History of America

The history of America dates back to the 17th century with the beginning of civilization. The New World by then was undergoing various encounters among the interested parties, which wanted to have a share and dominate. These included the Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans. The results of encounters were wars, enslavement, displacement, and duplicity. In their book, For the Record: A Documentary History of America, Shi and Mayer explore these historical occurrences that shaped social, cultural, economic, racial, political, religious, and gender contexts within which people lived. Similarly, the book America: A Narrative History focuses on the history of the immigrants in America and its historical events.

Indians were the first group of immigrants to settle in the New World. However, as soon as the Europeans settled in the area, the majority of them were subdued, and the few remaining were converted. This brought in conflict over the control of resources and territories. Moreover, the ideologies and doctrines of the immigrants were different; consequently, they did not understand each other and underestimated the capabilities of each other.

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The war and revolutions did not take long. Shi and Mayer note that the American Revolution was a major shakeup in the history of the United States. It was as a result of Americans insisting on their rights to have their own legislations, especially on those dealing with taxation. The first revolution concerned the Stamp Act of 1765. In this case, 13 American colonies came together and planned the way they could resist illegal taxation. In their response, the British banned the traditional liberties that were held in Massachusetts, something that ushered the revolution of 1775. The Prime Minister George Grenville expressed his willingness to substitute another revenue-raising measure if a more palatable one could be found. This was before the Stamp Act could be implemented as a way of meeting the national debt that British had incurred during the French Revolution. In regards to the Stamp Act, Patrick Henry, who was impressed by the colonies being able to defeat the implementation of the act, stated when having his speech in the House of Burgesses in 1765, Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the first had his Cromwell, and George the Third - may profit from their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.

Before the US obtained its independence, Henry Lee introduced a resolution that was meant to ensure that a confederation plan was put in place in governing the colonies in the new governing body. This was to ensure fair and equal representation. This implied that each colony would have one vote, and the size of the colony would decide its roles in the newly founded government. In 1781, the Articles of Confederation were adopted by the Congress as well as transmitted to the individual states for consideration. Therefore, the powers of the confederation were based not centrally but rather within the states. Hence, the confederating states were given a chance to approve the amendments to the article.

On religious front, the documentary by Shi and Mayer depicts distinct religious beliefs of the immigrants. However, both northern and southern colonies had strong religious ties. For instance, Shi and Mayer note that Quakers maintained their non-conformist religious beliefs in the same manner as the Methodist immigrants did. Similarly, an Anglican church was established in the southern colonies. However, the society had to cater for the needs of the priests, ministers, and other responsibilities of the church by local taxation. A Bishop that controlled the church was based in London since there were protests to establish a Bishop in America to control the church locally. In America, which was termed as the New England, Puritans came up with their self-governing religious congregation made of farmers and their family members. The rich politicians donated their land to other male settlers and divided it among themselves. Notably, every white man was given enough land and was a member of the town meetings, which were involved in levying taxes and building roads through an elected official who managed the affairs of the community. All the migrants from England joined congregational church of the Puritans. They preached the belief that God has chosen special people whites for the salvation. In addition, to become a member of the church, one had to prove he or she deserved to be saved.

King Philips War occurred when he became the chief of Wampanoag in 1662. Due to dependence of his people on English products in exchange of their land, there came a time when their land was almost diminished. This resulted in tension, which made the English who had settled there take revenge to protect their properties. The British ended up even killing Kind Philip. However, it took a long period before they could end the conflict that had escalated in the area. Another social injustice, which took a political angle, is the one during the Bacon Revolution. Nathaniel Bacon gained influence after he had settled on a plantation near the James River. Despite the kindness of the Indians who occupied the area, Bacon who was a Briton conspired the way he could subdue the Indians using his army. Regardless of the problems he caused in the area, his revolution died instantly soon after his demise in 1676.

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Benjamin Franklin played a major role in the history of America in the 18th century. Through his writings and contribution into the society, he promoted the knowledge in the plantations owned by the British. As stated earlier, the war for independence was received with mixed reactions from the public. Although people were fighting against Britons from their colonies, it made no sense to many as they were aware of that even their own government would do through individuals such as Thomas Paine who published a pamphlet entitled The Common Sense.

Shi and Mayer depict some of the ethnic differences in treatment of women in various colonies. For instance, among the Puritan settlers, women were required to be subordinate to men, and women were never involved in the fieldwork while the Hispanic women played a central role in their families as well as women among the German settlers. German women worked in fields similar to their men and had rights over ownership of properties unlike in majority of settlers.

The book, America: A Narrative History, focuses on immigrants, their social, political and economic life. It explores the mass migration of the British Isles, including the Puritans who later settled in Massachusetts, the migration of the Aristocrats who settled in the city of Virginia, the arrival of the Quakers who settled in Pennsylvania as well as Delaware among others. The Celtic Scottish also migrated during the period between 1717 and 1775 and settled in the Appalachian Mountains in America. Most of the immigrants spoke English although they had different dialects and cultures among other social aspects. In addition, the majority of the settlers abandoned the hunting practices and started farming which was possible due to favorable environmental conditions. The shipping of domestic animals also facilitated agriculture by 1650. These animals were left to graze freely something that caused friction between the colonists, Indians who had settled earlier, and the new immigrants. This situation worsened resulting in the King Philips War and Bacon's Rebellion.

Shi and Mayer inform that immigration resulted into increased population in America. This caused friction between the immigrants and the colonists who had settled there earlier. This resulted into wars and rebellions that saw the death, marginalization, and racism that had a great effect on the people. In fact, in 1751, Benjamin Franklin published a book on the population increase titled, Observations Concerning the Increase Mankind. The increase in population resulted in reduced number of labor, and people started to earn for more land for agriculture and settlements.

The better economy saw the rise in the birth rates. On the other hand, malaria and other diseases started affecting the English settlers. Most of the diseases such as smallpox and diphtheria were shipped with other products as well as people and was latter spread among the settlers. The ratio of men and female who migrated into northern and southern colonies were different. In the northern colonies, the migrant groups brought with them more women than in the southern colonies.

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