Sample Essay on American History

American History

America is a country with a rich history given the myriads of immigrants that form part of its population today. Some of the races that migrated to America from the 16th through to the 18th century include Europeans, Latin Americans, Asians, and Africans. This essay seeks to examinethe motivebehind the migration of Europeans into America, influence of the physical environment on economic system and the various differences between slavery and indentured servitude.

The motives that prompted various European groups to migrate to America

European groups migrating to America were influenced by many reasons ranging from religious to economic and the desire to enlarge their boundaries. At first, the migration was widely influenced by religious factors with the Europeans bringing new religions such as Protestantism to Americans. An example is the Quaker Colonies of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, which were formed by English Protestants who wanted a place where they could worship in peace and social order (Brinkley 25).

The migration was also prompted by economic reasons. America appeared to have a steady economic growth compared to the European nations that were troubled with plagues and religious persecutions hence no steady growth. They, therefore, moved to America to increase their wealth and broaden their influence over world affairs in which America had control (Brinkley, 2015). The Europeans proceeded to establish colonies in the Caribbean islands where they established tobacco and cotton plantations as the major cash crops.

The immigration into America was also prompted by the desire to expand their territory beyond Europe. The Spanish, French, and English all wanted to expand their territories thus creating an enormous empire with a great economy and wealth (Brinkley 32). Colonialists were wary of other countries encroaching their land the same way the Native American felt in the 1600’s. The Spanish realized the value of the land and established missions and forts in California (Brinkley 32). The Swedish also moved in America to extend their influence and power that had been witnessed during the thirty-year war, and their influence was felt as they contributed to the eventual economic growth in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The immigration of Germans to America was initially caused by the search for religious freedom. The immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and New York in the 1700’s. In the 1840s, however, a serious potato blight occurred in Germany causing massive crop failures leading to immigration in America. Industrialization in America also caused the Germans to migrate to the new land in search of jobs. Moreover, the British saw America as an opportunity to start over after the wars, religious strife, and the poor economic situation.  They viewed America as a land where they could establish a perfect society. Apart from escaping the savage bubonic plague, they also wanted to start over in a calm environment.

How newcomers took advantage of their physical environments to produce different economic systems in the North and the South

The physical environments dictated the economic activity carried out both in the North and South.  The presence of the Appalachian Mountains, Atlantic Ocean, lakes, rivers and bays influenced the economic activity that would later dictate the economic system. The Atlantic Ocean played a major role in the shipping of tea, steel, and manufactured goods to Europe thus its importance to the English immigrants who settled in those areas. The warm, humid climate in the South allowed the Spanish colonists to grow sugarcane, rice, tobacco as cash crops thus use agriculture for economic growth. Areas that were occupied by the English experienced long cold winters and moderate summers hence they dealt in ship building, fishing and fur industries. Shipbuilding was prompted by the need to use ships and boats in fishing. English colonies, therefore, became trading centers as skilled artisans and shopkeepers flooded the area. The large rivers and fertile soils in the Mid-Atlantic colonies occupied by the English encouraged large scale farming of wheat, oats, and rye as well as livestock farming. The presence of bays and inlets also favored the development of ports and their cities making the region a magnet for all nationalities. Heavy industries spread in the region due to the presence of rivers Hudson and Delaware thus the region became the economic giant in America. The economic growth experienced could be attributed to industrialization, agriculture, transportation and trade that were rife in the area.

The Spanish colonies in Florida, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and the Caribbean island experienced a warm, humid climate that favored the growth of cash crops like tobacco, cotton, sugarcane and rice prompting the growth of plantations rather than cities. The economy was largely driven by Agriculture. Industrialization in the United States in the 1800s led to a significant wave of immigration as people flocked America in search of employment. Sweden was experiencing droughts, farming, and crop failure at the same time and the industrialization provided them with an opportunity for employment(Brinkley 61). The Swedish settled in Delaware Bay and practice log cabin which was used to build houses. Delaware’s positioning next to the Atlantic Ocean provided a direct route to Sweden hence the transportation of materials to and from America.

The differences between indentured servitude and slavery

Indentured servitude refers to the situation whereby an American immigrant was placed under a contract to work for a specified period like seven years in exchange for passage, boarding, room and freedom dues (Brinkley 62).Slavery, on the other hand, refers to the situation where an individual is owned by others who control where they live and how they work (Brinkley 64). The master (owner) has total control and often treats the slaves harshly whereas the slave usually has no rights and his or her sole duty is to serve the master. An example is Africans who were taken to America in the 17th Century during the trans-Atlantic trade who worked in the tobacco, rice and indigo plantations. Whereas indentured servants had a form of payment for their labor, slave labor was free, and the individuals lived at the mercy of their owners with this being dated to 1619 when blacks set foot in Virginia.At the time, there were no slave laws, and this saw the blacks treated as indentured servants. However, the passing of slave laws eroded the freedom of blacks, and thus, they were enslaved.

To sum up, the main reason for the European migration into America was the desire to extend their territory. However, factors like religious persecutions, famine and drought, outbreak of the bubonic plague and adventure also played a role in the immigration because they are issues that brought unrest to the Europeans. America also had vast fertile land that was unexploited and in the areas with terrains that hindered cultivation, trade and fishing was practiced. The result of the European migration was slavery and indentured servitude because of the labor demand in the farms.


Works Cited

Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People, Volume I. Vol. 11. McGraw-Hill, 2015.

Brinkley, Alan. “Society and Culture in Provincial America.” American History: A Survey. 11th ed. Vol. 1. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003, 60-80. Print.