When is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America: Crash Course US History #2

When is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America: Crash Course US History #2


Hi I’m John Green, this is Crash Course
US History, and today we’re going to tell the story of how a group of plucky English people struck a blow for religious freedom, and founded the greatest, freest and fattest
nation the world has ever seen. [Libertage] These Brits entered a barren land containing
no people, and quickly invented the automobile, baseball
and Star Trek and we all lived happily ever after. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, if it is really that
simple, I am so getting an A in this class. Oh, me from the past, you’re just a delight. [Theme Music] So most Americans grew up hearing that the United States was founded by pasty English people who came here to escape religious persecution. And that’s true of the small proportion of
people who settled in the Massachusetts Bay and created what we now know is New England. But these Pilgrims and Puritans, there’s a
difference, weren’t the first people or even the first Europeans to come to the
only part of the globe we didn’t paint over. In fact they weren’t the first English people. The first English people came to Virginia. Off topic but how weird is it that the first permanent English colony in the Americas was named not for Queen Elizabeth’s epicness but for
her supposed chastity. Right anyway, those first English settlers weren’t looking for religious freedom, they wanted to get rich. So the first successful English colony in America was founded in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. I say “successful” because there were two
previous attempts to colonize the region. They were both epic failures. The more famous of which was the colony of
Roanoke Island set up by Sir Walter Raleigh, which is famous because all the colonists disappeared leaving only the word “Croatoan” on carved into a tree. Jamestown was a project of the Virginia Company, which existed to make money for its investors,
something it never did. The hope was that they would find gold in the Chesapeake region like the Spanish had in South America, so there were a disproportionate number of
goldsmiths and jewelers there to fancy up that gold which
of course did not exist. Anyway, it turns out that jewelers dislike
farming — so much so, that Captain John Smith who soon
took over control of the island once said that they would rather starve than farm. So in the first year, half of the colonists
died. 400 replacements came, but, by 1610, after
a gruesome winter called “The Starving Time,” the number of colonists had dwindled to 65. And eventually word got out that the new world’s
1 year survival rate was like 20% and it became harder to find new
colonists. But 1618, a Virginia company hit upon a recruiting
strategy called the headright system which offered 50 acres of land for each person
that a settler paid to bring over. And this enabled the creation of a number
of large estates, which were mostly worked on and populated
by indentured servants. Indentured servants weren’t quite slaves,
but they were kind of temporary slaves. Like they could be bought and sold and they
had to do what their masters commanded. But after seven to ten years of that, if they
weren’t dead, they were paid their freedom dues which they hoped would allow them to buy farms of their own. Sometimes that worked out, but often either
the money wasn’t enough to buy a farm, or else they were too dead to collect it. Even more ominously in 1619, just 12 years
after the founding of Jamestown, the first shipment of African slaves arrived
in Virginia. So the colony probably would have continued
to struggle along, if they hadn’t found something that people
really loved: tobacco. Tobacco had been grown in Mexico since at
least 1000 BCE, but the Europeans had never seen it and it
proved to be kind of a “thank you for the small pox; here’s some
lung cancer” gift from the natives. Interestingly King James hated smoking. He called it “a custom loathsome to the
eye and hateful to the nose” but he loved him some tax revenue, and nothing
sells like drugs. By 1624 Virginia was producing more than 200,000
pounds of tobacco per year. By the 1680s, more than 30 million pounds
per year. Tobacco was so profitable the colonists created huge plantations with very little in the way of towns or infrastructure to hold the social order together, a strategy that always works out brilliantly. The industry also structured Virginian society. First off, most of the people who came in the 17th century, three-quarters of them, were servants. So Virginia became a microcosm of England: a small class of wealthy landowners sitting
atop a mass of servants. That sounds kind of dirty but it was mostly
just sad. The society was also overwhelmingly male, because male servants were more useful in the tobacco fields, they were the greatest proportion of immigrants. In fact they outnumbered women 5 to 1. The women who did come over were mostly indentured
servants, and if they were to marry, which they often
did because they were in great demand, they had to wait until their term of service
was up. This meant delayed marriage which meant fewer children which further reduced the number of females. Life was pretty tough for these women, but on the upside Virginia was kind of a swamp of pestilence, so their husbands often died, and that created a small class of widows or even unmarried women who, because of their special status, could make contracts and own property, so that was good, sort of. OK. A quick word about Maryland. Maryland was the second Chesapeake Colony,
founded in 1632, and by now there was no messing around with
joint stock companies. Maryland was a proprietorship: a massive land grant to a single individual named Cecilius Calvert. Calvert wanted to turn Maryland into like a medieval feudal kingdom to benefit himself and his family, and he was no fan of the representational
institutions that were developing in Virginia. Also Calvert was Catholic, and Catholics were welcome in Maryland which wasn’t always the case elsewhere. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Massachusetts. So Jamestown might have been the first English colony, but Massachusetts Bay is probably better known. This is largely because the colonists who came there were so recognizable for their beliefs and also for their hats. That’s right. I’m talking about the Pilgrims
and the Puritans. And no, I will not be talking about Thanksgiving …is a lie.
I can’t help myself. But only to clear up the difference between Pilgrims and Puritans and also to talk about Squanto. God I love me some Squanto.
Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Most of the English men and women who settled
in New England were uber-Protestant Puritans who believed the Protestant Church of England
was still too Catholic-y with its kneeling and incense and extravagantly-hatted
archbishops. The particular Puritans who, by the way did
not call themselves that — other people did, who settled in new England were called Congregationalists because they thought congregations should determine leadership and worship structures, not bishops. The Pilgrims were even more extreme. They wanted to separate more or less completely
from the Church of England. So first they fled to the Netherlands, but the Dutch were apparently too corrupt for them, so they rounded up investors and financed
a new colony in 1620. They were supposed to land in Virginia, but in what perhaps should have been taken as an omen, they were blown wildly off course and ended up in what’s now Massachusetts, founding a colony called Plymouth. While still on board their ship the Mayflower, 41 of the 150 or so colonists wrote and signed
an agreement called the Mayflower Compact, in which they all bound themselves to follow “just and equal laws” that their chosen representatives would write-up. Since this was the first written framework
for government in the US, it’s kind of a big deal. But anyway, the Pilgrims had the excellent fortune of landing in Massachusetts with 6 weeks before winter, and they had the good sense not to bring very
much food with them or any farm animals. Half of them died before winter was out. The only reason they didn’t all die was that local Indians led by Squanto gave them food and saved them. A year later, grateful that they had survived mainly due to the help of an alliance with the local chief Massasoit, and because the Indians had taught them how
to plant corn and where to catch fish, the Pilgrims held a big feast: the first Thanksgiving.
Thanks Thought Bubble! And by the way, that feast was on the fourth
Thursday in November, not mid-October as is celebrated in some of
these green areas we call Not America. Anyway Squanto was a pretty amazing character
and not only because he helped save the Pilgrims. He found that almost all of his tribe, the
Patuxet had been wiped out by disease and eventually settled with the Pilgrims on
the site of his former village and then died… of disease because it is always ruining everything. So the Pilgrims struggled on until 1691 when their colony was subsumed by the larger and much more successful Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Massachusetts Bay colony was chartered
in 1629 by London merchants who, like the founders of the Virginia Company,
hoped to make money. But unlike Virginia, the board of directors
relocated from England to America, which meant that in Massachusetts they had a greater degree of autonomy and self-government than they did in Virginia. Social unity was also much more important
in Massachusetts than it was in Virginia. The Puritans’ religious mission meant that
the common good was, at least at first, put above the needs or the rights of the individual. Those different ideas in the North and South about the role of government would continue…until now. Oh God. It’s time for the mystery document? The rules are simple. I read the mystery document
which I have not seen before. If I get it right, then I do not get shocked with the shock pen, and if I get it wrong I do. All right. “We must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of
our superfluities (su-per-fluities? I don’t know), for the supply of others necessities, we must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality, …for we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our
god in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help
from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through
the world.” Alright, first thing I noticed: the author
of this document is a terrible speller or possibly wrote this before English was
standardized. Also, a pretty religious individual. And the community in question seems to embrace
something near socialism: abridging the superfluous for others’ necessities. Also it says that the community should be
like a city upon a hill, like a model for everybody. And because of that metaphor, I know exactly
where it comes from: the sermon “A Model of Christian Charity”
by John Winthrop. Yes! Yes! No punishment! This is one of the most important sermons
in American history. It shows us just how religious the Puritans
were, but it also shows us that their religious mission wasn’t really one of individualism but of collective effort. In other words, the needs of the many outweigh
the needs of the few or the one. But this city on a hill metaphor is the basis
for one kind of American exceptionalism: the idea that we are so special and so godly
that we will be a model to other nations, at least as long, according to Winthrop,
as we act together. Lest you think Winthrop’s words were forgotten, they did become the centerpiece of Ronald
Reagan’s 1989 farewell address. Okay so New England towns were governed democratically, but that doesn’t mean that the Puritans were
big on equality or that everybody was able to participate
in government because no. The only people who could vote or hold office
were church members, and to be a full church member you had to
be a “visible saint”, so really, power stayed in the hands of the
church elite. The same went for equality. While it was better than in the Chesapeake Colonies or England, as equality went…eh, pretty unequal. As John Winthrop declared, “Some must be rich,
and some poor. Some high, an eminent in power, and dignity;
others mean and in subjection.” Or as historian Eric Foner put it “Inequality was considered an expression of God’s will and while some liberties applied to all inhabitants, there were separate lists of rights for freemen,
women, children and servants.” There was also slavery in Massachusetts. The
first slaves were recorded in the colony in 1640. However, Puritans really did foster equality
in one sense. They wanted everyone to be able to read the
Bible. In fact, parents could be punished by the
town councils for not properly instructing their children in making them literate. But when Roger Williams called for citizens
to be able to practice any religion they chose, he was banished from the colonies. So was Ann Hutchinson who argued the church
membership should be based on inner grace and not on outward manifestations like church
attendance. Williams went on to found Rhode Island, so
that worked out fine for him, but Hutchinson, who was doubly threatening
to Massachusetts because she was a woman preaching unorthodox
ideas, was too radical and was further banished to Westchester, New York where she and her family were killed by Indians. Finally, somebody who doesn’t die of disease
or starvation. So Americans like to think of their country as being founded by pioneers of religious freedom who were seeking liberty from the oppressive
English. We’ve already seen that’s only partly true. For one thing, Puritan ideas of equality and representation weren’t particularly equitable or representational. In truth, America was also founded by indigenous
people and by Spanish settlers, and the earliest English colonies weren’t
about religion; they were about money. We’ll see this tension between American mythology and American history again next week and also every week. Thanks for watching; I’ll see you next time. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan
Muller, our script supervisor is Meredith Danko, the associate producer is Danica Johnson, the show is written by my high school history
teacher, Raoul Meyer and myself, and our graphics team is Thought Bubble. If you have questions about today’s video
or really about anything about American history, ask them in comments; the entire Crash Course team and many history
professionals are there to help you. Thanks for watching Crash Course. Please make sure you are subscribed and, as we say in my home town, “Don’t forget to be awesome.”

100 thoughts on “When is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America: Crash Course US History #2

  • All of the “You’re flocking to Crash Course because you have an APUSH exam tomorrow” comments are attacking me indirectly and I don’t know how to feel about it.

  • I was at the 5 missions in San Antonio and one of the volunteers there pointed out that while the nation of Spain sent missionaries to gain territory, many of the missionaries they sent were actually good people who cared about the Natives- who by the way, were all different. There were at least 30 tribes there, mostly friendly. The Comanches and Apaches were anything but friendly and made a habit of raiding the villages of the peaceful tribes and killing them. Then these friendly tribes ran to the safety of the missions, where they did not have to be "forced" into conversion. They simply saw the missionaries as nice people. It was the unfriendly tribes that overran the missions and drove out the Spanish. In fact, the Comanches and Apaches (and even the Navajos) were so fierce and formidable that they kept the Spanish from ever really controlling the Southwest. That was one reason Texas became its own country and eventually a state. The enemy of historical knowledge is not liberalism or conservatism but reductionism. It is reductionistic to say that all missionaries were bad. If they came on their own, usually they were good. If the government sent them, usually they were bad because they had a political agenda. In the case of the Catholics, the Catholic church was so powerful that even the missionaries sent by their country for political reasons had the power to operate solely on religious reasons.

  • Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the rest of that green area that IS the American continent. Mainly because that´s entirely another story with different characters.

  • My US History professor had told me that Anne Hutchinson went to Rhode Island in her banishment, not New York. Which one is accurate?

  • I don't think the U.S. invented the automobile. I'm sure that was the Germans. The U.S. invented the assembly line

  • ytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytytyt

  • you made a mistake in this video.
    The English colonists at first had a failed attempt to colonize Roanoke also known as the lost colony.
    Colonists had no motif to be there anymore thus it was failed.
    AND THEN they entered Jamestown in Virginia.
    Ergo North Carolina was the first place English came to not Virginia.

  • The only thing that bothers me is that fact that USA should be smaller because of Texas, California, New Mexico, etc.

  • I have a us history exam coming up and i just wanted to know if there are any specific videos from your channel i need to look into

  • Post-modernism and anti-western ideology informs some of this. Through this ideological lens everything that isn’t perfect can not be good. Intersectionality ideology is present too: white men are bad, women and natives are oppressed and virtuous. These history courses seem intent on showing all the ills of capitalism and male behavior.

  • LET ME HELP YOU PEOPLE OUT. P.S. GOD DID NOT GIVE EUROPEANS THE WORLD. YOU WAS GIVEN YOUR OWN LANDS. 
    Genesis 10:2-5 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
    ASHKENAZ IS FROM THIS FAMILY. NO JEW IS FROM "JAPHETH." JEWS ARE FROM SHEM AND IT WAS NOT FOR THE HI JACKING.

  • good to know that I'm not the only one watching these instead of studying. all you need is a three! keep reviewing!

  • Anyone else here only 12 hours out from the AP test realizing the absolutely know nothing? Cause, same.

  • I love this channel! I'm not studying for an AP test but my Social Studies teacher exam! I got the mystery document right too!!!

  • hello! i'm also studying for global history test at university…thank you for the video ! greetings from Greece <3

  • Glad that we had a 100+ years between the Puritans and the founding of the US. Also the incorporation of NonEuropean ideas from the Iroquois Confederacy might have gone a long way. The US definitely did it's worst when it strayed from the founding principles or muddled them with excuses to justify inequality out of perceived necessity. Although, the Bill of Rights was not applied to the individual states until the ratification of the 14th Amendment. When was that? 1864/5? 250 years after colonization and 81 years after the Treaty of Paris. Treaty of Paris ended the US Revolution in 1783? The constitution wasn't ratified until 1791/2. 29 years after the US gained independence, England almost succeeded in taking the Colonies back. Some would say they succeeded when we established the Federal Reserve in the early 1900s. Sometimes it feels like everything was in quick succession. I guess it is relatively close together when you consider the 1000 years of European history after Rome and 1100 years of Roman rule before that. I mean England fought France for 100 years took a break and fought them again several more times. There may have been up to 300 years added in the timeline for religious reasons and again we only have the history that they told us. History could be completely different from what actually happened. We only get snapshots. How much wasn't recorded? How much was lost? How much is embellished? How much have we made up to fit a narrative? We may not know until the end of the simulation, lol.

  • It would be interesting to understand the history of the colonies more as their own story and less as a prehistory to the Revolution.

  • I'm taking APUSH next school year so I'm going to watch every single video on US History and takes notes, gotta be prepared for the class!

  • Wrong again.

    The first real government in what would later become the United States that is documented was the "League of Five Nations", otherwise known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It was formed roughly around 1450 CE, though that date is still being debated. Some archaeologists working with the tribal leaders believe it may have happened earlier. Though not written down, it was a complicated system of government that insured equality among all the Nations involved. In fact, the basic elements of this system (as interpreted by Western colonizers) is the basis for our own bicameral legislature. The House of Commons didn't even exist in the UK until 1801 and there were only Senators in the Roman legislature, the basis for our Republic system (and almost every other Western "democracy"). Note that even the 1450 CE date predates the Mayflower Compact by almost 200 years.

  • I recomend the reading of "Why nations fail" by Acemoglu and Robinson. They have a very clever theory about why some nations are wealthier than others and they explain all this north american misadventures during the colony and how the lack of natural resources helped the US to become a more powerful country opposed to what happened in the idilic and rich lands of south America which made social an economic development more dificult here.

  • So, the City in the Hill is where all the American superiority thing started?, It may be the seed of the Manifest destiny doctrine and the Monroe Doctrine.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *