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Civil War

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For immigrants and new citizens, there are several important events, people, and ideas that should be learned. The Puritan colony in Massachusetts Bay, the conflict in the colony that led to the establishment of Rhode Island, the French and Indian War, the move west, and the Civil war are all key things and should be understood by all American residents.


The Puritans held strong beliefs concerning their faith as well as their purpose in building a new community in a new world. The Puritans believed that Massachusetts Bay Colony was to be a holy mission. They were going to show the world how to lead a godly life. Puritans further believed that only by God's grace could someone be saved. Additionally, the colonists believed that they had entered into a contract with God; they were the new Israelites. Subsequently, the New England Puritans believed that it was necessary to have a conversion experience in order to receive God's grace. These views and high standards the Puritans held themselves and others to eventually caused conflict within the colony (Kennedy 46).

"The Massachusetts Bay enterprise was singularly blessed" (Kennedy 46). Eleven ships landed in Massachusetts Bay, starting the colony with thousands of settlers. As religious turmoil continued in Britain, more and more puritans traveled across the ocean to begin a new life in North America. Many prosperous merchants and people of the middling classes immigrated to Massachusetts Bay. Chief among these people was John Winthrop. Winthrop served as the colonial governor for nineteen years; during his tenure Winthrop was instrumental in establishing Massachusetts as a trading post and commercial center (Kennedy 46).

Thanks to the Massachusetts Bay colony and the Puritans, we have a strong ideology concerning free men and political participation. The Massachusetts Bay colony enfranchised all adult men who belonged to the Anglican Church and owned property. The town meeting ensured that all eligible men participated in the governing of their towns by voting on town issues (Kennedy 46). The Puritans also left a lasting legacy in the Protestant work ethic. These early Americans believed in hard work and the dedication to success. Success was seen as an extension of God's favor, and subsequently the Puritans developed a "serious commitment to work and to engagement in worldly pursuits" (Kennedy 46).

The Puritans success at Massachusetts Bay is important because the Puritans introduced the idea the America is a sanctified place, where God has ordained success and prosperity. The Puritans are also responsible for the American work ethic and the idea that men should be responsible to each other by participating in the community and government.

Dissention in Massachusetts & Development of Rhode Island

While the majority of colonists in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were content to live by the rules of the Puritans, there were a minority of settlers who voiced objections to the Church. One such person was Anne Hutchinson. Anne Hutchinson was a member of the Antinomian sect, which believed that because grace was given by God alone they were not bound by the laws of man. Subsequently, they felt that they only had to answer to God. Anne Hutchinson routinely held meetings in her home where she expanded on the minister's sermons and eventually where she shared her own views on religion and the church's teachings (Kennedy 47).

In 1637 Anne Hutchinson was tried by the General Court for troubling the peace of the commonwealth and the church, holding a meeting that was condemned by the church, and associating with censured members of the colony. After being found guilty, she was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Kennedy 47).

Anne Hutchinson was viewed as a threat for several reasons. Anne Hutchinson was a member of a group of people that the church founders believed threatened the doctrine they believed in and taught. Additionally, Anne was not a passive biding woman. Her strength of character was seen as an abomination. The colony's founders believed that women should be submissive to first their parents, and then to their husbands. The General Court felt that the Bible guided women to gentleness, submission, and household responsibilities. Also, the meetings that took place in Anne's home threatened the General Court. If the colonists did not follow the dictates of the ministers and leaders of the church and the community, the General Court believed the community would lose it cohesion (Kennedy 47).

Anne Hutchinson's dissent and later conviction by the General Court showed how those who viewed things differently could be easily expelled form the colony. After Hutchinson's conviction she was sent to Rhode Island. She later moved to New York where she met an untimely end (Kennedy 47).

Anne Hutchinson, her trial, and the other dissenters of the Massachusetts Bay Colony are an important part of our colonial story. Hutchinson illustrates the lack of acceptance toward new and challenging ideas which would continue to the present day.

French and Indian War

The French and Indian War had profound effects for both the British Empire and the American colonists. It is often seen as the source of much of the resentment between the English government and the colonists that eventually led to the American Revolution of 1775(Kennedy 111-112).

The British victory in the French and Indian War had a great impact on the British Empire. Firstly, it meant a great expansion of British territorial claims in the New World. But the cost of the war had greatly enlarged Britain's debt. Moreover, the war generated substantial resentment towards the colonists among English leaders, who were not satisfied with the financial and military help they had received from the colonists during the war. The English leaders set in motion plans to give London more control over the government of the colonies and these plans were eventually a big part of the colonial resentment towards British imperial policies that led to the American Revolution (Kennedy 111-112).

The war had an equally profound but very different effect on the American colonists. First of all, the colonists had learned to unite against a common foe. Before the war, the thirteen colonies had found almost no common ground and they coexisted in mutual distrust. But now they had seen that together they could be a power to be reckoned with. And the next common foe would be Britain (Kennedy 111-112).

With France removed from North America, the British controlled all lands in Canada and the Ohio Valley. The vast interior of the continent now lay open for the Americans to



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