Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The Evidence for American Independence: An Economic, Social, and Religious Argument Steven H. Newton Delaware State University ©2009 Steven H. Newton Delaware.

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "The Evidence for American Independence: An Economic, Social, and Religious Argument Steven H. Newton Delaware State University ©2009 Steven H. Newton Delaware."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Evidence for American Independence: An Economic, Social, and Religious Argument Steven H. Newton Delaware State University ©2009 Steven H. Newton Delaware State University ©2009

2 The Appeals to Tradition Most narrative American histories of the late Colonial, Revolutionary, and Constitutional periods continue to be primarily political

3 The Appeals to Tradition Most narrative American histories of the late Colonial, Revolutionary, and Constitutional periods continue to be primarily political We travel from Sugar Act to Stamp Act to Boston Massacre and Tea Party to Lexington Green in a narrative that is well-known but ultimately somehow … unconvincing Most narrative American histories of the late Colonial, Revolutionary, and Constitutional periods continue to be primarily political We travel from Sugar Act to Stamp Act to Boston Massacre and Tea Party to Lexington Green in a narrative that is well-known but ultimately somehow … unconvincing

4 The Appeals to Tradition Most narrative American histories of the late Colonial, Revolutionary, and Constitutional periods continue to be primarily political We travel from Sugar Act to Stamp Act to Boston Massacre and Tea Party to Lexington Green in a narrative that is well-known but ultimately somehow … unconvincing There is the argument to be made that this narrative is not so much history but an appeal to the American political tradition of political dissent and republican virtues…. Most narrative American histories of the late Colonial, Revolutionary, and Constitutional periods continue to be primarily political We travel from Sugar Act to Stamp Act to Boston Massacre and Tea Party to Lexington Green in a narrative that is well-known but ultimately somehow … unconvincing There is the argument to be made that this narrative is not so much history but an appeal to the American political tradition of political dissent and republican virtues….

5 There are other Traditions Economic Traditions: The strange confluence of the American colonies and the development of consumer capitalism and world markets

6 There are other Traditions Economic Traditions: The strange confluence of the American colonies and the development of consumer capitalism and world markets Social Traditions: The irony of developing a common national identity among one of the most heterogeneous populations on Earth Economic Traditions: The strange confluence of the American colonies and the development of consumer capitalism and world markets Social Traditions: The irony of developing a common national identity among one of the most heterogeneous populations on Earth

7 There are other Traditions Economic Traditions: The strange confluence of the American colonies and the development of consumer capitalism and world markets Social Traditions: The irony of developing a common national identity among one of the most heterogeneous populations on Earth Religious Traditions: The often-ignored connection between Separatist Protestant theology and the political ideology of the Republic Economic Traditions: The strange confluence of the American colonies and the development of consumer capitalism and world markets Social Traditions: The irony of developing a common national identity among one of the most heterogeneous populations on Earth Religious Traditions: The often-ignored connection between Separatist Protestant theology and the political ideology of the Republic

8 Economic Traditions This argument follows Fernand Braudel’s brilliant work Civilization and Capitalism Braudel was a materialist historian, who argued that –What people do--patterns of behavior and the artifacts they use--is more important than what they say The Patterns of Everyday Life--determine rather than reflect what happens in history –The creation of a capitalist consumer economy was a necessary prerequisite for the Industrial Revolution As such, his consideration of the world’s political economy between places the British North American colonies in a unique position This argument follows Fernand Braudel’s brilliant work Civilization and Capitalism Braudel was a materialist historian, who argued that –What people do--patterns of behavior and the artifacts they use--is more important than what they say The Patterns of Everyday Life--determine rather than reflect what happens in history –The creation of a capitalist consumer economy was a necessary prerequisite for the Industrial Revolution As such, his consideration of the world’s political economy between places the British North American colonies in a unique position

9 Economic Traditions: three revolutions The revolutions in finance, technology, and distribution achieved during the Renaissance allowed for flourishing social and economic activity even in a politically chaotic Europe –Finance: the development of new instruments of credit and funded debt allowed capital to be both amassed and treated as a commodity –Technology: far more significant than gunpowder or the printing press, material advances in everyday life [the plow, the fork, new techniques in preserving food or weaving cloth] created the world’s first widespread surge in consumer demand –Distribution: merchants and financiers [followed by rulers] begin to realize that controlling the flow of trade is just as profitable as controlling the commodities themselves The revolutions in finance, technology, and distribution achieved during the Renaissance allowed for flourishing social and economic activity even in a politically chaotic Europe –Finance: the development of new instruments of credit and funded debt allowed capital to be both amassed and treated as a commodity –Technology: far more significant than gunpowder or the printing press, material advances in everyday life [the plow, the fork, new techniques in preserving food or weaving cloth] created the world’s first widespread surge in consumer demand –Distribution: merchants and financiers [followed by rulers] begin to realize that controlling the flow of trade is just as profitable as controlling the commodities themselves

10 Economic Traditions: three structures Three structures emerge that shape and govern economic life:

11 Economic Traditions: three structures Three structures emerge that shape and govern economic life: –Everyday life defines expectations and drives demands Consumers in North America brought not just their religious and national identities to the New World, but their expectations as consumers –They followed British trends in fashion and fad to an extent our own histories now find mildly embarrassing They expected to be part of the huge Empire of Consumer Goods that British and Dutch merchants had created in opposition to more traditional overseas expansions by France or Spain –France never colonized North America; it established a network of trading outposts –Spain viewed the New World in dynastic and mercantile terms »Spain’s Magic Mountain [Potosi] and the failure of Mercantile Colonialism Three structures emerge that shape and govern economic life: –Everyday life defines expectations and drives demands Consumers in North America brought not just their religious and national identities to the New World, but their expectations as consumers –They followed British trends in fashion and fad to an extent our own histories now find mildly embarrassing They expected to be part of the huge Empire of Consumer Goods that British and Dutch merchants had created in opposition to more traditional overseas expansions by France or Spain –France never colonized North America; it established a network of trading outposts –Spain viewed the New World in dynastic and mercantile terms »Spain’s Magic Mountain [Potosi] and the failure of Mercantile Colonialism

12 Economic Traditions: three structures Three structures emerge that shape and govern economic life: –Markets control the prices and availability of goods to consumers at the local and regional levels The traditional role of city and city-state governments in economics was to protect their citizens as consumers by regulating trade and insuring quality –Licenses for trade [specifically enforced on non-locals] –Tax agents and inspectors for quality [food supply and urban illness--the connection] A widely dispersed, loosely governed colonial population developed different institutions –The absence of effective governmental regulation leads to a more libertarian reliance on voluntary associations, private contracts, and courts to enforce them –The distinction severs one of the basic linkages between taxation and good government Three structures emerge that shape and govern economic life: –Markets control the prices and availability of goods to consumers at the local and regional levels The traditional role of city and city-state governments in economics was to protect their citizens as consumers by regulating trade and insuring quality –Licenses for trade [specifically enforced on non-locals] –Tax agents and inspectors for quality [food supply and urban illness--the connection] A widely dispersed, loosely governed colonial population developed different institutions –The absence of effective governmental regulation leads to a more libertarian reliance on voluntary associations, private contracts, and courts to enforce them –The distinction severs one of the basic linkages between taxation and good government

13 Economic Traditions: three structures Three structures emerge that shape and govern economic life: –Capital emerges as distinct from so-called market forces, in that it represents a new form of economic and political power, while leading to the idea of long-term economic strategies Funded debt dramatically expands the resources available to both nations and large merchant interests while at the same time damaging mercantilist nations –Emergence of huge banking, mercantile, and insurance interests [we will discuss the Hostmen of Newcastle later] –Public works move from supporting political or military power to supporting economic growth »England as an island with a city rather than a country The American colonies exist in an anomalous economic environment –Multiple competing centers of capital development (Boston, New York, and Philadelphia) –Chronic shortage of specie forces financial innovation into speculative funding ventures (land speculation, joint venture capital, currency speculation) Three structures emerge that shape and govern economic life: –Capital emerges as distinct from so-called market forces, in that it represents a new form of economic and political power, while leading to the idea of long-term economic strategies Funded debt dramatically expands the resources available to both nations and large merchant interests while at the same time damaging mercantilist nations –Emergence of huge banking, mercantile, and insurance interests [we will discuss the Hostmen of Newcastle later] –Public works move from supporting political or military power to supporting economic growth »England as an island with a city rather than a country The American colonies exist in an anomalous economic environment –Multiple competing centers of capital development (Boston, New York, and Philadelphia) –Chronic shortage of specie forces financial innovation into speculative funding ventures (land speculation, joint venture capital, currency speculation)

14 Economic Traditions: consequences The divergence of colonial economic development leads to important but often invisible differences with Great Britain –Different mechanisms for regulating markets lead to increasing political autonomy and resentment over taxation and attempts to regulate land speculation and Indian affairs –The demand for consumer goods leads the colonists to see the British Empire as a source for satisfying their demand rather than a legitimate governing authority The divergence of colonial economic development leads to important but often invisible differences with Great Britain –Different mechanisms for regulating markets lead to increasing political autonomy and resentment over taxation and attempts to regulate land speculation and Indian affairs –The demand for consumer goods leads the colonists to see the British Empire as a source for satisfying their demand rather than a legitimate governing authority

15 Social Traditions: The Heterogeneous Society By 1775, half of the 2.5 million colonists had either been born or had immigrated to America within the last twenty years By 1775, fewer than half of the 2.5 million colonists [49%] were English; Africans, Irish, Scotch-Irish, and Scottish immigrants dominate entire regions By 1775, the age demographics of the colonies (median age: 17 years) and the gender distribution (5 men; 3 women) has changed patterns of consumption and politics By 1775, half of the 2.5 million colonists had either been born or had immigrated to America within the last twenty years By 1775, fewer than half of the 2.5 million colonists [49%] were English; Africans, Irish, Scotch-Irish, and Scottish immigrants dominate entire regions By 1775, the age demographics of the colonies (median age: 17 years) and the gender distribution (5 men; 3 women) has changed patterns of consumption and politics

16 Social Traditions: The Heterogeneous Society Within such a society, common identity becomes defined not so much in cultural terms, but in terms of –Political identity within the colonies –Commercial relationships –Defining who and what we are not, rather than what we are Within such a society, common identity becomes defined not so much in cultural terms, but in terms of –Political identity within the colonies –Commercial relationships –Defining who and what we are not, rather than what we are

17 Religious Traditions: Children of the Twice-born Much of the founder effect in American history develops out of the prominence of Separatists and other religious dissidents in early colonization That, however, is mediated by a loss of religious fervor in the late 1600s and early 1700s…. Which weakens traditional religious structures [hierarchical churches] while at the same time Strengthening the hold of Evangelical Protestant theology [Great Awakening] To some extent you end up with theology without theologians Why are they [to steal from Robert Middlekauf] Children of the Twice-born? Much of the founder effect in American history develops out of the prominence of Separatists and other religious dissidents in early colonization That, however, is mediated by a loss of religious fervor in the late 1600s and early 1700s…. Which weakens traditional religious structures [hierarchical churches] while at the same time Strengthening the hold of Evangelical Protestant theology [Great Awakening] To some extent you end up with theology without theologians Why are they [to steal from Robert Middlekauf] Children of the Twice-born?

18 Religious Traditions: Children of the Twice-born Twin themes emerging from the Reformation –Biblical Literalism Anti-clerical Pro-literacy –Changing doctrine of salvation Salvation through Works Salvation through Grace Political implications: –Works: what constitutes salvation is defined by human authority »Reinforces social hierarchy –Grace: all souls equal in the sight of God »Leads indirectly to a more egalitarian political ideology Twin themes emerging from the Reformation –Biblical Literalism Anti-clerical Pro-literacy –Changing doctrine of salvation Salvation through Works Salvation through Grace Political implications: –Works: what constitutes salvation is defined by human authority »Reinforces social hierarchy –Grace: all souls equal in the sight of God »Leads indirectly to a more egalitarian political ideology

19 The consequences for narrative context A consumer-driven revolution? Plurality is not necessarily tolerance The difficult separation of Church and State A consumer-driven revolution? Plurality is not necessarily tolerance The difficult separation of Church and State


Download ppt "The Evidence for American Independence: An Economic, Social, and Religious Argument Steven H. Newton Delaware State University ©2009 Steven H. Newton Delaware."

Similar presentations


Ads by Google