The quest for truth and Justice, for social and economic equality. A place where everyone had a fair chance at making it big.
America! America! The land of the FREE and the home of the brave, set your sail and travel to the New World of wonder and where your wildest dreams come true. Through the eyes of Peter Noyes, you can see a drastic change in America. Within his lifetime the American Dream became real, and the ways of life became a lot better. When Peter left England he left an entire system of rules and regulations unknown to the settlers in the New World.
And then there was a change in the New World almost to what we think of as America today. In the 1630s in Weyhill, England there was a firm set of beliefs and regulations in place. Life was how it was, and that was that. There was no changing it, so you might as well not try.
First, government existed through the manorial system. It was a rural setting where farming was the way of life. At each manor there was a lord, and many serfs. Everything was communal.
The property, which the serfs lived on, was communally shared using an open field farming system. Each person had their crops in rows, intermingled with rows of their neighbor’s crops. All of the cows were grazed together in one place, and all of the sheep grazed together in another place. Each farmer had the right to cut hay from the community field to feed his stock for the winter.
The tools that the people used, such as plows, belonged to the lord. In exchange for use of the lord’s land and tools the serfs paid a tax, and maintained all of the lord’s grounds. The amount of land you had determined your social class, which was based on birthright. The king, of course was on top of everyone else.
Next came the nobleman, such as landlords, after them came the Bourgeoisie who had a fair amount of $, and lastly came the peasants. There was no social mobility, you were who you were and there was no changing that. Your wealth was the same as your social status. The king, who collected the taxes, had money, and therefore power, so he was on top.
Then came the rich landowner, and then all of the tenants. The government was a monarchy, with a manorial system. There were town meetings once a year where everyone made all of the decisions for the manor together. The only way that a common person could participate in government was to attend this meeting and have a small say in what was planted when, where, why and how.
You also had to follow the lords’ rules, or be shunned by society as a poor beggar. You had to follow the same religious sect as everyone else, and you had to agree, it was thought that whenever you disagreed it just meant that you were wrong. So, one might say that there were a few problems. When Peter Noyes moved on to Sudbury Massachusetts he saw many changes.
Things in America were vastly different than they were in England. The biggest difference was that there were no lords, and there was no manorial system. The land was managed by private property. There was still however an open field farming system, because it was easier.
No one knew how to make a decision on their own, so they felt that this was the way that things were to be done. The social structure of Sudbury was very similar to that it was in England. There were higher people and lower people. The Minister happened to be placed with a lot of land, and the miller with lots of land, and the Town fathers the same.
However, many of the other people had little to no land. This was all based, once again upon birthright, and what and who you were back in England. Important people in England received a lot of land so that they stayed important when they came to America. Still, in America there was no social mobility.
The lower class stayed very low. The young people and the new people, who hadn’t had the chance to be important in England didn’t appreciate this system though, which would later lead to change. Your economic status depended on your money and you money on your importance. The same system as was used in England, there were Haves and Have nots, and like in England the Haves ruled.
The government was a bit fairer that the one in England however. Everyone who owned land had a right to vote, so everyone had an equal say. They used ballots for voting purposes so that it was fair. However, it truly wasn’t fair because there were a great number of people who owned no land as a result of their land distribution method.
However, in order to vote, you had to be a landowner and you had to attend church. So, as things went on, a change was needed, the people came to America so that they could all be equal and everything would be fair. In the 1650’s Marlborough Massachusetts was formed. Here was where the big changes occurred that gave way to the American Dream.
Firstly the land was divided into lots of individualized private property. Everyone farmed on their own, so people had to learn how to make a decision properly. However, they were no longer controlled by their neighbors. The society of Marlborough was divided by the interest in the town, not in their previous status.
Although this left 38 families with no land it was a whole lot fairer because the more that you do, the more that you get. By participating in the town affairs you got to a higher social class. Participation can include things like Town Meeting, Voting, roadwork, and volunteering for school and church, along with other such things. Your land determines your economic status, because in the new society, as in the others, land is equal to wealth.
There was no class for the Young, the low, or for the newcomers, but instead there was social and economic mobility. They worked under a free enterprise system where the more work you do, the more $ you get. As for politics in this new society the people now had rights. They could petition, assemble, speak and write whatever and whenever they wanted to.
And they exercised their rights to do these things by participating in the town. By the 1850’s there was an American dream of sorts. America was a place where you could go if you were religiously persecuted against, if you were poor and couldn’t make anything of yourself in England you could in America where everything was “fair”. If you made it to America you were home free, so to speak.
America was like paradise to the downtrodden of England, and so started the American Dream.