Harvard College was founded by the colonial legislature in and named in honor of benefactor John Harvard. Most of the funding came from the colony, but the college began to collect an endowment. Harvard was founded for the purpose of training young men for the ministry, and it won general support from the Puritan colonies. Yale College was founded in and was relocated to New Haven in The conservative Puritan ministers of Connecticut had grown dissatisfied with the more liberal theology of Harvard and wanted their own school to train orthodox ministers.
Dartmouth College was chartered in and grew out of a school for Indians; it was moved to Hanover, New Hampshire in It was the first college in America to admit students from any denominational background. New England was the center of revolutionary activity in the decade before On June 9, , Rhode Island residents banded together and burned HMS Gaspee in response to that ship's harassment of merchant shipping—and smuggling—in Narragansett Bay.
Massachusetts politicians Samuel Adams , John Adams , and John Hancock rose up as leaders in the growing resentment toward English rule. New Englanders were very proud of their political freedoms and local democracy, which they felt was increasingly threatened by the English government. The main grievance was taxation, which colonists argued could only be imposed by their own legislatures and not by the Parliament in London. Their political cry was " no taxation without representation. A ship was planning to land tea in Boston on December 16, , and Patriots associated with the Sons of Liberty raided the ship and dumped all the tea into the harbor.
This closed the port of Boston, the economic lifeblood of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and it ended self-government, putting the people under military rule. British troops were forced back to Boston by the local militias on the 19th in the Battles of Lexington and Concord where the famous " shot heard 'round the world " was fired.
The British army controlled only the city of Boston, and it was quickly brought under siege.
He forced the British to evacuate in March After that, the main warfare moved south, but the British made repeated raids along the coast, seizing Newport, Rhode Island and parts of Maine for a while. After independence, New England ceased to be a unified political unit but remained a defined historical and cultural region consisting of its constituent states. By , all of the states in the region had introduced the gradual abolition of slavery, with Vermont and Massachusetts introducing total abolition in and , respectively.
Twenty-seven delegates from all over New England met in Hartford in the winter of for the Hartford Convention to discuss changes to the US Constitution that would protect the region and retain political power. The war ended triumphantly, and the Federalist Party was permanently discredited and faded away. The territory of Maine was a part of Massachusetts, but it was admitted to the Union as an independent state in as part of the Missouri Compromise.
New England remained distinct from the other states in terms of politics, often going against the grain of the rest of the country.
Massachusetts and Connecticut were among the last refuges of the Federalist Party , and New England became the strongest bastion of the new Whig Party when the Second Party System began in the s. Leading statesmen hailed from the region, including conservative Whig orator Daniel Webster. New England proved to be the center of the strongest abolitionist sentiment in the country, along with areas that were settled from New England, such as upstate New York, Ohio's Western Reserve , and the states of Michigan and Wisconsin. The anti-slavery Republican Party was formed in the s, and all of New England became strongly Republican, including areas that had previously been strongholds for the Whig and Democrat Parties.
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The region remained Republican until the early 20th century, when immigration turned the states of southern New England towards the Democrats. The Census showed that 32 of the largest cities in the country were in New England, as well as the most highly educated. Prescott , and others. New England was an early center of the industrial revolution. The Beverly Cotton Manufactory was the first cotton mill in America, founded in Beverly, Massachusetts in ,  and was considered the largest cotton mill of its time.
Technological developments and achievements from the Manufactory led to the development of other, more advanced cotton mills, including Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Several textile mills were already underway during the time.
The textile manufacturing in New England was growing rapidly, which caused a shortage of workers. Recruiters were hired by mill agents to bring young women and children from the countryside to work in the factories, and thousands of farm girls left their rural homes in New England to work in the mills between and , hoping to aid their families financially, save up for marriage, and widen their horizons.
They also left their homes due to population pressures to look for opportunities in expanding New England cities. The majority of female workers came from rural farming towns in northern New England.
Immigration also grew along with the growth of the textile industry—but the number of young women working in the mills decreased as the number of Irish workers increased. At the beginning of this period, when the United States was just emerging from its colonial past, the agricultural landscape of New England was defined overwhelmingly by subsistence farming. This not only meant that farmers would largely produce their own food, but also that they tended to produce their own furniture, clothing, and soap, among other household items. There were two factors that were primarily responsible for the revolutionary changes in the agricultural economy of New England during the period from to 1 The rise of the manufacturing industry in New England industrialization , and 2 agricultural competition from the western states.
During this period, the industrial jobs created in New England's towns and cities affected the agricultural economy profoundly by generating a rapidly growing nonagricultural, urbanizing population. The farmers finally had a nearby market to which they could sell their crops, and thus an opportunity to obtain incomes beyond what they produced for subsistence.
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The demands of the consumers of the crops, whether factories or individuals, now determined the kinds of crops that each farm cultivated. Potash, pearlash, charcoal, and fuel wood were among the agricultural products that were produced in greater quantities during this time. For example, myriad new mills produced inexpensive textiles, and it now made more economic sense for many farm women to purchase these textiles rather than spin and weave them at home. Women consequently found new employment elsewhere, typically at the mills, many of which had a shortage of workers, and they began to earn cash incomes.
The agricultural competition that emerged from the western states due to improvements in transportation e. Competition from the western states was principally responsible for the decline in local pork production and cattle-fattening, as well as that in wheat production.
These crops included milk, butter, potatoes, and broomcorn. The largely differentiated agricultural landscape of the New England of  was distinct from the subsistence-dominated landscape that existed 40—60 years prior. This period of time, therefore, was not only noteworthy in terms of New England's industrial revolution, but also in terms of New England's agricultural revolution. During the colonial period and the early years of the American republic, New England leaders like James Otis , John Adams , and Samuel Adams joined Patriots in Philadelphia and Virginia to define Republicanism , and lead the colonies to a war for independence against Great Britain.
New England was a Federalist stronghold, and strongly opposed the War of At the time of the American Civil War , New England, the mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest, which had long since abolished slavery, united against the Confederate States of America , ending the practice in the United States.
Henry David Thoreau , iconic New England writer and philosopher, made the case for civil disobedience and individualism. French-Canadians , living a highly traditional life in rural Canada, were attracted to New England textile mills after The first migrants went to nearby areas of northern Vermont and New Hampshire.
However, as the textile factories increased their hiring, the principle destination beginning in the late s until the end of the last immigration wave in the early s, was southern Massachusetts. With a constantly growing immigrant population, these new Franco-Americans settled together in neighborhoods colloquially called Little Canada ; after these faded away. There were some French newspapers, but they had a total of only 50, subscribers in The New Haven railroad was the leading carrier in New England from to New York's leading banker, J. Morgan , had grown up in Hartford and had a strong interest in the New England economy.
Starting in the s Morgan began financing the major New England railroads, such as the New Haven and the Boston and Maine , dividing territory so they would not compete. In he brought in Charles Mellen as president of the New Haven The goal, richly supported by Morgan's financing, was to purchase and consolidate the main railway lines of New England, merge their operations, lower their costs, electrify the heavily used routes, and modernize the system. With less competition and lower costs, there supposedly would be higher profits.
The New Haven purchased 50 smaller companies, including streetcars, freight steamers, passenger steamships, and a network of light rails electrified trolleys that provided inter-urban transportation for all of southern New England. Morgan's quest for monopoly angered reformers during the Progressive Era , most notably Boston lawyer Louis Brandeis , who fought the New Haven for years. Mellen's abrasive tactics alienated public opinion, led to high prices for acquisitions and to costly construction. The accident rate rose when efforts were made to save on maintenance costs.
Also in it was hit by an anti-trust lawsuit by the federal government and was forced to give up its trolley systems. The line went bankrupt in , was reorganized and reduced in scope, went bankrupt again in , and in was merged into the Penn Central system, which itself went bankrupt. The remnants of the system are now part of Conrail. The automotive revolution came much faster than anyone expected, especially the railroad executives.