r for more serious crimes. The colony of Georgia was granted in 1732 to reformers, led by James OGLETHORPE, who envisioned it as an asylum for English debtors, as well as a buffer against Spanish Florida. Georgia, too, was colonized by many non-English people.
The Growth of Slavery
Slaves from Africa were used in small numbers in the colonies from about 1619 (see BLACK AMERICANS; SLAVERY). After British merchants joined the Dutch in the slave trade later in the 17th century, prices tumbled and increasing numbers of black people were transported into the southern colonies to be used for plantation labor. Slaves were also used in the northern colonies, but in far fewer numbers. The survival rates as well as birthrates tended to be high for slaves brought to the North American mainland colonies--in contrast to those transported to the West Indies or to South America.
The expansion of slavery was the most fateful event of the pre- Revolutionary years. Virginia had only about 16,000 slaves in 1700; by 1770 it held more than 187,000, or almost half the population of the colony. In low country South Carolina, with its rice and indigo plantations, only 25,000 out of a total population of 100,000 were white in 1775. Fearful whites mounted slave patrols and exacted savage penalties upon transgression in order to maintain black passivity.
Meanwhile, on the basis of abundant slave labor, the world of great plantations emerged, creating sharp distinctions in wealth among whites. Southern society was dominated by the aristocracy; however, whites of all classes were united in their fear of blacks. Miscegenation was common, especially where slaves were most numerous, and mulattos were regarded as black, not white. An almost total absence of government in this sparsely settled, rural southern environment resulted in complete license on the part of owners in the treatment of their slaves. Paradoxically, the ideal of liberty--of freedom from all restraints--was powerful in the southern white mind.
As transatlantic trade increased, communication between the colonies and England became closer, and English customs and institutions exerted a stronger influence on the Americans. The aristocracy aped London fashions, and colonials participated in British cultural movements. The Church of England, the established church in the southern colonies and in the four counties in and around New York City, grew in status and influence. At the same time, in both Britain and America, an increasingly rationalistic and scientific outlook, born in the science of Sir Isaac NEWTON and the philosophy of John LOCKE, made religious observance more logical and of this world. Deism and so-called natural religion scoffed at Christianity and the Bible as a collection of ancient superstitions.
Then from England came an upsurge of evangelical Protestantism, led by John Wesley (the eventual founder of the Methodist church; see WESLEY family) and George WHITEFIELD. It sought to combat the new rationalism and foster a revival of enthusiasm in Christian faith and worship. Beginning in 1738, with Whitefields arrival in the colonies, a movement known as the GREAT AWAKENING swept the colonials, gaining strength from an earlier outbreak of revivalism in Massachusetts (1734-35) led by Jonathan EDWARDS. Intensely democratic in spirit, the Great Awakening was the first intercolonial cultural movement. It vastly reenergized a Puritanism that, since the mid-1600s, had lost its vigor. All churches were electrified by its power-- either in support or in opposition. The movement also revived the earlier Puritan notion that America was to be a "city on a hill," a special place of Gods work, to stand in sharp contrast to what was regarded as corrupt and irreligious England.
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
By the middle of the 18th century the wave of American expansion was beginning to top the Appalachian rise and move into the valley of the Ohio. Colonial land companies looked covetously to that frontier. The French, foreseeing a serious threat to their fur trade with the Indians, acted decisively. In 1749 they sent an expedition to reinforce their claim to the Ohio Valley and subsequently established a string of forts there. The British and the colonists were forced to respond to the move or suffer the loss of the vast interior, long claimed by both British and French. The French and Indian War (1754-63) that resulted became a worldwide conflict, called the SEVEN YEARS WAR in Europe. At its end, the British had taken over most of Frances colonial empire as well as Spanish Florida and had become dominant in North America except for Spains possessions west of the Mississippi River.
A delirious pride over the victory swept the colonies and equaled that of the British at home. Outbursts of patriotic celebration and cries of loyalty to the crown infused the Americans. The tremendous cost of the war itself and the huge responsibility accompanying the new possessions, however, left Britain with an immense war debt and heavy administrative costs. At the same time the elimination of French rule in North America lifted the burden of fear of that power from the colonists, inducing them to be more independent-minded. The war effort itself had contributed to a new sense of pride and confidence in their own military prowess. In addition, the rapid growth rate of the mid-18th century had compelled colonial governments to become far more active than that of old, established England. Because most male colonists possessed property and the right to vote, the result was the emergence of a turbulent world of democratic politics.
London authorities attempted to meet the costs of imperial administration by levying a tax on the colonials; the STAMP ACT of 1765 required a tax on all public documents, newspapers, notes and bonds, and almost every other printed paper. A raging controversy that brought business practically to a standstill erupted in the colonies. A Stamp Act Congress, a gathering of representatives from nine colonies, met in New York in October 1765 to issue a solemn protest. It held that the colonials possessed the same rights and liberties as did the British at home, among which was the principle that "no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally or by their representatives." In March 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act; it passed the Declaratory Act, asserting its complete sovereignty over the colonies.
Thereafter the transatlantic controversy was rarely quiet. The colonists regarded the standing army of about 6,000 troops maintained by London in the colonies after 1763 with great suspicion--such a peacetime force had never been present before. British authorities defended the force as necessary to preserve peace on the frontier, especially after PONTIACS REBELLION (1763-65), which had been launched by the brilliant Indian leader Pontiac to expel the British from the interior and restore French rule. In another attempt to quell Indian unrest, London established the Proclamation Line of 1763. Set along the crest of the Appalachians, the line represented a limit imposed on colonial movement west until a more effective Indian program could be developed. The colonists were much angered by the prohibition. Historical memories of the use of standing armies by European kings to override liberty caused widespread suspicion among the colonists that the soldiers stationed on the Line of 1763 were to be employed not against the Indians, but against the colonials themselves should they prove difficult to govern.
Indeed, for many years colonists had been reading the radical British press, which argued the existence of a Tory plot in England to crush liberty throughout the empire. Surviving from the English Civil War of the previous century was a profound distrust of monarchy among a small fringe of radical members of Britains Whig party, primarily Scots and Irish and English Dissenters--that is, Protestants who were not members of the Church of England. As members of the minority out-groups in British life, they had suffered many political and economic disadvantages. Radical Whigs insisted that a corrupt network of Church of England bishops, great landlords, and financiers had combined with the royal government to exploit the community at large, and that--frightened of criticism--this Tory conspiracy sought to destroy liberty and freedom.
In the cultural politics of the British Empire, American colonists were also an out-group; they bitterly resented the disdain and derision shown them by the metropolitan English. Furthermore, most free colonists were either Dissenters (the Congregationalists in New England and the Presbyterians and Baptists in New York and the South); or non-English peoples with ancient reasons for hating the English (the Scots-Irish); or outsiders in a British-dominated society (Germans and Dutch); or slaveowners sharply conscious of the distaste with which they were regarded by the British at home.
A divisive controversy racked the colonies in the mid-18th century concerning the privileges of the Church of England. Many believed in the existence of an Anglican plot against religious liberty. In New England it was widely asserted that the colonial tie to immoral, affluent, Anglican-dominated Britain was endangering the soul of America. Many southerners also disapproved of the ostentatious plantation living that grew out of the tobacco trade--as well as the widesp