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Colonial Life in the 1700s Essay

When the English first settled in America, they had no intention of creating a new nation. They “continued to view themselves as Europeans, and as subjects of the kings. Some believed that if a nation were to arise from the English dominance in the New World, it would be identical to the English empire. However, between the settlement at Jamestown in 1607 and the Treaty of Paris in 1763, a different society from England emerged in the colonies. Changes in religion, economics, politics, and social structure illustrate this to the Europeans.

By 1763, although some colonies still maintained established churches, other colonies had accomplished a virtual revolution for religious toleration and separation of church and state. Popular dissenter, Roger Williams, having been banished from Massachusetts, bought land from Indians and founded a colony where other dissenters or “trouble-makers” found refuge. Rhode Island, then, became the most religiously tolerant colony followed by William Penn’s Pennsylvania, which offered generous agreements on land, and full religious liberty. These two colonies directly opposed the official, tax-supported Anglican Church of England from which Puritans had escaped in the inception of America.

Later in the colonial timeline, a series of religious revivals–known as The Great Awakening–developed into the separation between church and state. The disagreements between the beliefs in the Awakening – increased the competition of American churches, which resulted in the refrainment of such topics in political debates for more serious arrangements without the interruption of religious opinions. English customs of an official religion and the king’s position as the head of the Anglican Church clearly differed from American views of religious tolerance and separation between interconnected political and religious ideas.

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In a similar economic revolution, the colonies outgrew their mercantile relationship with the mother country and developed an expanding capitalist system of their own. During their early development, the colonies maintained an economic relationship with the English through the Navigation Acts, in which exchanges were to and from the empire only as enforced by King Charles II. This would ensure English triumph in mercantilism and maritime competition. Unfortunately for England, as the colonies’ population rose, the amount of imported products from Britain did not suffice and the American merchants began to trade with non-English countries. Eventually, they developed the influential capitalist system, in which the means of production are operated solely for profit.

The English monarchy tried to prevent an economic depreciation in their dominion by reinforcing the Navigation Acts in the colonies; but their efforts resulted in Bacon’s Rebellion. Angry at Royal Governor Sir William Berkeley for his selfish high-taxing ways, Nathaniel Bacon and his followers burned Jamestown and the governor was removed. Thenceforth, England instructed Virginian governors to assure Virginia’s profit for the mother country. This new threat united Virginia’s gentry to combat governors’ efforts to raise royal economic dominance. Thus, America outgrew England’s mercantilism and established capitalism as its own economic system.

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