An essay written for my ap history class junior year
| In the Seventeenth Century, the colonial elite dominated the New World. The reason they dominated was because they were supposed to keep things in order and under control in the colonies. The elites wanted social and political stability in the colonies to benefit the mother country, England. This domination did not pass over the colonists smoothly, however, and their attempt to establish stability in the colonies failed.
As a way to increase social stability, England and the colonial elite placed restrictions on the colonists. This was called the New Colonial System, which included new acts proposed by the mother country that allowed for a more profitable system for England. One on of these acts was the Navigation Acts. This required all English or colonial ships to be manned by either English or colonial sailors. Also, only these ships could carry goods entering England, Ireland, or the colonies, no matter where the origin of the goods was, so the monopoly couldn’t be changed.
Another one of the acts was the Hat Act of 1732, which prohibited the export and inter-colonial sale of finished hats. This meant that even if hats were made in the colonies, they had to be sent to England, where a tax was placed upon them, and then bought back in the colonies. This allowed England to benefit, and the colonies to lose economically.
The colonial elites also tried to foster social stability. They did this by making everything rank or class oriented. The elites idea of a perfect society was one where children were subordinate to parents, women to men, servants to masters, and the poor to the rich. The society was also separated into classes, as in the Old World, such as lower class, middle class, and upper class. All of these classes were required to be subordinate to the classes above them with the upper class being the elites and subordinate to the mother country. Even in church, pews and seats were assigned according to specific guidelines, such as age, parentage, social position, wealth, and occupation. This proved very difficult to maintain in the colonies, however. Most colonists respected those who earned their respect, not those who claimed it by birth. Not only was the New World shaping up to be a land of opportunity, but also of great oppression.
Eventually, the colonists began to become frustrated with the elites. At the beginning of the colonies existence, the mother country basically stayed our of the way, but came back into the picture when they realized how economically benefiting they colonies where to them. The freedoms that the colonies once had were being taken away and some of the colonists became very distraught, agitated, and severely angered. England had a hand over them as though they were children, and the colonists wanted their freedoms back.
Ambitious men at the rise, such as Nathaniel Bacon and Jacob Leisler and those who followed them, wanted the government to be more responsive to the needs of ordinary people. In 1675-1676, Bacon became the frontiersmen’s leader and led his group of supporters into Jamestown, then the capital of Virginia, where he captured it. Berkley, the governor of Virginia at the time, retreated and sent for royal troops to suppress the violence. In the midst of all of the excitement, Bacon died, and the rebellion ceased without its leader. Liesler’s Rebellion took place in New York. For 13 months, he established an interim government and ruled with an elected Committee of Safety. This lasted until a new governor came to New York that was appointed by the king. After some violence, Leisler was put through a trial and was convicted of treason by an English jury. Leisler was hung.
The pursuit of both political and social stability in the colonies resulted in hatred and rebellions. Whether for better or worse, the colonists detested the colonial elite for controlling something that was far different from England and required a different type of society than they were trying to make it into. The elite were trying to morph the colonies into another England, and only the colonists knew how utterly impossible of a task it was. The elites were creating another Old World, in something that was supposed to be a land of opportunity and was called the New World for its new ideas.