Analysis of the Extent to Which the Colonists Developed a Sense of Their Identity and Unity: Critical Essay

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The people who came to America from Great Britain were hoping for a better life. The Puritans were searching for a life of practicing their religion freely and hoping for economic opportunity. People came from other parts of the world but primarily Great Britain at the beginning of the colonization of North America. The settlers from Britain to North America presented a dual identity in terms of various factors. They came to America expecting to be free to practice their religion and expecting to have more freedom in developing a new culture in this new country, influenced by but not duplicating the way of life of the British. The other colonists were Catholics, Protestants, and later Quakers who wanted to make religious practice more open.

As British pioneer settlers to what later became the United States, they attempted to Anglicize all Native Americans. Their ideas concerning religion, and freedom from persecution were well-founded by famous philosophers such as John Locke. Freedom was the power or right to act, speak, or worship without restraint or hindrance. By the 1750s, the colonies were well established, and they became the thirteen colonies but they still had their separate identity. Philosophies were being embraced and adopted by the settlers primarily from Great Britain. Some British settlers were Anti-Catholic because of a conflict between the Holy See concerning the Catholic belief that in marriage, divorce was unacceptable. Most of the settlers were Christian but not necessarily Catholic Christians. The British supported Christianity which actually originated in Jerusalem by Jesus Christ. John Locke, an English philosopher, and physician believed that humans were naturally tolerant and had a reason. But the British were also enslaving foreign races, especially West Africans who were being captured because of inferior race or color. Settlers to the new country had two distinct identities being rooted in British culture and forming a blended culture in the colonies. The first one was a Christian-oriented British side to spread the core values of freedom. The other one was a distinct American side that believe in freedom of expression and the right to own property. This too was also supported by the philosophies of John Locke.

British colonists were filled with a lot of ideals. The ideals included the attempt of converting Native Americans to Christianity. The first settlers to North America that were Caucasian were the ones that came from Europe to begin the new country. They arrived from many European countries but the most famous were the Puritans who traveled on the English sailing ship known as the Mayflower. The Puritans had a goal of eliminating traces of Catholicism and strengthening the Anglican church. But other settlers wanted to practice freedom of choice of religion. According to the second chapter of the History of the US before 1877, “the Puritan beliefs were originated by a French lawyer, John Calvin” (44). Once they reached this new country, the Puritans were renamed Pilgrims after settling in the area known as Plymouth.

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Europeans, especially the British had a real distaste for Native Americans because the British considered their beliefs to be Non-Christian. Native Americans were animistic believers in worshiping nature instead of nature’s creator, God. The British enslaved people of Africa especially West Africans in order to increase their profit. This was done because they thought Africans were an inferior population due to their race and the color of their skin. The Great Awakening had British origin. The movement contained practitioners of Protestantism, Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and Anglicism. The philosophers believed that Christianity involved more than Bible reading. It involved living like Christ such as abstaining from murder, drunkenness, adultery, and sorcery, and emphasized being kind to others and following The Golden Rule. This is important because there was an increasing amount of questioning of the King of England who is seen as being harsh and rigid. In this new land, there was a promise of a country where reasonable people could influence the direction of the leadership which would represent all the people. There was a growing desire for people to think for themselves without fear of being punished. They wanted the government to serve them rather than serve the government. This was reinforced by many of the philosophers and ministers of that time. One of the first of which was James Davenport who urged everyone to burn books and clothing as a means of “casting away sinful, worldly trappings”. Many of the most famous philosophers in the Awakening and Enlightenment periods were also ministers. They caused people to think not only about their religious beliefs but about how they wanted to live their lives in this age of rapidly progressing scientific advancements. George Whitefield believed new lights were “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. (111) The Baptists and Methodists disagreed with Whitfield’s revivalist views. For instance, they emphasized adult Baptism as opposed to infant baptism.

British Colonists settling in what became America had a variety of unique British American traits. The British Americans desired freedom of speech and religion which they did not have in Great Britain. They also wanted freedom from the fear of persecution by the British for expressing their ideas. Pennsylvania’s dominant religion at the time consisted of groups of people known as Quakers. These open-minded people believed in inner peace while opposing “formalized religion”. They understood who to believe and whatever way they wanted to worship. The Enlightenment Freemasons believed in religious tolerance. John Locke was among the enlighteners who spread new ideas about openness, and accepting the Christian religion (112). Benjamin Franklin was another Enlightener. He subscribed to deism believing God only created things rather than also continuing involvement in the world or the events within it. (113) These ideals contributed to forming American freedom.

The settlers to North America during that time had a dual identity of British and unique American. They provided the new country with new colonies and cities made of villages and towns plus new agriculture. The citizens were of European descent yet enslaved many people, especially West Africans since they believed they were an inferior group of people of race and color. The lesson to be learned is that the American culture should not disrespect other cultures because of their different ideas.

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Analysis of the Extent to Which the Colonists Developed a Sense of Their Identity and Unity: Critical Essay. (2023, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from
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