Chapter 4 The Maturing of Colonial Society

Chapter 4
The Maturing of
Colonial Society
The American People, 6th ed.
The North: A Land of
Family Farms
Northern Agricultural
 New England gradually saw a
predominance of independent farming
villages that utilized their unique
collection of resources to produce a
mixed economy of fishing, craft
production based on timber, and
traditional staple crops.
 The middle colonies enjoyed better soil
conditions than the north and usually
produced a surplus of goods.
Unfree Labor/Changing Values
 Northern colonies had less need for labor due
to shorter growing seasons; there was a
heavier reliance on indentured servants versus
the South.
 Colonists began to see life as not just
preparation for the afterlife; religion did not
vanish, but its intensity began to wane.
 The American ethics of hard work and
materialism were highlighted in Ben Franklin’s
Poor Richard’s Almanac.
Women and the Family in
the Northern Colonies
 A universal opinion of the time held
women in a position of social submission.
 Marriage was a means of transferring
property, not a vehicle for romance.
 Unmarried women in the colonies were
almost unheard of.
 Families were patriarchal, with the father
issuing stern discipline to his children.
Ecological Transformation
 The rabid demand for wood quickly
depleted the coastal forests of the
 Livestock animals brought over from
Europe devastated the ecosystems of
 Native animals became extinct as fur was
over harvested.
II. The Plantation South
The Tobacco and Rice Coasts
 The areas of agricultural production in
the colonies of Virginia and Carolina
emerged with similar reliance on slave
labor for production.
 Both areas developed a planter hierarchy
of society based on race and wealth.
Enslaved Africans in the
Southern Colonies
 A continued growth in the slave trade and
natural reproduction during the
seventeenth century saw the population
ratio of Africans in America grow to onefifth.
 More than 350,000 Africans entered the
colonies between 1700 to 1775.
III. Contending for a Continent
France’s Inland Empire
 New France, comprised of the Mississippi Valley
from the Great Lakes to New Orleans, was
developed into an active series of trading posts
and forts which threatened to pin the English to
the Atlantic coast.
 The growth of French strength brought them into
conflict with the British on several occasions;
King William’s War, Queen Anne’s War and Port
Royal saw each combatant relying on Indian
Spain’s Frail North
American Grip
 Spanish settlements in the New World
limped along as losing enterprises due to
a number of factors.
 Spain was marginally successful in
protecting its holdings in present-day
Florida and California, where Catholic
missions hoped to convert local natives
into good Christians.
IV. The Urban World of
Commerce and Ideas
Sinews of Trade/
The Artisan’s World
 American economic muscle centered
around the Atlantic seaports that afforded
easy trade with the European powers.
 Merchants and artisans were the most
wealthy and powerful groups in these
thriving towns.
 A guild system similar to Europe’s
emerged in order to protect certain trades
and crafts from unqualified practice.
Urban Social Structure/
The Entrepreneurial Ethos
 Growth in population and economic
sophistication brought about changes in
the social structure of emerging cities.
 Wealth, as well as poverty, began to
 As the cities grew, common views of selfdenial and community fell by the wayside
in favor of materialism and individualism.
V. The Great Awakening
Fading Faith/
The Awakener’s Message
 An overwhelming religious apathy swept the
mainly protestant populace of the British
 The Great Awakening emerged as a series of
revivals within different religious sects.
 Revivalists such as Jonathan Edwards and
George Whitfield delivered a message of
religious redemption and encouraged rejection
of over-educated and heartless clergy.
Revivalism in the North
and South
 Religious zeal in the North became
worrisome to the wealthy elite as their
position in society was questioned by the
 The South also saw a rejection of the
assumed authority of the landed gentry
as a ruling class; in both regions, religion
became a mode for social reflection and
Legacy of the Awakening
 A wide-spread framework of varying
denominations that could exist
 An emerging tradition of separation of
church and state
 Legitimized religious and social diversity
within local communities
 Fostered changes in political and moral
VI. Political Life
Structuring Colonial
 Contrary to the monarchial structure of England,
the colonies developed a system of government
based on the authority of a governor or agent of
the king supplemented by a legislature of locally
elected representatives.
 A general lack of police power gave import to
public demonstrations against unpopular laws
and set an American precedent of popular
Local Politics
 Colonial Assemblies gradually gained
more authority over the royal governors.
 This growth reflected the wishes of the
people and could not be effectively
 Tying elected official's success in office to
the satisfaction of their constituents
became a central feature of colonial
politics and Whig ideology.

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