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White Settlers in North American Landscape in 1790

Introduction

Before the 18th century came to a close the present day United States was a fledgling nation that secured its independence from Great Britain. Going back to the time when this continent began to become a melting pot where European settlers and adventurers came in to mix it up with natives and African slaves, one could not help but notice that the people who established the U.S. Government were not the American Indians who used to rule and reign a great part of North America. It was not also the African slaves who took over but men and women of European descent. They were able to take control of America due to homogeneity and singleness of purpose, their wealth and influence, their connection to the Old World and by the inadvertent destruction of the native inhabitants through the spread of deadly diseases that the natives were not immune to. The proponent of this essay will show how the Anglo-Americans eventually became the most dominant cultural group in America.

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War, Sickness and Diseases

The white settlers especially those who came from English stock were very determined and focus in their desire to find a new home. This intense allowed them to survive the dangerous and wearisome journey from Europe to the New World. They also believe that a divine hand was guiding them making them more confident in their steps. This is made explicit by the words of English Protestants who believed that their God had given them the opportunity to settle in a new land where they can find not only material blessing but the opportunity to express their beliefs and without a dictator to tell them otherwise (Takaki, p. 32). Their ethnocentric beliefs gave them the needed justification to go to war with the native inhabitants and drove them away from their lands.

The white settlers had to have a foothold in the New World. When they came in they were the minority. It was the Native Americans who dominated the land and they were the ones who dictated the terms of their settlement. The Europeans who came in had to deal with them in a diplomatic way and they have to learn their ways in order to trade with them and also to be allowed to stay in their country. But slowly the white settlers began to have the upper hand. One of the major factors for this major shift is sickness and diseases that wiped out a major portion of the native population.

White Settlers Wealth and Power

When the native population was weakened by fighting with white settlers as well as deadly diseases brought about by Europeans, the immigrants from Europe began to strengthen their hold of the New World. They became wealthy through the successful utilization of the land and at the same time by honing their expertise in trading. One of the major consequences of their success was the need to use African slaves to perform the backbreaking and mundane work that they needed to do in order to thrive in the American continent. The white settlers in America had European counterparts who were experts in forcing African natives to board their ships and then sold them as slaves in American plantations. The white settlers were able to purchase these men and women from Africa and from day one they were able to dominate them and use them a little better than beasts of burden (Gjerde, p. 34). This is something that was done because there was a great incentive to continue such practices.

It can be said that the rise of the Anglo-Americans as one of the most dominant group in the New World was achieved not without committing grave injustices to their fellowmen. Although it must also be pointed out that it was through their daring and imagination that brought them to travel the treacherous waters of the Atlantic and established a new home for themselves, it cannot be denied that they were made rich by the sweat and blood of Negro slaves. The lives of many Negro slaves came to a standstill when in 1663 the Virginia Assembly created the law that forced them to serve their masters for life (Takaki, 34). This paved the way for institutionalizing slavery in America. In one account recounted by a terrified African boy, he told of how slave traders came to their home in and abducted him and his sister (Gjerde, p. 33). The ordeal of the soon-to-be young servant did not end at abduction because he was sold to slave traders and then loaded to a slave ship. He had to endure the long and grueling trip to America where he will further experience more humiliation.

The purchase of Negro slaves created a chain-reaction of events that strengthened the power of the Anglo-Americans while at the same time increasing the helplessness and vulnerability of the slaves of African descent. This was explained by one historian who wrote that through the use of cheap labor, they were able to, “…become the richest Farmers in the World, paying no Rent, nor giving Wages either to purchased Servants or Negro Slaves; so that instead of finding the Planter Rack-rented, as the English farmer … they live in affluence and plenty” (Gjerde, p. 37). Without the need to pay their workers the Anglo-American farmers can easily increase their wealth and become more powerful while the slaves are given no chance to improve their lives and be freed from bondage.

There is another indirect result of their newfound success. The white settlers were able to use their money, influence and connections to Europe to ask for more Europeans to come and inhabit America. There were many land speculators who advertised the bounty of the New World and making it irresistible for struggling Europeans to make the crucial decision to leave their places of origin so that they can have the chance to improve their lives in America (Gjerde, p. 44). This contributed to the influx of Europeans into the New World and as their numbers increased their power and influence also began to grow. After a while, white settlers took over as the rulers of North America, a title they have taken away from the native inhabitants.

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Anglo-American Supremacy

When they began to move into the areas used to be inhabited by Native Americans, the power of the white settlers grew exponentially, year after year. It came to a point when they began to totally dominate the land. The difference in mindset can be seen in the native inhabitants’ fondness for mythology while the white settlers had a more pragmatic view of the world (Kawaguchi, n.d.). The most dominant ethnic group was the Anglo-Americans. Historians had a more accurate label for them and they call them the Anglo-Americans with Anglo-Protestant values (Olson, p. 2). There were movements in the 19th century that clearly illustrated their ethnocentric views and as a result they tried to force their Anglo-Protestant values on Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, and Muslim immigrants (Olson, p. 2). As mentioned earlier, this was not always the case. The new settlers had to learn to embrace the concept of freedom of religion as well as cultural pluralism. In order to ensure their survival they had to learn to live with other types of religion and people who belong to other social groups.

While it was in their best interest to respect different religious beliefs, radical economic and social changes in the 19th century challenged egalitarian beliefs and force many to consider if religious and cultural tolerance should be extended to other people groups with extremely different views than those who came Anglo-Protestant groups (Olson, p. 7). The Great Migration that brought 18 million people into America made it harder and harder to allow immigrants to enjoy the same freedom and equality that Anglo-Americans are used to after the establishment of the United States of America (Olson, p.7). The desire to continue their way of life was a major factor why Anglo-Americans used their influence to force others to be like them.

Conclusion

At first the American Indians used to rule North America. They had the upper hand because they know the land more than the newcomers. But in due time the European settlers were able to combine their wealth, their numbers, their unity, and their common desire to make a new home in the New World, to become the undisputed rulers of the continent. At first the disparate group of Europeans found it in their best interest to live in harmony and tolerate the religious beliefs of others. But beginning in the late 18th century they began to realize that the constant flow of migrants into America threatened their way of life. A closer examination will reveal that this specifically refers to Anglo-Protestant values. This is an ethnocentric view of America and this behavior was nothing new to them. In the past when they came to the New World they thought it was a country inhabited by savages and that they have to do everything in their power to transform it into what they believed to be the ideal society. This is the reason why they became the most dominant group in America.

Works Cited

Gjerde, Jon. Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

Kawaguchi, Lesley. History 10 Reader. (n.d.) Olson, James. The Ethnic Dimension in American History. 3rd ed. MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2008.

Takaki, Ronald. A Larger Memory: A History of Our Diversity, with Voices. UK: Little Brown & Co., 1998.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 17). White Settlers in North American Landscape in 1790. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/white-settlers-in-north-american-landscape-in-1790/

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