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Posted on July 27th, 2012, by

1) In what ways were the New England colonies different from Southern colonies like Virginia and Maryland?

The development of American colonies was misbalanced because of different socioeconomic and physical conditions in which they developed. In this respect, Northern colonies were initially in an advantageous position compared to Southern and, especially, Western colonies. In fact, Northern colonies, such as New England were territories were Europeans, mainly the British first settled and developed their civilization in the New World. In such a way, Northern colonies had laid the foundation to the British colonization of North America. In stark contrast, Southern states were mainly inhabited by people who attempted to avoid any impact of Great Britain on Americans. They developed their own lifestyle, which was quite different from that of inhabitants of Northern colonies. In such a way, Northern and Southern colonies were quite different and, basically, it is possible to distinguish them on the basis of their relations with Great Britain since Northern colonies were apparently more interested in the ongoing cooperation with England, while Southern colonies apparently attempted to get rid of the British burden.

In that respect, it is important to emphasize several factors which determined the difference between Northern and Southern colonies: physical position of colonies and economic development. First of all, the physical position of colonies and natural environment of Northern and Southern colonies varied consistently. Even though both Northern and Southern colonies had to settle in a totally new land and confronted new challenges they had never faced in Europe, Northern and Southern colonies were in a different position. Northern colonies were relatively more civilized compared to Southern colonies. What is meant here is the fact that Northern colonies were relatively well-developed. Cities grew faster there compared to the South. As a result, Northern colonies were closer to European civilization compared to Southern colonies.

Southern colonies, in their turn, were the frontline between relatively civilized Northern colonies, where the British had attempted to develop their civilization, and the wilderness, territories which were either deserted or inhabited by Indians, which had practically no idea of European civilization. In fact, colonists living in the South had to live in very severe natural environment. Southern colonies were remote from the traditional European civilization and local population often confronted challenges with which people had to cope on their own, without any assistance from the part of England.  At the same time, many colonists fleeing Southward attempt to escape the impact of Great Britain, which was less significant there.

The specificity of physical position of Northern and Southern colonies defined the difference in their economic development. In fact, Northern colonies were interested in the development of trade and economic cooperation with England. Actually, Northern colonies became a kind of bridge that linked American continent with England. As a result, they attempted to benefit from such a position and the development of trade, the growth of cities and progress of industries stimulated faster economic growth in the North. Instead, Southern colonies were not interested in the domination of England and they were self-sufficient economically, in a way, since people get used to rely on themselves only. As a result, often Southern colonies rebelled against the British. In that respect, it is worth mentioning the Bacon’s rebellion in 1676 in the Virginia colony, which was supported by Maryland next year (Kennedy, Bailey and Cohen, 62). These rebellions aimed at the weakening of the British impact on American colonies.


2) Describe the Great Awakening and its consequences?

The Great Awakening was a considerable shift in American cultural and social life which marked the transition of colonial society from traditional British values, norms and lifestyle to a new, truly American lifestyle and culture. In that respect, religion played a particularly important role because at the epoch religion was still dominant. In other words, religion influenced practically all spheres of human life, while science, being relatively poorly developed, could not totally replace religious beliefs of people, which were very strong. At the same time, cultural and religious life of people in American colonies was substantially different from that of the British. In fact, the epoch of Great Awakening was the epoch of a dramatic change in cultural and religious life of people. The era of the Reformation had already been started in Europe. The reformation resulted in the emergence of Presbyterian churches and, therefore, to a dramatic decrease of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, where the Anglican Church grew in power.

However, the latter proved to be able to get the dominant position in England only, while American colonies became the territory where multiple religious movements and ideas grew widely spread. Basically, they were Presbyterian movements, which though varied from each other and had their own peculiarities. Their common characteristics were their reformist nature which contributed to the growing desire of Presbyterian churches to gain independence of the Roman Catholic or Anglican Church. Instead, they were more concerned with the spirit of freedom of American colonies which influenced the development of religious ideas and philosophy of the local population and religious leaders.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that many religious movements in American colonies were consistently more radical compared to religious movements in Great Britain or Europe. For instance, puritans were very influential in American colonies, especially at the early stages of the development of American society and culture. At the same time, puritans were more radical in their religious views than representatives of the Anglican Church and they insisted on the maintenance of what they believed to be truly Christian norms and beliefs, which actually defined the lifestyle of a considerable part of the colonial population of America, especially in Northern states.

In addition, some trends were really revolutionary in regard to the religious and cultural life of American colonies. For instance, Anne Hutchinson was the unauthorized minister of a dissident church. She was one of the first women who challenged male dominance in the religious life. She provided her own interpretation of sermons and conducted meetings where she promoted her ideas, engaging more and more women and contributing to their emancipation. In such a way, she contributed to the development of liberal ideas and emancipation of women in colonies.

As a result, the Great Awakening proved to be a considerable cultural and social shift. The Great Awakening became a turning point in the history of the USA since it marked the formation of the unique American culture based on principles of liberalism and paved the way to the development of tolerance and equality within the American society.

Thus, the Great Awakening distinguished the culture and social life of American colonies from those of Great Britain and Europe.



Puritans. Puritans launched a religious movement, which originated from England and offered its own interpretation of norms and rules of Christian life as well as faith itself. They became particularly influential in the USA, where the impact of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches was insignificant. They strived for more purity of worship and doctrine as well as personal and group piety. Thus, they developed an alternative way in Christianity compared to the two aforementioned churches.

Anne Hutchinson. Anne Hutchinson was the first, though unauthorized, female minister of a dissident church in American colonies. She developed her own interpretation of sermons and interpreted Bible in her own way. She insisted on the necessity to change the conservative view on women and she attempted to engage women in the religious life. In such a way, she contributed to the emancipation of women and promoted liberal views and ideas.

Quakers. Quakers created another religious movement, which originated from England and grew widely spread in its colonies, including England. Quakers were dissatisfied with numerous denominations and sects of Christianity. They attempted to create their own religious movement which was deprived of a traditional church hierarchy. Instead, it was a Religious Society of Friends where all members were treated as equal.

Salem Witchcraft Trials. Salem Witchcraft Trials were a series of hearings before local magistrates followed by county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in Essex, Suffolk and Middlesex counties of colonial Massachusetts. The trials were an attempt to oppress the emerging liberalism of religious and anti-religious ideas in American colonies.  As a result, over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, while 29 people were sentenced to death being accused of witchcraft.

Bacon’s Rebellion. Bacon’s Rebellion was the rebellion headed by Nathaniel Bacon. The rebellion had started in 1676 in Virginia and, a year later, it was supported by Maryland. The rebellion was a protest against the Royal Governor of Virginia. The rebellion marked the growing dissatisfaction of colonists with the British authorities.

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