American History Essay Sample

Question 1. Our textbook authors argue that the Thirteen Colonies that would later become the United States were profoundly influenced by England and later Great Britain with “An Act of Union” of the Two Kingdoms of England (with Wales) and Scotland (1706-1707).

By “taking on the character of England and Great Britain,” what this suggests to me is that the initial conditions of the American colonies were influenced by England and Great Britain more than any other colonial power. Much of this has to do with patterns found in colonization that included populating the thirteen colonies.

Please consider Chapter 1, p. 7, “The Investors” and then pages 9-12 The People, Free Population, Indentured Servants, Redemptions, Prisoners and Slaves. Then consider Chapter 3 and the section starting on page 45, White Origins.

For answer to #1, please offer a narrative description (that also references the data in our text). Your narrative should convincingly address the questions:

“This is how and why the United States came to represent its English and British influences” (and not Spanish and French). This is how population spread across three distinct regions. This is the percent of the Black Population and its regional distribution. This (and these) colony(s) tended to gain the most population. Birth rates also played role population increase, etcetera. Useful information is presented in Chapter 1 of our text by Hughes and Cain (8U’ ed•). In Chapter 3, the section marked “White Origins” (Pages 45-46) proves useful, as does Table 3.2. Create a narrative answer that stretches three pages, double- spaced, on fronts only that addresses these questions.

Colonial America comprised of the 13 British colonies founded during the 17th and the 18th century. Since the founding of these colonies, they grew both numerically and geographically up to the time of the American Revolution. Furthermore, during the period, there were an estimated 2.5 million colonialists in the country, with the majority being British (Hughes & Cain, 2011). Additionally, settlements of these colonies had stretched far, and extended beyond the Appalachians. Therefore, the United States came to represent British and English influences considering there was a significantly large population of British colonists who migrated to the colonies.

By 1650, the Great Britain had already established its presence in the Atlantic Coast. Furthermore, in 1607, the first colony was started in Jamestown, Virginia. Besides, there were increasing religious persecutions, which led to an increased migration of people from Great Britain to the New World. Additionally, the natives assisted the colonists, thus they were able to adapt to the Americas relatively easy (Hughes & Cain, 2011). Additionally, grains, including corn, provided the settlers with food, thus they could hardly starve. An agricultural product such as tobacco was also a cash crop for the colonists. Therefore, the presence of these opportunities, combined with the assistance of the natives, led to a considerable increase in the number of settlers who came from England. As such, as their numbers increased, it became relatively easy for them to spread their influence over the settlers from other regions and even the natives (Hughes & Cain, 2011).

During the 17th and the 18th centuries, Great Britain became a military and commercial powerhouse, meaning that it had the relevant resources to expand its territory in North America. In particular, after the end of the English Civil War, Great Britain started to expand its empire in North America. Furthermore, slavery also enhanced the expansion of the empire, considering that slaves provided cheap labor to the settlers. Therefore, the availability of slaves and fertile soils tended to attract more colonialists to the United States in that they would exploit the available opportunities, one of the most notable being agricultural activities. The colonialist may be described as having been significantly prolific (Hughes & Cain, 2011). The presence of economic opportunities in colonial America, therefore, led to an increasing inflow of migrants from Europe, especially from Great Britain. They migrated to the United States in large numbers, and continually multiplied despite the many fatalities from hardships and disease (Hughes & Cain, 2011). Many migrants from Great Britain perceived colonial America as a land of opportunities.

Additionally, both the colonies and the homeland encouraged immigration. These included various inducements to thee people who would accept to migrate to the Americas. In particular, the colonies accepted Protestants, particularly from Great Britain. Additionally, some people were sent to the America’s against their will, including political prisoners and offenders. Thus, the population of the colonialists tended to increase rapidly, which meant that it was relatively easy for them to spread their influence in the colonies. During the 17th century, for instance, the people of English origin made the largest percentage of the economy, followed by people of African heritage. However, the majority of the people of African origin were slaves, making it difficult for them to have considerable influence on the colonies (Hughes & Cain, 2011). Even in a colony such as Pennsylvania, English settlers were more than those of the other races were (Hughes & Cain, 2011). At the same time, because of the increasing number of immigrants from Great Britain as well as their multiplication, English became the main language and it was spoken almost everywhere. Furthermore, the English culture prevailed over the culture of all the other immigrants or the natives.

Additionally, the stamp act had a major impact on the influence that English settlers had on the United States. It led many Americans to question the relationship that existed between their legislatures and those of the colonialists (Hughes & Cain, 2011). Those of the colonialists included the British Parliament and other elected bodies, where the Americans did not have representation. Many of the colonists started arguing that it was only an elected legislative body held the power to tax. At the same time, British countered the argument by asserting that some subjects, even in Britain, had virtual representation in its parliament, which the Americans found as distasteful (Hughes & Cain, 2011). Therefore, one may argue that the British political system considerably influenced and led to the emergence of the legislative system in the United States.

Besides, by the mid-eighteenth century, the colonies that the Great Britain had in North America had already become well-established settlements. These settlements had close ties with the trading networks off the Caribbean and the Atlantic. Therefore, the many of the settlers perceived the colonies as a place of opportunities where they could own land, cultivate it, and generate wealth for themselves. Some of the products that could be produced from these lands included tobacco, timber, furs, and fish. Thus, combined with the mercantile access the colonies provided an opportunity that Great Britain could not have wanted forfeit (Hughes & Cain, 2011). Therefore, the Great Britain had to defend its colonies from the French, the Spanish, and even the natives. Such meant that British had much of the influence over the colonies.

Therefore, the high population of the English settlers in the United States meant that spreading their influence was relatively easy. Furthermore, Great Britain had become a military and economic powerhouse, thus facilitating their expansion into the colonies. The many economic opportunities in the colonies and religious persecution in England led to the migration of many settlers to the United States. Besides, the assistance from the natives was also instrumental. Thus, it became relatively easy for England to extend its influence over the American colonies.

Question #2.

 Among Our supplementary readings we have an article coauthored by Kenneth L. Sokoloff, and Stanley L. Engerman and with the title: “Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths to development in the New World”.

What Sokoloff and Engerman (2000, p. 118) note is that the, “…economic leadership of the United States and Canada did not emerge until several centuries after the Europeans and began establishing colonies. In 1700, there appears to have been virtual parity in per capita income between Mexico and the British colonies that were to become the United States ….” With time, this changed.

As you answer this question, please take into account, according to Sokoloff and Engerman, what variables facilitated the changes and caused the U.S., in particular, to generate and exhibit higher levels of per capita output over time (after 1700)? What variables are cited as holding back improving per capita income for populations on selected islands in the Caribbean and Brazil? (Think equeaity and inequality) So, the question that needs to be addressed: What caused these changes, according to the authors, that led to relative gains in per capita income in the colonies and U.S. after its founding in 1783.

Phrased differently, and according to the authors, what caused the United States to emerge as a relatively higher per capita income country over time? In your answer, please consider the role played by ‘factor endowments’ and ‘commodity production’. Also consider roles played by institutions such as education and democracy that is based upon voting? Please reference the data in the article’s tables to support your arguments. In other words, please note the indicators that Sokoloff and Engerman cite as important. Please take a look at data found in their tables and note the variables that their article cites as indicators of U.S. advances, as well as indicators suggesting that competing countries were held back.

When the European colonizers were establishing colonies in the New World, North America tended to be of relatively low marginal interest relative to other countries in Latin American and the Caribbean. These territories were considered as having extraordinary opportunities for the colonizers (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000). Furthermore, estimates indicate that both the United States and Canada emerged economically several centuries after the arrival of the European colonizers. For instance, there was a parity between the per capita income of the British colonies that later became the United States and Mexico. Additionally, during the era, the Caribbean colonies tended to be the most prosperous economically in the new world. Cuba and Barbados had per capita incomes that were 67 and 50% higher compared to that of the colonies that became the United States. Furthermore, to exemplify this, the GDP per capita, for the United States was $550 and $807 during 1700 and 1800 respectively, and a territory such as Haiti had a relatively higher GDP per capita compare to the United States (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000).

            The economic development of the United States over the years may be attributed to various reasons, one of them being conventional economic factors. However, other than these, other elements played a bigger role in the development. In particular, institutions were some of the main elements that led to the development of the country. Conditions relevant for growth, including the structures associated with the financial sector, security of property and property rights, social capital, as well as public infrastructure played an important role in the economic development of the country (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000). The variations in the conditions of these factors played a crucial role in the economic growth of each of the countries, and the United States may have been having superior structures that facilitated its growth.

            Additionally, factor endowments played a crucial role in the development of the United States. Factor endowment is associated with the amount of capital, land, labor, and entrepreneurship that a given nation may have, and may exploit for manufacturing (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000). The United States had the necessary factor endowments. For instance, during the period, slavery was acceptable in the New World, and there was a constant supply of slaves particularly from Africa. Furthermore, the United States had sufficient tracts of land, thus providing the required basis for economic development. Furthermore, there were policies that favored white elites, thus enabling them to access capital relatively easy (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000). Combined with their entrepreneurial spirit, they were able to capitalize on the capital that they had and to exploit slave labor in extraction and manufacturing sectors, which led to the economic development of the country.

            Additionally, the production of commodities is another element that significantly contributed to the development of the United States over the years. For instance, the availability of labor and fertile soils meant that the colonizers could focus in the agricultural activities. Furthermore, the establishment of plantations as well as mining activities was done in large scale, which meant that respective producers could benefit from the economies of scale (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000). Since much of the production was done in large scales in the United States, it was able to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors, which is perhaps one of the reasons it was able to outperform other territories economically. However, some of the other colonies were not able to produce in scale as time passed. Therefore, the United States was able to surpass them economically since it was not producing in large scale, while the other colonies and other countries were not able to.

            Furthermore, institutions such as education and democracy also contributed to the growth of the United States GDP. There had been differences in the extent of inequality in the various territories where that had the European colonizers. The differences in the economic institutions of the various colonies may have led to disparities in economic development in the various territories. As an example, the existence of institutions that advantage the elites and extreme inequality meant that the elites could maintain their status, but at the same time at the expense of the society. For instance, the countries that had much inequality and the elites were advantaged could not realize their full potential economically, particularly because the disadvantaged groups had fewer chances of engaging in development activities (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000). Therefore, institutions such as the education system in the United States meant that people were able to understand their rights, including land ownership. Moreover, democracy also ensured that all people could own land and other inputs needed for production. The United States had these institutions, whereas some of the other colonies did not (Sokoloff & Engerman, 2000). Therefore, it was able to maximize its economic activities considering that all people had equal chances of partaking in production activities compared to some of the other colonies where only the elites had the opportunities.

            Therefore, the economics of the United States economy over the years has been the result of various factors, which include factor endowments, the production of commodities, and institutions such as democracy and the education system. These allowed the United States to realize its full economic potential, unlike some of the other colonies where the majority were disadvantaged, thus they could not realize their full economic potential. Furthermore, the advancement of education and democratic institutions have also been instrumental to the economic development in the country.

Question #3- Nathan Rosenberg is widely recognized and is appreciated for assisting importance of technological change and its effects economists in understanding the  on U.S. economic development. Please consider Rosenberg’s article “Technological Change in the Machine Tool Industry, 1840-1910” that was published in The Journal of Economic History in 1963. Rosenberg (1963, p. 416) notes that for the U.S., its process of development has been “… characterized by a significant increase in the importance of manufactured producers’ durables and a decline in the relative importance of construction goods.” Extending his thinking, Rosenberg suggests that in order to understand U.S. development, one needs to concentrate on “… examining the changing role of the capital goods industries, and more particularly that growing portion of them which is devoted to the production of producers durable goods” Rosenberg then goes on to develop the changes taking place (evolution) of the U.S capital goods sector. While reviewing his article, what can you note are the key features that Rosenberg emphasizes in the evolution of the U.S. capital goods sector? Please also be sure to consider production, innovation, and diffusion of capital goods, and technological convergence.

Technological change has over the years played an important role in the economic development of the United States. Many attempts have been made to quantify the importance of technological change relative to other factor supplies in the economic development of the United States. The various studies that have attempted to evaluate its contribution have concluded that the technological changes have been the most significant and have had the most impact on the United States GDP, relative to other factor supplies such as labor inputs and capital.

The economic development that has taken place in the United States has been characterized by a considerable decline in the importance of construction goods, and an increase in the significance of manufactured producer’s durables (Rosenberg, 1963). Such has led to the growth of the capital goods industries, particularly those focusing on the production of producer’s durable goods. These industries have played a major role in the introduction and diffusion of technological changes in the country over the years. For instance, all innovations, whether aimed at the introduction of a new product, or introducing a cheaper method of producing a certain product, have led to the development of new products, which are capital goods, based on the specifications. Furthermore, the capital goods industries may be described as being highly relevant to the custom work (Rosenberg, 1963). The firms in the sector have become considerably specialized in that they focus on the production of a narrow range of products, particularly in response to the technological specifications that have been made by their customers. Therefore, this has led to the development of new innovative products from time to time. The production, in return, has led to a consistent enhancement of production methods, be it to produce superior products, or to produce at a relatively lower cost, elements which had ensured that the United States has competitive advantages over other countries (Rosenberg, 1963).

The success of the capital goods manufacturers to accomplish improvements has led to a decline in the prices of their machine output.  Additionally, the reduced prices of these machinery has some major impacts on innovations and the diffusion of the technologies. It considerably affects the speed at which a country installs and applies the new production techniques that have been discovered. Furthermore, the reduction of costs by these manufacturers results in capital savings for the entire economy, thus resulting in the marginal efficiency of other sectors. Therefore, one can argue that economic growth is highly dependent on the ability of the capital goods industries to develop and assimilate proficiency in the technology of new machines, and continually altering technological requirements of an economy, which ultimately results to more benefits to an economy (Rosenberg, 1963). Additionally, the machinery production sector has played a significant role in the rapid production as well as diffusion of innovations. These innovations, in return, has led changes in the manner in which goods are produced, and are associated with enhancements, such as increased productivity or reduced production costs, which are beneficial to the entire economy.

Innovations and diffusion in the machine tools can be exemplified with the development of various industries including bicycles, sewing machine, firearms, and automobiles. The historical sequence in the development of these industries suggests that there was a need to introduce new products or new processes with the objective of solving specific technical problems (Rosenberg, 1963). Furthermore, because of such needs, there were exploratory activities to innovate new products. Additionally, the new innovations were also replicated in the production of other commodities or products that have a relative similarity based on technical requirements. Through the machine tool industry, such innovations were transmitted to the other industries (Rosenberg, 1963). Therefore, these led to the transmission and application of innovations to other industries, which ultimately led to the economic development of the entire economy.

The machine tool industry may be perceived as having a pool of reserved skills and technological knowhow, elements that can be employed in the other machine-using sector in an economy. Furthermore, since it dealt with the problems and processes associated with many industries, it played an important role in the diffusion and application of the innovations to the other industries (Rosenberg, 1963). The innovation and diffusion of the technologies led to economic development in the United States. For instance, some of the technologies could be replicated in other industries, particularly the ones that are related. Therefore, the machine tool industry has historically played an important role in the development of the United States.

Therefore, one may conclude that technology has played an important role in the economic development of the United States. In particular, the machine tool industry has led to the innovations that have been replicated to the other sectors of the economy, particularly those that may be having some similarities. Consequently, the diffusion and spread of the innovations to the other sectors has led to enhanced production methods, including increased productivity and reduced costs of production. These, in return, have led to the economic growth of the entire United States economy over the years.

References

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Hughes, J. R. T., & Cain, L. P. (2011). American economic history. Boston: Pearson Addison-Wesley.

Rosenberg, N. (1963). Technological change in the machine tool industry, 1840–1910. The Journal of Economic History23(4), 414-443.

Sokoloff, K. L., & Engerman, S. L. (2000). Institutions, factor endowments, and paths of development in the new world. Journal of Economic perspectives14(3), 217-232.Bottom of Form

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