British North America Phenomenon Essay
Although the United States is nowadays known as the stronghold of democratic beliefs, their history is rather controversial. Moreover, the very fact that a democratic thought emerged in the environment that contributed to the further promotion of inequality can be considered a miracle. However, it can be argued that the harsh environment, which the British North American humanists were exposed to, was the reason for the democratic movement to be born in British North America.
Its location was one of the key reasons for British North America to become the focus of freedom development. The area was far enough from the barbaric conquerors promoting slavery to develop humanistic ideas. At the same time, the location of British North America was close enough to the settings of the Spanish conquerors to observe the dreadful effects of their rule.
As a result, the residents of British North America could make reasonable conclusions about the significance of equality and humanist in the relationships between the local residents and the settlers.
For example, Mittleberg provides a very graphic description of the misery that he faced in Philadelphia: “When the ships have landed at Philadelphia after their long voyage, no one is permitted to leave them except those who pay for their passage or can give good security” (Mittleberg 2). Learning about this experience, not to mention witnessing it, must have been enough for making a decision in favor of democracy and humanism as opposed to slavery and brutality.
It is quite peculiar that even Pennsylvania, which would, later on, become the beacon of hope for numerous slaves, remained a rather gloomy prospect for the African American people at the time: “The sale of human beings in the market on board the ship is carried on thus” (Mittleberg 3).
As Mittleberg explains, there was no place in North America, where immigrants, native population or slaves could feel secure. Apart from British North America, the entire continent was literally infected with slavery. As a result, there was no possibility for democracy to develop anywhere apart from the area of British North America.
It could also be argued that Christianity played a major role in defining the location for democracy development. The existing records of the conflicts between the settlers and the native population of North America show that Christian beliefs were the key principles of the settlers. For instance, the Christian qualities of the people helping Native Americans were often brought up by Las Casas: “Good Christian had helped them escape, taking pity on them and had won them over to Christ” (Las Casas 1).
In a range of cases, Christian faith was the foundation for developing the democratic principles that North America needed so badly in the 16th century. Christianity defined the code of ethics that the conquerors of North America followed. Therefore, it defined their attitude to and treatment of the residents.
Nevertheless, even Christianity could not serve as the restraining factor in the relationships between the conquerors and the residents of North America. As Las Casas says in his account of the Native Americans’ genocide, “As if those Christians who were as a rule foolish and cruel and greedy and vicious could be caretakers of souls!” (Las Casas 2).
In other words, faith was often used as the tool for justifying the wrongdoings of the conquerors. Detached from the conflict with the native residents of the area, British North America residents were able to look at the situation from the humanist angle. Thus, British North America was destined to become a place where democracy would later be born.
Finally, the residents of British North America were not involved in constant conflicts with the Spanish conquerors of North America as the conquerors of other areas of the continent were. Indeed, the manuscript by Bartolome de Las Casas shows clearly that the residents of the southern areas of the continent were much more bellicose than the ones that inhabited the northern areas.
The author claimed that because of the constant wars that both sides were involved into, the “Island of Hispaniola once so populous” (Las Casas 1) suffered major losses and “has now a population of barely two hundred persons” (Las Casas 1). The above-mentioned graphic evidence of the war-thirsty attitudes of the South conquerors proves that the basic democratic principles could hardly be created there.
Therefore, of all the parts of North America, British North America was the most suitable location for the basis for creating democratic principles and liberal movements to be located. The people living in British North America did not have as many cultural ties to the concept of inequality as the rest of the American residents did. Moreover, British North America did not have the same cruel history of attacking the local residents as the southern colonies had.
As a result, the democratic movements could only begin in the specified area. British North America was one of the few areas where people could observe the effects of slavery and genocide. Therefore, they understood that democracy is the only possible scenario that a compromise could be found in.
Las Casas, Bartoleme de. Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies. 1542. Web.
Mittleberg, Gottlieb. On the Misfortune of Indentured Servants. 1750. Web.
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