The Changing American Character From 1588 1700.

1067 words - 4 pages

"Some historians have seen the first hundred years of the colonial experience mainly as preparation for the last fifty" (White, 209). This quote from Our Colonial Heritage displays the authors viewpoint on the formation of the American identity. In the first hundred years of this country the settlers who arrived were British, but 100 years later, by the Queen Anne's war, they had become American. While there were many changes that the settlers went through to form this separation, the main three areas in which they defined themselves were culture, government, and religion. While in the beginning the majority of the settlers were British, eventually Scots, Irish, Dutch, French, Negroes, and Germans, as well as the Natives, also made up the country, bringing some of their own culture here and forming what would become a melting pot of culture, rather than strictly British. Each colony would eventually form its own unique government, usually restricted by England, which would help them guide themselves towards beliefs they held close, and see how England intended to keep them under its arm. Religion and the ability to worship in their own ways were the main reasons people came to America in the beginning, and this would later become something that separated Americans from British. These changes which began occurring over the first 100 years were issues which would begin to move the colonies away from the Mother Country and eventually lead to the American Revolution.Another major change which transformed the British settlers into Americans was the simple fact that over time, they weren't all British. While the first settlements were mainly British, many other races and nationalities either were already in neighboring colonies, or came over eventually. The Spanish and Portuguese had already come to America before the British, and controlled much of the southern and western land. The French controlled other southern areas, around what is Louisiana. The Dutch controlled New York, and the Germans, Swedish, Scots, and Irish also had settlements throughout America, as well as the Natives which controlled most areas not claimed by European nations. By the end of the century, African slaves also made up a large portion of Virginia for their use in the tobacco growing, which added another layer to the cultural boiling pot of America. Due to the rough conditions within the country, it was necessary for many of these different people to work together through trading so that they would all survive. Through these interactions, America began to develop its own identity, one different from just the British roots many began from.As the new American colonies were settled, the people who settled them found they needed to adapt new governments to their different lifestyles. Often, orders sent from England were outright ignored by the colonies in favor of creating their own laws, which infuriated King Charles II. To set an example where this practice was the worst, he...

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