|DBQ: COLONIAL FOUNDATIONS & SETTLEMENT OF NORTH AMERICA
By John A. Braithwaite
Using the accompanying documents, your knowledge of the time period and topic, and any other resources you have or care to consult, respond to the following question fully, accurately, and from a variety of viewpoints. Read the first FOUR chapters in Gillon & Matson, The American Experiment. pp 1-167 and then, read Gary Nash’s piece, “Black People in a White People’s Country” from Portrait of America, Volume I, then respond to this question using the textual information and the documents. If a student wants a classic education in colonial history then read Alan Taylor’s American Colonies (Penguin Press, 2001)
To what extent did geography, race, religion, democracy, nationalism, and mercantilism play major roles in the development of colonial North America from 16th to the 18th centuries?
Formulate a thesis statement
Deal evenly with each part of the assessment:
Be sure to cover the time period given
Write with fluency, good form, and correctness—of information
Build your case—be an intellectual attorney—prove your points
Use substantial outside information.
Gillon & Matson The American Experiment **
Davidson, et.al. Nation of Nations
Norton, et.al. A People & A Nation
Brinkley American History
Kennedy & Cohen The American Pageant
Boydston, et.al. Making the American Nation**
Henretta, et.al. American History.
Source: Magna Carta, June 15, 1215. As quoted by C. Stephenson, Sources of English Constitutional History. (New York: Harper and Row, 1937), pp 115-26.
Editorial comment [Stephenson],
While these nobles wanted to protect their own feudal rights, the document is considered the first major step toward democracy in England. It established the principle that the king is not above the law.
1. …We have. . .granted to God and by this. . .confirmed, for us
and our heirs forever, that the English Church shall be free
and shall have its rights entire and its liberties inviolate…
12. Scutage [military tax] or aid [feudal tax] shall be levied in our kingdom only by the common council of our kingdom..
21. Earls and barons shall be amerced [fined] only by their peers
and only according to the degree of the misdeed.
39. No freeman shall be captured or imprisoned or [dispossessed] or outlawed, or exiled or in any way destroyed…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the will of the land.
40 To no one will we sell, to one will we deny or delay right and
Source: John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government. Old South Leaflets, No. 208. Boston. Old South Association, n.d.
The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone; and reason which is that law, teaches all mankind. . .that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or possessions . . . Men being, as has been said, by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate and subjected to the political power of another without his own consent…
The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent . . .
These are the bounds which. . .society, and the law of God and Nature, have set to the legislative power of every commonwealth…
First, they are to govern by. . . established laws, not to be varied in particular cases, but to have one rule for the rich and poor. . .
Secondly, these laws ought to be designed for no other end. . . but the good of the people.
Thirdly, they must not raise taxes on the property of the people without the consent of the people. . .
Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery. . .they put themselves in a state of war with the people. . .
Source: The Mayflower Compact. November 11, 1620
. . . We whose names are underwritten. . . Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the northern part of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the prescience of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue here of, to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James. . .the fifty-fourth Anno Domini, 1620.
Source: Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. January 14, 1639. As quoted in Bernard Feder, Viewpoints: USA. p.6.
. . . we the inhabitants and residents of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield. . . well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God. . . do therefore associate . . . ourselves to be as one public state or commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors. . . enter into one combination and confederation together, to maintain and preserved the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus. . . and also in our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such laws, rules, orders, and decrees as shall be made, ordered and decreed, as follows:
It is ordered, sentenced, and decreed that there shall be yearly two general assemblies or courts. . .
It is ordered. . . that no person be chosen governor above once in
It is ordered. . .that when any general court. . . has agreed upon. . . any sum of money to be levied upon the several towns with in this jurisdiction. . .a committee be chosen to set out and appoint what shall be the proportion of every town to pay of the said levy, provided that the committees be made up of an equal number out of each town.
Source: John Winthrop, The History of New England. Boston: 1853, II, p281.
Even so, brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates. If you stand for your natural corrupt liberties, and will do what is good in your own eyes, you will not endure the least weight of authority, but will murmur, and oppose, and be always striving to shake off that yoke. But if you will be satisfied to enjoy such civil and liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the administrations of it, for your good. Wherein if we fail at any time, we hope we shall be willing (by God’s assistance) to hearken to good advice from any of you, or in any other way of God. So shall your liberties be preserved, in upholding the honor and power of authority amongst you.
Source: “The Bloody Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience.” 1644. By Roger Williams of Rhode Island.
First. That the blood of so many hundred thousands souls of Protestants and Papists, split in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Sixth. It is the will and command of God that a permission of the most pagan, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-Christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries. . .
Eighth: God requires not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state. . .enforced uniformity. . .is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of soul.
Twelfth. Lastly, true civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, not withstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile. . . . the government of the civil magistrate extends no further than over the bodies and goods of their subjects, not over their souls, and therefore they may not undertake to give laws unto the souls and consciences of men. . . .the Church of Christ does not use the arm of secular power to compel men to the true profession of the truth, for this is to be done with spiritual weapons, whereby Christians are to be exhorted and not compelled.
Records of the Town of Newark, New Jersey Historical Society Collection, Newark. 1864, VI, 3 ff.
At a meeting touching the indented design of many of the inhabitants of Branford, the following was subscribed:
1st that none shall be admitted freemen or free burgesses within our town upon River in the Province of New Jersey, but such planters as are members of some or other of the Congregational Churches nor shall any but such be chosen to magistracy or to carry on any part of civil judicature, or as deputies or assistants, to have power to vote in establishing laws, and making or repealing them . . . Nor shall any but such church members have any vote in any such elections; thought all others admitted to be planters have right to their proper inheritances, and do and shall enjoy all other civil liberties, according to all laws,
orders, grants which are, or hereafter shall be made for this town…
Source: Livingston Rutherford, John Peter Zenger, His Press, His Trial.
It is agreed upon by all men that this is a reign of liberty, and while men keep within the bounds of truth, I hope they may with safety both speak and write their sentiments of the conduct of men in power—I mean of that part of their conduct only which affects the liberty or property of the people. . .
Were this to be denied, then the next step may make them slaves. For what notions can be entertained of slavery beyond that of suffering the greatest injuries and oppressions without the liberty of complaining. . .
The question before the court and you, gentlemen of the jury, in not of small nor private concern, it is not the cause of a poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying. No! It may in its consequence affect every freeman that lives under a British government on the main of America. . . It is the cause of liberty. . . by an impartial and uncorrupted verdict [you will] have laid a noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity, and our neighbors, that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us a right—the liberty, both exposing and opposing arbitrary power. . . by speaking and writing truth.
Source: Gillon & Matson, The American Experiment: A History of the United States. (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002), pp 92-93.
Spain , the preeminent colonial power in the 1500s, set the model for imperial economic policy that other nations would follow.
English merchants sought extensive government intervention in the economy to protect now one, now another rising economic interest. Their thinking known (and criticized) as mercantilism, the term used in 1776 by the famous Scottish political economist Adam Smith.
. . .Within the nation, mercantilists said, inhabitants needed a wise government to harness production, to curb the greedy and destructive tendencies of competition, and to promote and channel the exchange of goods through regulation.
By the late 1600s, many mercantilists believed that wealth was not necessarily finite, but that expanding commerce with far-flung peoples helped create strong empires. A commercial empire they wrote, should have one center from which flowed finished goods and many widely distributed satellites that consumed the center’s manufactures and sent back raw materials for additional production in the “home country.”
Source: Degler, Out of Our Past. Pp. 3-5
In America the availability of land rendered precarious, if not untenable, those European institutions which were dependent upon scarcity of land. Efforts to establish feudal or manorial reproductions in the New World came to nothing. . . the upper class in America was one into which others might move when they had acquired the requisite wealth. And so long as wealth accumulation was open to all, the class structure would be correspondingly flexible. . . The very character of the society was affected. As we have seen already, it meant that wealth, rather than family or tradition, would be the primary determinant of social stratification.
Source: John D. Hicks, The Federal Union. 3rd ed. Vol. I, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1957). P.19
The generous charters which trading companies received from the English crown reveal a kind of alliance between government and business that is not difficult to explain.
. . .According to the mercantilists, the chief measure of a country’s wealth was the amount of gold and silver it could amass. The trading companies, by exchanging expensive English manufactures for cheap raw materials, might be counted upon to produce for England a
“favorable balance of trade,” because of which a steady stream of precious metals would flow into the country. Indeed, economic dependence might easily lead to the loss of political independence
To thoughtful English officials America seemed ideally fitted to become an independent national source of supply. The Spanish had found abundant wealth [gold and silver] shy should not the English?
Source: D. Pickering, ed. Statutes at Large (1762-1-11807), 7:452-454, 459-460.
Navigation Act of 1660
For the increase of shipping and encouragement of the navigation of this nation wherein, under the good providence and protection of God, the wealth, safety, and strength of this kingdom is so much concerned;… (2) be it enacted. . . from thence forward, no goods or commodities whatsoever shall be imported into or exported out of any lands, islands, plantations, or territories to his Majesty belonging or in his possession. . . .in Asia, Africa, or America in any other ships, vessel or vessels whatsoever, but in such ships or vessels as do. . . belong only to the people of England or Ireland, dominion of Wales. . . or are of the build of and belonging to any the said lands, islands, plantations, or territories, as the proprietors and right owner thereof, and whereof the master and three fourths of the mariners at least are English.
XVIII. And it is further enacted. . .that. . .no sugars, tobacco, cotton-wool, indigoes, ginger rustic, or other dyeing wood, of the growth, production, or manufacture of any English plantation in America, Asia, or Africa, shall be . . .transported from any of the said English plantations as do belong to his Majesty . . ..
And be it further enacted. . . .that for every ship or vessel which. . .shall set sail out of or from England, Ireland, Wales, . . .for any English plantation in America, Asia, or Africa, sufficient bond shall be given with one surety. . . that the same commodities shall be by the said ship brought to some port. . .and shall there unload. . . .
John Winthrop’s Concept of Liberty. (Taken from Kennedy, The American Spirit. Volume I, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, p.50-51.
There is a twofold liberty: natural (I mean as our nature is now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to man with the beasts and other creatures and man, as he stands in relation to man simply, hath liberty to do what he lists.. It is a liberty to evil as well as to do good. This liberty makes men grow more evil, and in time to be worse than brute beasts. . . .
The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal. It may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions amongst men themselves. . . Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority, but a distemper thereof. This liberty is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority. It is of the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.
The woman’s own choice makes such a man her husband; yet being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, ot of bondage. And a true wife accounts her subjection to her husband’s authority.
French Explorations in the Midwest MAP
Spanish Explorations In North America. MAP
Colonial Triangular Trade Map
De Lamar Jensen, Reformation Europe: Age of Reform and Revolution. pp. 434-5
In the meantime, the first English penetration of the Spanish colonial monopoly launched English colonization ventures in America. More in spite of James I than through his support. London merchants organized a colonizing company for settling and trading in Virginia. In 1607 its first exploration planted a colony upriver from the Chesapeake Bay, naming Jamestown in honor of the king. Difficult weather, lack of food and little desire to grow their own, harassment by Indians, and rampant disease almost destroyed the colony. Most of the settlers died within the first two years. Reinforcements from the newly chartered Virginia Company, the gradual realization that any wealth acquired would have to come from the sweat and toil rather from picking up gold nuggets, and introduction of tobacco cultivation, combine to salvage the colony and eventually make it a successful enterprise.
The second permanent English settlement was Plymouth Colony, established in 1620 by the Pilgrims, a voluntary joint-stock company composed of religious separatists from London, Southampton, and Leiden, Holland. It was later annexed to the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded a few years later by Puritans from England. Neither colony produced the economic wealth that it expected to, but they did plant a legacy of representative self-government in the colony with the Mayflower Compact, by which its signatories agreed to unite in a political-religious society and obey the Laws that would subsequently by made.
From an economic point of view, other ventures were proving to be more profitable. This period was one of commercial expansion for England as well as France and the Netherlands. The American colonies were only a small part of that activity. The Spanish monopoly in the West Indies was penetrated by English seamen and merchants in the first three decades of the seventeenth century. Saint Kitt was settled in 1624. . .Nevis, Montserrat, Antigua, Trinidad, and Tobago,[sometime later]. Barbados, that hidden jewel of the Caribbean was claimed in 1625. It also produced quick wealth from the sale of cotton, tobacco, and sugar.
Curitis P. Nettels, (Cornell University) Roots of American Civilization. [New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc. 1938,] p
The transition from medieval to modern economy introduced a new economic philosophy which the eighteenth century designated as mercantilism—not a systematic program but a collection of regulations exhibiting a major trend. Political mercantilism was an expression of the militant nationalism which arose upon the ruins of feudalism. Its objects were threefold: to achieve an economic self-sufficiency for the manufacturers, and merchants, and to yield an ample revenue to the Crown.
In the opinion of mercantilists the external trade of a country was similar to the business of private merchant. Imports were analogous to the merchant’s purchases, and exports to his sales; the nation’s gain consisted in an excess of exports over imports, or in favorable balance of trade, likened to the merchants’ profit. Such excess value should, in part assume the form of gold or silver money imported to the country
In English mercantilism the role of agriculture was to supply raw materials and foodstuffs for the country rather than for exportation; to this end the landowners received favors from the government through high duties [tariffs] on imports of foreign grain (the corn laws) and through acts which restricted the importation of foreign wool. Manufactured good preferred as exports as exports because they bore high prices than raw materials and hence to create a more favorable balance of trade.
SOURCE: Gerald N. Grob and Robert N. Beck, American Ideas. Vol. I, New York: Free Press, 1963. P.63
Puritanism was largely a middle-class movement that had economic as well as political implications.
There is little doubt that Puritanism was closer to medieval theory than the material goals and values of a growing middle class that was becoming prominent in England and Western Europe after the fifteenth century. While the Puritan never thought of his religion in economic terms, he did emphasize the fact that man could serve God not by withdrawing from the world, but rather by following an occupation or calling that served the world. The Puritan emphasis on industry and enterprise appealed to the middle class in a way that could not appeal to the peasantry or nobility. Although it is difficult to show a causal relationship between capitalism and Puritanism it is probably safe to assert that both movements tended to move closer together because of the affinity and attraction of each toward the other. Undoubtedly Puritan and capitalist ideas went into the formation of the American doctrine of Laissez-faire individualism, a theory that was destined to have momentous repercussions for subsequent economic and social development.
In spite of the proximity of certain Puritan values to the rising capitalistic ethic, Puritanism was more medieval than modern in its economic theory and practice. The idea of unrestrained economic individualism would have seemed a dangerous notion to any self-respecting Puritan. The statue books and court records of seventeenth-century Massachusetts abound in examples of price and wage controls instituted by the government of the colony. The Puritans, furthermore, always looked upon wealth as a gift from God given in the form of a trust; and they emphasized not only the benefits that accrued from work and wealth, but also their duties and responsibilities. In 1639, for example, one of the richest merchants in the colony was fined by the General Court (the highest legislative body) for excessive profiteering, despite the fact that there was no statue against the practice. The Puritans could never separate religion and business, and they often reiterated the medieval conception of the "just price."
In the long run, however, the Puritan ethic, when divorced from its religious background, did serve to quicken and stimulate the spirit of capitalism. The limitations placed by the Puritans on the individual and the freedom of movement within society were subordinated as the time went on in favor of the enterprising and driving individual who possessed the ability and ambition to rise through his own exertions. Thus it is paradoxical that seventeenth-century Puritanism, which was diametrically opposed to economic individualism, should have played a major part in the emergence of a laissez-faire capitalistic ethic.
Diaries of Richard Hakluyt “On The Planting of the English Colonies”
Sir Walter Raleigh and his close friends had been attempting for years to persuade Queen Elizabeth I of the importance of colonization. This group requested Richard Hakluyt to write a book to explain to the Queen the necessity of England bestirring herself to contest Spain’s growing domination of the New World.
I. That this westerne discoverie will be greately for thinlargement of the gospel of Christe, whereunto the prince of the reformed religion are chefely bounde, amongst whome her Majestie yr principall.
II. That all other Englishe trades are growen beggarly or daungerous, especially in the Kinge of Spayne his dominions, where our men are fryven to flinge their bibles and prayer bokes into the sea, and to forsweare and recounce their religion and conscience and consequently theyr obedience to her Majestie.
That this westerne voyadge will yelde unto us all the commodities of Europe, Affrica, and Asia, as far as wee were wonte to travel, and supply the wantes of all our decayed trades.
IV. That this enterprise will be for the manifolde imploymente of numbers of idle men, and for beedinge of many sufficient, and for utterance of the great quantities of the commodities of our realme.
Map of the Missions and Towns of California by the Spanish
Document A: Magna Carta from Medieval England
Document B: John Locke, 2nd Treatise on Civil Government
Document C: Mayflower Compact
Document D: Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
Document E: John Winthrop-History of New England
Document F: “The Bloody Tenet of Persecution for the Cause of Conscience.
Document G: Records of the Town of Newark
Document H: Records of the trial of John Peter Zenger
Document I: The American Experiment
Document J: Degler, Out of Our Past.
Document K: J.D. Hicks, The Federal Union
Document L: D. Pickering, Statutes at Large-Navigation Act
Document M: John Winthrop’s “Concept of Liberty”
Document N: Map: French Exploration in Midwest
Document O: Spanish Explorations In North America
Document P: De Lamar Jensen, Reformation Europe--
An Age of Reform and Revolution.
Document Q: Curtis Nettels, Roots of American Civilization
Document R: Grob and Beck, American Ideas
Document S: Richard Hakluyt, “On the Panting of English Colonies”
Document T: Map, The Missions and Towns of California
Document U: Map of Africa-Showing the Slave Areas & Trade
Document V: Blank for teacher insert
Document W: Blank for teacher insert
U.S. History Rubric Check Sheet
Jim Tomlin, AP Reader
Thesis—Position is clear, argued well, and developed with outside information
Well developed and clearly focused (8-9)
Clear and adequate (5-7)
Confused, limited, or missing (2-4)
No thesis, provides an inappropriate response (0-1)
Document Usage—accurate, applicable, and interpreted correctly:
Sophisticated use of a substantial number of documents (8-9)
Several documents used, may be more descriptive than analytical (5-7)
Few documents used, significant errors in document interpretation (2-4)
No document used, obvious misunderstanding of documents (0-1)
Critical Thought—deep, open, & clear for the readers
Strong interpretation and analysis (8-9)
Limited or superficial analysis, mostly descriptive (5-7)
Limited or no understanding of the question (2-4)
Shows a complete lack of understanding (0-1)
Evidence—Facts, conclusions, & arguments are sound
Abundant, appropriate, dealing with all aspects of question (8-9)
Uses some factual information (5-7)
Superficial or missing supporting information (2-4)
Little or no evidence (0-1)
Writing Style—Fluency, Form, & Correctness:
Well organized and well written (8-9)
Acceptable organization and writing (5-7)
Weak organization and/or poorly written (2-4))
May be incomprehensible (0-1)
Error Level—Grammar, Mechanics, Content, & Logical
No errors or errors are insignificant (8-9)
May contain minor errors (5-7)
May contain major errors (2-4)
Has substantial factual errors (0-1)
Correct and accurate use of documents
Clear and coherent writing maintained
Outside information brought into the question
Arguments are sound and logical
Conclusions are supported by historical evidence
Expression and diction are of university level work
The essay is completely convincing.
Rubric For Teaching, Reading, & Writing
The question identifies a whole handful of key ingredients that help to explain the discovery, colonization, and effective settlement of North America. All five elements were necessary to achieve the permanent settlement and development of a 200 year enduring culture that mirrored old Europe, while becoming a brave new world for the tired and oppressed of the Reformation. It was the creation of new nation based upon self-reliance, self-motivation, and self-government.
Point #1: Issues of Geography that Affected the New World
Colonial spheres of influence up to Seven Years War (Map)
The Great Southwest—Spain’s Empire
North American Coast—Florida to Maine—English Control
French Explored—Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, & Mississippi Valley
Russian claims to Alaska and western Canada.
Portuguese got the lion’s share of South America--Brazil
Point #2: Economic developments in Old & New Worlds
Mercantilism was the economic bridge of the time
French interest was in fur trading
Spanish interests were Gold & Silver exploitation of Indians
Portugal and Holland were involved in trading commerce ventures
Capitalism and commerce with agriculture was Britain’s interest
Point #3: Foundations of Democracy from the Beginning
American democracy has foundations in Middle Ages & theocracy
Espouses self-government by the majority
Representative government established in English colonies
Government by social contract and common consent
Development of self-reliance and independence were the outcome!
Point #4: Impact of Religion on colonization of the New World
Development and manifestations of Puritanism/Calvinism
Two-fold development of Catholicism with Spain and France
English contributed: Anglicanism, Quakerism, and Congregationalism
Lutheranism is only marginally important in New Holland
Religion is based on faith rather than dogmatism
Point #5: The issues of race, ethnicity, gender affect economics
Introduction of slavery was an economic based issue
Native Americans and the economics of the fur trade
In Spanish America, the mestizo/mulatto pose a dilemma
Immigrants vs continental Americans was dramatic over time
The changing role of women in the New World was affected by all issues
Old World ethnic clashes with new world peoples
Point #6: These Issues were the cornerstones of New World Ideals
Renaissance, Reformation, Overseas expansion, and Colonization
Spanish system of God, Gold, and Glory was the motivation
Control of the sea-lanes controlled the colonial commerce
Location, Climate, soil, and topography are specific determiners
Mercantilism was the motive for economic nationalism & imperialism
Point #7: History is but geography in motion.
Capability of European nations to command the seas
Spain comes early and stays on
France and Holland come as commercial nations colonize little
The Hafen thesis, that “history is geography in motion” is correct.
Geography dramatically affected by technology.
Point #8: Conclusions
democracy evolved and developed over time
religion was a major player of democratization & autocracy
mercantilism was the economic philosophy of the whole age
The time, the events, and the location all played roles
England won, because England settled and provided the reasons for people to come to the new world
Conclusions: (Use bullet points if you wish here.)
The essay shows change over time in dramatic ways
Enables students to compare and contrasts styles and policies
Essay synthesizes the elements of colonial durability
Essay argues the causes and success of colonization
Essay is an historical evaluation of developing overseas expansion