Diversity & Unity? The Eighteenth-Century World1700–1775
Common Threads >> What were the some of the choices that individual men and women made in the eighteenth century— for example, where to live, how to work, what to purchase, what to believe—and how did those choices affect their society? >> How did such choices make everyday life more democratic? What were the forces that worked against such democratization? >> How were free Americans able to become wealthier even without significant technological innovations? >> How did the consumer revolution affect American society and culture? >> As the colonial population became more diverse and complex, with separate regional cultures and an increasing variety of beliefs and religious practices, were there other experiences that colonial Americans had in common? Is it possible yet, on the eve of the American Revolution, to talk about a common American experience or culture? >>Was the Revolution caused by American unity or diversity? Both?
THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY WORLD1700-1775 • Overview • The Population Explosion of the Eighteenth Century • The Transatlantic Economy: Producing and Consuming • The Varieties of Colonial Experience • The Head and the Heart in America: The Enlightenment and Religious Awakening
The Population Explosion of the Eighteenth Century “This population boom was both the product of American prosperity and the precondition for its further growth.” • The Dimensions of Population Growth • Scope and scale • How did this expansion alter British North American society? • Ethnic makeup • Economic activity: consumerism • Bound for America: European Immigrants • Who were the European immigrants? • Origins • Destinations • Occupations
Population Explosion, 1700-1750 • The colonial population grew from 250,000 people in 1700 to over 1 million in 1750 • Urban • Rural • Rich and poor • White and slave • Through immigration, slave importations, and natural increase (free and slave) • 90% of immigrants between 1580 and 1775 were unfree (slaves, indentures)
Immigrant Populations • 425,000 European immigrants to colonies in the 1700s • Scotch-Irish – majority • to middle and southern colonies • To back-country: cheap land, less control, conflicts with Indians • English • Welsh • German: Pennsylvania, Maryland, etc. • Most European immigrants were unfree (to an extent) • Indentured servants or redemptioners • Convicts • What ideas or movements would have appealed to the unfree or previously unfree?
Territorial Expansion of original colonies: Yellow = by 1759 Pink = by 1769 Purple = by 1776 What issues arose as a result of population growth and territorial expansion? Results?
The Population Explosion of the Eighteenth Century: African Slaves • Bound for America • Over 300,000 slaves transported to English N.A. colonies by 1760 • Origins: mostly taken from West Africa • Destinations: all colonies, but majority to upper and lower south • Conditions: Captivity, Transport, and Occupations • The African Slave Trade • Slavery within Africa • Slave forts on West African coast • Cooperation of African elites, intermixture with European traders • Great expansion of demand with Atlantic trade • Effects on Africans: war, instability, death, dependence
The Transatlantic Economy: Producing and Consuming “In the eighteenth century, as the colonies matured, they became capitalist societies, tied increasingly into an Atlantic trade network.” • The Nature of Colonial Economic Growth • Growth fueled by various factors • Population growth • Environment – productive use of farms, timber, ports • Labor Productivity – free vs. slave, upper vs. lower south • What role, if any, did technological innovations play?
Sources of Regional Prosperity • Economic regions of British North America • South: Tobacco, Cereals (Rice), and Indigo • Middle: Grains (Wheat) • North: Agriculture, Furs/Hides • How did labor compare? • How did slave life compare in the Chesapeake versus South Carolina? • Different labor needs for different crops • Where was wealth concentrated in each of these regions?
Regional Differences in Slave Economies: Upper vs. Lower South • Different crops in two regions • Different crops = different labor conditions for slaves • Upper south (VA & MD) = tobacco, corn, and wheat • Seasonal labor, meticulous attention to tobacco • Better climate • Natural increase among slaves • Constant surveillance/contact with whites • Lower south (SC, GA, LA) = rice, indigo, sugar • Hot, humid, mosquitoes • Hard gang labor in irrigation canals, flooded fields • High death rate – similar to Caribbean slavery • High demand for more slaves shipped from Africa • Slave majorities: more independence in work, culture • Both regions dominated by planter elites • In Lower South, elites were absentee landlords, living in higher elevations or in towns – healthier environment
The Transatlantic Political Economy: Producing and Consuming • Merchants and Dependent Laborers in the Transatlantic Economy • Shipbuilding in New England • Development of Major Port Towns: Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston • An affluent merchant class developed • Consumer Choices and the Creation of Gentility • A new “liberty” emerged for colonists as a result of the British mercantilist system: Consumer Choice • The Consumer Revolution • Causes • Social Impact
The Varieties of Colonial Experience “Although the eighteenth-century industrial and consumer revolutions tied the peoples of the North Atlantic world together, climate, geography, immigration, patterns of economic development, and population density made for considerable variety.” • An Urban Public Sphere Developed • Urban Expansion – population growth • The Wealthy Class • Urban Dwellers • Social Life – institutions, govt., public life • Attitudes: Identity and Politics • The Diversity of Urban Life • The urban poor and black slaves reacted to economic stratification of urban life • Parades and civic involvement • Poor white voters • Riots
The Head and the Heart in America: The Enlightenment and Religious Awakening “Although the movements might seem fundamentally opposite…both criticized established authority and valued the experience of the individual. Both contributed to the humanitarianism that emerged at the end of the century, and both were products of capitalism.” • The Ideas of the Enlightenment • The Enlightenment altered Europeans’ view of the world, and of knowledge in general • Questioned “traditional” sources (institutions) of knowledge, such as the Bible (church) • The Enlightenment and the Study of Political Economy • John Locke • Adam Smith • Enlightened Institutions • Libraries for the Public • How did Enlightenment optimism impact organized religions?
Printing presses in the colonies, 1760-1775
The Head and the Heart in America: The Enlightenment and Religious Awakening • Origins of the Great Awakening • Ripe Conditions for an Awakening • The Grand Itinerant: George Whitfield • How did the Awakeners shake up the religious establishments of the colonies? • Cultural Conflict and Challenges to Authority • What was the widespread appeal of the Awakening? • What the Awakening Wrought • New denominational divides created by the Awakening
George Whitefield’s colonial itinerary, 1739-1741
AMERICAN PORTRAITGeorge Whitefield: Evangelist for a Consumer Society “Whitefield embodied the great contradictions of his age without threatening the political or economic order that sustained them….Whitefield’s strategy was to criticize the individual without attacking the system.” • What was new and unique about Whitefield’s preaching? • Style • Message • Popular Following • Why was Whitefield such a hit sensation in the colonies? • Social Conditions
George Whitefield, by John Russell (died 1806), given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1917
Link to PBS Frontline video, “God in America: Part One: ‘A New Adam’”
Enlightenment & Great Awakening Similarities Differences Rationality vs. religion Scientific proof vs. experience, spirituality • Questioning authority • Individualism • Breaking down of barriers, social class, racial, hierarchy and power • Equality • Mass movements • Revivals • Increase writing, inventions, printing presses, rise literacy
Conclusion • Two great intellectual movements – Enlightenment and Great Awakening were related in important ways • Became a distinguishing characteristic of American life: Individualism • Individual thought, questioning, and exploration • Not always radical: individualist goals could be quite conservative: • Economic success – at expense of others, community, even self • Religious expression w/o questioning of social norms/problems • For example: Belief in personal salvation, relationship with God, the world be damned or accepted as unimportant in long-term goal of Heaven • But could also result in questioning of authority and conventions
Individualism or Oppression? • Debate over character of America • Debate over character of American Revolution – what kind of revolution was it? • What caused Americans to revolt and demand independence? • Increasing unity? • Disunity? • Individualism? • Group experiences?
THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY WORLD1700-1775 • Revisiting the Common Threads >> What were the some of the choices that individual men and women made in the eighteenth century—for example, about where to live, how to work, what to purchase, what to believe—and how did those choices affect their society? >> How did such choices make everyday life more democratic? What were the forces that worked against such democratization? >> How were free Americans able to become wealthier even without significant technological innovations? >> How did the consumer revolution affect American society and culture? >> As the colonial population became more diverse and complex, with separate regional cultures and an increasing variety of beliefs and religious practices, were there other experiences that colonial Americans had in common? Is it possible yet, on the eve of the American Revolution, to talk about a common American experience or culture? >>Was the Revolution caused by American unity or diversity? Both?