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62). In the records of the trial, a disturbing trend appears in depositions provided by supposed witnesses to the time period immediately preceding the rape.
In short, the investigators seem less interested in determining the facts of the case than in showing that Watkins was, for lack of a better phrase, "asking for it" due to her sexually aggressive nature and the fact that she had been drunk (Sweet, 2010, p. 63-64). That sexual and behavioral standards for women constituted a double standard intended to excuse male behavior while condemning female behavior is quite evident by the parade of witnesses whose sole testimony is to the fact that Watkins seemed unconcerned with Christian standards of sexual behavior. That this testimony represents a kind of gender and religious bias is evidenced by the fact that it was contradicted by one other witness, who gave information that largely conformed with Watkins' claims and challenged the veracity of the other witnesses. Perhaps the most disturbing element of Watkins' trial, however, is the fact that the claims used to discredit her, that she was drunk and sexually liberal, are still used in America today in attempts to discredit accusations of rape. As such, it becomes clear that the opportunities promised by America have never been equally distributed, and likely never will be so long as power remains primarily in the hands of white, Christian men.
4. Compare and contrast New England with the Chesapeake in either the seventeenth century (1600s) or eighteenth century (1700s). How did family, work, class, religion, and state building differ in these two regions and why?
The experience of individuals living in New England and the Chesapeake Bay region differed greatly in the seventeenth century largely because either group represented a specific relationship with the cultural, political, and social legacy of Europe. Despite its name, New England actually does not represent the region which had the most continuity with Europe, because the Chesapeake "was essentially English in its population, laws, institutions, and acceptance of gentry rule as necessary to social order" (Archdeacon, 1996, p. 604). New England, on the other hand, contained a strain of Puritan thought whose goal was an explicit and robust break from the traditions of New England. This is why, for example, the Puritans were eager to found their own university in the form of Harvard; rather than retain ties to the English educational system; they wanted a clean break from the traditions of the past, and although this break was likely not as clean as many of the Puritan leaders would have liked, the fact remains that New England in the seventeenth century represented a distinctly different kind of colonial community than that present in the Chesapeake region (Carpenter, 2003, p. 45). Thus, while family, work, class, and religion in the Chesapeake region largely followed the same lines as they had in England, in New England all of these were subsumed by the desire to enact a new kind of religious society free from the influence of the past.
5. Discuss the origins of colonial North American slavery. Consider the diversity of the colonies, the international context, and the Atlantic slave trade. How did the development of slavery transform life in the colonies?
The development of slavery transformed life in the colonies by dramatically changing the economic and cultural landscape. The history of slavery in America contains a number of misconceptions, mainly having to do with the relationship between racism and economic interest. While the European settlers and merchants who participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade were undoubtedly racist, it is an oversimplification to suggest that their actions were motivated by racism. Instead, one must recognize "that economic factors were most important in the end," and that racism is simply what allowed the slave trade to flourish (Thornton, 1998, p. 1486).
That is to say, the trans-Atlantic slave trade was not a system born out of an explicit desire to subjugate what was considered a "lesser" people by white Europeans, but rather stemmed from the need for relatively cheap labor in the newly emergent agricultural sector of the colonies. While this labor had previously been supplied by white and black indentured servants alike, the supply of these servants (who in most cases were able to gain their freedom) was not enough to maintain the plantations of the colonies, particularly in the South, where cotton and tobacco crops demanded a substantial amount of regular labor (Thornton, 1998, p. 1487). As such, "the availability of literally millions of potential workers from Africa" was practically too much for colonists and merchants to resist, and so the trans-Atlantic slave trade picked up and became one of the most successful economies of the New World (Thornton, 1998, p. 1487).
The economic diversity displayed by the different colonies helps explain why slavery was much more central to the Southern colonies, because it was there that the most labor intensive crops were grown. Furthermore, the Southern colonies were much closer to those regions of Central and South America that represented one point of the so-called "triangle trade," so even if slaves did eventually end up in the North, they likely first arrived somewhere in the South. Recognizing the influence of this economic and geographic diversity on the slave trade is important, because it demonstrates how the roots of the North-South divide that would ultimately culminate in the Civil War can be traced all the way back to the earliest days of the American colonies.
Archdeacon, T.J. (1996). Adapting to a new world: English society in the seventeenth-century chesapeake. The International Migration Review, 30(2), 604-604.
Carpenter, J.B. (2003). New englands puritan century: Three generations of continuity in the city upon a hill. Fides Et Historia, 35(1), 41-58.
Smallwood, a.D. (1999). A history of native american and african relations from 1502 to 1900.
Black History Bulletin, 62(2), 18-31.
Sweet, J.W. (2010). UNSETTLING SEX: Lessons from colonial north america.
Transformations, 21(2), 59-79,179.
Thornton, J.K. (1998). The…[continue]
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