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Midterm Essay Exam

1. The motives for European expansion to America (especially those of the Spanish, French, and English and the ways in which their American empires reflected their specific motives)?

Profit and possession were the main motives for European expansion to America. Greed explains the actions that led to the destruction of the native culture, the death of the millions of Indian people, and the dispossession of those who survived. First Europeans who entered the territory of America were the ones who blocked their way to Indies. When they discovered that the new land was full of natural resources, they began to realize what kind of continent America was. The motives for French, English and Spanish explorers were different. However, all of them were looking forward to finding the Northwest Passage that was thought to be a direct route to the orient-home of wealth. All countries tended to expand their own empires.

America attracted the Spanish explorers by its mineral resources and the possibility to find the City of Gold (El Dorado), and they also hoped to spread Christianity over the new territories. France saw it as a new route to the East via North America and it wanted to spread Christianity as well. England that was the world strongest empire wanted to expand its territories as much as possible. In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World and encouraged new discoverers to provide more voyages to America.

The discovery of America was an inevitable feature of European expansion to the Atlantic Ocean in search of new lands and routes to Asia. The first conquerors migrated to America in search of wealth that was supposed to bring them influence and power in the world. For this reason, the tens of thousands of ordinary settlers came to America in the sixteenth century. The search for gold attracted Spanish and English colonizers. The foundation of the first English settlements in Virginia was a response to their failure to find gold quickly or even immediately.

The eventual development of the English and Portuguese colonies proved that the American land was good for agriculture. Furthermore, Spain’s imperial rivals in gold and silver enforced their desire to succeed in their search for wealth because their previous attempts failed in other countries. In Spanish America, early settlers were very successful in delivering precious metals to both Spain and the settlers. It is known that the expansion of Europe to the Atlantic in the fifteenth century was led by Portugal who also looked for the new ways to the East, particularly to Japan and China. The early trade between Spain and native civilizations (Columbia and Peru) was determined as the availability to change goods for gold. Spanish imperial expansion improved economic and commercial relations between both countries.

Throughout the colonial period, Britain was interested in the plantation economy. They cultivated crops and cattle that possessed several advantages over their native ones. Europeans introduced wheat, sugar, oil, and vine to the continent. On the other hand, a lot of American products such as plants and seeds were introduced to European market. These included maize, tomato, potato, cane sugar, beans, etc. Colonization of America provided a lot of benefits to the English colonizers. Thus, in their search for natural wealth and gold, they discovered various new products. For example, chocolate made from cocoa beans, tobacco, and many other products made a great contribution to the European market.

The New World gave new opportunities to European colonizers, particularly in trade. Every ship that was sailing from America to Europe carried American agricultural and natural products. The same was true concerning the animal products such as wool, fur, species and medical products, indigo, and many others. Cargoes of gold and diamonds that were of the greatest importance for Europeans were oftentimes vulnerable to the attacks, but the protection was provided by the English navy both deterred by the French intruders and by the British itself.

2. The origins, operations, and effects of the system of black slavery in America, particularly in the English colonies of America.

Slavery existed in the English colonies since the English colonizers settled in America. There were thirteen colonies by the time the Declaration of Independence had been adopted in 1776. African American slaves were treated differently than other groups. Thus, no other group was universally enslaved merely because of their race. African slavery was a mode of life for many centuries. Actually, European prosperity was a result of African slaves’ labor invested into their economy. The origin of African slavery is Europe where African slaves served in rich houses as servants. However, American system of slavery differed from the European one because slaves were brought to America to work on the plantations and not in the houses. Due to its natural wealth, American land required much labor force that could help receive profits for Europeans, especially Great Britain that was rather experienced in colonization.

The slave trade was rather intense in the English colonies and slave ships frequently entered the American continent. The British brought African slaves to work mainly on the plantations cultivating sugar, cocoa beans, coffee, maize, etc. In 1607, they established the first English colony in Jamestown. The main product in this colony was tobacco that could bring enormous profit to England. However, to achieve this they needed more people who could cultivate the land. The British aristocracy understood that free labor could make them rich, and for this reason they brought African slaves to America. There could also be some other solutions to that problem such as to use the labor of Native Americans but they were warlike people and it was hard to make them work on the plantations.

It is evident that in those times Great Britain was the greatest empire in the world. It achieved this status due to their expansion throughout the world. England received natural resources and wealth from many countries and America has become another source of their power. The English were very experienced in African trade, and they saw slaves as the major possibility to realize their intentions. In the 17th century, Jamaica, Caribbean, and Barbados became English colonies that also required slaves to contribute to the welfare of the English empire. English colonists did not see African slaves as candidates for civilization because of their skin color.

Initially, first Africans came to Jamestown as indentured servants who after seven years of work were free to live as citizens. However, colonists noticed that it was very costly. In 1619, traders from Denmark brought African slaves to Jamestown who were treated as indentured servants. Historically, slavery was introduced to America by the Dutch in 1625. African slaves came to work as builders, fur traders and farmers, and they had some civil rights. For example, they had the right to sign legal documents, testify in courts, and carry out legal actions. In some regions, African slaves were permitted to receive equal wages just like the white people if they worked extra hours.

Admittedly, only wealthy colonists could invest in slaves because they were much more costly than servants. In 1670, the British colonists provided slaves to the southern colonies (Virginia) and slavery rapidly spread all around the South. On the other hand, the northern colonies purchased fewer slaves most of whom worked as domestic servants. The North American colonies captured Indians turning them into slaves. However, the Native Americans tried to escape from slavery by heading to the Spanish Florida where they could gain freedom by accepting the Catholic Church. Interestingly, the British slavery became more severe during that time and in the 17-18th century their rights were limited, which prevented them from attaining freedom. African slavery was a tragedy for the black people that had engendered racism in the United States for many years.

3. The major causes of the American Revolution, long-range, and especially developments from 1763 to 1776.

The major cause of the American Revolution was an open conflict between Great Britain and its thirteen colonies. At the beginning of the revolution, the American colonists had no direct intentions to receive independence from Britain. On the contrary, they wanted to receive equal rights just like the British citizens. Instead, they were oppressed and ought to pay extremely high taxes. The British were not going to give the people of the colonies equal rights with the English and freedom from the British rule. The colonists hated the British control over their economy and life. For instance, the Tea Act that prohibited colonists to sell tea was largely opposed by the locals. Furthermore, the colonists hated British soldiers who lived in their homes.

Many historians considered that the colonists had never before hated the British. They used to leave in peace and friendship. The reason for displeasure arose because of the laws adopted by the English king. According to them, colonists were greatly restricted, which negatively affected their life. For example, they opposed the Stamp Act of 1765 that required stamps on letters, newspapers, and other printed sources. It was rather expensive for colonists, and they refused to pay. However, the British Parliament needed money and it tended to find other ways to receive it.

One of the main targets was the British colonies, but they began to refuse buying anything from Britain. The British Parliament forced the colonies to pay extra taxes that nobody in Britain payed. The colonists were very angry about that and began to display their displeasure about the British rule. The British leaders were rather frustrated by the colonist boycott and sent the army to their cities, particularly to Boston to make an order. Many experts consider that the main stirrer of the conflict was the British policies that encouraged colonists to receive freedom from Britain that had never been in their minds before.

Many historians believe that the Treaty of Paris of 1763 marked a turning point in the development of the constitutional government in the colonies. Due to this act, Britain achieved a wide extension of territories as well as their debts. England has changed its attitude to American colonies from mercantilism to imperialism. Correspondently, it increased its control over the colonial territories that displeased the colonists. Various measures were taken to implement a new policy. The taxation, closer administrative supervision, and legislation brought about not only protest but also resistance and threat.

In 1776, the Americans appealed to the British Parliament with the claim that they were not able to regulate the internal polity in the colonies. The existing mixture of people who migrated to the colonies wanted to rise from poverty to higher ranks. The colonist leaders initiated the struggle for American freedom from which the revolution originated. They offered freedom that had never been heard of in most of Europe before. The overwhelming majority of colonists supported the idea of the American Revolution because they realized that it could totally change their lives. As a result, their intense struggle for independence resulted in the formation of a new nation that was based on freedom and universal human rights. The American Revolution helped to achieve the main goals of the colonial population at that period because they received free life from the colonists and a great opportunity to build a new democratic country that would impress the world by its unique political and social status.

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