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From the start, we have been a nation of freedom and liberty. As the U.S. started to develop so did new ideas and new concepts. Important figures in our history helped shape our country. Today the British culture has left its mark on our country. Even the Declaration of Independence came to be a result of the corruption of Parliament. We wouldn’t be as knowledgeable or culturally developed if it weren’t for the British. The United States is a nation founded in revolution, which rejected the British system of government, nevertheless much of the colonial experience and the British way influenced how the U.S. developed as a new nation.
The British government was influential in how the U.S. could form together as a nation. This all started when pilgrims traveled to the colonies of Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay. The Mayflower compact was a big step in creating a formal government. Authors Mark C. Carnes and John A. Garraty write that “The pilgrims chose William Bradford as their first governor. In this simple manner, ordinary people created a government that they hoped would enable them to cope with the unknown wilderness confronting them”. By establishing a form of government for the colonies, this would create order and balance for the citizens. The Americans would take after this example in creating their own government to combat Parliament while also creating their own legislature. The Bill of Rights is an example of a document influenced by the British government. Previously, Britain had established their own document called the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Americans had decided to establish their own amendments to ensure the rights of its citizens. The Bill of rights is still important for our society today because we as Americans now have the right to say what we want and practice any religion.
Although, the English and American Bill of Rights might have a similar purpose there is a difference between the two. Authors Carnes and Garraty state that compared with the American document, the English Bill of Rights was “much less broad-gauged and, being an act of Parliament, was subject to repeal by Parliament at any time”. This was especially important for the government to not have total control over everyone but, to give power to the people as well and the states. It wouldn’t be fair for the government to run everything. This wouldn’t be the democracy we know today. It’s best that the Bill of Rights couldn’t be repealed because the amendments are beneficial for our society today. Taking those freedoms away or changing them would’ve probably caused a war between the government and the citizen. Since the British decided to establish their own rights in a document, this definitely left an impression for the Americans to follow.
Not only did the British bring over the pilgrims but, they brought their faith too. They would soon establish their own churches and spread their views on Christianity.
The Anglican church was considered the main religion during the eighteenth century according to as explained by authors Carnes and Garraty. This denomination was brought over from England and even today people still practice this. In general, religion played a big role in everyone’s lives, especially when the pilgrims first settled in the new colonies. The Puritans formed their own community which would practice their own religion. Although their religion is not practiced today, it played a big role in history because it was influenced by British values. Other people during this time would not necessarily take after the Puritan beliefs but, they would be compelled to have different beliefs when it came to social order and the afterlife. There was also a point in time before slaughtering the Indians when the British colonists wanted to convert as many Indians as they could. Although there were many converts, both sides couldn’t agree on the basis of their beliefs. This sadly ended in violence.
During the Great Awakening, there was also a vast religious movement among the colonies which were influenced by the British. George Whitefield made a major impact during this time because of his sermons. He was originally from Britain and decided to spread his Anglican beliefs. He was so popular that on his visit to Boston people flocked to hear his sermons with more of the population attending according to authors Carnes and Garraty. His ideas on Anglicanism changed the nation. Even today people will take after George Whitefield’s passion to minister about God. Religion is known in this country as a result of the colonists bringing over Christianity. We as a nation wouldn’t necessarily know about God or the details of how to get to Heaven if it weren’t for the British.
With the variety of churches being spread there then came a variety of schools being established by many British colonists. Unfortunately, when the Colleges were first established they were meant for clergymen or men who wanted to become part of the Clergy. This didn’t create opportunities for people who wanted an education. Even some of the familiar colleges we know today like Yale and Harvard were meant for religious purposes. As time went on college was open to all men, but women could not attend. Every man could now get an education and have the necessary skills once the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut “passed educational acts that required all towns of any size to establish such schools”. Religion had a major impact on the building of schools but, it was the men who brought their English views and ideas who helped make colleges for educational purposes other than religious.
The Enlightenment was a major movement if ideas. Sir Isaac Newton was a very recognized man who contributed to science. People today mostly know him because of his ideas of gravity and calculus. If it weren’t for his influence during the 1700s, there would be no real motivation to explore physics, become mathematicians, or discover things about Earth. With his research, people could understand the world. This definitely impacted the new nation and inspired many others. According to authors Carnes and Garraty, “American society developed amid the excitement of these great discoverers, who provided both a new understanding of the natural world and a mode of thought that implied that impersonal, scientific laws governed the behavior of all matter, animate and inanimate”. John Locke was another Englishman who contributed to the enlightenment of our nation. His writings centered around the idea that a person had the right to their own property. He believed that if the government should take these rights away it would be taking someone’s freedom. John Locke fought greatly for the development of this nation with his ideas and views on personal property.
Tensions were high and it only got worse when the British decided to disrupt the peace and balance of the colonies. Without the constant taxing and control from Parliament though, there would be no Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence as we know it is the very foundation of the U.S. The citizens, tired of being controlled by another country’s government, felt it was unfair for everyone that lived there. The British citizens had no real sympathy for them either. The English people didn’t really want to associate with the Americans anymore because the colonies were “becoming rich and powerful”. This is evidence of why many of the British were reluctant to help their fellow American citizens and they were probably jealous that the colonies were competing with Britain regarding money and power. They still were faithful to the Crown. Thankfully people stood up for what was right, even if it meant going to war. This country would look very different from what it is today if no one protested the injustices of the king. Just think, we could’ve ended up saluting to the British flag.
In conclusion, the British had a major influence on the new developing American society. At first, the colonists brought with them a form of government be looked at as an example. Also, the Bill of Rights is inspired by the British Bill of Rights. Without this, we wouldn’t have the freedoms that we have today. Religion was also a major factor in everyone’s lives. From there, schools were established and still exists today for higher learning. The colonists brought over their beliefs of Christianity, Anglicanism, and Puritanism which helped our society become aware of the afterlife and a greater power. Also, many new ideas and concepts developed. British genius Sir Isaac Newton brought a better understanding of the concept of gravity which would become even influential today. We would still be in the dark about gravity and physics if it weren’t for his impact. John Locke also believed in having the right own property without it being taken away forcefully. Finally, the Declaration of Independence was written in response to the British influence in our nation. Without this important document we wouldn’t be the United States. So, when thinking back on our history it is best to give the British credit for influencing our nation become what it is today.
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