History Lecture #9: From Colonies to Empire

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University of California - Berkeley
Mark Peterson

History Lecture #9: From Colonies to Empire I. Boston’s Imperial Expansion: the Creation of the ‘Nation of New England’ A. New England’s Political Economy and Its Influence on Indian Relations » Modest commodities fuel Boston’s commerce – The farmers of New England had to produce more than they could use to trade with West Indies economies – New England countrysides began to fill up with… » Family farms, towns and the New England landscape – Taking over Native American farmland » Rapid population growth without immigration – doubling every 25 years – Immigration basically stops – Only very tiny numbers of migrants come to New England up until the American revolution – New England population ◊ 1640 – c. 20,000 ◊ 1675 – 50,000 ◊ 1700 – 100,000 – COMPARED TO VIRGINIA: ◊ 1800s – 38,000 ◊ Virginia also had many migrants – Why? ◊ New England settlers brought family, Virginians didn’t ◊ New England had conditions less suited to diseases (too cold, no mosquitoes, less risk of malaria) » Massachusetts hives off new colonies: New Haven, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine – Large population of migrants coming to Boston harbor were quickly becoming too large a population for available farmland in region – Want places where the rivers are better, where the rivers could take them further into the interior – There was a great desire to find land outside of their legal charter, but they didn’t have the right to do that and there was a lot of competition B. Puritans and Indians: High Hopes and Early Failures, or Who is Helping Whom? – People who didn’t like the idea of church being intertwined with state/wanted better farmlands left and settled and create colonies near rivers ◊ Dutch had already built forts and trading regions near the Connecticut River ◊ Dutch already trading with small groups of Indian peoples, and resented the migration of English colonists ◊ Started a war between new English colonies and one specific group of Indians ≈ War over the single commodity of furs (especially beaver) ≈ One of the most fashionable statements was made out of hats made from beavers – high demand for it in Europe/England ≈ Neither British nor Dutch were adept in catching/processing animal furs; dependent on Indians › Gave Indians woven textiles › Metal cooking utensils › Exchanged wampum a. Was an exchanged good that was part of ceremonial and diplomatic relations between Indians b. Couldn’t be used by just anyone, only by leaders c. Associated with certain kinds of people d. Fundamental misunderstanding takes place: the Indians think the English use it the same way they do, whereas the Brits think it’s money e. Massachusetts Bay actually legalizes wampum as money, allowed to pay taxes in wampum ≈ Forced Indians to go further and further to the outskirts of the countryside to harvest these commodities ≈ Plymouth, Massachusetts and Connecticut colonies join together with an Indian colony to attack the Pequot tribe as they were in the way of the British harvesting shells needed to make wampum. They pretty much white the Pequots out » The more the Indians were encouraged to overhunt, the less beavers there were. Then people focused on harvesting wampum – lots of wampum just to buy a single fur (inflation) – Makes wampum illegal as a transaction payment method C. John Eliot and ‘Praying Indians’ » At the point where the New England colony was stabilizing, ministers really start to try converting Indians (most important of these were John Eliot) » Eliot began in the 1640s to conduct missionary work with Indians in the interior – Learns Massachusetts language ◊ Not a written language ◊ Taught it to them ◊ The shocking/disappointing thing to Eliot was that this language was only applicable to the 30ft radius of the area – Translates entire bible in Massachusetts – Extraordinarily intellectual and technical achievement – able to translate, and create (impor
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