People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. English Americans Part 3

About the English Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous English-Americans and more.


Their Story in America: The English throne of Henry VIII laid claim to the North American coast in 1497, based on the explorations of an Italian Englishman named John Cabot. However, for over 100 years England was too poor and too agrarian to pursue its claim.

The first Englishmen to reach America's shores were colonists, not immigrants. According to English law, the king was the ultimate owner and landlord of all the lands he ruled. Those persons who received land directly from him were tenants-in-chief, who assumed definite financial and loyalty obligations to the crown in return for holding land. Therefore, the king of England, in hopes of turning the best profit, dispensed the first grants of New World land to trade companies that could recruit settlers and organize them into productive units. And so it was that the Virginia Company of London set up the first permanent settlement at Jamestown, Va., in 1607.

The Providence Island Company brought the Pilgrims--extreme Puritans (Calvinists)--to Plymouth, New England, on the Mayflower in 1620. Ten years later the Massachusetts Bay Company was settling New England with new Puritans, under John Winthrop.

Toward the end of the 1600s, England's politics and economy stabilized, industry developed more smoothly, and public attitudes toward dissent softened. Emigration slowed down considerably. The American colonies throve in neglect. As English-born colonials grew old and died, their American-born children grew up and replaced them. People of other nationalities--Dutch, Germans, Welsh, Irish, Scots--who felt no loyalty to the English crown, flooded into America, intermarried, and transformed English colonists into Americans. The break with England was inevitable.

The next 100 years introduced the first true English immigrants to America, a breed set apart from established U.S. citizens. But they were welcome. Since Englishmen had set the cultural tone and language of the U.S. there was little difficulty in assimilating the newcomers. Also, most Englanders had a skill of some kind that could fit into America's growing industrial economy. What was marketable in England was marketable in the U.S. The American textile and bituminous coal industries were bursting at the seams at just the time England suffered severe depressions.

As new, unskilled, non-English-speaking immigrants crowded onto the shores of the New World in the late 1800s, Englishmen moved up the ladder. Their sons controlled Congress and sat in the White House, ran the major corporations and utilities, and comfortably occupied the upper and middle classes.

The English gave the U.S. its native language, its culture, and its mores, as well as its basic common law. Most American towns are named for Englishmen or English towns.

Famous English Americans: Military leader and colonist Miles Standish; political theorist Thomas Paine, who helped inflame the Revolution with his best-seller Common Sense; motion picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge; comedians Stan Laurel and Bob Hope; film director Alfred Hitchcock; actors Boris Karloff and Cary Grant; Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor; poet Wystan Hugh Auden; and journalist Edgar A. Guest.

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