(1) European explorations were motivated by desire for wealth, power and prestige. Explorers hoped to find gold, silver and spices, new colonies to conquer and expand empires, opportunities to increase trade, and spread Christianity. Expeditions not only accomplished the missions but in the process they discovered new and faster routes as well as advancements in cartography and navigation instruments.
(2) Puritans relied only on the Bible for their guidance in daily life. Their strong faith in God is reflected in their customs, traditions and in all their actions. Their common faith held them together especially through the rough times. They were strict in their interpretation and observance of the teachings of the Scriptures. They believed that hard work will earn them the rewards in heaven. Drama, religious music and erotic poetry were prohibited, as they may lead to evil acts. Religious music took the attention away from the Word of God while Drama and Poetry portrayed lust and immorality. They were allowed the Greek Classics and they were encouraged to compose their own poetry, drama and music which must have religious themes.
(3) Quoting from Matthew 5:14 “a city that is set on the hill cannot be hidden,” John Winthrop in 1630 addressed the Puritan colonists in New England and told them that their community was “a city upon a hill watched by the world. ” By that he meant that they must conduct themselves in ways that God may be glorified. They must bring honor to God and His worthy followers by their actions at all times.
(5) The wars in the late 17th and early 18th centuries brought a realization among the colonists that they were made to fight wars for the mother country that colonists have little or nothing to gain from. They were made to fight wars that were not their own. As a result, the colonists conceived of declaring their independence from Britain and asserting their rights for self-governance. Britain lost in terms of excessive taxes that it levied on the colonies for their own coffers. The colonists lost in terms of protection from a great and skilled military power. The greatest gain of the colonists was their independence.
(6) John Adams was for the Republican type of government, with a bicameral legislature and the independence of the 3 branches: executive, legislative and judiciary. Thomas Paine was for a Representative system of government which took in the diverse and individual interests of the states and their people and which governs with independence from a superior or outside means, meaning a federal or hereditary government such as that from Britain. That era’s constitution followed Thomas Paine’s model.
(7) The strengths of the Articles of Confederation were: it established an independent government where every state was represented through its Congress, its Congress had all the powers of government, and its system of government placed the power on the people through the states. The weaknesses were: there was no separation of powers, there was no check and balance of power as there was only one house in Congress, Congress did not have the major powers like taxation, diplomacy, regulation of commerce and expediency to amend constitutional provisions.
The purpose of the Articles was met, which was for the thirteen colonies to unite, but the government it created lacked significant provisions for a judiciary and an executive to carry out functions which Congress can not by itself do. Something must be done with the economy which was not within Congress’ powers. George Washington believed that there must be a single power over the thirteen colonies to manage their collective affairs.
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