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Old March 6th, 2017, 07:14 PM   #1
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Unhappy Distribution of power in colonial and revolutionary America?


I was asked to talk about the distribution of power in colonial and revolutionary America, like who held power? Has it changed over time? Did gender/wealth/ race play a role in the distribution of power? In my opinion, it hasn't change, it's always been rich white men who held the power during colonial and revolutionary America... am I wrong?
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Old March 6th, 2017, 07:43 PM   #2
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Yes, things have changed a lot!

Use your imagination. Here is a look at one shipload of people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passen...Fortune_voyage

What would make one of them a leader and not the others? As a leader what would his responsibilities be and what prepared him to have these responsibilities? If these people had a disagreement how was it handled? What else can you think about their relationships that might be important?

What form of government do they know best? What do they think about living so far away from the king? How do they know how to govern themselves? What does the bible say? Isn't it a book about kings and slaves? How would anyone know anything different? Why did these people want to live in a colony?

Now what might be different today?
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Old March 6th, 2017, 07:50 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sofiaalvagarcia View Post
In my opinion, it hasn't change, it's always been rich white men who held the power during colonial and revolutionary America... am I wrong?
Well, you're certainly wrong on that point.

In colonial America African slavery was still legal and women could neither vote or run for political office. Catholics and Jews were discriminated against because of their faiths, Native Americans were frequently driven off their land, certain immigrant groups like the Irish and Germans were considered suspect, and homosexuals could not date according to their preference openly.

The era we live in today may not be perfect in terms of equality, but that also doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot of progress in the last 200 & some years.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 02:14 PM   #4
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How about when there are maybe 500 adults in town, it is not formalized government that rules, but personal relationships. For darn sure there was no constitution nor federal government making laws and policies. Being a member of a community in the north, where all the religious zealots went, required being a member of their church in good standing, and failing to attend services or to think differently, was not tolerated.

In the South things were different because these folks were more interested in making money than proving themselves religiously superior. Indentured servants were White, not Black, and using the biblical 7 years, they were set free and at this point in time they could also become plantation owners. An income depended on owning land, and this was great until there was no more available land, the population of landless people grew, like our population of homeless folks is growing now, and slaves rather than machines doing the work the poor white needed to earn money.

You might impress your teacher with a couple of these diagrams of social organization if you explain the differences between the organization of church communities in the North and the organization of aristocracy in the the South.

You could also point to the French who colonized along the Mississippi river and had different social values and ways than the English in the North and South. The Dutch who settled in the New York region were also different from either the British or French colonist, and further south were the Spaniards and the Portuguese, but surely that is getting beyond what your teacher wants. Colonization of American is usually limited to North America, but I think we should understand what happened in South America as well.

What do you know of charters?

Quote:
A charter is a document that gave colonies the legal rights to exist. A charter is a document, bestowing certain rights on a town, city, university or an institution. Colonial Charters were empowered when the king gave a grant of exclusive powers for the governance of land to proprietors or a settlement company.
Colonial charters in the Thirteen Colonies - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coloni...rteen_Colonies
Understanding charters as a method of distributing power and authority in the colonies, might be the best way to handle what appears to be a homework project.

PS just noticed this thread is in the new users part of the forum for introductions. No wonder it isn't getting much action. Or is everyone else just being good about the following rules regarding homework?

I can't resist- this is the best explanation of the distribution of power and authority in the colonies that I have ever seen.
http://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org/pdf...ony_Patent.pdf

Last edited by athena; March 10th, 2017 at 02:39 PM.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 06:13 PM   #5

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Moved from "new member" forum to the American History forum. Please restrict comments in the new member forum to introductions and welcoming. Thank You.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 09:48 PM   #6
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Power was more in the hands of the elite in the early US than today and even more so in colonial times. In colonial times, there was a Governor appointed by the king or Lord Proprietor and a Governor's Council of 6-12 men appointed for life. Then there was a low house elected by property owners without a secret ballot, with vote buying.
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Old March 11th, 2017, 12:50 AM   #7
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There is not any colonial America but several colonial americas: In north America there are several: the Spanish one, the French one, the British one, the Dutch one and the Swedish one. Each Colonial America depended on the Metropoli model... It was not the same Delaware or New Amsterdam or Detroit or Tucson or Boston
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Old March 11th, 2017, 02:40 AM   #8
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Here are some factors to consider:
  • The colonies started out as utopias seeking self-governing which usually was headed by a religious leader.(check out this interactive satellite map of American utopias)
  • Some of which were under contract with the King to be self-governing. (see the different between charter colonies, proprietary colonies and royal colonies)
  • Many of the prominent were members of the 1626 Purchaser investment group, so money and land meant power.
  • At the start we were an agricultural economy that was showing signs as early as 1630 of the Industrial Revolution that would switch power from the agricultural south to the industrial north.
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Old March 11th, 2017, 03:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sofiaalvagarcia View Post
it hasn't change, it's always been rich white men who held the power during colonial and revolutionary America... am I wrong?
It depends on point of view. If you view everything through a prism of racism and sexism, than you are right. If you see people as nothing more than skin color and genital configuration, then sure.

Later, it would be stuff like trains, cars and airplanes, and during that time it would be stuff like bifocals, pot-bellied stoves and lazy susans, and before that it was stuff like printing presses, firearms, and farm tools - but those pesky white boys were always developing something that enabled them to garner wealth and thus power.

Hope that helps.
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Old March 11th, 2017, 03:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Scaeva View Post
Catholics and Jews were discriminated against because of their faiths,
I'd like to see you put some meat on those bones. American Protestants as anti-Semitic? I'll bet many of them could rattle off Genesis 12 and cite the number, faster than any modern secularist can say anti-Semitism.

The American colonies were settled mostly by Protestants, who were steeped in a history of running from deadly Catholic persecution.. Things like the 80 Years War, St Bartholomew Massacre, the Thirty Years War, Bloody Mary - this would have been the history they knew. By comparison, those who settled and developed the east coast of North American were paragons of tolerance contrasted with their contemporaries and forerunners across the world.

In terms of political common sense, maybe the first thing they should done is say no Catholics, no Romanism, no Popery; death penalty. But they didn't.

Quote:
The era we live in today may not be perfect in terms of equality, but that also doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot of progress in the last 200 & some years.
Maybe perfect equality is a myth and this "progress" is illusory, born of a need to believe.

Last edited by Code Blue; March 11th, 2017 at 03:52 AM.
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