A while ago, I started a series called History Lessons With Goldfish. We started our edutainment series with the American Revolution. Alas, as I got talking about the preamble to the revolution, which is necessary for understanding why there was a revolution, I discovered that there’s so much history in our history that I never made it past the colonization phase of America. In short, History Lessons With Goldfish: American Revolution Part 1 didn’t actually have any revolution in it. To fix that, we’re finally moving on to Part 2, which I hope will satisfy your revolutionary needs.
History Lessons With Goldfish: The American Revolution (maybe)
In the last exciting episode of History Lessons With Goldfish, we discussed colonization of the Americas, enslaving and killing natives, taking their land and raping it for everything it was worth to send stuff back to Europe. We left off with King Charles I declaring the private corporation The Virginia Company’s contract for sending New World booty back to Europe null and void, and claiming all the loot for the crown instead.
KCI also dissolved parliament in 1629 to create his own dictatorial monarchy, which caused a lot of regular English folks, 900 of them, to flee to the New World and start up a colony in Massachusetts Bay. Four years later, another 200 dissatisfied English citizens moved on over to Maryland. Take that, Charles!
One of the Massachusetts colonists, Roger Williams, wrote a long condemnation of KCI in which he questioned the right of Massachusetts to the land they settled on without buying it from the Indians, and called King James, KCI’s father, a liar when he claimed that he was the first Christian monarch to discover the New World.
Not surprisingly, this did not go over well. In addition to calling the king and his father liars and thieves, Williams had other dangerous ideas including religious and political freedom, separation of church and state, fair dealings with Native Americans and the abolition of slavery.
Surprisingly, Williams wasn’t straight-up murdered, but in 1636, he was voted off the island of Massachusetts (No, Massachusetts isn’t really an island). He started his own colony on land he bought from the Massasoit Indians, which he called Rhode Island (which isn’t really an island either). Providence, Rhode Island became the first refuge for dangerous freethinkers who believed in silly, not very royal things like tolerance, equality and freedom.
The Roundheads were upset that KCI had decided to do away with the trifle called Parliament. They won the war and pop goes the King’s head. Out with KCI, out with his son who ran away in a huff of frilly, ruffled shirts to mainland Europe, and in with a Republican Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. Take that, Charles!
Unfortunately for the short-lived Commonwealth, Cromwell turned out to be almost as much of a dic…tator as KCI. After he died of natural causes in 1658, the monarchy was quickly restored. Charles 2: Electric Boogaloo and steamer trunks full of ruffled shirts came slinking back from mainland Europe to become king. “Oops, terribly sorry about your dad, old chap. Would you like to be king?” After the Royalists returned to power, they dug up Cromwell’s corpse, hung him in chains and beheaded him. Hardcore.
The same year he was crowned, not unlike his dear old dad, KC2:EB started taking liberties with the colonies. He declared that only English ships were allowed in the colonies and he limited exports of tobacco, sugar and other commodities to only England. It’s good to be king. For the next few years, he passed more and more laws limiting trade and even set up a customs office to collect duties on goods. I think you can see where this is going. No where good, that’s where.
Meanwhile, back in the New World, as Massachusetts was busy passing a law that made religious heresy punishable by death, Rhode Island approved a law to abolish slavery… in 1652… that’s 213 years before the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery in 1865. Go Rhode Island!
Anyway, things swam along badly for a while until war erupted between New England colonists and the Native Americans, because if there’s anything History Lessons With Goldfish has taught us, it’s that the colonists were essentially assholes. The result was 600 dead colonists and 3,000 dead Native Americans, including women and children on both sides. In just over a year, twelve colonial towns were razed and many more were halfway razed, the economy was nonexistent and much of the white dude population was dead. Good job, colonists.
In 1682, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed Louisiana, which was a lot bigger then, for France. A few years later, King Louis XIV, the king Louisiana is named after, quashed religious freedom in France prompting a lot of French people to move to Louisiana. Seventy years later, those French people started another war with the Native Americans, because colonists = dicks.
Anyway, back to the late 1600s. William Penn, a Quaker, founded Pennsylvania in 1681. Sylvan means consisting of or relating to woods, so basically, Pennsylvania means Penn’s Woods. If I could name my own land, I would probably call it something a little more original, but what do I know about naming stuff.
In 1685, KC2:EB died and his brother became King James II. KJII continued the family tradition of being a dick by consolidating the colonies of New England into a single dominion, which deprived the colonists of local political rights and independence. Colonial legislatures were dissolved and KJII’s representatives assumed all of the judicial and legislative power. It’s good to be king.
However, KJII’s power-hungry regime didn’t last long. Two years after he became KJII, he was kicked out of the castle and England by the Glorious Revolution started by English Roundheads and a Dutch dude, William III of Orange-Nassau, a.k.a. William of Orange, whose wife (and first-cousin), Mary, was KJII’s daughter. Bill Orange’s Dutch army and navy kicked out KJII, whereupon Bill and his wife said, “This king business sounds pretty neat. Let’s try it,” and that’s how a Dutch dude and his wife/cousin became joint rulers of England as William III of England and Mary II of England in 1689.
William and Mary signed the English Bill of Rights of 1689, which ended hostilities between Parliament and the crown, and also quashed the notion that Catholicism might become the official religion. In 1690, Bill Orange fell into a war with France, which spilled over into the colonies where the French set Schenectady, New York on fire. Welcome to America.
William and Mary continued the royal power rampage started by so many others before them and installed their own royal representative government in the colonies. They appointed a Governor of New England and decreed a new royal charter which included government by the royal governor and a governor’s council. They also wanted a share of that colonial booty, and in 1696, they passed an act expanding the powers of colonial custom commissioners, including rights of forcible entry, and requiring bonds on certain goods. It’s good to be king/queen/first-cousins.
Oh, and in 1692, a bunch of witches were burned by some asshole colonists in Salem, Massachusetts. They apologized for it, so it’s okay. It’s not like anyone lost their life… oh.
Finally, we reach the 1700s where the colonial population was 250,000. Woo America!
Jeezum crow, we’re finally getting to the good part, but we still haven’t had a revolution yet! Well, crap. We’ll have to finish this some other day, when we actually talk about the American Revolution instead of just the events that led up to it. Come back next time for the revolutionary part of the American Revolution. Pinky swear.
In addition to those already linked above, information was severely paraphrased from the following sources: