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Changes Before The Revolution For Colonists Essay, Research Paper

Between the settlement at Jamestown in 1607 and the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the most important change that occurred in the colonies was the extension of British ideals far beyond the practice in England itself. Changes in religion, economics, politics and social structures illustrate this Americanization of the transplanted Europeans.

In a similar economic revolution, the colonies outgrew their mercantile relationship with the mother country and developed an expanding capitalist system of their own. England would grant each colony a specific charter, granting them special privileges. To earn a charter, colonies had to follow Parliament?s order. After the colonial government removed controls on the production of tobacco, there was a major expansion in the economy. Plantations developed, for one owner and his servants. Indentured servants were brought over, at this time, they would work seven years and then would be set free, to start a new life (they would start their own plantation). The death rate was declining, causing more plantations to be settled. African slaves emerged as the dominant agricultural labor force in the southern colonies. Slaves were also used in the northern colonies, but in far fewer numbers. The survival rates as well as birthrates tended to be high for slaves brought to the North American colonies. Also, the British colonies grew rapidly in population and wealth. Trade and cities flourished.

Building on English foundations of political liberty, the colonists extended the concepts of liberty and self-government far beyond those envisioned in the mother country. By the mid eighteenth century, the colonies all had similar systems of government. Governors would run each colony (there were three ways of getting elected: appointment by the king, appointment by proprietors, or popular vote.) Then each colony had a house made up of a council and an assembly. Throughout all colonies only white males with money could participate in politics. Their representative government was the first step toward self-government.

In contrast to the well defined and hereditary classes of England, the colonies developed a fluid class structure which enabled the industrious individual to rise on the social ladder. The myth that God assigned people to different ranks in society, was brought to colonies. However, they did not fully accept it like the British. Americans saw the rich merchants, and realized that with hard work they could better themselves. Adult white males had the easier time, of raising themselves of the class chart. America was soon given the name ?the land of opportunity.?

By 1763, although some colonies still maintained established churches, other colonies had accomplished a virtual revolution for religious toleration and separation of the church and state. Between 1720 and 1750 a widespread revival of religion occurred in the American colonies, called the Great Awakening. The most famous contributor to this contagious religious response was an English preacher, George Whitefield. He was joined with Jonathan EDWARDS by their common preaching effort. Together these men stressed the importance of ?vital religious experience as the cornerstone of effective religious life.?

When Jamestown was first settled, most colonists followed British parliament to it’s fullest. But as years passed the colonists wanted change in different areas of their life. The most changes occurred in religion, economics, politics and social structures. These future Americans were in the process of having their own form of economics, government, class structure, and religion.


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