Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Black Legend and English Colonization

I.) Spain and the “Black Legend”  -- Spain’s mistreatment of native inhabitants in the New World legitimated the attempts by other European governments (Netherlands, France, and England) to attempt to undermine Spanish control, and to make their own claims in order to proselytize Christianity—and to seek riches in the territory that they could claim and hold.
A)      Cortes and Pizzaro—the phenomenal success of Cortez with the Aztecs and Pizzaro with the Inca people set the early model for Spanish behavior in the new world—the conquest. This model had only limited success after Cortes and Pizzaro, however; outside of the centralized native societies in Mexico and South America, the Spanish found it nearly impossible to maintain their advantage and control.
i)        Cabeza de Vaca—part of a conquistadores party led by Panfilo de Narvaez, who was determined to outdo rival Cortes in Florida. Plagued by hit-and-run raids from Apalachee people, planned to build barges and coast around Gulf from present-day Tampa back to Mexico; on the Texas coast five barges caught in storm and wrecked. Passed among numerous native peoples because of their “healing powers.” Ultimately made it back to Mexico, where Cabeza de Vaca became an advocate for humane treatment of natives (and to publish an account of the to-then inhumane treatment; along with Casas, these accounts led to a change in policy for Spanish—but also to the idea of the Black Legend); two others in the party came back with fantastic stories of lost cities filled with gold.

2)       Hernando de Soto—accompanied Pizzaro to Peru, which had made him a rich man, but he wanted to outdo Cortes, as well. Both Soto and Coronado, who followed him, were supposed to follow the new, gentler “pacification” policy of the Spanish government. Once in the bush, however, both leaders permitted their men to follow the old conquistador’s model of rape, pillage, murder and mayhem. Along with the microbes that accompanied the Spaniards, this devasted the Mississippian peoples, forcing them to abandon their cities (the seats of their advanced culture), and move in among the hill people, who had been their subjects, and who had a less advanced culture.

3)     Francisco Vasquez de Coronado—excited by the prospects of finding “Cibola,” a city in the American southwest purported to rival the wealth of Tenochtitlan, Coronado invested most of his own wealth in financing a party to find it in 1540. As the group neared the Rio Grande, they came upon a group of Pueblo people; appropriating their food, houses, and women.

B.) Spanish forces in Florida—because of the success of privateers, Spanish officials came to see the necessity of controlling the waters between Florida and the Bahamas. To that end, they set up a military installation at St. Augustine, the first permanent settlement of Europeans in the present-day confines of the US. In order to hold this settlement, however, felt it necessary to defeat nearby settlement of French Huguenots (protestants) who the Spanish “put to the knife.” Although maintaining St. Augustine was a money loser, Spain did so in order to attempt to keep privateers from feasting on the annual convoy between Mexico and Spain.

 Clash of Cultures at Jamestown

1. Roanoke Island-- Financed and organized by a Queen Elizabeth favorite, Walter Raliegh, settlers were place on the largest of the Outer Banks islands, Roanoke, to build a settlement. In part, this would provide the English with a claim to "ownership" of the land, and in part to provide their privateers with a base to raid ships sailing past in the Gulf Stream laden with gold and silver from the Spanish Main.

a)     Virginia Company – group of investors, expecting a return on their investment, on the model of the West Indies Company that had financed the sugar plantations in the British Caribbean

b)      Captain John Smith – a much more complex character than Disney would lead you to believe; short, swarthy, and hairy (by contemporary accounts); Smith proposed to overcome the natives militarily and then enslave them, using the Spanish model.

i)        Jamestown settlement – reliant upon Smith’s ability to cajole and threaten to get corn from the natives; the natives soon realize this and threaten to abandon the area and allow whites to stave to death.

(1)   Why did not natives follow through on this threat? Trade?

c)      “The Starving Time” (1607) – then inability of the Jamestown settlement to grow enough food for themselves, combined with the diseases they contracted which incapacitated a number of them, meant that for the first several years the people of the settlement were reliant upon food arriving for them from England.  When shipments were delayed or did not arrive, a number of settlers quietly starved to death.

i)        Smith’s leadership – ameliorated this condition somewhat, since he decreed and enforced that all settlers were to put in 4-6 hours a day in the fields (or they would not eat).

(1)   Reasons – the Virginia Company had no idea what it would take to set up a productive colony in North America; they sent workers like goldsmith and jewelers, whose crafts provided a newly established settlement with no useful skills, and would not for a number of years; the people sent to Jamestown were also top-heavy with gentlemen, who did no manual labor by station, and not enough husbandmen and farmers.

ii)       Completely dependent upon natives supplying them with food – but the relations with the natives were strained; battles with natives broke out in which military operations were carried out which would burn villages and destroy caches of the corn crop—which the English themselves were dependent upon.

iii)     Cannibalism – Recorded instance, in which a man killed his wife, chopped her up and ate her, in an area of abundant game, fish, fruits, nuts, and berries.  Also instances of the dead being dug up so that the living could eat them.

d)      Social composition of Jamestown settlers

i)        Gentlemen – 36 of 105 settlers, which meant that nearly 1/3 of settlers, expected that they would perform no manual labor because it was beneath their station in life.

ii)       Craftsmen – made up the largest portion of the population, but none expected to work outside of their area of training, or outside of their craft (due to restrictions that they had always practiced that craft under—namely, the Statute of Artificers.  Too often, their particular craft was not needed, so they sat around pursuing leisure activities (gambling, etc.) while they and their fellows starved to death.

iii)     Husbandmen and farmers – made up the smallest portion of the settlers, but they were expected to produce enough food for the entire settlement.

This organization of society seems senseless to us today—after all, if one were starving, why would you just accept that fate and not try to find food for yourself?  But many English were use to an inadequate diet and hunger while they were in England, and they had no expectation that life would be substantially different for them on a new continent.

VI)  The Tobacco Boom (1611-1630, approximately) – the best grade of tobacco came to Europe from Turkey; Virginia tobacco was considered a grade or two below that, but tobacco was destined to provide the colony with a way to attract new investment.  At first, tobacco was seen as undesirable, an unclean habit; it increasingly gained favor, however, with a resultant rise in the value of tobacco.

a)      Price boom – by 1619, the price a tobacco farmer could get for tobacco was approximately three shillings a pound (or approximately $1,500/hogshead barrel, which equaled about 300lbs.).  This price only prevailed for about ten years, however; as the market was flooded with Chesapeake tobacco, the price declined, until in 1630 the price for a pound of tobacco had declined to about a penny a pound (or $5.00/hogshead)

b)      Labor shortage – to take advantage of this tobacco boom, tobacco growers needed to get labor to the colony to produce the crop to sell to merchants in England.

i)        Tobacco labor-intensive – the growing, harvesting, and processing of tobacco were all labor-intensive.  It takes a year and a half for the tobacco plant to mature, and the plant needs a lot of attention to flourish.

(1)   One person could attend to approximately 2,000 tobacco plants, which in turn would yield about 500lbs of tobacco; therefore, the more labor one could employ (but not necessarily in the definition of pay), the greater one’s chances of making a substantial amount of money there were.

ii)       Labor “surplus” in England – England during this time was undergoing a period of consolidation of land holdings on the part of the landed gentry (the enclosure of the commons), and the early beginnings of the Industrial Revolution (where peasants who where being pushed out of farming were in the process of becoming wage workers in factories in urban areas).

iii)     Labor “recruitment” – from prisons and workhouses, as well as those recruits of “spirits” and “crimps” who simply kidnapped persons of the lower classes, and put them on ships to the Americas to be employed as indentured servants (a practice which was known among this population as being “barbadosed,” because Barbados was the destination of the greatest share of such people, to work on the sugar plantations)

(1)   “Seasoning” – ships with new indentured servants usually arrived in Virginia at the beginning of summer. The combination of a long, arduous journey, general malnutrition, and a variety of diseases then prevalent during the summer in the Chesapeake area (like malaria, typhus, and diphtheria), combined with the pace of work killed off a horrific number of workers.

(2)   Massacre of 1622 – a surprise attack by natives upon Jamestown resulted in the killing of 347 men, women, and children; this resulted in a retaliatory strike by the remaining Jamestown settlers, and a determination to wipe out natives in the area once and for all; however, its also prompted an investigation by Parliament which uncovered the fact that despite the immigration of 3,570 people in the three years proceeding the native attack, only 1,240 English subjects were alive at the time of the attack.  The population of Jamestown before this period of intensive immigration was 700—which meant that 3,030 people had died in the preceding three year time period.  On top of this, the Virginia Company was nearly bankrupt; in 1624 the crown took over responsibility for the settlements in Virginia.  The population losses decrease after this, but remained relatively high throughout the 1620s and 1630s.

c)      Population increase from 1640 – due to the drop in demand for tobacco (the market was glutted at this time period), other crops were grown which were then sold to plantations in the Caribbean

i)        Propagation of apple trees – used largely to make cider, which meant that less contaminated water was consumed, which decreased the prevalence of diseases like dysentery and typhus)

ii)       New arrivals in fall – rather than new workers arriving in the beginning of summer, they arrived at the beginning of fall, which gave them a longer time to acclimate themselves.

d)      New Problems

i)        Increased demand for land – as more servants survived their period of indenture, there was a corresponding increase in the demand for more land. By 1676, this increased demand for land led to Bacon’s Rebellion

(1)   Head rights – the term used to explain the right to land that one claimed when it could be proven that one making such a claim had paid for the passage of another to the colony (this helped provide a larger number of planters to employ indentured servants, who themselves were usually promised a substantial amount of land and the tools to work it in return for their labor); because unimproved land was more valuable than improved land (tobacco could only be grown for a three or four year period before exhausting the land), those who could afford to employ indentured servants benefited.

ii)       Increased costs of labor – as more indentured servants survived their period of service, they made greater demands for land.  When indentured servants did not survive the seven years of their service, it was more economically viable for large planters to employ indentured servants; as these indentured servants began to live longer, however, the employment of slaves became more attractive.

(1)   Higher initial cost of slavery – the employment of slaves had a higher start-up cost; however, since one could amortize this cost over the productive life of the slave, the cost ended up being less than that for indentured servants.

VII)           Puritanism – a movement for religious reform; the purpose was to reform the Church of England from the dangers of “Romanism;” Puritans called for a more radical cleansing of the Church of England from the remaining Catholic elements (vestments, sacraments, etc.), and for this they became known, derisively, as Puritans and as purifying radicals.       

a)      Religious movement

b)      Political and social movement – the response to many long-range changes that had been occurring in English society, as that society was changing from a feudal society to one we think of as more modern.

i)        Sought to overturn established church

ii)       Growth of cities – as enclosure became more prevalent, the growth of urban populations took off (Ex: London grew from a city of 75,000 in 1550 to a population of 325,000 in 1650)

iii)     Enclosure of the land – created a large body of people no longer tied to the land, or who were able to gain sustenance from it.  This shift in population also caused societal unrest, as a large group of “masterless” people (previously, peasants who were tied to the land had been answerable to the lord of the manor—as they were forced to move off the land, this relationship ended) moved into cities, where they had to engage in a variety of pursuits (some of which we can classify as “criminal”) to eke out a living.

iv)     Increase on trade – trade became more important during this time period, which increased the exchange of goods—and ideas.

VIII)         All of this contributed to the rise of a capitalist society, in which individuals had more autonomy.  Peasants were uprooted from the land, which provided the capitalists with the labor that they needed to operate their factories and ships (in England)—but this also led to an increase in vagabondage and crime, particularly in the growing urban areas as people moved into cities.

a)      Medieval web of responsibility

i)        Reciprocal relationships – although the medieval lord of the manor demanded labor and other compensation from his serfs or tenants, he was also obligated to certain responsibilities towards theses people, like adequate food and shelter.  This system depended upon reciprocity between the classes.

ii)       Emerging capitalist system – created instability in English society because capitalism ended these webs of responsibility, allegedly allowing individuals to rise according to their capabilities (although if ones ancestors had been extremely capable, or politically connected, this lack of capability could be overcome by inherited wealth).

b)      Puritan reaction – while the Puritans attacked the hierarchical governance of churches (especially the Roman Catholic Church), and emphasized one’s personal relationship with God, they deplored individualism in other areas of life, which they saw as leading to social anarchy. The downfall of Anne Hutchinson, in fact, was due to her claim that God spoke to her directly (although her challenges to the male power structure certainly contributed)

i)        Individualism a threat to society – individualism was a threat to the community, to the concept of community in the Puritan world.

ii)       Work as a service to God – one did not have to occupy a high station in life to serve God (although that became a sign that God certainly favored you), one only had to work hard in whatever one’s position was; each calling was equally worthy in God’s eyes.

(1)   This did not create the concept of an egalitarian society; there were still social superiors and inferiors, and the latter were still supposed to defer to the former.

iii)     God’s “elect” – must not only save themselves, but also must assume the burdens of civil government to reform society at large; those who resisted these reforms had to be coerced and controlled, directed and dominated.  Puritans did face harassment in England, particularly in the 1620s under James I.  This, combined with the economic opportunity opening in other countries (particularly the Netherlands, which had a more tolerant attitude to any religion other than Catholicism) while England was suffering the effects of an economic depression, led many Puritans to leave England and settling in Leiden, the Netherlands.  Nevertheless, the Puritans were driven less by motives of profit during this time then by an ideological commitment to build a Christian utopia, organized around the idea of community and possessed by the idea that industriousness and self-discipline were indispensable parts of worshipping God.

IX)  Puritan Migration

a)      Unhappiness in Leiden – the Netherlands was truly a tolerant country in regard to religious practice, but because of these younger members of the Puritan flock began to lose their sense of Englishness, which became increasingly important to their elders, who feared that they would be assimilated into Dutch culture.

b)      Settlement in the “New World” – to ensure that the Puritan children retained their Englishness, the sect elders decided to pursue establishing and “English” settlement in the new world; the king granted them a charter to settle in “Virginia,” but they intentionally sailed further north to put as much distance between themselves and Jamestown as possible.

i)        1620 Landing at Plymouth Rock – the Puritans on the Mayflower sailed into Massachusetts Bay, and scouted out several locations before settling on Plymouth, which was closer to the mainland and presented better prospects for establishing family farms

(1)   Other settlements – non-Puritan settlements on Cape Cod, devoted to commercial fishing and allied endeavors, were established soon afterwards

ii)       1630 Mass Migration – during 1630, eleven ships with nearly 700 people landed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony; between 1630 and 1640 12,000 people migrated to New England.  With a healthier climate, and the Puritan propensity to propagate, the colony greatly grew in size over a relatively brief period of time.

(1)   The addition of this great number of migrants made the Puritan communities less reliant upon natives, while at the same time the appropriated more land—thereby increasing tensions with native groups.

c)      Puritan Covenant – the “Citty on the Hill”

i)        Established an authoritarian regime

(1)   No diversity of opinion concerning religious belief was tolerated for very long (and since secular and religious life were intricately bound together, questions of a political nature quickly became of a religious nature, and vice versa)

(2)   Political representation was limited to those “filled with God’s grace” – that is to say, members of the church

(3)   Participants agreed to give up certain individual and political freedoms to accomplish greater goals

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