Essays Berkin Chapter 3
10. Although both were established by people from the same country at roughly the same time, did Virginia and Plymouth have much else in common? Compare and contrast England’s first two successful colonies in the Western Hemisphere.
DEVELOPING YOUR ANSWER: In comparing the two colonies, you must be certain to describe their similarities. These include their fragile condition when they were first founded; both could easily have failed. They also shared similar experiences in dealing with the local Indians. By asking for contrasts, the question also asks you to describe differences between Jamestown and Plymouth. Begin by explaining the very different reasons that they were established. Then address how their economic bases differed. The way in which participation in local government emerged in each provides a third important example of contrasts.
20. Religious controversy in the seventeenth century was a powerful force in the internal evolution of a number of the English colonies. Discuss how conflicts centering on religion shaped the colonies of Maryland, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
DEVELOPING YOUR ANSWER: Maryland and Massachusetts both arose because their founders opposed the Church of England. Within Maryland, Protestant opposition to the Catholic proprietor led to open conflict on several occasions, while the Toleration Act was an attempt to prevent it. Puritans in Massachusetts created a society guided by religious requirements and sought to stamp out religious dissent. Suppression of colonists like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson led to the creation of Rhode Island, a colony that, in contrast to Massachusetts, permitted freedom of religion.
30. Many of the English colonies began as private undertakings, whether organized by a joint-stock company or by proprietors. Most, however, eventually became royal colonies. Trace this transition from private venture to direct control by the government in two of the following: Virginia, Massachusetts, and South Carolina.
DEVELOPING YOUR ANSWER: Virginia began under the direction of a joint-stock company but in less than two decades became a royal colony. Be sure to explain what problems within Virginia prompted the English government to step in and take control.
Massachusetts was also organized as a private venture, but it kept going on its own for sixty years until the Crown moved in. Efforts by the English government to assert greater control actually occurred earlier: explain how Charles II and James II tried to do so. Finally, however, a new king—William—imposed a royal charter and a royal governor. Be certain to sketch the complex political background of his decision to do so.
In South Carolina’s case, a group of eight proprietors, favored by the king with a huge land grant, thought they could create a society dominated by great landowners. That proved not to be the case, though a social system dominated by a planter elite did arise. Eventually, they seized control of their section of the original Carolina grant from the proprietors, and South Carolina soon ended up as a royal colony instead of a proprietary one.
40. The North American colonies gave their founders the opportunity to design new societies from the ground up—but the results usually did not conform to the original plans. Select any three colonies and describe how and why the societies that developed in them did not match their original designs.
DEVELOPING YOUR ANSWER: Choosing Maryland, Carolina, and New York for discussion will require that you describe how their founders envisioned societies of large landowners and even (in South Carolina’s case) serfs. Explain why such efforts did not attract settlers and what developed in their place.
Choosing Pennsylvania and Massachusetts will involve discussion of how religious principles desired by the founders failed to take permanent root. In Pennsylvania’s case, the influx of non-Quaker settlers undermined William Penn’s plans for good relations with the Indians. In Massachusetts, the plan to establish a political system built around church membership began to falter when the second and third generations proved less interested in joining the church than their parents. To maintain political control, the Puritans were forced to adopt the compromise called the Half-Way Covenant. In the end, in any case, church membership ceased to count for political purposes when the Crown took control of the colony.
Selecting Georgia requires examination of James Oglethorpe’s plans for the colony. Discussion of the settlers’ rejection of his paternalistic approach and their insistence on owning slaves will allow explanation of why his design for the colony was unrealistic.