02 Aug Explain the causes and outcomes of the Glorious Revolution Explain the significance of the Great Awakening Describe the genesis, central ideas, and effects of the Enligh
1. Explain the causes and outcomes of the Glorious Revolution
2. Explain the significance of the Great Awakening
3. Describe the genesis, central ideas, and effects of the Enlightenment in British North America
4. Describe the consumer revolution and its effect on the life of the colonial gentry and other settlers
5. Describe political and social developments in the British colonies
6. Describe major conflicts between New England colonists and Native Americans, including Pequot and King Philip’s War
7. Explain the role of Bacon’s Rebellion in the rise of chattel slavery in Virginia
8. Explain the effects of the 1739 Stono Rebellion and the 1741 New York Conspiracy Trials
Module 3: British North America
Figure 1. Isaac Royall and his family, seen here in a 1741 portrait by Robert Feke, moved to Medford, Massachusetts, from the
West Indian island of Antigua, bringing their enslaved workers with them. They were an affluent British colonial family, proud of
their success and the success of the British Empire.
The eighteenth-century witnessed the birth of Great Britain (after the union of England and Scotland in 1707) and the expansion of the British Empire. By the mid-1700s, Great Britain had developed into a commercial and military powerhouse; its economic sway ranged from India, where the British East India Company had gained control over both trade and territory, to the West African coast, where British slave traders predominated, and to the British West Indies, whose lucrative sugar plantations, especially in Barbados and Jamaica, provided windfall profits for British planters. Meanwhile, the population rose dramatically in Britain’s North American colonies. In the early 1700s the population in the colonies had reached 250,000. By 1750, over a million British migrants and enslaved Africans had established a near-continuous zone of settlement on the Atlantic coast from Maine to Georgia.
During this period, the ties between Great Britain and the American colonies only grew stronger. Anglo-American colonists considered themselves part of the British Empire in all ways: politically, militarily, religiously (as Protestants), intellectually, and racially. The portrait of the Royall family exemplifies the colonial American gentry of the eighteenth century. Successful and well-to-do, they display fashions, hairstyles, and furnishings that all speak to their identity as proud and loyal British subjects.
A civil war in England, along with its ensuing political and religious turmoil, shifted priorities and changed the relationship between England and its colonies. When Charles II ascended the throne in 1660, English subjects on both sides of the Atlantic celebrated the restoration of the English monarchy after a decade of living without a king as a result of the English Civil Wars. Charles II lost little time in strengthening England’s global power. From the 1660s to the 1680s, Charles II added more possessions to England’s North American holdings by establishing the Restoration colonies of New York and New Jersey (taking these areas from the Dutch) as well as Pennsylvania and the Carolinas. In order to reap the greatest economic benefit from England’s overseas possessions, Charles II enacted the mercantilist Navigation Acts, although many colonial merchants ignored them because enforcement remained lax.
Two major cultural movements further strengthened Anglo-American colonists’ connection to Great Britain: the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment. Both movements began in Europe, but they advocated very different ideas: the Great Awakening promoted a fervent, emotional religiosity, while the Enlightenment encouraged the pursuit of reason in all things. On both sides of the Atlantic, British subjects grappled with these new ideas.
Turmoil in Britain
GUIDED READING QUESTIONS
• 1. Describe political transitions during the English Civil War and the Restoration
• 2. Explain the relationship between England and the colonies during the late 1600s and early 1700s, including the importance of the Navigation Acts
Religious violence plagued sixteenth-century England. While Spain plundered the New World and built an empire, England struggled as Catholic and Protestant monarchs vied for supremacy and attacked their opponents as heretics. Queen Elizabeth cemented Protestantism as the official religion of the realm, but questions endured as to what kind of Protestantism would hold sway. Many Puritans looked to the New World as an opportunity to create a beacon of Calvinist Christianity, while others continued the struggle in England. By the 1640s, political conflicts between Parliament and the Crown merged with long-simmering religious tensions. The result was a bloody civil war. Colonists reacted in a variety of ways as England waged war on itself, but all were affected by these decades of turmoil.
Figure 1. This timeline shows major events in England and British America during the 17th and 18th centuries.
English Civil War
The outbreak of civil war between the King and Parliament in 1642 opened an opportunity for the English state to consolidate its hold over the American colonies. The conflict erupted as Charles I called a parliament in 1640 to assist him in suppressing a rebellion in Scotland. The Irish rebelled the
following year, and by 1642 strained relations between Charles and Parliament produced a civil war in England. The English Civil War lasted from 1642 to 1649 and pitted the king and his Royalist supporters against Oliver Cromwell and his Parliamentary forces. After years of fighting, the Parliamentary forces gained the upper hand, and in 1649, they charged Charles I with treason and beheaded him. The monarchy was dissolved, and England became a republic: a state without a king. Oliver Cromwell headed the new English Commonwealth, and the period known as the English Interregnum, or the time between kings, began.
Figure 2. King Charles I, pictured with the blue sash of the Order of the Garter, listens to his commanders detail the strategy for
what would be the first pitched battle of the First English Civil War. As all previous constitutional compromises between King
Charles and Parliament had broken down, both sides raised large armies in the hopes of forcing the other side to concede their
position. The Battle of Edgehill ended with no clear winner, leading to a prolonged war of over four years and an even longer
series of wars (known generally as the English Civil War) that eventually established the Commonwealth of England in 1649.
Though Cromwell enjoyed widespread popularity at first, over time he appeared to many in England to be taking on the powers of a military dictator. Dissatisfaction with Cromwell grew. When he died in 1658 and control passed to his son Richard, who lacked the political skills of his father, a majority of the English people feared an alternate hereditary monarchy in the making. They had had enough and asked Charles II to be king. In 1660, they welcomed the son of the executed King Charles I back to the throne to resume the English monarchy and bring the interregnum to an end. The return of Charles II is known as the Restoration.
Figure 3. The monarchy and Parliament fought for control of England during the seventeenth century. Though Oliver Cromwell
(a), shown here in a 1656 portrait by Samuel Cooper, appeared to offer England a better mode of government, he assumed broad
powers for himself and disregarded cherished English liberties established under Magna Carta in 1215. As a result, the English
people welcomed Charles II (b) back to the throne in 1660. This portrait by John Michael Wright was painted ca. 1660–1665, soon
after the new king gained the throne.
Charles II was committed to expanding England’s overseas possessions. His policies in the 1660s through the 1680s established and supported the Restoration colonies: the Carolinas, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. All the Restoration colonies started as proprietary colonies, that is, the king gave each colony to a trusted individual, family, or group.
Changing Relationships with the Colonies
In 1642, no permanent British North American colony was more than 35 years old. The crown and various proprietors controlled most of the colonies, but settlers from Barbados to Maine enjoyed a great deal of independence. This was especially true in Massachusetts Bay, where Puritan settlers governed themselves according to the colony’s 1629 charter. Trade in tobacco and naval stores tied the colonies to England economically, as did religion and political culture, but in general the English left the colonies to their own devices.
The English civil war forced settlers in America to reconsider their place within the empire. Older colonies like Virginia and proprietary colonies like Maryland sympathized with the crown. Newer colonies like Massachusetts Bay, populated by religious dissenters taking part in the Great Migration of the 1630s, tended to favor Parliament. Yet during the war, the colonies remained neutral, fearing that support for either side could involve them in war. Even Massachusetts Bay, which nurtured ties to radical Protestants in Parliament, remained neutral.
Charles’s execution in 1649 altered that neutrality. Six colonies, including Virginia and Barbados, declared open allegiance to the dead monarch’s son, Charles II. Parliament responded with an Act in 1650 that leveled an economic embargo on the rebelling colonies, forcing them to accept Parliament’s authority. Parliament argued in the Act that America had been “planted at the Cost, and settled” by the English nation and that it, as the embodiment of that commonwealth, possessed ultimate jurisdiction over the colonies.
The Navigation Acts
Creating wealth for the Empire remained a primary goal, and in the second half of the seventeenth century, especially during the Restoration, England attempted to gain better control of trade with the
American colonies. The mercantilist policies by which it tried to achieve this control are known as the Navigation Acts.
The 1651 Navigation Ordinance, a product of Cromwell’s England, required that only English ships carry goods between England and the colonies, and that the captain and three-fourths of the crew had to be English. The Ordinance further specified “enumerated articles” that could be transported only to England or to English colonies, including the most lucrative commodities like sugar and tobacco as well as indigo, rice, molasses, and naval stores such as turpentine. All were valuable goods not produced in England or were in demand by the British navy.
Charles II Returns
Over the next few years colonists’ unease about Parliament’s actions reinforced their own sense of English identity, one that was predicated on notions of rights and liberties. When the colonists declared allegiance to Charles II after the Parliamentarian state collapsed in 1659 and England became a monarchy the following year, however, the new king dashed any hopes that he would reverse Parliament’s consolidation efforts. The revolution that had killed his father enabled Charles II to begin the next phase of empire building in English America.
Figure 4. England found itself in crisis after the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, leading in time to the reestablishment of the
monarchy. On his 30th birthday (May 29, 1660), Charles II sailed from the Netherlands to his restoration after nine years in exile.
He was received in London to great acclaim, as depicted in his contemporary painting.
After ascending the throne, Charles II approved the 1660 Navigation Act, which restated the 1651 act to ensure a monopoly on imports from the colonies.
Other Navigation Acts included the 1663 Staple Act and the 1673 Plantation Duties Act. The Staple Act barred colonists from importing goods that had not been made in England, creating a profitable monopoly for English exporters and manufacturers. The Plantation Duties Act taxed enumerated articles exported from one colony to another, a measure aimed principally at New Englanders, who transported great quantities of molasses from the West Indies, including smuggled molasses from French-held islands, to make into rum.
In 1675, Charles II organized the Lords of Trade and Plantation, commonly known as the Lords of Trade, an administrative body intended to create stronger ties between the colonial governments and the crown. However, the 1696 Navigation Act created the Board of Trade, replacing the Lords of Trade. This act, meant to strengthen enforcement of customs laws, also established vice-admiralty
courts where the crown could prosecute customs violators without a jury. Under this act, customs officials were empowered with warrants known as “writs of assistance” to board and search vessels suspected of containing smuggled goods.
Despite the Navigation Acts, however, Great Britain exercised lax control over the English colonies during most of the eighteenth century because of the policies of Prime Minister Robert Walpole. During his long term (1721–1742), Walpole governed according to his belief that commerce flourished best when it was not encumbered with restrictions. Historians have described this lack of strict enforcement of the Navigation Acts as salutary neglect. In addition, nothing prevented colonists from building their own fleet of ships to engage in trade. New England especially benefited from both salutary neglect and a vibrant maritime culture made possible by the scores of trading vessels built in the northern colonies. The case of the 1733 Molasses Act illustrates the weaknesses of British mercantilist policy. The 1733 act placed a sixpence-per-gallon duty on raw sugar, rum, and molasses from Britain’s competitors, the French and the Dutch, in order to give an advantage to British West Indian producers. Because the British did not enforce the 1733 law, however, New England mariners routinely smuggled these items from the French and Dutch West Indies more cheaply than they could buy them on English islands.
The Glorious Revolution and the English Empire
GUIDED READING QUESTION:
• 3. Explain the causes and outcomes of the Glorious Revolution
Charles II ruled effectively, but his successor, James II, made several crucial mistakes. Eventually, Parliament again overthrew the authority of their king, this time turning to the Dutch Prince William of Holland and his English bride, Mary, the daughter of James II. This relatively peaceful coup was called the Glorious Revolution. English colonists in the era of the Glorious Revolution experienced religious and political conflict that reflected transformations in Europe. It was a time of great anxiety for the colonists.
King James II
In the 1670s, King Charles II tightened English control over America, creating the royal colony of New Hampshire in 1678, and transforming Bermuda into a crown colony in 1684. The King’s death in 1685 and subsequent rebellions in England and Scotland against the new Catholic monarch, James II, threw Bermuda into crisis. Irregular reports made it unclear who was winning or who would protect their island. Bermudians were not alone in their wish for greater protection. On the mainland, Native Americans led by Metacomet—or as the English called him, King Philip—devastated New England between 1675 and 1678 while conflicts over land between Indigenous people and colonists helped trigger Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia in 1676. Equally troubling, New France was expanding its colonial territory, and many colonists were wary of Catholics gaining political power in Maryland. In the colonists’ view, Catholics and Native Americans sought to destroy English America.
Figure 1. James II (shown here in a painting ca. 1690) worked to centralize the English government. The Catholic king of France,
Louis XIV, provided a template for James’s policies.
James worked to model his rule on the reign of the French Catholic King Louis XIV, his cousin. This meant centralizing English political strength around the throne, giving the monarchy absolute power. Also like Louis XIV, James II practiced a strict and intolerant form of Roman Catholicism after he converted from Protestantism in the late 1660s. He had a Catholic wife, and when they had a son, the potential for a Catholic heir to the English throne became a threat to English Protestants.
James also worked to modernize the English army and navy. The fact that the king kept a standing army in times of peace greatly alarmed the English, who believed that such a force would be used to crush their liberty. As James’s strength grew, his opponents feared their king would turn England into a Catholic monarchy with absolute power over its people.
The Dominion of New England
In 1686, James II applied his concept of a centralized state to the colonies by creating an enormous colony called the Dominion of New England. The Dominion included all the New England colonies (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Plymouth, Connecticut, New Haven, and Rhode Island), and in 1688 was enlarged by the addition of New York and New Jersey. James placed in charge Sir Edmund Andros, a former colonial governor of New York. Loyal to James II and his family, Andros had little sympathy for New Englanders. His regime caused great uneasiness among New England Puritans when it called into question the many land titles that did not acknowledge the king and then imposed fees for their reconfirmation. Andros also committed himself to enforcing the monopolistic Navigation Acts, a move that threatened to disrupt the region’s trade, which was based largely on smuggling.
The Glorious Revolution
Figure 2. This broadside, signed by several citizens, demands the surrender of Sir Edmund (spelled here “Edmond”) Andros,
James II’s hand-picked leader of the Dominion of New England.
In England, opponents of James II’s efforts to create a centralized Catholic state were known as Whigs. The Whigs worked to depose James, and in late 1688 they succeeded, an event they celebrated as the Glorious Revolution.
When the king fled to France in December, Parliament invited William of Orange, the Protestant Dutch Stadtholder and James’s son-in-law, with his wife Mary, to take the throne. The colonists in America declared allegiance to the new monarchs. They did so in part to maintain order in their respective colonies. As one Virginia official explained, if there was “no King in England, there was no Government here.” A declaration of allegiance was therefore a means of ensuring stability.
More importantly, colonists declared allegiance for William and Mary because they believed their ascension marked the rejection of absolutism and confirmed the centrality of Protestantism in English life. Settlers joined in the revolution by overthrowing the Dominion government, restoring the provinces to their previous status, and forcing out the Catholic-dominated Maryland government.
In 1689, Bostonians overthrew the government of the Dominion of New England and jailed Sir Edmund Andros as well as other leaders of the regime. The removal of Andros from power illustrates New England’s animosity toward the English overlord who during his tenure had established Church of England worship in Puritan Boston and vigorously enforced the Navigation Acts, to the chagrin of those in port towns. In New York, the same year that Andros fell from power, Jacob Leisler led a group of Protestant New Yorkers against the Dominion government. Acting on his own authority, Leisler assumed the role of King William’s governor and organized intercolonial military action independent of British authority. Leisler’s actions usurped the crown’s prerogative and, as a result, he was tried for treason and executed. In 1691, England restored control over the Province of New York.
For English colonists, it was indeed a “glorious” revolution as it united them in a Protestant empire that stood counter to Catholic tyranny, absolutism, and growing French power on the continent.
The Glorious Revolution led to the establishment of an English nation that limited the power of the king and provided protections for English subjects. In October 1689, the same year that William and Mary took the throne, the 1689 Bill of Rights established a constitutional monarchy. It demanded Parliament’s independence from the monarchy and protected a certain number of Parliament’s rights, such as the right to freedom of speech, the right to regular elections, and the right to petition the king. The 1689 Bill of Rights also guaranteed certain rights to all English subjects, including trial by jury and habeas corpus (the requirement that authorities bring an imprisoned person before a court to demonstrate the cause of the imprisonment).
John Locke (1632–1704), a doctor and educator who had lived in exile in Holland during the reign of James II and returned to England after the Glorious Revolution, published his Two Treatises of Government in 1690. In it, he argued that government was a form of contract between the leaders and the people, and that representative government existed to protect “life, liberty and property.” Locke rejected the divine right of kings and instead advocated for the central role of Parliament with a limited monarchy. Locke’s political philosophy had an enormous impact on future generations of colonists and established the paramount importance of representation in government.
William and Mary ruled jointly until her death in 1694. William remained as the sole monarch until his own death in 1702. William was followed on the throne by Mary’s younger sister Anne, the last Stuart ruler, under whom the Act of Union was created, unifying the Parliaments of Scotland and England. From this point in time on, England is referred to as Great Britain. Because Anne’s heir had predeceased her, upon her death the English Crown passed to the nearest Protestant relatives of the Stuarts, the Electors of Hanover. George I was the first Hanoverian to take the throne of England. His grandson George III was the king at the time of the American Revolution.
The Toleration Act
The Glorious Revolution also led to the English Toleration Act of 1689, a law passed by Parliament that allowed for greater religious diversity in the Empire. This act granted broader religious freedom to nonconformists such as Trinitarian Protestants (those who believed in the Holy Trinity of God: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), Baptists (those who advocated adult baptism), and Congregationalists (those who followed the Puritans’ lead in creating independent churches). While the Church of England remained the official state religious establishment, the Toleration Act gave much greater religious freedom to nonconformists. However, these allowances did not extend to Catholics, who were routinely excluded from political power. The 1689 Toleration Act extended to the British colonies, where several colonies—Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Jersey—refused to allow the creation of an established colonial church, a major step toward greater religious diversity.
The Great Awakening
GUIDED READING QUESTION:
• 4. Explain the significance of the Great Awakening
The First Great Awakening
Figure 1. This image shows the frontispiece of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, A Sermon Preached at Enfield,” July 8,
1741 by Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was an evangelical preacher who led a Protestant revival in New England. This was his
most famous sermon, the text of which was reprinted often and distributed widely.
During the eighteenth century, the British Atlantic experienced an outburst of Protestant revivalism known as the First Great Awakening. (A Second Great Awakening would take place in the 1800s.) During the First Great Awakening, evangelists came from the ranks of several Protestant denominations: Congregationalists, Anglicans (members of the Church of England), and Presbyterians. They rejected what appeared to be sterile, formal modes of worship in favor of a vigorous emotional religiosity. Whereas Martin Luther and John Calvin had preached a doctrine of predestination and close reading of scripture, new evangelical ministers spread a message of personal and experiential faith that rose above mere book learning. Individuals could bring about their own salvation by accepting Christ, an especially welcome message for those who had felt excluded by traditional, more institutionally sanctioned Protestantism: women, the young, and people at the lower end of the social spectrum.
The Great Awakening caused a split between those who followed the evangelical message (the “New Lights”) and those who rejected it (the “Old Lights”). The elite ministers in British America were firmly Old Lights, and they censured this disruptive new revivalism. Indeed, the revivals did sometimes lead to chaotic excesses. In one notorious incident in 1743, an influential New Light minister named James Davenport urged his listeners to burn books. The next day, he told them to burn their clothes as a sign of their casting off the sinful trappings of the world. He then took off his own pants and threw them into the fire, but a woman saved them and tossed them back to Davenport, telling him he had gone too far.
Another outburst of Protestant revivalism began in New Jersey, led by a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church named Theodorus Frelinghuysen. Frelinghuysen’s example inspired other ministers, including Gilbert Tennent, a Presbyterian. Tennant helped to spark a Presbyterian revival in
the Middle Colonies (Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey), in part by founding a seminary to train other evangelical clergyman. New Lights also founded colleges in Rhode Island and New Hampshire that would later become Brown University and Dartmouth College.
In Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan Edwards led still another explosion of evangelical fervor. Edwards’s best-known sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” used powerful word imagery to describe the terrors of hell and the possibilities of avoiding damnation by personal conversion. One passage reads: “The wrath of God burns against them [sinners], their damnation don’t slumber, the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them, the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened her mouth under them.” Edwards’s revival spread along the Connecticut River Valley, and news of the event spread rapidly through the frequent reprinting of his famous sermon.
The foremost evangelical leader of the Great Awakening was an Anglican minister named George Whitefield. Like many evangelical ministers, Whitefield was itinerant, traveling the countryside instead of having his own church and congregation. Between 1739 and 1740, he electrified colonial listeners with his brilliant oratory.
According to Whitefield, the only type of faith that pleased God was heartfelt. The established churches only encouraged apathy. “The Christian World is dead asleep,” Whitefield explained, “Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.” He would be that voice. Whitefield was a former actor with a dramatic style of preaching and a simple message. Thundering against sin and for Jesus Christ, Whitefield invited everyone to be born again. It worked. Through the 1730’s he traveled from New York to South Carolina converting ordinary men, women and children. “I have seen upwards of a thousand people hang on his words with breathless silence,” wrote a socialite in Philadelphia, “broken only by an occasional half suppressed sob.” A farmer recorded the powerful impact this rhetoric could have: “And my hearing him preach gave me a heart wound; by God’s blessing my old foundation was broken up, and I saw that my righteousness would not save me.” The number of people trying to hear Whitefield’s message were so large that he preached in the meadows at the edges of cities. Contemporaries regularly testified to crowds in the thousands, and in one case, over 20,000 in Philadelphia. Whitefield and the other itinerant preachers had achieved what Edwards could not– making the revivals popular.
TWO OPPOSING VIEWS OF GEORGE WHITEFIELD
Not everyone embraced George Whitefield and other New Lights. Many established Old Lights decried the way the new evangelical religions appealed to people’s passions, rather than to traditional religious values. The two illustrations below present two very different visions of George Whitefield.
Figure 2. In the 1774 portrait of George Whitefield by engraver Elisha Gallaudet (a), Whitefield appears with a gentle expression on his
face. Although his hands are raised in exultation or entreaty, he does not look particularly roused or rousing. In the 1763 British political
cartoon to the right, “Dr. Squintum’s Exaltation or the Reformation” (b), Whitefield’s hands are raised in a similar position, but there the
Compare the two images above. On the left is an illustration for Whitefield’s memoirs, while on the right is a cartoon satirizing the circus-like atmosphere that his preaching seemed to attract (Dr. Squintum was a nickname for Whitefield, who was cross-eyed). How do these two artists portray the same man? What emotions are the illustration for his memoirs intended to evoke? What details can you find in the cartoon that indicate the artist’s distaste for the preacher?
The Great Awakening saw the rise of several Protestant denominations, including Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists (who emphasized adult baptism of converted Christians rather than infant baptism). These new churches gained converts and competed with older Protestant groups like Anglicans (members of the Church of England), Congregationalists (the heirs of Puritanism in America), and Quakers. The influence of these older Protestant groups, such as the New England Congregationalists, declined because of the Great Awakening. Nonetheless, the Great Awakening touched the lives of thousands on both sides of the Atlantic and provided a democratizing, shared experience in the eighteenth-century British Empire.
By the 1760s, the religious revivals had petered out; however, they left a profound impact on America. Leaders like Edwards and Whitefield encouraged individuals to question the world around them. This idea reformed religion in America and created a language of individualism that promised to change everything else. If you challenged the church, what other authority figures might you questio
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