Political Motivations for English imperialism
The British monarch was interested in developing the colonies as a source of power and wealth. Groups of businessmen were granted charters by the British Monarch to establish economic operations in the new world (Marsh, 2011). The success of Spain encouraged the British Monarch to pursue colonies in the Americas in search of precious metals such as silver and gold. The businessmen granted charters also helped the colonists to settle in the “New World.”
The British Monarch also expanded to the Americas to increase its political power. The settlement presented opportunities for the British Monarch to expand their influence beyond England. Having colonies in the Americas strengthened the British Monarch as it provided its merchants and farmers with cheap land. Availing land to tenant farmers and peasants strengthened loyalty to the British Monarchy
Social Pressures that contributed to the English Colonization of North America
The majority of the colonists had faced difficult lives in Britain, Scotland, Ireland, or Germany. The prospect of new opportunities in the Americas encouraged many colonialists to support the spread of English imperialism to the Americas (Wolfe, 1997). Besides, the protestant groups also sought to leave England for the Americas to establish their communities, worship God in their way. Therefore, protestant groups such as the Puritans and Pilgrims found religious freedom in the Americas.
B Economic, Social, and Political Systems
Massachusetts Bay Colony
John Winthrop founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony and about 1,000 Puritans after King Charles 1 granted the Massachusetts Bay Company a charter to trade and colonize New England between the Merrimack and Charles rivers. The Puritans established communities in Boston, Medford, Charlestown, Roxbury, Dorchester, Watertown, and Lynn (Pratt, 2014). The communities were governed by a theocratic government that limited the franchise to church members. Therefore, the Puritans were intolerant of other religious beliefs with anyone expressing differing religious beliefs being banished. The economy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony depended on fishing, shipbuilding, fur, and lumber trades.
In 1607, John Smith and other colonists established the Virginia Colony. The growth of the colony was supported by economic activities such as agriculture, fishing, and lumber trades. Agriculture was possible throughout the year because Virginia had a warmer climate that enabled the colonists to establish large plantations of cotton, tobacco, fruit, vegetable, grain, and livestock using slave labor (Marsh, 2011). Unlike the other English colonies, different religious views were tolerated in Virginia.
The North and the South Carolina colonies were divided in the 1660s. The long distances between major settlements in Charlestown, Cape Fear, and Albemarle made it difficult and time-consuming to govern (Pratt, 2014). The fairly warm climate supported agricultural activities throughout the year and made the colonies suitable for plantations. Using slave labor, the colonists established was the plantations to grow crops that were traded for shoes, household goods, and farm tools.
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C Major Ideas and Events that led to the American Revolution
The introduction of the Stamp Act in 1765 was the first major event that soured relationships between the British and American colonists. The Stamp Act contravened the autonomy of each colonial government to decide its taxes. Two years later, the Townshend Act of 1767 introduced a tax on tea in colonies and prohibited smuggling. In March 1770, a disagreement between a British soldier and an apprentice wigmaker led to the Boston massacre (Wolfe, 1997). The heightening tension between the British and the American colonists led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. A year later, the British Parliament introduced the Coercive Acts and the Quartering Act. The Lexington and Concord confrontation in 1775, followed by British attacks of coastal towns in 1776, eventually ignited the revolutionary war.
The key ideas contributing to the American Revolutionary War were the European enlightenment and traditional British legal values. The enlightenment perspective promoted individual liberties and reasoned logic. This is besides challenging the divine right of kings to rule over other people as humanity is capable of good character and intelligence to decide what is right and wrong (Marsh, 2011). Achievable through a legal framework steeped in traditional British legal values contained in the First Continental Congress Declaration and Resolves that all freeborn English men should be treated fairly and equally before the law and Parliament.
D Political and Social Impact of the American Revolution
The American Revolution marked the opening of western settlements and the creation of governments that were hostile to Native Americans’ territorial claims. The Native Americans had supported the British against the colonial settlers as they hoped they would restrain the expansion of the colonialists beyond the Appalachian Mountains (Pratt, 2014). Therefore, Americans’ victory and the Native American’s support for the British provided valid reasons for brutal expansion into the western territories. Consequently, the Native Americans were displaced and pushed further west throughout the 19th century.
The British recruited black regiments in the war with the promise of freeing the slaves who would escape their masters and join the British cause (Wolfe, 1997). The former slaves also joined the continental army. However, the chaos created by the war created opportunities for hundreds of thousands of slaves to run away and secure their freedom.
The rights of women were a contentious issue during the American Revolution. However, the formation of the United States had adverse impacts on women’s rights. While women were allowed to vote in some colonies before the revolution, they lost their right to vote until 1807.
A Rise of Partisan Politics in the Early Republic
Political parties or factions began to emerge during the struggle over the ratification of the federal constitution of 1787. Friction between the emerging political factions increased as attention shifted from creating a new federal government to the federal government (Wolfe, 1997). The federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, wanted a strong federal government, a proposition that was vehemently opposed by anti-federalists led by Thomas Jefferson.
The anti-federalists advocated for state power over centralized power. The differing perception of the power of the federal government was informed by agrarian and commercial interests (Pratt, 2014). Anti-federalists favored a decentralized government because they drew their strength from an agrarian society instead of the federalists whose economies were centered on the commercial sector.
B Development of the Second Party System
- The Second Party System is a phrase coined by political scientists and historians to describe the political party system prevalent in the United States during the 1800s. The Democratic and Whig party were the two main political parties during this political era. Andrew Jackson led the Democratic Party while Henry clay led the Whig party (Murrin et al., n.d.). The consistent opposition between the two parties led to the Second Party System, which America uses today. The Democratic Party wanted a weak federal government that had no involvement in the economic and social affairs of the states, while the Whigs advocated for a strong federal government through the power of the congress.
- Andrew Jackson and the Democrats worked hard to get rid of the Protective tariff as well as abolish the National Bank of the United States while the Whips supported both. The striking differences in the policies were determined by whom the political parties favored. The Jacksonian’s identified with the common man, particularly the lower-class population that made their living off the land (Murrin et al., n.d.). They also supported the idea that anyone could hold a government position. On the other hand, the Whigs comprised of nationalists and industrialists who proposed policies that benefited these groups of people. They proposed a tariff that would assist big businesses and manufacturing enterprises while hurting the lower-class people, particularly farmers. They also tried to cater to the needs of the common man by introducing internal transportation and public schools. Also, the two parties differed on the need to expand to the west to gain more farming land, with the Whigs dimming the idea unnecessary.
- The Second Party System contributed to increased democratization of American politics by encouraging more people to vote. Starting in 1828, more people became interested in voting, as evidenced by the high turnout in political rallies and on Election Day (Liang & Hofmeister, 2011). The Second Party System also contributed to establishing partisan newspapers, which supported the ideas proposed by certain political parties. This contributed to people becoming very loyal to their political parties.
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C Major Movements and Events that led to the Civil War
- White and black abolitionists in the first half of the 19th century engaged in a biracial attack against slavery. The abolitionist called for an end to slavery, indefinite bondage of captives, and the long-standing tradition of separating enslaved family members through the sale to different masters (Tucker, Arnold, Wiener, Paul G Pierpaoli, & Coffey, 2013). Meanwhile, pro-slavery arguments suggested a class-sensitive view of the American antebellum society. The class view perception suggested a society where a lower class of individuals was necessary to enable the higher classes to move civilization forward.
- The westward expansion increased sectional tension because the abolitionists and pro-slavery groups wanted to see their ideals extended to the west. Several abolitionists dominated the North, while the South was a stronghold of pro-slavery activists. They were keen to extend its influence as well as its social-cultural ideals to the west. This created tension between the two groups.
- The passage of The Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 was one of the critical events that led to the Civil War. The act obligated every federal official who did not arrest freedom seekers for paying a fine. It caused many black activists in the North to increase their efforts to end enslavement. It also contributed to increased activity along the Underground Railroad that many freedom seekers used to get away to Canada. Dred Scott’s loss of his case to be free in 1857 also contributed to the Civil War (Tucker, Arnold, Wiener, Paul G Pierpaoli, & Coffey, 2013). The Supreme Court ruled that his case to be freed could not be seen as having no property in a free state. The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 was the tipping point are South Carolina and six other states seceded from the Union. They were vehemently opposed to his reviews about enslavement.
- Major Changes in Race Relations
One of the three major changes in race relations that resulted from reconstruction was an attempt to integrate Confederate States into the Union by recognizing the political and civil equality of African Americans in Southern states.
The era of reconstruction also saw the rectification of three constitutional amendments. The 13th amendment was ratified to abolish slavery, the 14th amendment addressed the right of citizenship and equal protection under the law, while the 15th amendment eliminated discrimination in voting rights based on a person’s race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Throughout the South, former slaves reunited with their families separated during slavery by hardship or sale and during the war of dislocation (Wolfe, 1997). It was a momentous event for wives and husbands to reunite with their children. The reunion also encouraged many blacks to establish black settlements in a remote area to minimize contact with whites.
- Consequences of Industrialization on American Politics and Society
One of the major consequences of the industrialization of American politics and society was the drastic changes experienced by the American industry. Significant improvement in productivity because work was performed by machines rather than hand labor (Marsh, 2011). The development of the national railway network accelerated the distribution of goods and services across the country.
Industrialization also contributed to the creation of several inventions and products that were tailored to meet consumer needs. Besides, several banks were willing to extend credit to investors to support different business ventures. Industrialization also contributed to the massive migration from rural to urban areas.
- Rise of the Progressive Movement
- Role of Religion and Social Morality in Promoting Progressive Reforms
Religion and social morality promote progressive reforms by establishing a standard of right and wrong that is widely accepted by everyone in the society (Tucker, Arnold, Wiener, Paul G Pierpaoli, & Coffey, 2013). The scriptures emphasize the need to do good because people will be rewarded or punished based on their actions in the afterlife.
- Two Reforms Movements that Helped to Define the Progressive Era
One of the significant reform movements that helped to define the progressive era was the women’s suffrage movement. Women emphasized that they could offer more than their traditional roles as housekeepers. They demanded to be granted equal rights as men when it came to social matters such as obtaining jobs, voting and accessing higher education (Murrin et al., n.d.).
The Prohibition movement is the second major reform that helped to shape the progressive era. The progressive era was characteristic of abstinence from alcohol consumption after numerous advocacy efforts by women and other groups. The anti-saloon league is one of the advocacy groups that joined forces with women to get alcohol banned.
- One Impact of the Progressive movement on American politics
One of the major impacts of the progressive movement on American politics was furthering political and social reform to curb political corruption and limit the political influence of large corporations (Liang & Hofmeister, 2011). The focus of the progressives was to establish a more accountable and transparent government that was oriented towards improving the welfare of the American Society.
- The Role of American Imperialism
- Hawaiian Annexation
During the height of American imperialism, America perceived itself as different from other countries because of its specific world mission to spread democracy and liberty (Wolfe, 1997). This perception resulted in the annexation of Hawaii in 1898 to allow the United States to gain possession and control of all its harbors, buildings, ports, military equipment, and public property.
- Spanish-American War
American imperialism enabled the United States to establish its dominance in the Caribbean region as well as pursue its economic and strategic interests in Asia. Engagement in the Spanish-American war of 1898 resulted at the end of the Spanish colonial empire in the Western Hemisphere (Wolfe, 1997). This enabled the United States to secure its strategic Pacific power by forcing the Spanish to relinquish control of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines.
- The major courses of the great depression are bank failures, the stock market crash, America’s policy with Europe, and drought. Between 1930 and 1932, people experienced a financial panic, which led to massive simultaneous withdraws from banks, causing a banking failure.
In the 1920s, the U.S. stock market expanded massively causing unprecedented investment in stocks, even by mortgaging homes (Eichengreen, 2014). The decline of the stock market would cause depression. People lost the value of their money and assets in the stock market.
The government also tried saving the economy by reducing trade with Europe (the Tariff Act of 1930), which led to near-record taxes (Eichengreen, 2014). That led to the fall of inter-regional trade. Besides, environmental destruction led to drought and massive deaths due to climate change.
- First, the New Deal established critical economic safeguards. For instance, the social security measures would ensure financial institutions are cautions of former mistakes (Kennedy, 2009). The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures the savings of Americans to combat any economic catastrophes in future.
Secondly, the New Deal led to the establishment of the labor movement. It has ensured the fixation of the wage policies and pricing to ensure fair competition. Besides, it protects workers’ rights.
Thirdly, the New Deal established a fiscal policy, through Economic Act (Kennedy, 2009). This proposed cutting of a percentage of salaries for government employees into a federal budget. This would be used as benefits to millions of veterans, among other purposes.
- The nuclear test by the USSR in 1948 created a notion for one country could be powerful than others (Leffler, 1999). Thus, the United States and the Soviet Union got into an arms race to determine the superpower, increasing Cold War tensions.
- The Soviet Union advocated and sought to expand communism to other regions. However, the United States advocated containment and used it to stop the Soviet Union. The differed ideologies increased Cold War tensions (Leffler, 1999).
- On domestic policies, there was intensive indoctrination of people to cause social reforms, and businesses in the war-related industry flourished (Leffler, 1999). Concerning society, it led to a schism between those representing capitalism and democracy, and communism and authoritarianism.
- Civil rights movements led to the banning of discrimination and segregation, and schools could admit both black and white students.
- The feminist movement led to women’s suffrage, more equitable pay, and greater access to education.
- The gay rights movement led to a change of homosexuality from mental illness to sexual orientation and the legalization of same-sex marriages.
- The religious rights movement caused the enactment of religious rights and influence women’s movements.
Eichengreen, B. (2014). Hall of mirrors (2nd ed.). London: Oxford Univerty Press.
Hershey, M. R. (2017). Party Politics in America. London: Taylor & Francis.
KENNEDY, D. (2009). What the New Deal Did. Political Science Quarterly, 124(2), 251-268. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25655654
Lancaster, B., & Plumb, J. H. (2011). The American Revolution. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Leffler, M. (1999). The Cold War: What Do “We Now Know”?. The American Historical Review, 104(2), 501. doi: 10.2307/2650378