Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chapter 12: Middle Colonies 1600-1700

Quite a few in this one. Sorry, I know I'm just pumping these out, but I actually have a little bit of time. Here we go!

"In 1663, Rhode Island and Connecticut belatedly obtained royal charters; Plymouth never so succeeded." Neener neener!

"Imperial bureaucrats believed that the proprietary colonies should first be converted into royal colonies and then consolidated into an overarching government like the Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain." No! That's a terrible idea! Shit took forever to get done and there was a fuck-ton of paper work and... just no. Bad idea.

"By smiting the Dutch, the [English] crown hoped to strengthen its own power within a more consolidated empire." I'm sure it would also feel pretty smug to know that historians are tying verbs such as "smite" to it. I know I would be.

"The Dutch economy also benefited from a liberal government that adopted policies of intellectual freedom and religious toleration unique in seventeenth-century Europe," and in some parts of 21st-century America. (Womp.)

"Fur trading operations wanted only few colonists, to minimize the costs of supply and to discourage competitors trading on their own accounts." So, they were basically chill Communists? Cool...?

"In 1625, the Dutch founded the fortified town of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island at the mouth of the river." 'Even old New York was once New Amsterdam...' :D

"The bifurcation led to different Indian policies in the two halves of the valley." You lost me at 'bifurcation'. New favorite word, by the way.

"At the mouth of Brandywine Creek (present-day Wilmington, Delaware), the colonists established Fort Christina, named in honor of the Swedish queen." Nonsense! There's no Fort Christina in Middle Earth!

"But the principal explanation is that the Netherlands had a smaller pool of potential emigrants with fewer incentives to emigrate, compared with the more numerous and more discontented English." Hahahaha it's okay, Netherlands, that's a GOOD thing.

"In 1664 the English instigated the second war by sending an expedition to conquer New Netherland." He makes it sound like a camping trip, hehe.

"The Dutch also resented the English troops posted at New York, Esopus, and Albany, where the undisciplined soldiers robbed and assaulted the colonists with apparent impunity," a tradition that would continue for another hundred years until those rowdy colonists finally got fed up with it. Also, it's pretty crazy what a uniform and a gun does to a soldier's brain with regards to justification, etc.

"To their dismay, the Iroquois discovered that the New Yorkers honored the Covenant Chain alliance only when convenient." Yeah, Indians, get used to that... :/

"Feeling betrayed, Penn denounced his opponents as selfish ingrates indifferent to his extraordinary expenses and exertions in securing and colonizing Pennsylvania." Dude, you've got a COLONY named after you. STFU.

"In the mid-eighteenth century, a German immigrant reported, 'They have a saying here: Pennsylvania is a heaven for farmers, paradise for artisans, and hell for officials and preachers." Muahaha! Take that! Also, sign me up.

"But the fractious diversity of the middle colonies also frustrated English visions of an empire responsive to command, especially during war." Yeah, about that...

Chapter 11: Carolina 1670 - 1760

Ah, the beginnings of the American South. Let's dance.

"Eliza Lucas Pinckney described the Carolina summer as 'extreamly disagreeable, excessive hott, much thunder and lightening, and muskatoes and sand flies in abundance.'" Well what the fuck are we waiting for?! Let's go!!!

"In 1670 three ships from Barbados bore two hundred colonists to the mouth of the Ashley River, where they founded Charles Town (modified to Charleston in 1783), named, like Carolina, in honor of King Charles II." Jeez, what a bunch o' brown-nosers.

"The Carolina trader benefited from the native custom of providing wives to welcome newcomers." Exactly how welcome is welcome? ... What? A wife could come in handy.

"In 1682 a Carolinian noted, 'There is such infinite Herds that the whole Country seems but one continued [deer] Park.'" The smell must have been awful.

"The Carolinians justified enslavement as beneficial for Indians, sparing captives from execution and exposing them to Christian civilization among their English purchasers." In other words, hey, it's not like we killed them, we just make them more vulnerable to death via disease and exhaustion. But don't worry about it, they might go to our Heaven-which by the way is the ONLY one.

"The South Carolina elite became renowned as even more gracious, polite, genteel, and lavish than the gentlemen of Virginia." That's not saying much. If you'll recall, the gentry in Virginia nailed you to the wall by your ears if you insulted them.

"Moreover, black slavery made manual labor seem degrading to free men, which discouraged exertion by common whites, who aspired, instead, to acquire their own slaves to do the dirty work." Come on down and buy some slaves! Well? What are you waiting for? Everyone is doing it. You don't want to be not cool... do you? Do you!?

"An official described the colonists as 'stark Mad after Negroes'". In lay terms, that's referred to as "jungle fever".

"Until they could own slaves, the white Georgians considered themselves unfree." Wait, what?

"Because Carolina society so closely resembled Barbados, English officials commonly referred to 'Carolina in the West Indies.' This development was ironic, for plantation society had driven from Barbados the original emigrants who became the first Carolinians." I like this, it's like Taylor is beckoning the reader closer, slightly hunched in stifled giggles as he lets us in on his little joke. "You see it's funny because *giggle* because they CAME from Barbados, and, *giggle*, well you see what I'm trying to say."

Chapter 12 to follow.

Chapter 10: The West Indies

This chapter was all about how the little/sorta big islands in the Gulf of Mexico, including plantation culture and pirates! As you can imagine, nothing really happy happens in this chapter, but I managed to find things, anyway.

"Sugar could bear the costs of long-distance transportation (and the purchase of slaves by the thousand) because it was in great and growing European demand to sweeten food and drink." Europe's sweet tooth was a perfectly legitimate excuse for, you know, slavery. (Starting things off light.)

"Lacking cities and gold but possessing a fearsome reputation, the Caribs were the sort of Indians that the Spanish had learned to avoid." Hahaha oh NOW they get the point.

"Landscape, climate, location, and pigs combined to render Barbados especially attractive." As we'll recall from our good friend George Spencer, the Brits were REALLY into pigs.

"Aside from the plantation buildings and a few groves of trees, the island was a terraced sea of cane plants, which grew eight feet high at maturity." Does it make me a nerd that the first thing I thought of when I read this was "Keep out of the long grass!"? ... there might be raptors... It could happen!

"Compared with the Lesser Antilles, Jamaica was grander, lusher, hotter, wetter, stormier, more mountainous, and more susceptible to slave rebellions. To English sensibilities, that enlarged scale rendered Jamaica both the most alluring and the most disturbing place in their West Indies." Sounds like a sexy dangerous lady. ;)

"English Jamaica had a dual economy: agriculture in the interior valleys and far-ranging piracy from the seaport of Port Royal." Yarr! Them fields be needin' harvestin'!

"Worse yet, the piracy sometimes scared away shipping, depriving the planters of new slaves and clogging their warehouses with unsold sugar." If I was there, I would make lots and lots of cookies for everyone. :)

"Suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, the heavy-drinking Sir Henry [Morgan] sought relief from an African folk doctor. But his treatments-injections of urine and an all-body plaster of moist clay-only hastened Morgan's death." It might just be me, but don't you think that doctor was fucking with him? Just a *little* bit?

"After 1690, white immigration to Jamaica slowed, while out-migration grew." Um, Professor Taylor, I believe the word you're looking for is emigration. It's okay, it happens to the best of us.

"Although an economic success, the West Indies was a demographic failure that manifested a society in consuming a pursuit of profit and with a callous disregard for life." Well, it's a good thing that never happened on the mainland.
"At the end of the seventeenth century, white emigrants from the West Indies, particularly Barbados, carried the seeds of that society to the southern mainland by founding the new colony of Carolina." Oh shit...

Chapter 11 soon to follow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gold Mine

When I saw the chapter title "Puritans and Indians 1600 - 1700" I knew I was in for some doozies. I stopped a lot more in this chapter, but most of them would have just been something like "what the fuck... way to go Puritans". Well, here it goes.

"Suspecting that the wilderness was seductive as well as evil, Puritan leaders feared that their own people would degenerate into Indians from prolonged contact with native ways and the native land." There's a reason they're called "tree huggers", after all.

"The Indians regarded most colonists as mean and stingy, enslaved by their property and their longings for more." So... nothing has changed?

"The New English disdained the Indians as "Lazy Drones [who] live Idleness Exceedingly" for failing to create more property from their abundant nature." I just thought Idleness Exceeding would be an awesome band name.

"Contrary to the first Thanksgiving myth of mutual trust, the Plymouth colonists regarded the Indians as, in Bradford's words, 'savage people, who are cruel, barbarous, and most treacherous.'" What about the corn and the turkey? And every one sitting on one side of the long table, all smiling and happy? Next thing you're going to tell me is that Pocahontas and John Smith weren't actually a couple... oh no... My childhood is gone forever! *sobs*

"Regarding war as a test of their godliness, the Puritans interpreted their especially bloody victory as compelling proof that God had found them worthy." I'm sorry, but I get the image of blood-soaked men on bended knee. It's the Crusades all over again, which were also a bad idea, by the way.

"Stung by rebukes from their godly friends at home, especially over the Pequot slaughter, some of the New English belatedly turned their attention to evangelizing the Indians." Oh, NOW they do something that doesn't involving killing people. Well done. *facepalm*

"Comfortable in their own culture, most Indians balked at converting to English ways and beliefs." Well no shit. That does beg the question, however: were there some Indians who thought to themselves "Hey, I would like to work my ass off for something I'll never see, and smell and be hairy and wear too many clothes when it's 90 degrees and humid as shit. That sounds like a good plan, let's get on that"?

"John Cotton, Jr.,... had become a missionary as an act of atonement when caught in adultery with a colonial woman. Was it then simply an innocent question when an Indian asked him 'whether any man that hath committed Adultery may go to heaven'? Cotton did not record his answer." Oh snap! You tell him, random Indian convert person!

"The best colonial commanders abandoned European military tactics, based upon masses of men engaged in complicated maneuvers to deliver volleys of gunfire. Instead, they adopted the Indian tactics of dispersion, stealth, ambush, and individual marksmanship." Well no shit. How do you expect to actually win a battle if you stand your dudes face to face and say bang? Especially when one side has lots more guns than the other side. Oh wait... right.... that was their advantage... Anyway, this just makes me think of "The Patriot", when Mel Gibson goes all Cherokee on the redcoats. That's what happened... right? Right!?

That's all for this chapter. I'm really having fun with this little series by the way. :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

New England Was Weird

Boy, howdy, let me tell you. More quotes from "American Colonies" by Prof. Alan Taylor

"In contrast to their counterparts in England and the Chesapeake, where authorities rarely intervened in domestic disputes, New England magistrates and church congregations routinely protected women from insult and abuse. (Sometimes they had to protect husbands.)" That just made me laugh. I know, domestic violence is never cool, but sometimes it's funny.

"As her pains increased, the guests assisted the midwife in conducting the birth, supporting the squatting mother in their arms." Now THAT is one powerful motherfucking image. So much so that I had to clear the air by swearing.

"In New England, as in old England, fishing employed hard-drinking and hard-swearing men with scant property and little reputation to lose." This also made me laugh. I think it was the term "hard-swearing". As opposed to soft-swearing, like "Jinkies!" or "Well, cracker jacks!"

"The fisherman scandalized a 1664 official investigation that concluded, 'Some here are of the opinion that as many men may share a woman as they do a boat, and some have done so.'" Scandalous indeed. Sounds like a really shitty party.

"Moreover, as God's stronghold, Puritan New England invited relentless attack from Satan, who meant to destroy the Bible Commonwealth. Embroiled in the cosmic struggle between God's will and Satan's wiles, New England was a pivotal battleground for the eternal fate of all mankind." His matter-of-fact tone is positively.... matter-of-fact.

"In 1642 the New Haven authorities suspected George Spencer of bestiality when a sow bore a piglet that carried his resemblance. He confessed and they hanged but Spencer and the unfortunate sow." First of all, what the fuck. Second of all, this Spencer guy had to by one ugly motherfucker to be plausibly likened to a pig. Third of all, calling the sow "unfortunate" is really a slap in the face after the poor thing was nailed by a horny farmer and then strung up because it gave some sicko a boner.

"All dissenters were given, in the words of one Massachusetts Puritan, 'free Liberty to keep away from us.'" Like when the Model-T Ford first came out. You could get it in whatever color you liked, as long as it was black.

"Whenever cattle and children sickened and died, the New English suspected that some in their midst practiced satanic magic." Really, guys? Sometimes people just get sick. It happens. Deal.

"Communities and authorities disproportionately detected witchcraft in women who seemed angry and abrasive, violating the cultural norm celebrating female modesty." Damn, I would have been fucked. Along with most of the ladies I hang out with. ;P

"Puritanism kept New England behind the times in supernatural belief." Womp. Just... womp.

That's all for now. History is fun! And weird! And stupid! Yay!