4 questions on American history

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Question One

FACTS

The colonialists at New England and Chesapeake were completely different. These two groups of colonialists both had different reasons for immigrating to the New World. The colonialists in Chesapeake were mainly after financial wealth and gains that could be acquired from the exploitation of resources such as gold and silver. They were Anglicans, and, thus, were not keen on religion. (Henretta, 2010), notes that in New England, there were many used to identify witches in New England:

“Between 1647 and 1662, civil authorities in New England hanged fourteen people for witchcraft, most of them older women accused of being “double-tongued” or of having “an unruly spirit.”

The colonialists in New England were Puritans who were there to settle and practice their religion as they wanted; something that was not possible in their homelands. Therefore, they settled and farmed for subsistence rather than for monetary gain.

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Looking at these two groups of colonialists, historians can easily see why there were major witchcraft scares in one area and major rebellions in another. Fundamentally, the two colonialist groups had different aims and approaches of governing these regions. The Chesapeake colonialists were after financial gain. Thus, the exploitation of human labor to maximize profits could have led to the rebellion of people who wanted better – working conditions. On the other hand, in New England, the primary focus was religion. Therefore, it is easy to see why the colonialists’ primary concern was that no witchcraft was practiced in their midst.

In my opinion, the factors that led to the major witchcraft scares in New England were social and religious. The social set up of the area called for the utmost piety and religious conformity. The cause for the rebellion among the inhabitants of Chesapeake was mainly financial. The colonialists wanted to get monetary gain at all costs, and this did not go down well with the laborers. For this fundamental reasons, the two areas had to face different challenges due to the social set up and motivation for moving to the New World.

Question Two

FACTS

The fight for freedom to self-govern for the United States was a long one. Even after managing to get independence from the British, they were not recognized as an independent state. The rebels to the Crown wanted this recognition. The soldiers of the Crown were well placed and equipped to defeat the American insurgents in the war that ensued. However, due to some misinformed and poor decisions, the Crown forces fell, and this was a major victory for the rebels. Henretta, 2010, in Chapter 6, under the topic “Armies and Strategies” notes that:

“Thanks in part to General Howe, the rebellion survived. Howe had opposed the Coercive Acts of 1774 and still hoped for a political compromise”.

In addition to winning the war against the British, the rebels were able to get aid from the French as allies in the war against the British.

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Several factors play into the loss of the war by the British. However, the general opinion is that the biggest mistake lay with General Howe. As mentioned earlier, the British were best placed to win the war. They had the best strategy to defeat the rebels, and they were well equipped to fight the war. The rebels did not have the organization and the equipment that the British had. However, when it came to the execution of the strategy, the British failed immensely, and this led to them losing.

General Howe contributed to this in two significant ways. First, he insisted on waiting to have Congress surrender rather than attack the rebels. This period of waiting in the winter of seventeen seventy-seven (1777) was more than enough time for the rebels to regroup and come back stronger against the British. The second way Howe failed the British were by making the mistake of seizing Philadelphia rather than attack from the South as General Burgoyne attacked from Canada.

Question Three

FACTS

The Second Great Awakening in the United States was a period where the protestant movement was able to grow and capture many people as the message of salvation was preached to many people. The church began to serve as a moral compass for the community. The women who attended these churches felt the need to practice what they were taught in church and would often be found spreading the message of behavioral reform to their communities. They spoke against many vices, and this made the protestant women forces of social change at that period in the country. As described in Chapter 11, under the topic “Origins of the Women’s Movement”:

“To protect their homes and husbands from alcoholic excess, they joined the Independent Order of Good Templars, a family-oriented temperance organization in which women were full members” (Henretta, 2010).

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Women became very involved in the running of the affairs of their community. Since the Second Great Awakening called its converts to lead lives that were morally upright, the women turned to the vices that existed in their community. For instance, the abuse of alcohol was a problem that was mainly associated with the men. The Protestant women arose against this vice and created communities where such vices were unacceptable.

Slavery was another social vice that women found themselves opposing due to their religious beliefs. It would be impractical to say that they worshiped a God of freedom yet they had slaves in their possession. The women in this era started creating awareness of the fact that slavery was wrong and would have to be done away with so that people could truly find meaning in their faith. In my opinion, this was a factor that led to the change of social perception about slavery and why it had to be abolished.

Question Four

FACTS

The slave trade and slavery was a very lucrative business. Many people had established careers in this trade and were earning large sums of money. However, the economic benefit of the trade could not overshadow the consequences of the trade. The social and emotional toll that the trade had on millions of individuals was far too large to ignore. As of 1860, slavery was a firm installation in the lives of Americans. However, by 1865, much had changed and the U.S. government was doing away with slavery. Several factors led to the end of slavery in the country. Chapter 14, under the topic “Contrabands,” Henretta, 2010, says:

“In April 1862, Congress to end slavery in the federal territories”.

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Two main ways of thought led to the abolition of the slave trade: the economic and humanitarian reasons. The humanitarian reasoning is credited with the abolition of slave trade since it appealed to the fact that the slave trade was fundamentally wrong and went against human nature to intentionally wrong another human being. There were numerous calls to end slavery as a result.

The economic benefits of ending slavery forced the U.S. to do away with slavery. Industrialization led to the abolition of slavery in the United States. The vast resources that would be needed for the development and growth of the industries would have to be sourced from Africa. If the slave trade were to continue, there would be inadequate labor left on the continent to produce these raw materials. The small population of people in Africa would make the industry less productive. In my opinion, the economic reason would be enough to allow the governments of USA and Britain to do away with slavery.

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  1. Henretta, J. A. (2010). America: A Concise HIstory, Volume I: To 1877. Boston: St. Martin’s.
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