Michael Wigglesworth’s “Day of Doom,” written in 1662, sold one copy for every twenty people.
V. Trouble in the Bible Commonwealth
- Tensions arose in Massachusetts.
- Quakers were fined, flogged, and/or banished.
- Anne Hutchinson was a very intelligent, strong-willed, talkative woman who 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. A notion known as “antinomianism”.
- Brought to trial in 1638, Anne boasted that her beliefs were directly from God.
- She was banished from the colony and eventually made her way to Rhode Island.
- She died in New York after an attack by Indians.
- Roger Williams was a radical idealist hounded his fellow clergymen to make a clean and complete break with the Church of England.
- He went on to deny that civil government could and should govern religious behavior.
- He was banished in 1635, and led the way for the Rhode Island colony.
VI. The Rhode Island “Sewer”
- People who went to Rhode Island weren’t necessarily similar; they were just unwanted everywhere else.
- They were against special privilege.
- “Little Rhody” was later known as “the traditional home of the otherwise minded.”
- It finally secured a charter in 1644.
VII. New England Spreads Out
- In 1635, Hartford, Connecticut was founded.
- Reverend Thomas Hooker led an energetic group of Puritans west into Connecticut.
- In 1639, settlers of the new Connecticut River colony drafted in open meeting a trailblazing document called the Fundamental Orders.
- It was basically a modern constitution.
- In 1638, New Haven was founded and eventually merged into Connecticut.
- In 1623, Maine was absorbed by Massachusetts and remained so for nearly a century and a half.
- In 1641, the granite-ribbed New Hampshire was absorbed into Massachusetts.
- In 1679, the king separated the two and made New Hampshire a royal colony.
VIII. Puritans vs. Indians
- Before the Puritans had arrived in 1620, an epidemic had swept through the Indians, killing over three quarters of them.
- At first, Indians tried to befriend the Whites.
- Squanto, a Wampanoag, helped keep relative peace.
- In 1637, though, after mounting tensions exploded, English settlers and the powerful Pequot tribe fought in the Pequot War, in which the English set fire to a Pequot village on Connecticut’s Mystic River, annihilating the Indians and bringing about forty years of tentative peace.
- In an attempt to save face, the Puritans did try to convert some of the Indians, though with less zeal than that of the Spanish and French.
- In 1675, Metacom (called King Philip by the English) united neighboring Indians in a last-ditched attack that failed.
- The King Philip’s War slowed the colonial western march, but Metacom was beheaded and quartered and his head was stuck on a sharp pike for all to see, his wife and son sold to slavery.
IX. Seeds of Colonial Unity and Independence
- In 1643, four colonies banded together to form the New England Confederation.
- It was almost all Puritan.
- It was weak, but still a notable milestone toward American unity.
- The colonies were basically allowed to be semiautonomous commonwealths.
- After Charles II was restored to the British throne, he hoped to control his colonies more firmly, but was shocked to find how much his orders were ignored by Massachusetts.
- As punishment, a sea-to-sea charter was given to rival Connecticut (1662), and a charter was given to Rhode Island (1663).
- Finally, in 1684, Massachusetts’ charter was revoked.
X. Andros Promotes the First American Revolution
- In 1686, the Dominion of New England was created to bolster the colonial defense against Indians and tying the colonies closer to Britain by enforcing the hated Navigation Acts.
- The acts forbade American trade with countries other than Britain.
- As a result, smuggling became common.
- Head of the Dominion was Sir Edmund Andros.
- Establishing headquarters in Boston, he openly showed his association with the locally hated Church of England.
- His soldiers were vile-mouthed and despised by Americans.
- Andros responded to opposition by curbing town meetings, restricting the courts and the press, and revoking all land titles.
- He taxed the people without their consent.
- At the same time, the people of England staged the Glorious Revolution, instating William and Mary to the crown.
- Resultant, the Dominion of New England collapsed.
- Massachusetts got a new charter in 1691, but this charter allowed all landowners to vote, as opposed to the previous law of voting belonging only to the church members.
XI. Old Netherlanders at New Netherlands
- In the 17th Century, the Netherlands revolted against Spain, and with the help of Britain, gained their independence.
- The Dutch East India Company was established, with an army of 10,000 men and a fleet of 190 ships (including 40 men-of-war).
- The Dutch West India Company often raided rather than traded.
- In 1609, Henry Hudson ventured into Delaware and New York Bay and claimed the area for the Netherlands.
- It was the Dutch West India Company that bought Manhattan Island for some worthless trinkets (22,000 acres of the most valuable land in the world today).
- New Amsterdam was a company town, run by and for the Dutch company and in the interests of stockholders.
- The Dutch gave patroonships (large areas of land) to promoters who agreed to settle at least 50 people on them.
- New Amsterdam attracted people of all types and races.
- One French Jesuit missionary counted 18 different languages being spoken on the street.
XII. Friction with English and Swedish Neighbors
- Indian’s attacked the Dutch for their cruelties.
- New England was hostile against Dutch growth.
- The Swedes trespassed Dutch reserves from 1638 to 1655 by planting the anemic colony of New Sweden on the Delaware River.
- Things got so bad that the Dutch erected a wall in New Amsterdam, for which Wall Street is named today.
- In 1655, the Dutch sent one-legged Peter Stuyvesant to besiege the main Swedish fort, and he won, ending Swedish colonial rule and leaving only Swedish log cabins and place names as evidence that the Swedes were ever in Delaware.
XIII. Dutch Residues in New York
- In 1664, Charles II granted the area of modern-day New York to his brother, the Duke of York, and that year, British troops landed and defeated the Dutch, kicking them out, without much violence.
- New Amsterdam was renamed New York.
- The Dutch Legacy
- The people of New York retained their autocratic spirit.
- Dutch names of cities remained, like Harlem, Brooklyn, and Hell Gate.
- Even their architecture left its mark on buildings.
- The Dutch also gave us Easter eggs, Santa Claus, waffles, sauerkraut, bowling, sleighing, skating, and golf.
XIV. Penn’s Holy Experiment in Pennsylvania
- The Quakers (characteristics)
- They “quaked” under deep religious emotion.
- They were offensive to religious and civil rule.
- They addressed everyone with simple “thee”s and “thou”s and didn’t swear oaths because Jesus had said “Swear not at all,” this last part creating a problem, since you had to swear a test oath to prove that you weren’t Roman Catholic.
- Though stubborn and unreasonable, they were simple, devoted, democratic people against war and violence.
- William Penn, a well-born Englishman, embraced the Quaker faith.
- In 1681, he managed to secure an immense grant of fertile land from the king.
- It was called Pennsylvania, in honor of Penn, who, being the modest person that he was, had insisted that it be called Sylvania.
- It was the best advertised of all the colonies.
XV. Quaker Pennsylvania and Its Neighbors
- Thousands of squatters already lived in Pennsylvania.
- Philadelphia was more carefully planned than most cities, with beautiful, wide streets.
- Penn bought land from the Indians, like Chief Tammany, later patron saint of New York’s political Tammany Hall.
- His treatment of the Indians was so gentle that Quakers could walk through Indian territory unarmed without fear of being hurt.
- However, as more and more non-Quakers came to Pennsylvania, they mistreated the Indians more and more.
- Freedom of worship was available to everyone except for Jews and Catholics (only because of pressure from London), and the death penalty was only for murder and treason.
- No restrictions were placed on immigration, and naturalization was made easy.
- The Quakers also developed a dislike toward slavery.
- Pennsylvania attracted a great variety of people from all races, class, and religion.
- By 1700, only Virginia was more populous and richer.
- Penn, unfortunately, was not well-liked because of his friendliness towards James II, the deposed Catholic king, and he was jailed at times, and also suffered a paralytic stroke, dying full of sorrows.
- New Jersey and Delaware prospered as well.
XVI. The Middle Way in the Middle Colonies
- New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania made up the Middle Colonies.
- The middle colonies were the middle way between New England and the southern plantation states.
- They all had fertile soil and broad expanse of land.
- They all, except for Delaware, exported lots of grain and were thus known as the Bread Colonies.
- The Susquehanna River tapped the fur trade of the interior, and the rivers were gentle, with little cascading waterfalls.
- Landholdings were generally intermediate in size.
- The middle colonies were more ethnically mixed than other colonies.
- A considerable amount of economic and social democracy prevailed.
- Benjamin Franklin, born in Boston, entered Philadelphia as a seventeen-year-old in 1720 with a loaf of bread under each arm and immediately found a congenial home in the urbane, open atmosphere of the city.
- Like Franklin, Americans began to realize that not only were they surviving, but that they were also thriving.
XVII. Makers of America: The English
- In the 1600s, England was undergoing a massive population boom.
- About 75% of English immigrants were indentured servants.
- Most of them were young men from the “middling classes.”
- Some had fled during the cloth trade slump in the early 1600s while others had been forced off their land due to enclosure.
- Some 40% of indentured servants died before their seven years were over.
- Late in the 17th century, as the supply of indentured servants slowly ran out, the southerners resolved to employ black slaves.
- From 1629 to 1642, 11,000 Puritans swarmed to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
- In contrast to the indentured servants, Puritans migrated in family groups, not alone.
- Puritans brought the way of life from England with them to America.
- i.e. Marblehead, Mass. had mostly fishermen because most of the immigrants had been fisherman in England.
- i.e. Rowley, Mass. brought from Yorkshire, England their distinctive way of life.
- In Ipswich, Massachusetts, settled by East Anglican Puritans, the rulers had long terms and ruled with an iron hand.
- However, in Newbury, people rarely won reelection.