Themes in U.S. and World History
During the 16th and 17th centuries, several European nations dispatched delegations set on colonializing portions of the Americas. The British were undoubtedly the most successful in this regard by first establishing the Jamestown colony in 1604 and then the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 (Reich, 2010). The Native Americans that the explorers encountered were weary of the unfamiliar faces that sought to establish footholds on their land.
The British colonists viewed the natives as to be inferior, but were ready to use the natives for their knowledge, trading and indigenous skills. The reaction of the Native Americans towards the English colonists was mixed and ranged from cooperation to hostility. One example would be the Powhatan tribe that resided in the area of the Jamestown colony. The tribe initially engaged the leader of the colonists Captain John Smith, but after their chiefs death the tribe rebelled against the colony (Reich, 2010).
The British were astounded by the abundance of natural resources and exploitation potential. Lumber, cotton and tobacco became some of the most popular exports for the British (Reich, 2010). The imperialist mechanism that the English employed to exploit these resources was the charter system, in which their efforts were supported only if there were profits to be gained. This system created a dependency between the colonists and the Crown. The people that made the journey from Europe to the Americas were a varied lot.
They included business men, religious purists seeking freedom from the church and even some less than desirable members of British society. Once the settlements were established they began to expand, eventually becoming 13 colonies along the east coast of the Americas. The primary system of government established in the colonies was provincial, in which each colony was led by a governor appointed by the British Monarchy (Reich, 2010). Generations passed and families that had become well established in the Americas felt that the exploitation imposed on them by
England had become intolerable and sought to gain independence from the colonial system of ruling. Most notably, the taxes and tariffs that the British collected from the colonialists became a source of fierce protest. “Taxation without Representation” became the cry of revolt. These protests initially were nonviolent, but increasing tensions on sporadic violent outbursts eventually escalated into the American Revolutionary War, after the declaration of independence in 1776 (Reich, 2010) . Violent and Nonviolent Revolution
One example of a violent revolution is the American Revolution. After over a century of colonization, the colonists inhabiting America sought independence from the British. The resentment of the relationship stemmed from the overexploitation and taxation imposed by the British. The colonialists established the continental congress and in 1776, formally declared independence from the British (Allison, 2011). The primary goal was to remove the British army and its influence from the 13 colonies.
After declaring independence, the colonies organized the continental army and set out to engage the British in battle. Seven years of war ensued. The British were initially confident that they would quell the revolution, but after a series of defeats and loss of public support in England, they finally capitulated in 1783. America ultimately gained independence and the Revolutionists achieved their goal with the treaty of Paris in January 1784 (Allison, 2011). One example of a nonviolent revolution against colonialism is the Indian independence movement.
Several European nations established colonies in India but none as extensive as the British Empire. The British used India as port into Asia, exported tea & spices, and even employed the Indian army during wartime (Chandra, 2012). During the course of their colonial relationship, the Indian people made many failed attempts to establish their independence from the British. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the religious leader of India, Mohandas Gandhi, began to institute a series of peaceful fasts and protests against the British (Chandra, 2012).
He and his followers employed a noncooperation stance with Britain, Which despite violent backlashes, Gandhi and the vast majority of people remained peaceful during their demonstrations. Gandhi was also imprisoned several times during the revolution, but continued to preach a stance of nonviolent protest. One of his final approaches was the “Quit India” campaign in which he appealed to the citizens of Britain to support his cause. Public opinion, along with the end of the Second World War aided in the British Empire withdrawing from India and the nation gaining independence in 1947 (Chandra, 2012).
In these two examples, both societies ultimately achieved their goal, and both movements benefited from era and circumstance but the approaches did certainly differ. The Indian independence movement was much more organized by one central figure, Mohandas Gandhi, whereas the Thomas Jefferson and the men that drafted the American declaration of independence couldn’t agree on much beyond wanting independence from the British. The values of both societies involved were reflected in their approach to gain independence.