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Exploring the Colonial Period: An In-Depth Essay Sample

After the discovery of America by Columbus, the Spaniards conquered the southern part of North America. Other territory of the continent was inhabited by free Indian tribes. In this time fast developed England paid attention to the north of the Atlantic coast of America. The beginning of the well-known colonial period caused the resettlement of Europeans to North America in the early XVII century what had a great impact on the industrial development of the continent.

The first permanent British settlement on the territory of the current US was founded in 1607. It was fort and Jamestown Village in Virginia. Most of the settlers in America were Europeans, primarily from the British Isles, who left their homeland to avoid religious or political oppression. They also wanted to free themselves from the rigid and inflexible economic relations with the Old World (“Colonial Period 1607–1776”). They founded 13 colonies which occupied the territories now known as New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia.

The settlers did not know how to live in the new colonies in the wilderness and faced many difficulties. First, the winter caused many deaths because many people were sick and hungry. But then they adapted to the new conditions and their life centered around the family. It was necessary to have a large family to work together and learn how to adjust to the new life . The father was the head of the family who made all the decisions and earned money. Women did all the work about the house. They raised children, prepared the meals, sewed clothes, collected food for winter, did laundry, brought water and stoked fires (“Colonial Period 1607–1776”). Children did not go to schools and helped their parents.

In the south with its warm climate and fertile soils, colonists began to develop an agrarian society based on a plantation economy. The major port cities grew in the Central Atlantic colonies. They became the centers of financial life and trade. New-England colonies in the northeast developed handicraft production. In the middle of the XVIII century the southern and northern colonies began a single internal market. The cotton and tobacco were brought from the southern colonies and grain, industrial products, fish were exported from the north. The farmer and landowner John Rolfe began to grow crossing sort of tobacco. The resulting hybrids were well adapted to the Virginia climate and corresponded to the tastes of English consumers (Taylor 56-58). The colony became a source of reliable profits and tobacco became the basis of the economy of Virginia for many years.

During the colonial period there were two events that had a significant impact on the entire history of the United States. The Governor John Jardley decided to transfer part of the power to the Council of Bourgeois, thus establishing the first legislature elected in the New World. The first meeting of the council took place on July 30 in 1619 and a small group of Angolan Africans was formed by the colonists. Although formally they were not slaves, it was the beginning of the slavery implementation in American history (Wolfe). Slavery became ensconced at all levels of Virginia society after passage of “An act concerning Servants and Slaves” by the General Assembly in 1705.

English colonists were intensively occupying new lands. The further they moved to the West, the more tense the relations between immigrants and indigenous people became. The first Anglo-Powhatan War began in in 1609 (1609–1614), because colonists were deprived of food sources by Indians. In 1622 Opechancanough led the Indians and attacked English. The Second Anglo-Powhatan War lasted from 1622 to 1632 and finished with the Indians’ defeat (Wolfe). Another major revolt in North America against British colonial rule was in 1676. The small planter Bacon led the Virginia farmers’ movement against excessive taxes and political harassment (Reich 96 – 97). Bacon’s squad captured and burned the city Jamestown forcing the governor to escape. After his death the revolt was suppressed by the British troops.

Another conflict occurred between Britain and France which escalated into Franco-Indian War (1754 -1763). This war intended to show who would have more power in North America. In 1756 the war increased into a global conflict known as the Seven Years’ War. Each opposing side counted on its colonists and Indian tribes help. Despite the fact that the British outnumbered the French with the Indians, they managed to win the battle of Fort Duques and killed General Braddock. In 1758 British attacked Fort Cariyon which was under the command of General Montkem. With the defeat of French troops near Quebec and the signing of the Peace of Paris in 1763, the French-Indian War was officially ended (Reich 137, 256, 259). Lands from the East Coast to the Mississippi River became British. France transferred more and more Western possessions to the Spanish court and the Indians got the Western lands except of Spanish colonies in Texas and New Mexico.

At the end of the Seven Years’ War, Great Britain had great debt, which should have been repaid with the help of the new taxes on American colonies. The new King George III approved a series of new laws including a Stamp Tax in 1765 which caused protest movement of the colonists (Reich 268). Therefore, the parliament was forced to repeal the Stamp Act in 1766. Many Virginians together with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Richard Henry Lee tried to make the colonies independent of Britain (Wolfe). The liberation of the colonies began with the proclamation of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence on July 4 in 1776, which later was recognized in 1783 after a prolonged war.

To conclude, European colonists who settled in America, overcame a lot of difficulties to have a comfort life. They faced many hardships such as diseases, famine, cold winters, wilderness lands, revolts, wars and deaths. Nevertheless, they made the American continent well-developed and successful. The colonial period had an economical and cultural importance to the history of America.

📎 References:

1. Reich, Jerome R. Colonial America. Routledge, 2016.
2. Taylor, Alan. Colonial America: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2013.
3. Wolfe, Brendan. “Colonial Virginia” Encyclopedia Virginia.

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