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The Old New World and History of Jamestown: Analytical Essay

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The Colonists emigrated to the New World for the frontier experience. When the English started making journeys to the New World in the early seventeenth century it was with the mindset of establishing settlements. England wanted raw materials like wood, sugar, tobacco from the New World since England was running low on these products. The New World had a lot of empty lands compared to England which was becoming more crowded. In 1607 Jamestown was built and the structure was that of a triangle with cannons on each corner to protects against the Spaniards1. The people from Jamestown were neither experienced in trade or military. They were ill prepared and with no skills in how to farm in the New World, the colonists faced turbulence such has diseases, famine, and constant attacks from the neighboring Powhatan Indians which decreased their population drastically.2

As the colonists began to settle in the new world they would have to figure out a way to survive. Many of the colonists had no idea how to plant and life in the frontier would prove to be difficult with many casualties. At first, England would send a few people sort of like an experiment to see what kind of obstacles they would have to face. England was already behind in getting to the New World and by the time they did, they had sent voyagers who had no experience in the skills needed3. They were also not prepared to face the Native Americans or the weather.

Captain John Smith was one of the settlers from Jamestown. In 1607 when the ship arrived at Virginia, Smith was placed in the council. As one of the first settlement colonies, the colonists struggled to stay alive especially during the harsh winters.4 Smith was smart enough to get close to the Native Americans. In doing so he learned how to essentially survive in the New World. The Native Americans taught him where to hunt and what to look for depending on the season. He took what he learned and helped his fellow settlers by passing on his teachings. Under his care, the colony was able to strive by implementing a rule of “ He that will not work shall not eat” making every colonist work.5

When the first few colonies were established and hold their own they had sent word to England in how to survive in the new world more ships set sail6. As more and more colonies were made the Native American population started to decrease. The decrease in the Native American population was due to the English carrying diseases which transferred to the Native Americans who had no protection7. Some of the Native American deaths were results of war between the colonists and the Native Americans. Due to the decrease in the Native American population with some of the tribes being eliminated the English were able to quickly reproduce. Some tribes were forced to join other whether they were once foes or not8. Soon after there was more land available and even more English settlers migrated resulting in the creation of new colonies.

The Native Americans did not believe in owning land but instead, they would use the land and coming back to use it again whether it was for hunting or planting9. Unlike the Native Americans, the English settlers started claiming land, making fences and used animals like the oxen, cows, and sheep to cultivate the land.10 The animals were also used as food like milk or meat. Besides bringing diseases the Native Americans brought insects and weeds11. The settlers started to exhaust the land of all its nutrients and trees destroying habitats and causing extreme weather changes12. The settlers saw that the tribes did not own land since there were no structures, fences, cultivated land or anything that stated that the land was owned according to their beliefs.

As each colony started being exceptionally successful more ships started arriving13. With the decline of Native Americans, the English were able to take a hold of North America. With more land that the settlers gained they started to cut trees and cultivate the land essentially doing what they had done in England. Since there were more settlers the colonists would be able to put up a fight against the tribes if it were to ever happen14. As the colonies became populated it was natural for the colonists to think of expanding which would later become known as manifest destiny. Some tribes had established themselves in areas they had useful resources and when the colonists trespassed into that land the colonists were met with resistance. Thus, treaties were made which were had different meanings not everyone involved understood it in the same way15.

The treaties were in a way regarded has the law during these years.16 In the early sixteenth and seventeenth century code, statues and the Algonquin reciprocity principle were used in court. The Algonquin reciprocity principle is if you damage someone else’s property you must give something of equal value to the owner of the damaged property17. Sometimes not all disputes were resolved if the case involved a tribal member and a colonist. The courts had no power when it had to deal with Native American affairs.18

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When the colonists immigrated to the New World they had thought that they would be free of Great Britain. While they were free of religious persecution, had more space and raw materials they were still subjects to the Crown. With Britain wanting the raw products it made the colonists ship the raw materials to them19. Then Britain would ship them back to the colonists and sell the finish goods. Britain only wanted the colonists to trade with them and not with anyone else leading them to become even more English20. With the trade going on the frontier was moved so the colonists could have more access to raw materials. By the 1760s Britain had an American Empire there was no competition and the British traders had taken over code fishing and fur trading.21

The colonists at first saw no problem with just trading with Great Britain since they were making money. They tried to make a living on the frontier with help from Britain, they depended on them for food and finished goods. They were only loyal subjects who did the hard work in gathering the raw materials to ship it to Britain. By the late 1700s, Britain thought it would keep the American Empire, which they were wrong. The Colonists had become part of something bigger than them. They were part of a system that was for the commonwealth. They were essentially one small part of a whole.22

The Atlantic frontier was made up of fishermen, fur-traders, cattle raisers, miner, and farmers23. Trading also involved tobacco and sugar which were quite popular. Great Britain saw how tobacco was popular and wanted to be the only place who would trade it for a higher price. Britain took over the islands where tobacco and sugar canes were farmed making those colonists trade only with them. Each of these industries was forced to move westward by an irresistible force.24 The frontier was then moved even more each being successful.

The Frontier was the Appalachian Mountains but soon the colonists would move it further back as they move West. Soon Britain started taxing the Colonists to be able to pay for the soldiers and the ships around the Colonists. The Colonists would start a “No taxation without representation” and the American Revolution would begin25. Their character, way of thinking, dressing and their day to day life was very much English. Even their legal institutions resembled that of Britain’s26. As soon as they gained independence the Colonists started expanding westward in a sense they started stripping off their Englishness and started becoming more American. After the American Revolution, the colonists would enter a process of Americanization. The newer generation would forget about their Englishness and would start to act more like an American.

Trails would be created along with settlements. Reserves would be created in the attempt to move the Native Americans into them. Which the colonists were successful in doing granting them access to more raw materials and land. They would then start to make a government, and laws which would involve ways to deal with problems that included Native Americans. As they kept on moving forward it became increasingly hard for Britain to trade with them and the colonists had to cut ties with Britain.27

The frontier was the separation between civilization and the wilderness and how the Colonists modified that life. There was so much land for the taking and has the colonists continued to move westward there was space for development. For animals and crops to travel railroads had to be built. Factories were made, and agriculture became more diversified. The colonists were now American and couldn’t just trade with Britain. Each settlement became responsible for putting in their share whether it was growing crops or raising animals28.

Since they had claimed most of the land and pushed all the Native Americans into reserves there plenty of room for developments. Much of these developments led to the creation of ideas and shaped the country we live in now. This also led them to believe in manifest destiny which was they believe that it was the settler’s job to expand north. Railroads would soon be built since it would help get goods and people from place to place much faster than by horse.

To summarize the frontier experience played a crucial role in American culture and expansion. Through the frontier experience, the colonists became American and it brought about the rise of new ideas and technology. It gave birth to a new country.

  1. Historicjamestowne.org/history/history-of-Jamestown/
  2. Historicjamestowne.org/history/history-of-Jamestown/
  3. G. Edward white. Law in American History volume 1.
  4. Historicjamestowne.org/history/Pocahontas/john-smith/
  5. Historyjamestowne.org/history/Pocahontas/john-smith/
  6. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  7. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  8. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  9. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  10. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  11. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  12. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  13. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  14. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  15. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  16. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  17. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  18. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  19. History Class notes on Colonies
  20. History Class on Navigational laws.
  21. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  22. History Class on commonwealth
  23. Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2007.
  24. Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2007.
  25. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  26. G. Edward White Law in American History Volume 1
  27. Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2007.
  28. Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2007.

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