During the Enlightenment era Europeans started analyzing the laws of the universe, and studying astronomy. In Mary Beth Norton’s book, “A People and a Nation” they did experimentation, abstract reasoning, and philosophers acquired knowledge through reasoning and challenged religion (Norton, Mary Beth pg.104). According to Fraga’s presentation on “The Great Awakening” the colonies started to experience a culture crisis. Majority of the 18th century was struggling to climb the ladder of economic, and social success. The churches were not meeting spiritual needs, and the clergy started becoming criticized for their “locked in tradition and hypocrisy” (Fraga). The people were looking for a new found hope, and to be revitalized. This Great awakening gave people hope. It gave poor people hope too.
The awakening starts in Pennsylvania first, then Massachuttes. George Whitfield, an english clergyman termed by one historian as the “first modern celebrity” toured the British colonies (Norton, Mary Beth pg.118). He excelled in open air preaching, and could manipulate both his listeners , and readers. He attracted thousands with his fame including free and enslaved people. He wasn’t the only one inspiring, and revitalizing people. Soon came Gilbert Tenant, and James Davenport. These egalitarian men attacked the upper class. One stated that equality begins at church. Where the other demanded change, and accused the powerful and the rich, of no longer being fit to rule (Fraga). This changed, and threatened the established culture. People listened. People revolted against the established clergy. This prepared the colonist for principles of democracy.
The seven years war (also known as the French and Indian War) bankrupt imperial economy. The war created an economic depression. Fraga’s presentation on the “Seven Years War” discussed how people faced unemployment, more war widowed families, and prices increased. People became homeless, and a new class of crippled came into view. Economic insecurities led to facist politics. Britain could not afford the property acquired. They needed funding for military manpower, and police control over the territories. Britain taxed the 13 colonies. Everyone was taxed by their own legislature that was passed by British Parliament. That was their way to assert power over the colonies. This caused resentment amongst all classes within the system. The colonist protested in hopes that Britain would back of (Fraga). The Stamp Act caused a violent reaction within the colonies. Riots broke, and protestors burned an effigy of Andrew Owens a Providence’s stamp distributor (tax official) that hung from a tree (Norton, Mary Beth pg.134). Andrew Oliver, promised not to fulfill his office duty.The Loyal Nine
achieved success when Oliver publicly promised not to fulfill the duties of his office. One colonist wrote a powerful letter to a relative stating,“I believe people never was more Universally pleased not so much one could I hear say he was sorry, but a smile sat on almost every ones countinance (Norton, Mary Beth. pg.134).” This led to an organization of a social club called the “Loyal Nine.” It was different classes of people opposing the Stamp Act. “The Son’s of Liberty,” was created after. This organization petitioned and demonstrated the “Stamp Act.” The resistance was strong. The quote I found that this was very influential, and gives emphasis on the colonies expressing their American identity in Norton’s book, “Even so, they had started to sever the bonds of empire. During the next decade, they would forge the bonds of a new American nationality to replace those rejected Anglo-American ties.”