A Diverse Society The Growth of Colonial America During the Early 18th Century
Enormous Population Growth The population of the English colonies grew from around 25,000 in 1640 to over 2.5 Million in 1775 – that is, it increased by a factor of ten in just 135 years. This sort of startling growth was a product of improved housing and sanitation to some extend. But it was more closely related to the astounding rates of childbirth. An average woman in Colonial America would give birth to seven children, and giving birth to over a dozen children was not at all unheard of. Some women died in childbirth, but overall, the population swelled.
Two Forms of Immigration Enslaved Labor Emigrating Europe Why choose immigration? Free land was available, especially in the backcountry. Religious wars in Europe might be escaped. Rising taxes and fears of famine. Seeking religious toleration. The enslaved had no choice in the immigration process. The vast majority of those who were kidnapped and enslaved perished. North America, though, offered the greatest hope for survival, since the labor was less backbreaking and the living conditions were better than the Caribbean or South America.
Single or Widowed Women Because women became the legal dependents of their husbands upon marriage, maintaining one’s rights was easier as a single or widowed woman. There were a handful of instances when women were even allowed the ballot if they owned property. Once married, however, a woman ceded all of her property – and her independence – to her husband. Men even controlled custody rights, meaning that in the unlikely event of a divorce, he would always take the children.
Between 10 and 12 Million were enslaved, close to 2 Million of which did not survive the Middle Passage.
Most Slave Ships Arrived in … either Brazil or the Caribbean Islands (The West Indies, then). The map above shows the distribution of enslaved people by the Middle Passage. By percentage, over 80% would arrive in Brazil or the Caribbean Islands. About 500,000 would be imprisoned in the English colonies of North America.
The Virginia & Colonial Slave Codes: • Enslaved people could not own property. • Enslaved people could not testify in court against whites. • Enslaved people could not move about freely from place to place. • Enslaved people could not assemble in groups of more than a certain number.
Twenty percent of Colonial Americans were Enslaved. In some colonies, notably South Carolina, enslaved people made up the majority of the population.
The Stono Rebellion of 1739 Along the Stono River in South Carolina, the largest slave revolt in North America – at the time – took place. An enslaved man known only as Jemmy today led a violent insurrection in order to free the enslaved. He hoped to make his way towards Spanish Florida and freedom. The South Carolina militia, however, ended the revolt speedily. Over twenty whites were killed; dozens more of the enslaved would be punished by death.
Rationalism - Enlightenment thinkers came to believe that by applying natural law to all elements of human inquiry, society would benefit. Hence, they sought out guidance for political systems, economic relationships, and scientific research by using “natural law.” As a result, political philosophers, economists, and men and women in many other fields attempted to evaluate social political systems against what they perceived as a “State of Nature.” Eliminating the “unnatural” was one of their goals.
John Locke – Political Philosopher • Locke argues that men came together to form governments in order to secure their property and to preserve their lives, liberties and estates. • In Locke’s influential treatises, he argues that no government is legitimate if the people do not consent to it.
John Jacques Rousseau • Rousseau – who lived some portion of his life in the free, democratic city of Geneva, Switzerland – argued that the government was only legitimate if it had the consent of the people, and that “the people” could then make their own laws.
Baron Montesquieu • Montesquieu was extraordinarily popular with the Founding Fathers, although he argued that a democratic republic would be unlikely to work over a large geographic region. Communication changed… Montesquieu’s most important contribution to the American model of government was the belief in separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
The Great Awakening The Great Awakening was a religious revival which took place in the Americas – and throughout Western Europe – during the 1730s and 1740s. A group of young, energetic, and enthusiastic ministers traveled from town to town preaching the Gospel. There mission was to emphasize the personal relationship with God that every individual had. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield were the two best known preachers – and thousands would flock to hear them speak when a sermon was delivered. The emphasis on the personal relationship with God is thought to have undermined the unity of some Churches – and it is considered a cause of the increased importance of individual rights among many Americans during the Revolutionary Period.
Methodists and Baptists Abandoning the more judgmental ideas of predestination and official church memberships, the Methodist and Baptist faiths tended to emphasize spiritual rebirth and a more direct relationship with God – emotion union. Methodist and Baptist ministers went into the backcountry to proselytize the poor farmers and enslaved African-Americans they found.
Twenty Percent of Virginia’s Poor Backcountry Farmers – and thousands more enslaved people – joined the Baptist faith. This baptism took place in Portsmouth, VA in the 1770s.