The development of the American colonies had six different factors contributing to it. They were the Enlightenment, European population explosion, Glorious Revolution, Great Awakening, mercantilism, and Religious tolerance. The Enlightenment was a cultural movement that challenged the authority of the church in science and philosophy while elevating the power of human reason. One of the most influential Enlightenment writers was John Locke. He argued with the church that people were not born with sinful minds. He believed that their mind was shaped by society and education, which made people better.
Baron Montesquieu, another writer, contributed to American colonies by creating our three political powers: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. They are separated into different branches, which provide checks and balances against each other so they have equal power. The European population explosion happened in the early 1700’s when the climate became warmer and the diseases began to decline. This caused a population boom and a very large amount of new immigrants to come to America. Also, during this time there was a huge demand of wheat to feed the large rise in number of people in Europe.
Between 1720 and 1770, wheat prices more than doubled, so this brought a wave of wealth and prosperity to America. This rapid rise of wheat trade and the arrival of new settlers changed the society of the American colonies. The Glorious Revolution was a bloodless change of the throne in England. The English people and Parliament were growing tired of James II because he was Catholic, but were willing to tolerate him because they were expecting his Protestant daughter, Mary and her husband, William of Orange, to succeed James to the throne.
When they received the news of James’ son being born, it broke their hope. Parliament was not going to risk another Catholic dynasty, so they invited William and Mary to the throne. When William arrived in England, James ran away and then this caused an uprising in Boston. Andros, the governor of New England, and his councilors were seized and imprisoned. William and Mary let the Dominion of New England die silently, but they did not restore the old system fully. They let Connecticut and Rhode Island go back to their old system, but did not surrender all control over Massachusetts.
They eventually issued a new charter in 1691. This combined Massachusetts Bay colony, Plymouth colony, and Maine into the royal colony of Massachusetts. Under this new charter, the people of Massachusetts were given the right to elect an assembly. Also, people who could vote did not have to be members of a Puritan congregation, but only had to own land. This charter also granted freedom of worship to Anglicans living in Massachusetts. The Great Awakening was a revival of religious freedom. The central idea of this was having an internal emotional experience that brings one to God.
George Whitefield arrived in Philadelphia in 1739. He was an Anglican Minister who was influenced by Methodism and he attracted huge crowds everywhere he preached. This awakening also brought the New Lights and Old Lights. The New Lights experienced a surge membership while other churches memberships declined. Also in the south, Baptists welcomed enslaved Africans at their revivals and brought them to God. This caused a new African Christian culture to come about. This was one of the most important ideas that are still implanted in the American society today.
Mercantilism is a set of ideas about the world economy and how it worked. Mercantilists thought that to become wealthy and powerful, a country had to accumulate gold and silver. They did this by selling more goods than brought to them, causing more gold and silver to come in than go out of the country. Mercantilism provided to colonies by giving them a reliable market for some of their raw materials. This one factor taught the American colonies today to become more self sufficient. Religious tolerance was an important but often misunderstood contribution to the American colonies.
Groups such as Pilgrims and Puritans left Europe to escape religious persecution and to have religious freedom. The Pilgrims landed off course in Cape Cod so they signed the Mayflower Compact to keep things in order. This compact established the precedent for local government based on written agreements. Also, the Great Migration began in 1630 when 60,000 Puritans headed for America, and this helped establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony. All of these factors helped contribute in some way to the development of the American colonies. Some helped in the past and still are helping today, but some just set the standards for our society today.