John Savignano is a Professor of History at the University of California in Santa Cruz. He is also the Regional Director for the Division III American Association for State and Local History organization. This article aims to summarize Savignano’s work as a historian focusing on the economic, political, and social history of European migration to North America in the eighteenth century.
The first part of this article focuses on the origins and migration patterns of ethnic groups in eastern North America. He argues that the populations of many parts of the northeastern United States were primarily European, relatively few Native Americans, and “a small minority from other parts of North America; most came from the British Isles or Ireland.”
The second part discusses social mobility and social change throughout the colonial period in New England. Savignano explains that “social mobility was key to settler success in New England” because it opened up many opportunities for societal advancement. This was especially true for women: men could obtain an education, obtain employment through economic skills, and gain access to political offices.
The third part of the article concentrates on the subsequent history of settlement and development in New England, focusing on the significance of new technology, markets, and cultural adjustments. Trade was an essential factor in this process. However, Savignano argues that New Englanders often tried to imitate those communities in Europe with which they were more familiar than their own local culture.
During the eighteenth century, colonial New England was a dynamic region characterized by a series of cultural and economic transitions. New England’s population comprised many ethnic groups, some large and established, others small and recent arrivals. These groups included New England natives, English colonists from early seventeenth-century eastern North America and Ireland, northern Europeans from the British Isles, West European farmers from northern Europe, German and Dutch farmers from western Europe, British soldiers who had been stationed in North America during the French-Indian War (1754–1763), smaller numbers of Caribbean immigrants and enslaved Africans who were brought as servants as well as utilized for agricultural labor in the Chesapeake region during various periods between 1680 and 1730. Check out ideamensch.com to read full interview by John Savignano