Posted by Kate on October 14, 1999 at 16:51:11:
In Reply to: Re: Gayle! Have you found anything? posted by Billy Gnome on October 14, 1999 at 14:59:42:
: : Gayle-
: : So far i've been given some further info about social status and dress, mostly by re-enactors. Actually, the LOTM store sells a chatelaine, which explains how women went without pockets. And a local weaver had some dyeing info. But i'm still wondering who A. C. was, if she was an immigrant, and why the Camerons were indentured servants. Have you heard or read anything further about Alexandra Cameron or the class she represents in LOTM? (My re-enactment character is an Irish immigrant around the year 1832, and I have to figure out from where the Irish immigrants to the U.S. were coming and where they ended up.) Whoever thought up the Camerons must have been working from a defined idea, and I suspect the Camerons might have been British. Any thoughts on this?
: : Thanks!
: : Kim
: Well Kim, I will add Billy Gnome's thoughts on those questions.
: Firstly, most of the immigrants at that time were in general British. At least in the colonies. They were British colonies until our revolution. Many of them were already thinking of themselves as American, but most would have been thinking of themselves as British subjects in one way or another and many were proud to think of themselves that way. It took Ben Franklin a long time to come around to thinking of himself as an American.
: A number of immigrants came to the colonies in hopes of bettering their life. Land was available in quantities undreamed of in Europe. The land could belong to those who worked it. In order to be able to afford the trip to the colonies, many individuals and families indentured themselves in return for the price of the passage. They served their period of indenture and became free of the obligation, hoping to save a little money while doing so in order to buy that land or open a shop.
: The Irish were a large population group to immigrate at that time, as things were very hard in Ireland. Moreover, they tended to drift to the frontiers where land was plentiful and governmental oversight was minimal. After being subjugated under the British, they welcomed relief from direct rule of their lives.
: Other major population groups at that time were those of English, German, French and Scottish backgrounds.
: I think (my personal opinion being expressed now) Michael Mann took some license, but he captured the general differences and attitudes pretty well in his characterizations. You have the Camerons who represent the typical immigrants with their typical hopes and attitudes. The heroes represent the very individualistic frontiersmen, the Major, and Webb, and Munro represent the spectrum of British officer and British attitudes,
: and the general feeling of allegiance but independent attitude of colonists along the frontier is represented pretty well by that gathering at the town and later in General Webb's quarters. They thought of themselves as British, and owed loyalty to the crown, but did not see themselves as "subjects" as they were treated in the home country.
: All in all, I think Mann did a pretty good job in capturing the many attitudes and pressures during that time.
: Billy Gnome
Yes, indeed, people emigrated to the New World from Britain for various reasons. In England and Scotland, many people left when they were no longer allowed to practise their own religion. Henry VIII made the Church of England the 'high'(official, established) religion of England. When he died, 'Bloody' Mary Tudor declared England and all who lived in her, would henceforth be Catholic - and Protestants would convert - or die. Then Elizabeth I took the throne and once more England became Protestant, with all who were Catholic, being persecuted. Life was exceedingly tough for those who practised the 'alternative' religion. In Scotland, the battle was between John Knox and the Covenanters. With the discovery of the New World, those who were being persecuted could leave to find a place that would allow them to be what they wanted to be, hence, the Pilgrims.
In Scotland, with the Highland Clearances, (primarily carried out by the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland), families were forced and burnt out of their crofts to make more land available for (more profitable) sheep. This often happened in the middle of the night. Families still just in night clothes, were not even given time to collect what few possessions they owned, before their homes were burnt down around them. There were agents who had struck deals with the Duke of S.(who was English, by the way!) to let him know when tenents would be dispossessed. Thus, this agent would be waiting to offer them passage to the Colonies and they would 'sign on' his ship, indenturing themselves to seven years hard labour in America, before becoming freemen again.
The potato famine in Ireland was also responsible for a great many Irish being forced to leave their homeland and seek new lives in the Colonies. Again, this meant becoming indetured for most, as very few had two pennies to rub together.
Life under a feudal system was really tough! Therefore, when given the chance, even seven years 'indenture' seemed worthwhile, if it meant that ONE day, a person could be free and own his own piece of land. The 'class' system was also the pits, if you happened to be at the very bottom. Life for the poor in Britain was hard in 'the old days'!!
I'm very pleased to say, things have changed somewhat!!
Take care, everyone.
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