3. COLONIAL NORTH AMERICA, 1690-1754 (chapter 4)
Population growth and immigration
Colonial population grew from 250,000 to 2.5 million, most born in America and thus loyal to America. In addition, several thousand immigrants came to America from places other than England, reinforcing a lack of allegiance to the crown.





Transatlantic trade and the growth of seaports
Colonial cities served as mercantile centers or “entrepots” where British goods increasingly came to America. Trade from Britain increased by over 300% in the three decades before the Revolution. The effect was an “Anglicizing” American culture



the eighteenth-century back country
Scots-Irish and German immigrants came by the thousands, going to the Appalachians and beyond. These folks became the pioneers of the colonial period.


Growth of plantation economies and slave societies
Plantations built on tobacco, rice, and indigo continued to be the dominant economic, social, and political institution in the southern colonies. Within each plantation, the owner tried to create an independent economy with craftsmen/artisans to maintain productivity.
Slave societies developed especially on large plantations where the concentration of people allowed social “creole” customs to develop including a “black” form of Christianity.


William Byrd’s Westover Plantation

colonial slaves creating cultural traditions





The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening
In America the leader of the Enlightenment was Ben Franklin, who popularized the logic and the science of natural law in his Poor Richard's Almanac. The belief that natural law applied to human society was popularized by Franklin through Cato’s Letters, authored by two English Whigs, Trenchard & Gordon.


Franklin 1st published Catos Letters in the New England Courant in 1721.

The Great Awakening, America’s first national experience, was a neo-Calvinist religious revival led in New England by Jonathan Edwards (“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) and spread through the rest of the colonies by the itinerant English preacher, George Whitefield.


George Whitefield mesmerizes

Colonial governments and imperial policy in British North America
Colonial assemblies evolved in this time period into sophisticated lawmaking bodies that fancied themselves to be the defenders of the rights of the people.
When the assemblies sparred with imperial policy, they did so with the enforcement agents, the royal governors. The assemblies used the “power of the purse” to bring most governors into line.
Nevertheless, Britain’s mercantilist policies guided economic life in the colonies even though those policies fell into “salutary neglect”.


the most famous colonial assemblyman: Patrick Henry




4. THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY ERA, 1754-1789

The French and Indian War
-ends in the Peace of Paris: Britain gains Canada and Florida and the French threat is removed
-British soldiers remain in the colonies to “secure the peace”
-colonial officers get experience
-British army is not invincible
-colonial pride in British empire
-huge war debt leads to taxation after 1763

The Death of General Wolfe at the Battle of Quebec by Benjamin West

The Imperial Crisis and resistance to Britain
The imperial crisis starts with a fundamental disagreement over the power of Parliament to levy taxes on the colonies (“virtual representation” vs. “no taxation without representation”)
The Stamp Act (1765) results in colonial wide protest and spawns the “Sons of Liberty”.
The Tea Act(1773) provokes the Boston Tea Party; the Parliamentary response is the Coercive or Intolerable Acts, followed by the colonies First Continental Congress (1774).


British view of the Sons of Liberty

The War for Independence
King George declares the colonies in open rebellion and the fighting begins at Lexington and Concord (1775). Washington is appointed commander and in 1776 reluctant colonists are swayed by Common Sense to declare for independence.
Jefferson’s declaration is both an expression of enlightenment philosophy and a direct assault on the king.
The war begins to look up when France, then Spain, then Holland declares war on England. Yorktown is the political victory the colonists need. Franklin negotiates a generous Treaty of Paris (1783).



Yorktown Surrender by John Trumbell (1781)


State constitutions and the Articles of Confederation
New governments are created that attempt to protect the rights of the people by limiting the power of the central government and the power of the state executives.
The Articles government’s limited power make it ineffective in many ways but not in organizing settlement in the Northwest territories (think Northwest Ordinance).
“Nationalists” call for a convention to amend the Articles government because of incidents like Shays Rebellion.


Shays’s men at the courthouse


a bloody end to Shays Rebellion (1786)

The federal Constitution
The Philadelphia Convention (1787) created a constitution that was a product of compromises between the north and the south and between the large and small states, the most famous compromise being the “Great Compromise.” Madison is considered by historians to be the “father” of the constitution because of his leadership in the convention. Washington served as its president/chairman.


Washington presiding at the Convention




The ratification of the constitution by 9 of the states seemed unlikely until a group calling themselves “the Federalists”(Madison, Hamilton, Jay were the writers) argued in favor of a large republic. This group labeled their opponents the “Anti-Federalists.” The Anti-Federalists feared a strong central government would jeopardize liberty.







Famous Federalists


Madison Hamilton Jay




Famous Anti-Federalists

Henry Mason Adams