The Colonies by 1763: a New Society
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 emergence of a society quite different from that in England. Changes in religion, economics, politics and social structure illustrate this Americanization of the transplanted Europeans. By 1763, although some colonies still maintained established churches, other colonies had accomplished a virtual revolution for religious toleration and separation of church and state.
In England, the King, the head of state, is also the head of the Anglican Church, the Church of England. In the early colonial years, the Puritans had control of church and state in the northeast, mainly Massachusetts. The leaders were strict and church and state were inseparable. But during the 1730’s to the 1740’s, the Great Awakening arose and led to a decline in Puritan tradition. The Great Awakening was lead by Johnathan Edwards and George Whitefield and brought about an increase in religious freedom and many new churches.The Great Awakening also led to an increase of separation of church and state. The Great Awakening was only possible because the youth didn’t view religion as seriously as their predecessors. Also, the church’s power in government was weakened so they couldn’t enforce religious duties upon anyone. The Colonies had differed themselves from England religiously by being more tolerant. In a similar economic revolution, the colonies outgrew their mercantile relationship with the mother country and developed an expanding capitalist system.The colonies originally were a tool for England to collect resources and to expand its resources. This was because England believed in mercantilism. Mercantilism is the belief that there is a set amount of wealth in the world. The colonies began to trade with other nations and colonies without England’s permission because the distance between the colonies and the mother country was enormous and made communication difficult. During salutary neglect, England did not concern itself with this, but after the French-Indian War, it needed to raise funds, so it began imposing its will upon the colonies.Several unfavorable acts in the colonies were the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, and the Tea Act. By this time, the colonies already had a self sufficient economy and England’s intrusion was hurting that economy. They were able to become self sufficient because during the salutary neglect they were forced to take care of themselves. They had developed a free market and England imposing the Stamp, Sugar, and Tea Acts was creating monopolies. The colonies were the opposites of England economically by 1763.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. During the period of salutary neglect, the colonists could not depend on England for government help because they were not represented in Parliament and because communication was difficult due to the Atlantic Ocean. The colonists had to learn to make decisions on their own, which prepared them to be independent. The colonists could govern themselves because the English weren’t paying attention to them.They also were forced to make decisions and laws for themselves. By the time the period of salutary neglect was finished, the colonists already were able to govern themselves. This is how the colonies had separated itself politically from England. In contrast to the well-defined and hereditary classes of England, the colonies developed a fluid class structure. Women had managed to change their status socially. Marriage was more of a means of transferring wealth than a romantic ceremony in those days. Women began getting more power in their family, although they still had little say in their government.They got this say in the family life because it was their job to care for the house and to raise the children. In Europe, they were still seen as more of a possession than a partner. Also, it was much easier for people to change classes. In England, you were born into the class you would remain in your whole life. In the colonies, one could change their social status through hard work and persistence because there was no autocracy in the colonies. No one person had absolute power. England was also different than the colonies socially.By the year 1763, the colonies already had a different society than that in England. Religiously, the colonies were much more tolerant. In terms of the economy, the two societies formed different views. The colonists were capitalist and the English were mercantilists. The colonists were also opposed to the idea of monarchy. They supported forms of democracy. Lastly, the colonies were more liberal than the mother country socially. It allowed for more flexibility in the social structure. By 1763, the colonies were already a different society from England.