Colonial Life: 1700-1750


A common saying among Scots-Irish and Germans during the eighteenth century was “Pennsylvania is heaven for farmers [and] paradise for artisans.” Explain the attraction Pennsylvania held for immigrants. Include an analysis of the extent to which immigrants(Scots-Irish, Germans and Quakers) achieved success in this region. Also what was life like for African Americans in Pennsylvania?

Custom Essay Writers for Hire

YouTube URL:



Notes pertaining to Chapter 5

  1. A Growing Population and Expanding Economy in British North America
  2. Phenomenal Population Growth—The colonial population grew from 250,000 in 1700 to well over two million by 1770. Colonial America was a heterogeneous society, with colonists of different ethnic groups, races, and religions living in varied environments under thirteen different colonial governments; the growth and diversity of the population derived from natural increase (which amounted to three-fourths of the total increase) and immigration (one-fourth); by 1770, only about half of the colonists were of English descent, while more than 20 percent descended from Africans.
  3. Expanding Economy—In 1700, almost all colonists lived within fifty miles of the coast; almost limitless wilderness to the West made land cheap; free colonists had a higher standard of living than the majority of people elsewhere in the Atlantic world.
  4. New England: From Puritan Settlers to Yankee Traders
  5. Natural Increase and Land Distribution
  6. New England Population Grew by Natural Increase—Nearly every adult woman married, and most married women had children; wives often had six or more babies.
  7. Limited Amount of Land—Growing New England population pressed up against a limited amount of land; New England had contested northern and western frontiers; original land allotments had to be subdivided to accommodate new generations, making them too small to support a family. During the eighteenth century, colonial governments stopped granting land to towns and instead sold it directly to individuals, including speculators; money, rather than church membership, determined whether a colonist could buy land, weakened ties of community, and put a new emphasis on individual choices.
  8. Farms, Fish, and Atlantic Trade
  9. Diversified Commercial Economy—New England farmers rarely got rich; as consumers, they participated in a diversified, Atlantic world economy; merchants stocked imported goods; fish accounted for more than a third of New England’s eighteenth-century exports; livestock and timber made up another third; two thirds of exports went to the West Indies.
  10. Atlantic Commerce—Atlantic commerce provided jobs for laborers, tradesmen, ship captains, clerks, merchants, and sailors; merchants dominated New England commerce.
  11. Wealth in New England—Most wealthy merchants lived in Boston; by 1770, the richest 5 percent of Bostonians owned half the city’s wealth; the poorest two-thirds of the population owned less than one tenth; the rich got richer, but the incidence of genuine poverty did not change much; overall, colonists were better off than most people in England; the contrast with English poverty had meaning because the majority of New Englanders traced their ancestry to England; there were more than 15,000 slaves by 1770, but still a 97 percent white majority.

Custom Essay Writers for Hire

 III. The Middle Colonies: Immigrants, Wheat, and Work

  1. German and Scots-Irish Immigrants
  2. German Migrants (“Pennsylvania Dutch”)—Germans made up the largest contingent of migrants from the European continent; colonists referred to them as Pennsylvania Dutch, an English corruption ofDeutsch; mostly farmers and laborers, but numerous artisans and a few merchants also emigrated.
  3. Scots-Irish Migrants—Hailed from northern Ireland, Scotland, and northern England; tended to be militant Presbyterians; like Germans, Scots-Irish were clannish, residing when they could among relatives or neighbors from the old country; flooded British North America in the years just before the American Revolution as economic conditions deteriorated at home.
  4. Redemptioners and Indentured Servants—Many German immigrants were forced to become redemptioners, a variant of indentured servants; a captain would provide transportation to Philadelphia; once there, redemptioners would either borrow the money to pay the captain back or, more likely, sell themselves as servants; Scots-Irish contracted themselves as indentured servants before the trip; both redemptioners and indentured servants endured dangerous voyages across the Atlantic; redemptioners typically served less time in servitude than indentured servants.
  5. “God Gives All Things to Industry”: Urban and Rural Labor
  6. Servants and Family Labor; Few Slaves—Only affluent colonists could afford slaves; most farmers in the middle colonies used family labor, not slaves; wheat usually required only family labor and a hired hand or two; slaves accounted for only 7 percent of the population by 1770; most slaves came from the West Indies; a small number of slaves gained their freedom, but free blacks did not escape whites’ convictions about black inferiority; blacks became scapegoats for whites’ suspicions and anxieties.
  7. Availability of Land—Immigrants swarmed to the middle colonies because of the availability of land; Pennsylvania’s policy of negotiating with Indian tribes to purchase land reduced conflict, but the Penn family did sometimes push land agreements to the limit and beyond; when local Indians granted them the land that a man could walk in a day and a half, the Penns sent out three runners to claim the most land possible (the “Walking Purchase”); standard of living was higher in middle colonies than any other agricultural region of the eighteenth-century world.
  8. Philadelphia—Stood at the crossroads of trade in wheat exports and British imports; by 1776, Philadelphia was the second most populous city in the British empire, trailing only London; merchants held the top stratum of society, and the wealthiest merchants were Quakers; Benjamin Franklin began publishingPoor Richard’s Almanackin 1733, and its popularity indicated that many Pennsylvanians thought more about profit than religion; the Almanack was full of aphorisms about work, discipline, and thrift.
  9. The Southern Colonies: Land of Slavery
  10. The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Growth of Slavery
  11. Southern Colonies: Upper South and Lower South—Southern colonists clustered into two distinct geographic and agricultural zones; the upper South specialized in growing tobacco; nine out of ten southern whites and eight out of ten southern blacks lived in the upper South; the lower South specialized in growing rice and indigo.
  12. African Population Increases Exponentially—The number of southerners of African ancestry, nearly all slaves, increased from just over 20,000 in 1700 to over 400,000 in 1770; growth occurred through natural increase and the Atlantic slave trade; imported slaves came from many different African cultures; mortality during the Middle Passage varied from ship to ship but on average, about 15 percent of slaves died; sometimes half or more perished; they suffered from virulent epidemic diseases but also acute dehydration caused by fluid loss and a severe shortage of drinking water. Olaudah Equiano published an account of his enslavement and voyage through the Middle Passage across the Atlantic.
  13. Demand for Slaves—Individual planters purchased a relatively small number of newly arrived Africans and relied on already enslaved Africans to help new slaves become accustomed to their new surroundings; this process was called seasoning; the demand for slaves led slaveowners to encourage slave women to bear children; by the 1740s due to natural increase, the majority of southern slaves were country born.
  14. Slave Labor and African American Culture
  15. Harsh Working and Living Conditions—Planters forced slaves to work from sunup to sundown and beyond; constantly threatened physical punishment of slaves who did not follow orders; colonial law did not limit the force masters could use against slaves.
  16. Evidence of Resistance and Rebellion—Some slaves escalated acts of resistance into direct physical confrontation with the master, mistress, or overseer; organized rebellion was rare because whites held the balance of power in the South; in 1739, a group of about twenty slaves launched an unsuccessful rebellion at Stono, South Carolina; the failure of the rebellion illustrated that eighteenth-century slaves had no chance of overturning slavery and little chance of defending themselves.
  17. Slaves Seek Autonomy—Slaves maneuvered constantly to gain a measure of autonomy within the boundaries of slavery; in the lower South, the task system allowed slaves discretion in how they spent their time after completing an individual task; these slaves could fish, hunt, spin, or cook once the master’s work was done; eighteenth-century slaves also planted the roots of African American lineages; slaves established kinships and incorporated other features of their West African heritage, such as diet, music, dance, and religion.
  18. Tobacco, Rice, and Prosperity
  19. Products of Slave Labor—Slaves’ labor brought wealth to masters, British merchants, and the monarchies; the southern colonies supplied 90 percent of all North American exports to Britain; in 1770, southern tobacco represented almost one-third of all colonial exports; Navigation Acts ensured that nearly all of it went to Britain, where it was marked up and sold to the rest of the continent.
  20. Southern Colonies Richest in North America—Exports made the southern colonies the richest in North America by far; per capita wealth of free whites in the South was four times greater than that in New England and three times greater than that in the colonies; differences in wealth among rich and poor southerners engendered envy and tension but remarkably little open hostility; white yeomen sensed the gentry’s condescension, but they appreciated the gentry for granting favors, upholding white supremacy, and keeping slaves in their place; race was a more powerful unifier than wealth was a divider; slaveholding gentry dominated the politics and economy of the South and also set the cultural standards; southerners entertained lavishly and gambled regularly.
  21. Unifying Experiences
  22. Commerce and Consumption
  23. Development of Mass Markets in Atlantic World—Colonial products spurred the development of mass markets throughout the Atlantic world; declining prices allowed ordinary colonists, not just the wealthy elite, to buy things they wanted along with things they needed.
  24. British Consumer Goods—British exports to North America multiplied eightfold between 1700 to 1770; British merchants extended credit; consumer products included mirrors, silver plates, spices, linens, tea services, and books; despite differences among the colonists, the consumption of British exports built a certain material uniformity across region, religion, class, and status; colonists looked and felt more British.
  25. Significance of Individual Choice—Consumption compelled colonists to think of themselves as individuals who had the power to make decisions that influenced the quality of their lives; significant shift considering the degree of hierarchy in British North America.
  26. Religion, Enlightenment, and Revival
  27. Wide Varieties of Protestant Faith—Almost all colonists were Protestants, but there existed wide varieties of Protestant faith; the middle colonies and southern backcountry included militant Baptists and Presbyterians; New England Puritanism splintered; prominent urban colonists belonged to the Church of England.
  28. Deism and the Enlightenment—Many educated colonists became deists; they looked for God’s plan in nature more than in the Bible; deists were informed by Enlightenment ideas, which encouraged people to study the world around them, to think for themselves, and to ask whether disorderly appearance masked the principles of a more profound natural order; Philadelphia was the center of Enlightenment thought; American Philosophical Society formed there in 1769.
  29. Great Awakening—Most colonists seldom went to church, but they considered themselves Christians; ministers were alarmed by religious indifference, denominational rivalry, and comfortable backsliding; they responded with a new style of preaching that appealed more to the heart than the head; historians call this wave of revival the Great Awakening; most famous revivalist was English preacher George Whitefield, who visited North America seven times and attracted thousands of people to his sermons; revivals refreshed the spiritual energy of colonists struggling with the anxieties of eighteenth-century life; communicated the message that every soul mattered and that people could choose to be saved; like consumption of goods, revivals contributed to a set of common experiences that bridged colonial divides of faith, region, class, and status.
  30. Trade and Conflict in the North American Borderlands
  31. British Power Defends the Colonies—British power defended the diverse inhabitants from its colonies from Indian, French, and Spanish enemies on their borders, as well as foreign powers abroad; royal officials constantly monitored the possibility of an alliance between the Indians and New Spain or New France.
  32. Competition for Indian Fur Trade—The fur trade linked Indians and settlers; Indians traded furs for guns, ammunition, clothing, and more; British, French, Spanish, and Dutch officials monitored the fur trade to prevent their competitors from directing the flow of furs toward their own markets; Indians recognized this and played one trader and empire off another; shifting allegiances struck a fragile balance along the frontier; but the threat of violence from all sides was ever present, and events like the Yamasee War of 1715 ensured that all parties had to be prepared for the worst; before the 1760s, neither the British colonists nor the British themselves developed a coherent policy toward the Indians, but both believed Indians made deadly enemies, profitable trading partners, and powerful allies.
  33. Spanish Missions—To block Russian access to present-day California, officials in New Spain built forts (called presidios) and missions there; first California mission founded in 1769; by 1772, Spain had founded other missions along the path from San Diego and Monterey; for Indians, missions had horrific consequences; missions helped spread European diseases, Spanish soldiers raped Indian women, and missionaries beat Indians and subjected them to near slavery.
  34. Colonial Politics in the British Empire
  35. Restrictions on Colonial Trade—Britain kept the door to its colonies open to any immigrants, but the open door did not extend to trade; Navigation Acts continued to restrict colonial trade to British ships and traders.
  36. Colonists Resist Royal Interference in Internal Affairs—British attempts to exercise political power in their colonial governments was successful so long as officials were on or near the sea; colonists acknowledged British authority to collect customs duties, inspect cargoes, and enforce trade regulations; but colonists resisted interference in internal affairs on land; the king appointed royal governors in nine colonies, but governors were not kings, and the colonies were not Britain; governors had trouble developing relations of trust and respect with colonists, since most governors were from England or living in England; in addition, with terms of office averaging only five years, governors could not secure friendships through patronage positions.
  37. Colonial Governors’ Political Position—Colonial governors were obedient and loyal to their superiors in Britain; this brought them into conflict with colonists over governors’ vetoes of colonial legislation, creation of new courts, and other local issues; British policies did not clearly define the colonists’ legal powers, so colonial assemblies made their own rules; gradually established a strong tradition of representative government; by 1720, assemblies had won the power to initiate legislation, including tax laws and authorizations to spend public funds; heated struggles between governors and assemblies taught colonists to employ traditional British ideas of representation; they also learned that the power in the British colonies rarely belonged to the British government.

Still looking for Academic writing help? Get it here.


Last Updated on April 25, 2020 by Essay Pro