History- Early American History

Early American History

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Coercive Acts

Also known as the Restraining Acts or Intolerable Acts, the Coercive Acts were legislations established for the purpose of restoring order in Massachusetts following acts of defiance such as the Boston Tea Party. George III introduced the coercive Acts to the United States in 1774 together with the government of Lord North in England. The Coercive Acts consisted of four different acts including the Massachusetts Government act, Boston Port Act, Administration of Justice Act and the Quarterly Act, all of 1774. Each of these acts was established as away to annihilate defiance in the state and restore law and order for the state. Upon their introduction, the coercive acts received plenty of repudiation from members of parliament, who believed that the strict nature of these Acts would chart a course that individuals may not be willing to follow hence result in more defiance. However, parliament continued on to pass the legislation with hopes that they will yield similar results as those of the Quebec Act, which was also considered an intolerable act.

The impacts of passing these legislations were many with the most obvious impact being the convening of the First Continental congress the same year in Philadelphia. Because this legislation was particularly designed for Massachusetts, the effects of the legislation on this state included regaining respect and sympathy for the state by those who looked down on the state. Conclusively, the harshness of these legislations also compelled those in authority to drift towards radical thinking when it came to designing the laws of the land.

Bacon’s Rebellion

The year 1676 saw a revolt led by Nathaniel Bacon in colonial Virginia, as a way of rebelling against the privileges that were granted to some members of the American population. In addition to this, the rebellion also set to fight against the increase in taxes, and low prices for tobacco that was characteristic of the American society at the time. Though Nathaniel Bacon was the leader of the rebellion, Sir William Berkeley also played a major role in the rebellion. This is because Berkeley had continuously failed in defending the frontier form attacks by the Native Americans, making the progression of the rebellion easy. Bacon and Berkeley constantly, fell out with each other during this period, which saw Bacon being arrested as the leader of the rebellion. After his release, Bacon managed to coerce Berkeley into allowing him to fight against the native Americans which eventually saw the governor fleeing from his state on to the eastern sea shore. After a long and worthwhile fight, Bacon took over the colony, but died soon after forcing the rebellion to collapse. Berkeley, on the other hand, was forced to go back to his home country in England, which restored peace in the state. The end of the attacks in the state was a sign of victory as it allowed the tidewater aristocracy to continue maintaining and sustaining its power in the state.

Stono Rebellion

Different from the Bacon rebellion, the Stono Rebellion was a revolt of slaves against their owners in colonial America. This rebellion was dubbed as one of the largest and most disastrous rebellions that America has ever experienced, as it saw the death of thousands of people, especially form the black communities. The Stono Rebellion took place in 1739 near Stono River, in South Carolina hence the name given to it. Though most of the details of this rebellion were uncertain and historians are not sure of the real causes of the rebellion, information regarding the revolt was attained from firsthand and secondhand reports. Agreeably, the rebellion concerned freedom of the slaves form their masters, as well as, demanding equal treatment as citizens of the state in which they lived. The slaves not only demanded for freedom, they also wanted to have land, which they could settle down in after their freedom. The slaves escaped from their respective plantations only to face a Spanish proclamation that the escaped slaves would face punishment for defying the laws of the land. This rebellion was so drastic that it disrupted proper functioning of nearby states such as Charlestown, hence the break out of a small war in the state. Quite a number of rebels, as well as, their white owners and members of the black community were killed during this rebellion. In response to Stono rebellion, authorities in South Carolina passé the Negro Act of 1740, which limited slave education, assembly and the establishment of slave movements in the state. In addition to this, the rebellion also saw the enactment of legislations against the importation of slaves, as well as, establishing penalties against harsh treatment of slaves by slave owners

The Great Awakening

In the years between the 1730s and the 1740s America experienced a period of religious revival known today as the great awakening. This period saw the reduction of importance in the church doctrine, and instead allowing individuals to focus more on their individual spirituality. The great awakening occurred as a result of the questioning of the true role of religion in society, and the role of the individual in the society in which he or she lives. Most believed that it was the individual spiritual experience that was important and not the religion to which the individual belonged. This event was triggered by the enlightenment of society that saw many individuals encouraged to use their individual reasoning and logic when making decisions regarding religion and other social factors. Individuals were encouraged to understand the world, not through the teachings of religion, but through scientific law and understanding. The great awakening saw the establishment of numerous new religions, as well as, reducing the importance of the church clergy to the society.

The Dominion of New England

One of the most significant parts of American history was the dominion of New England, which occurred between 1686 and 1689. The dominion of New England was a union of all the English colonies that had set home in North America. The ideologies here were the synchronization of administrative activities with all the English colonies in such a way that they could be governed in unison. The idea was to have one governor for all the colonies, who would act as the leader of the English colonies in the state. However, historians argue that the dominion of New England, as well as, the policies in this movement were a complete failure owing to the lack of proper planning by the group. The dominion of New England failed because the English colonies were too many and too large to be managed by one governor.

Motives of Spanish, French, British, and Dutch Explorers in America

The age of exploration saw a number of explorers find their way into America in search of different things. Spanish, French, British, and Dutch explorers all came to the United States in search of one thing or the other. At the outset, all these explorers considered the United States as a wasteland that deterred trade between their countries and the rest of the world. More specifically, the explorers were in search of the Northwest Passage, which they considered as the direct route to the Orient. The orient was a home of trade especially in relation to resources such as silk, spices, and wealth, and was considered as one of the biggest players during the period of industrialization.

For that reason, they all came to America in search of a route that would open up trade between their countries and the West Indies. Amid their search for an open trade route, these explorers stumbled upon a number of American resources, hence diversifying the motives for exploration between these explorers. The motives of Spanish explorers were specific to the search for mineral wealth, as they were in search of the city of gold which they believed would have been in the USA. In addition to this, Spanish explorers also looked to spread Christianity to the country that was predominantly native. The French explorers also had similar motives to those of Spanish explorers and they intended to spread Christianity in the United States. Contrastingly, the French motives for exploration in the state also revolved around the discovery of route by water, which would connect the east and North America. The British and the Dutch, on the other hand, desired to colonize as much of America as they could as a way of increasing their empires. In essence, the Spanish, French, British and Dutch explorers were all in search of new land which they would capture for the expansion of their empires.


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University of South Carolina Press, 2005.

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