US Colonial History Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Colonial America: Questions


Unlike previous European settlers who came to the New World primarily to make a profit, the Puritans arrived with a commitment to create a new society and genuinely 'settle' on the land. They had no plans to return to England, given that they had been cast out of the Old World because of their religious beliefs. Unlike the settlers at Jamestown, they came prepared to work hard, and did not hope to simply make a quick profit and return to England rich, having done little labor. They believed in the value of hard work as part of their religious philosophy. They believed God had quite literally 'chosen' them to know the truth, which sustained them during times of suffering. During the first years, however, like previous colonists, they did struggle to stay alive. The winter was harsh, and they were forced to adapt their crops and agriculture to the new territory of America.

However, "the Puritans arrived in New England well prepared to start their colony. They brought large amounts of tools and livestock with them. Like the Pilgrims, the Puritans faced little resistance from local American Indians. Trade with the Plymouth colony helped them too. In addition, the region around Boston had a fairly healthful climate" ("The Pilgrims and Puritans come to America to avoid religious persecution," Holt Social Studies, 2012). Trade, fishing, and craftsmanship were the main ways in which the colonists survived and created a new economy in contrast to the 'cash crop' economy of the South. "The often harsh climate and rocky soil meant that few New England farms could grow cash crops. Most farming families grew crops and raised animals for their own use" ("The Pilgrims and Puritans come to America to avoid religious persecution," Holt Social Studies, 2012).

Q2. Cross-cultural exchanges in the New World

The 17th century culture of North America was a battleground for the competing interests of the French, Spanish, Dutch, and English. One common trait was shared amongst all of them: "Few Europeans considered Native Americans their equals, because of differences in religion, agricultural practice, housing, dress, and other characteristics that -- to Europeans -- indicated Native American inferiority. However, the French, Spanish, and Dutch sought profit through trade and exploitation of New World resources" and were willing to deal with the Native Americans to achieve their desired ends of making a profit (Pearson 2013). Some of the earliest Spanish settlers did make efforts to convert the natives, but their lack of success, combined with the high death toll of the Indians when exposed to European diseases only confirmed their perceptions that the Native Americans were inferior to themselves.

The French, in contrast, took a more positive view of the natives and were able to develop economically advantageous relationships with many tribes. "The French exploited existing inter-tribal alliances and rivalries to establish trade relationships with the Huron, Montagnais, and Algonquins along the St. Lawrence River and further inland toward the Great Lakes (Pearson 2013). However, the Indians also benefited from the relationship, given that they were able to acquire "textiles, weapons, and metal goods" which they could not make themselves and gave them advantages over their rivals who did not have a similar relationship with the French (Pearson 2013). A few did convert, mostly the Huron, probably to gain further advantages in trading for weapons with the French. The Dutch engaged in similar efforts, creating a firm alliance with the warlike Iroquois "the most powerful Native American empire in 17th-century North America" (Pearson 2013). "The Iroquois quickly signed an alliance and trade treaty with the English. However, they also maintained friendly relations with the French and welcomed Jesuit missionaries into their midst. The Iroquois were generally successful at playing the French and English off one another until the English drove the French out of North America at the end of the French and Indian War (1763)" (Pearson 2013). These interactions created deep divisions between the native tribes, based upon their alliances and relative closeness to the Europeans, as well as their possession…

Sources Used in Document:


"5b. Indentured servants." The Southern Colonies. U.S. History. 2012. [1 Feb 2013]

Pearson, Ellen Holmes. "The New World: A Stage for Cultural Interaction." Teaching History.

[1 Feb 2013.]

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