Essays for The American Pageant, 14th ed.
1. From the perspective of Native Americans, the Spanish and English empires in America had more similarities than differences. Assess the validity of this generalization.
It is important to develop a clear thesis on the validity of the statement at the outset of the essay. A good essay could be developed on either side of the issue or in support of a middle-of –the-road position. Supporting paragraphs should be developed to build the position chosen. Both the Spanish and the English treated the Native Americans as inferiors, thought it important to bring them Christianity, sought to profit economically from relations with the Native Americans, and forced some Native Americans into slavery. Both brought terrible diseases to the New World, though the Spanish impact was more devastating because of earlier arrival. The Spanish attempted to integrate Native Americans into their colonial societies through intermarriage and through the establishment of agricultural communities with Native American workers. The English separated themselves from Native American life to a greater extent and relied mostly on trade for economic gain.
2. Evaluate the extent of settlement and influence of three of these groups of non-English settlers in North America before 1775.
It is important to point out that English settlers were a definite majority of those in North America during the entire eighteenth century. However, the proportion declined from about twenty to one in 1700 to only about three to one by 1775. So a good essay should point out that the significance of non-English groups was increasing. The next task is to select three groups from the list and describe the influence of each. Of the non-English settlers, the largest group consisted of Africans, most of whom were enslaved and forced to immigrate. The laws and social customs that enabled the institution of slavery to exist were firmly in place by the 1700s. There were enslaved Africans in all of the colonies, though the practice was most prevalent in the South, due to the labor-intensive export crops common there. The French had relatively small settlements in the St. Lawrence River valley, but exerted economic influence over vast expanses of the interior through trade and missionary activities. Because French economic power rivaled that of England, the English feared the French settlers more than those from the other countries, until the French colonies came under English rule in 1763. The Dutch originally controlled the Hudson River valley as a separate colony, but this had been absorbed by New York by the 1700s. Dutch names remained important there and Dutch social customs were influential. The relative poverty and the independent spirit of many of the Scots Irish settlers is demonstrated by their tendency to settle along the western frontiers on both sides of the Appalachians from Pennsylvania southward. They maintained their Presbyterian religion, and a history of struggles with the Church of England meant that they were unlikely to respect the English colonial governments. German settlers located themselves mostly in Pennsylvania where they were called “Pennsylvania Dutch.” They maintained relatively prosperous farming communities and tried to remain culturally separate from the English.
3. Explain the theory of mercantilism and the role in played in prompting Americans to rebel in 1776.
Essay A (Strong)
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the set of economic ideas that prevailed in the governments of several leading European nations came to be called mercantilism. Based on these ideas, English leaders made decisions that were more advantageous to the mother country than they were to the colonies. While this resulted in some discontent among the colonists, mercantilism by...
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