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English Colonial Policy Essay

England first set out for the New World as a response to the Spanish example. Spain had been the first European power to explore this new land, and upon their return showed how valuable a venture it was. England’s first objective in exploring the New World was to find a North-West Passage to open up trade with China. They were highly unsuccessful, and shifted their focus south toward New Spain. Their attempts to settle and establish colonies failed on many occasions, until the establishment of Jamestown. The settlers quickly adapted to the Native American process of cultivating tobacco and grew it in massive quantities, much of which was exported back to England. England’s main objective in establishing North American colonies was to seek fortune for the monarchy.

They had been witness to the Spanish endeavors that proved highly valuable. They also wished to spread Christianity in the new land. The English monarchy saw many opportunities as Spanish power was declining. The first method employed by England to gain power oversees was privateering, in which gold and slaves were stolen from Spanish trade ships. Tobacco became their most useful tool in developing more and more massive settlements. Tobacco could be exported to England for a very high price, enabling colonists to use profits to expand their towns and inhabit much of the coast. Much of England’s population was in poverty seeking new opportunities. Most could not afford the cost of transportation to the New World. In hopes of creating better lives for themselves, thousands of people signed indentures to go work in the New World. This fueled colonists and tobacco planters to expand and further the spread of English colonialism.

The Virginia Company had governance over Virginia in the beginning of its colonization. They formed a House of Burgesses to make laws and govern their inhabitants. In 1624, King James named Virginia a royal colony, in which the laws passed by the Burgesses had to be approved by the King’s bureaucrats rather than the Virginia Company. He appointed the colony’s governor and his council. The government of the colonies strictly enforced social distinction between classes. In the New England colonies Puritans dominated the government, and fought for Puritan values. The free man had much more influence on his government than he would in Spanish or French colonies. The government in the English colonies was in many ways Democratic in the sense that it had much focus on the voice of the governed.

The English relationship with the Native Americans was very much back and forth. The English had an entitlement that they were superior to the Native Americans. There were times when the colonists depended on the Natives for food and survival during winter. Some tribes cut off the colonists food supply in hopes that they would leave, but the English instead raided their villages and stole their food. An uprising of Natives on March 22, 1622 ended in the death of 347 colonists, which was “almost one-third” of the population in the settlement (Roark 54). This event may very well have landed the Native Americans on the enemies-list of the English colonists.

Works Consulted

Eden, Jason, and Naomi Eden. “Views Of Older Native American Adults In Colonial New England.” Journal Of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 25.3 (2010): 285-298. Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Jan. 2013. Roark, James L. The American Promise: A Compact History Volume 1: To 1877. 4 ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. Print.


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