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Notes: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter 2

Eric Foner: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter notes, study guide, book outline.

Eric Foner: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter notes, study guide, book outline.

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Chapter 2: Beginnings of English America (1607-1660)

Chapter 2: Beginnings of English America (1607-1660)

Focus Questions

  1. What were the main contours of English colonization in the 17th century? Reason - Nat. power and glory
  2. How did English settlers gain a foothold in the early Chesapeake colonies?
  3. How did Virginia and Maryland develop their early years?
  4. What made the English settlement of New England distinctive?
  5. What were the main sources of discord in early New England?
  6. How did the English civil War affect the colonies in AM?


  1. April 26, 1607 - three ships left Eng to est Jamestown (two weeks later). Was the capital of Virginia (names for Virgin Queen Elizabeth).
  1. Sponsored by Virginia Company. 104 ppl remained in Virginia when ships headed back to Eng
  2. Jamestown = first permanent English settlement
  3. Many conflicts when this was being established
  4. English North America (17th century) was a place to make fortunes, live in a religiously tolerant place, and create societies based on biblical teachings
  5. Wanted to reproduce the social structure that was in England (inequality)
  6. Ranged from slave, with no rights at all, to landowner, who enjoyed full range of rights

England and the New World

  1. Unifying the English Nation
  1. England (16th century) was a second rate power racked by internal disunity
  2. Elizabeth I = Queen who restored the Anglican ascendancy and executed over 100 Catholic priests

England and Ireland

  1. Rather than seeking to absorb the Irish into English society, the English exclude the native population from a territory of settlement known as the Pale
  2. The Irish apparently confused liberty and license and refused to respect English authority, and also resisted conversion to Protestantism
  3. Protestant settlements in Ireland called plantations - “planted” from an alien population

England and North America

  1. Didn’t take interest in N-AM until Elizabeth I
  2. Granted charters to Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh
  1. To est colonies in N AM at the gov’s expense
  2. Both ventures failed (no support from crown)

Raleigh sent 100 colonists to set up a base at Roanoke Island.

  1. First group returned to England. Second (4 yrs later) group is a mystery
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Spreading Protestantism

  1. Reformation heightened Catholic Spain as Eng’s mortal enemy (wanted to liberate New World from tyranny of the pope
  2. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote that the “Indians were calling for England’s help, Liberia (Liberty)”

Motives for Colonization

  1. National Power and Glory = big ones.
  2. Also, Eng left to middle of N AM b/c SP and FR had Canada and S-AM

The Social Crises

  1. New World was a refuge for England’s surplus population, benefiting both the mother country AND the New World
  2. “Enclosure” movement - thousands of persons were uprooted from the land
  3. At this time, half the population lived at or below the poverty line

Masterless men

  1. Thomas More published Utopia , a novel set on an imaginary island in the Western Hemisphere, where N-AM was a place of escape and refuge
  2. Promised settlers 200 acres of land if they immigrated to N-AM
  1. This gave settlers reason to go there (sense of independence)

The Coming of the English

  1. English Emigrants
  1. Disease and Indian tensions riddled the Eng colonies. Were dependent on mother country to provide
  2. Btwn 1607 and 1700, half a million ppl left England (180k in Ireland)
  3. It was a way for poor Englishmen and women to create a new life - not much risk, and they moved around Eng anyway, so why not?

Indentured servants

  1. Settlers who could pay for their own passage arrived in AM as free persons
  2. 2/3 of them, however, had to become indentured servants - exchange 5-7 yrs of labor for passage to N-AM
  3. Similar to slaves, but they could look forward to their release

Land and Liberty

  1. Land ownership was the basis of liberty; it gave most colonists the right to vote
  2. Land was valuable, but without labor, it had little value.

Englishmen and Indians

  1. Unlike SP, English didn’t call themselves “conquerers”
  2. They wanted land, not dominion over the existing population
  3. They didn’t want to intermingle with the Indians, just displace them
  4. 17th Century was marked by recurrent warfare btwn colonists and Indians. Gave the colonists a strong feeling of superiority over the Indians

The Transformation of Indian Life

  1. Most Indians welcomed the newcomers, or at least their goods
  2. European metal goods changed their farming, hunting, and cooking practices
  3. Both groups were better off b/c of their trading

Changed in the land

  1. Everyone sought to reshape Indian society and culture, and they ultimately did, even though the Indians told them to do otherwise

Settling the Chesapeake

  1. The Jamestown Colony
  1. Early history of Jamestown was not promising. John Smith described them as a “quarrelsome band of gentlemen and servants” who would rather starve than work. More interested in gold than farming
  2. Number of settlers dwindled to 65, they left for England, only to be caught by re-supply ships
  3. John Smith then started his rigorous military discipline “He that will not work, shall not eat”

From Company to Society

  1. Virginia Company - soon realized that for the colony to survive, it would have to abandon the search for gold, grow it’s own food, and find a marketable commodity
  2. V-Co gave 50 acres to whoever could afford passage to the New World
  3. House of Burgesses - first elected assembly in colonial AM - not very democratic (only landowners could vote)

Powhatan and Pocahontas

  1. Eng landing in Jamestown (many Indians nearby)
  2. V-Co treated Indians kindly and tried to convert Ind’s to Christianity. Depended on Indians for food
  3. Smith (leader) captured by Indians (Powhatan = leader), he was rescued by Pocahontas (married English Colonist John Rolfe after being Christianized)

The Uprising of 1622

  1. Once Eng made it clear that they wanted to expand rather than trade in New World, fights with the Indians emerged
  2. Unsuccessful uprising of 1622 shifted the balance of power in the colony. Indians uprose and defeated English, but not for long.

A Tobacco Colony

  1. Virginia grew tobacco, even though King James I considered it harmful and dangerous (mainly b/c it was a commodity)
  2. Many large landowners had huge profits and started the “get rich quick” idea. Elite were the ones with lots of land near the rivers
  3. Lots of tobacco growing means lots of workers (or slaves)

Women and the Family

  1. Virginia lacked stable family life. Men outnumbered women 5:1
  2. English women had few rights, nothing compared to Spain though
  3. Most women came to new world as indentured servants, died early, etc..

The Maryland Experiment

  1. Established 1632 as a proprietary colony (a grant of land and governmental authority to a single individual)
  2. Cecilius Calvert - proprietor of the colony. He had absolute power...a recipe for disaster

Religion in Maryland

  1. Calvert hoped that Maryland could be a Protestant and Catholic refuge (could live together in harmony). Life expectancy was very low in Maryland

The New England Way

  1. The Rise of Puritanism
  1. Puritans all agreed that the Church of England was too similar to Catholicism in their religious rituals and doctrines
  2. Congregationalists - Ppl that believed that only Independent local congregations should choose clergymen and determine modes of worship
  3. Puritans believed that leading a good life, and prospering economically were indications of God’s grace

Moral Liberty

  1. Wanted to purify the church from within, or just form their own indep churches
  2. Winthrop - aimed to create the “city upon a hill”. also said that true freedom was “subjection to authority”

The Pilgrims at Plymouth

  1. First Puritans to immigrate to AM - Pilgrims. Sailed on the Mayflower (1620) w/ 150 settlers. Established Plymouth colony and set up Mayflower Compact
  2. Mayflower Compact - first frame of gov in US
  3. They arrived 6 weeks before winter and relied on Indians (Squanto) to help them survive

The Great Migration

  1. Mass Bay Co - founded by London merchants for profit, five ships set sail
  2. Great Migration - flow of population (1/3 of English emigration in the 1630s)
  3. Reasons for coming to New England
  1. Escape religious persecution
  2. Anxiety about the future of England
  3. Economic Betterment
  4. Families started moving there now

B/c of sex ratio and healthier climate, population grew rapidly, doubling every twenty-seven years The Puritan Family

  1. Puritans insisted that the obedience of women, children, and servants to men’s will was the foundation of social stability
  2. Men were definitely leaders of households

Government and Society in Massachusetts

  1. John Winthrop was the leader who stressed community and settler friendship
  2. Gov of Mass reflected the Puritans' religious and social vision
  3. Mass Bay Co. shareholders went to Mass and chose leaders, taking a charter within them, and creating a government
  4. Principle of consent was very central to Puritanism - church members had to agree on everything
  5. Smaller and smaller %’s started to control the gov (over time)

Puritan Liberties

  1. Social inequality = necessary (some poor, some rich), and considered an expression of God’s will
  2. Said that worshiping “any god, but the lord god,” practicing witchcraft, or committing blasphemy = DEATH PENALTY

New England Divided

  1. Puritans exalted individual judgement. Abigail Gifford = pain in the butt-ox. Tolerance wasn’t popular among Puritans
  2. Roger Williams
  1. Insisted that Church and state be separated. He aimed to strengthen religion, not weaken it. He also supported Predestination. He was banished (1636)

Rhode Island and Connecticut

  1. Roger Williams established Rhode Island after receiving a charter from London
  2. Rhode Island had religious freedom, no established church, no religious qualifications for voting, and no requirements that citizens attend church
  3. Religious disagreements is Mass generated other colonies as well
  4. Thomas Hooker - Hartford. Basically, didn’t have to be church members to vote. Also New Haven. Both received royal charter that united as Connecticut

The Trials of Anne Hutchinson

  1. Described by John Winthrop as a “woman of a ready wit and bold spirit”
  2. She held meetings at her house about the church services.
  3. Said that salvation was God’s direct gift to the elect and could not be earned by good works - charged the Puritan leaders with sharing this philosophy
  4. Denounced her for Antinomianism (a term for putting one’s own judgement or faith above human law and the teachings of the church)

Puritans and Indians

  1. Roger Williams criticized the king for granting land already belonging to someone else
  2. Indians represented savagery and temptation, though (to Puritans).
  3. Puritans claimed that they wanted to convert Indians, but just treated them as an obstacle for the first two decades

The Pequot War

  1. Started when a fur trader was killed by Pequots - powerful tribe who controlled southern NE’s fur trade. B/c of this, soldiers surrounded their village and burned it, killing anyone who tried to escape.
  2. This opened up the Connecticut River valley....owned bra, come at me

The New England Economy

  1. Leaders of New England colonies prided that religious reasons were the only reason...definitely economic too, though
  2. New Englanders turned to fishing and timber for exports. Economy centered on family farms producing food for their own use and a small marketable surplus.

The Merchant Life

  1. Per Capita in NE far lower than Chesapeake, but it was much more equally distributed
  2. Gradually received a growing role with trade within the BR Empire
  3. Eventually, the Puritan experiment would evolve into a merchant-dominated colonial government

The Half-Way Covenant

  1. To be considered “elect”, you had to have an “conversion experience”.
  2. Half-Way Covenant = tried to address problem by allowing for the baptism and a “half-way” membership for grandchildren of those who emigrated during the Great Migration
  3. The commercialization of New England was as much a fulfillment of the Puritan mission in AM as a betrayal (b/c failed crops were considered a sign of disapproval from God - these warnings were called jeremiads)

Religion, Politics, and Freedom

  1. The Rights of Englishmen
  1. Traditional definition of “liberties” as a set of privileges confined to one or another social group still persisted, but alongside it had arisen the idea that certain “rights of Englishmen” applied to all within the kingdom
  1. Magna Carta (1215) - idea came from this

The English Civil War

  1. Struggle for political supremacy btwn Parliament and monarchs culminated in the English Civil War of the 1640s.
  2. Started b/c of religious disputes about Catholic forms of worship
  3. House of Commons accused the kings of endangering liberty by imposing taxes w/out parliamentary consent, and leading the nation back towards Catholicism. Civil war broke out - Parliament won
  4. Oliver Cromwell - head of P army

England’s debate over freedom

  1. John Milton called for freedom of speech and of the press
  2. The Levellers proposed a written constitution (Agreement of the Ppl) which began by proclaiming “at how high a rate we value out just freedom”.
  3. Levellers failed, but Diggers went even further hoping to give freedom of land ownership
  4. These ideas of freedom were taken to America by English emigrants

English Liberty

  1. In Eng, All Englishmen were governed by a king, but “he rules over free men,” according to the law
  2. This idea of freedoms for all led to US ideas of getting free themselves

The Civil War and English America

  1. Most New Englanders sided w/ Parliament in Civil War of 1640s
  2. Meanwhile, Anne Hutchinson followers became Quakers (believed spirit of God dwelled within every individual
  3. Quakers were not treated well in Mass. Gave other countries idea of England as religiously non-tolerant

The Crisis in Maryland

  1. Protestants and Catholics fought over the English Civil War, creating a lot of conflict within the colony (later called the “plundering time”
  2. Calvert, in an attempt to attract more settlers, adopted an Act Concerning Religion - institutionalized the principle of toleration that had prevailed from the colony’s beginning. All Christians were guaranteed the “free exercise” of religion. This Law was a Milestone in the history of religious freedom in colonial AM

Cromwell and the Empire

  1. Oliver Cromwell - Ruled England from 1649-1658 (died) - took an aggressive policy of colonial expansion. He banned Catholicism in Ireland, took over Jamaica from Spain
  2. Middle of the 17th century, there were several English colonies along the Atlantic Coach of North America. The seeds were planted for the development of plantation societies based on unfree labor
  3. Next century, would be a time of crisis and consolidation and the population expanded, social conflicts intensified, and Britain moved to exert greater control over its flourishing North american colonies

Voices of Freedom

  1. John Winthrop - Speech to the Massachusetts General Court
  1. Defines two types of liberty
  1. Natural - common to man with beasts and other creatures
  2. Civil or Federal (also moral) - the proper end and object of authority, and cannot subsist w/out it. Only a liberty that is good, just, and honest. Maintained by subjection to authority

Henry Care - His Book “The Free-Born Subject’s Inheritance (1680)

  1. Argues how a “balanced” constitution was essential to preserving individual rights
  2. He says that their Const is the best in the world and that the King is only given so much power
  3. Argues that the law, in England, is both the measure and the bond of every subject’s duty and allegiance, with each man having born fundamental rights


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