Greg Hasty J.M. 9/27/2004The question of whether or not the 16th and 17th centuries were timesof social experimentation can not be answered without first understandingwhat social experimentation is. Here in lies another perplexing problem,because who is to decide what defines a social experiment? One commondefinition that most peoples have agreed upon is that a socialexperimentation is the way in which a society or group of people tries toadapt/adjust to a new life or new situations. With this theory we canbegin to see the social experimentation that took place during thesecenturies, and the increases and decreases of it.
The best way to understand what peoples in a new land had to do tosurvive; we must first understand how they lived in their native lands.The English had a reputation of doing almost anything, even terrorizing thenative peoples of a land, to gain control of it.1 A pamphleteer, ThomasChurchyard said,” killed manne, woman, and child, and spoiled, wasted, andburned, by the grounde all that he might: leaving nothing of the enemies insaffetie, which he could possiblie waste, or consume.
“2 These are apeoples who demand for an empire, and the resources they gain from them,drive and compel them to kill and suppress native peoples.The Spanish outlook on empire building and resource acquisition,although in reasoning is somewhat more brutal, the actions taken aretypically less violent. This fact comes largely into play when thesepeople spread colonies into North America. “You do not expect me to makelengthy commemoration of the judgment and talent of the Spainards…
And whocan ignore the other vitures of our people, their fortitude, theirhumanity, their love of justice and religion?” and “For numerous and gravereasons these barbarians are obligated to accept the rule of the Spainardsaccording to natural law” are both quotes that give insight into Spanishethic ideals, and also their will to not burn, pillage, rape, and killevery living thing in these villages, as much so as consume and encompassthem.3Although the question of why these people actually left their nativelands hasn’t been answered concretely, we can assume the vast majority ofthese people left to rid themselves of the old feudal system, and thehorrible economic state of Europe.4 Knowing this allows us to understandwhat ideas they brought over to this new land. I’ve spoken with my father,a 30 year history teacher, and he has enlightened me to some of these earlycolonies. For instance, in Europe, men were men and “they ruled over thewomen, as an adult does over a child, and the father over his children”5,yet we have situations in this new land that create favorable stances forwomen.
With the early deaths of men due to disease and constantinteraction with the natives, women were generally left to look after theseestates. As we know too, land owners were the government and spoke for thepeople with their right to vote. “There was a colony in New Jersey thatallowed women the right to vote whether they owned land or not”.6 Thisis by far nothing of the English feudal lord system.Now we have a history of movement and conquest of these peoples, anda few of their ideas, so how did they become, and how did they make everyculture around them a social experiment? This question encompasses a verybroad topic, and to be able to answer I must first focus on a singulartopic.The Virginia Laws, provided to us from 1643 until 1691 truly doidentify a social experiment between two races of people and even classesof people. If we recap, a social experiment is anything a society or groupof peoples does to adapt/adjust to a new place or situation.
These lawsshow the progression of a peoples values overtime, and how they adapt tomake life and society exactly as they believe it should be. The first ideaof not allowing the intermixing of marriages arises in March of 1643.7In 1658, we still have the idea of having “servants”, and the idea ofstealing persons as processions comes up.8 In 1662 the question arose ofwhat a child born of a negro women should be-slave or free, and theyresolved this by law making them born under the condition of their mothers.The underlying problem I have writing this theory of how socialclasses will degree and announce how they want society to