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Society in 18th Century America
Transcript of Society in 18th Century America
The first drudgery of settling new colonies, which confines the attention of people to mere necessaries, is now pretty well over; and there are many in every province in circumstances that set them at ease, and afford leisure to cultivate the finer arts and improve the common stock of knowledge. To such of these who are men of speculation, many hints must from time to time arise, many observations occur, which if well examined, pursued, and improved, might produce discoveries to the advantage of some or all of the British plantations, or to the benefit of mankind in general.
.......That one society be formed of virtuosi or ingenious men, residing in the several colonies, to be called The American Philosophical Society, who are to maintain a constant correspondence.
That Philadelphia, being the city nearest the centre of the continent colonies, communicating with all of them northward and southward by post, and with all the islands by sea, and having the advantage of a good growing library, be the centre of the Society.
Ben Franklin (1743)
What can this tell us about how the colonists are beginning to view themselves?
...The mode of selling them by scramble having fallen under my observation the oftenest, I shall be more particular in describing it. Being some years ago, at one of the islands in the West Indies, I was witness to a sale by scramble, where about 250 Negroes were sold. Upon this occasion all the Negroes scrambled for bear an equal price; which is agreed upon between the captains and the purchasers before the sale begins. On a day appointed, the Negroes were landed and placed together in a large yard belonging to the merchants to whom the ship was consigned. As soon as the hour agreed on arrived, the doors of the yard were suddenly thrown open and in rushed a considerable number of purchasers, with all the ferocity of brutes. Some instantly seized such of the Negroes as they could conveniently lay hold of with their hands. Others being prepared with several handkerchiefs tied together, encircled as many as they were able. While others, by means of a rope, effected the same purpose. It is scarcely possible to describe the confusion of which this mode of selling is productive. It likewise causes much animosity among the purchasers who not infrequently fall out and quarrel with each other. The poor astonished Negroes were so terrified by these proceedings, that several of them, through fear climbed over the walls of the courtyard and ran wild about the town, but were soon hunted down and retaken....
Alexander Falconbridge (c. 1790)
"Dancing the slave"
Revolt and Resistance
At the savage Captain's beck,
Now like brutes they make us prance
Smack the cat about the Deck
And in scorn they bid us dance
Nauseous horse beans they bring nigh,
Sick and sad we cannot eat;
Cat must cure the Sulks they cry,
Down their throats we'll force the meat.
I in groaning passed the night,
And did roll my aching head;
At the break of morning light,
My poor Child was cold and dead.
"Sorrows of Yamba" (1795) Hannah More
Slavery and Society
What can we determine about the North American slave trade from this map?
The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Effects of the Great Awakening
“All mankind... being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions. “
This may be of awakening to unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. That world of misery, that take of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide, gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything to take hold of. There is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.
Johnathan Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (1741)
How is this different than the Puritanism that we have seen?
Changing Slave Society of the 18th Century
“The Sovereign, having no force other than the legislative power, acts only by means of the laws; and the laws being solely the authentic acts of the general will.” (The Social Contract- 1762)
Changing Economy and Society of 18th Century America
“We entered one of the huts of the Blacks, for one can not call them by the name of houses. They are more miserable than the most miserable of the cottages of our peasants. The husband and wife sleep on a mean pallet, the children on the ground; a very bad fireplace, some utensils for cooking, but in the middle of this poverty some cups and a teapot. A boy of 15 was lying on the ground, sick, and in terrible convulsions. The G[enera]l had sent to Alexandria to fetch a doctor. A very small garden planted with vegetables was close by, with 5 or 6 hens, each one leading ten to fifteen chickens. It is the only comfort that is permitted them; for they may not keep either ducks, geese, or pigs. They sell the poultry in Alexandria and procure for themselves a few amenities.
Julian Niemcewicz "Travels through America in 1797-1799"
New Lights/Old Lights
Impact of the Great Awakening
The Great Awakening
Politics and Philosophy
"Every individual... neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it... he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention." (The Wealth Of Nations, Book IV, Chapter II)
Slavery in Africa
Narrative of Olaudah Equiano
Enlightenment in America
What is due tonight by 11:55pm?
American Philosophical Society
"Laissez Faire" Government
What is due tonight by 11:55pm?