3Lecture Preview Global Competition and the Expansion of England's EmpireOrigins of American SlaveryColonies in CrisisThe Growth of Colonial AmericaSocial Classes in the ColoniesThe subtopics for this lecture are listed on the screen above.
5Global Competition and the Expansion of England's Empire Focus Question:How did the English empire in America expand in the mid-seventeenth century?The purpose of the focus questions is to help students find larger themes and structures to bring the historical evidence, events, and examples together for a connected thematic purpose.As we go through each portion of this lecture, you may want to keep in mind how the information relates to this larger thematic question. Here are some suggestions: write the focus question in the left or right margin on your notes and as we go through, either mark areas of your notes for you to come back to later and think about the connection OR as you review your notes later (to fill in anything else you remember from the lecture or your thoughts during the lecture or additional information from the readings), write small phrases from the lecture and readings that connect that information to each focus question AND/OR are examples that work together to answer the focus question.
6Global Competition: Mercantilist System The Mercantilist SystemBy the mid-1600s, it was apparent to England’s rulers that their North American colonies could generate tremendous wealth, and they moved to seize control of Atlantic trade, consolidate its hold over the continent’s eastern coast, and greater regulate its empire. England acted according to the theory of mercantilism, in which the government regulated economic activity to promote national power by encouraging manufacturing and commerce through special bounties, monopolies, and other measures, primarily to manipulate trade to make sure that more gold and silver entered the country than left it. The export of goods, which generated revenue from abroad, should exceed imports, which required paying foreigners for their products. The colonies’ role was to serve the interests of the mother country by producing raw materials and importing manufactured goods from England.The Navigation Acts of 1651 were intended to wrest control over world trade from the Dutch. They required that valuable goods produced in the colonies, such as tobacco and sugar, first had to be shipped to and traded in English ships and ports and that most European goods shipped to the colonies had to be shipped through England. This enabled the government to collect revenues and allowed English merchants, manufacturers, shipbuilders and sailors to benefit from trade. American colonists’ ships were considered English, and in New England the acts stimulated its considerable shipbuilding industry.
7the Expansion of England's Empire The Conquest of New NetherlandNew York and the Rights of Englishmen and EnglishwomenNew York and the IndiansThe Charter of LibertiesWith the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660 under Charles II, England expanded its colonial reach. It chartered new trading ventures, such as the Royal African Company, which was given a monopoly on the slave trade, and soon doubled the number of English colonies in North America. The English seized New Netherland in 1664 as part of an Anglo-Dutch war that also resulted in the conquest of Dutch trading posts in Africa. England transformed the minor military post of New Netherlands into an important imperial seaport and military base for operations against the French.English rule over New York expanded and constricted freedom for certain groups. The English promised to continue religious toleration and respect property holdings, but they eliminated some rights for married women and practices that benefited female colonists. The English also discriminated against free blacks who had previously enjoyed all the rights of other “freemen.”English rule also for a time strengthened the Iroquois Confederacy in upstate New York. In the mid-1670s, New York’s governor, Sir Edmund Andros, formed an alliance with the Iroquois known as the Covenant Chain. This expanded English and Iroquois power in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions at the expense of the French and their Indian allies.At the same time, many English colonists began to complain that they were being denied their English liberties, particularly the right to consent to taxation. The Dutch in New Netherland had not had a representative assembly, and English rule began without one, either. In 1683, the Duke of York agreed to call an elected assembly, which soon drafted a Charter of Liberties and Privileges affirming traditional English religious and political rights.
11Global Competition: Carolina and Pennsylvania The Founding of CarolinaThe Holy ExperimentIn the 1660s, English proprietors who were awarded the right to establish a colony north of Florida, in order to check Spanish expansion, founded Carolina. Initially, the sons of wealthy plantation owners in Barbados, Carolina colonists traded with local Indians, employed them in raids against the Spanish, and also raided Indian communities for a burgeoning trade in Indian slaves. But in 1715, Yamasee and Creek Indians alarmed by their trading debts and English slave-trader’s raids into their territories mounted a rebellion which, when crushed, resulted in the enslavement or expulsion into Spanish Florida of most of the Indian tribes. Slavery was fundamental to Carolina and made it the most hierarchical society—and once rice plantation agriculture developed—and the wealthiest of England’s North American colonies.The last English colony established in the 1600s was Pennsylvania. Its proprietor, William Penn, an advocate of religious toleration and spiritual freedom, intended the colony as a space for social harmony between European migrants escaping religious persecution and Indians. A devout member of the Society of Friends, known as the Quakers, Penn encouraged Quaker settlement and helped frame the colony’s liberal government, which established religious liberty and an elected assembly with broad suffrage.
14Global Competition: Quakers Quaker LibertyLand in PennsylvaniaPenn envisioned his colony as a “holy experiment” to be governed on Quaker principles, including the equality of all persons (including women, blacks, and Indians) under God and the primacy of the individual conscience. Penn and the colony’s Quakers treated the Indians with special consideration, making peace with them (Quakers were pacifists, and did not have militias), and taking pains to pay all Indian land claims. Above all, Penn emphasized religious freedom, which was ensured in 1682 in the colony’s Charter of Liberty.Penn formed an assembly elected by male taxpayers and freemen—either free immigrants with 100 acres of land or former indentured servants with 50 acres—thus giving the vote to a majority of the colony’s men. Penn also owned all the land and sold it to settlers at low prices to encourage a broad distribution of landed wealth and social equality. Pennsylvania’s freedom attracted migrants from all over Europe. This made the colony prosperous, but also increased tensions with Indians, as whites who were not Quakers and pacifists pushed into Indian territory. It also fostered the growth of African slavery in southern colonies as more indentured servants chose to migrate to Pennsylvania rather than Virginia or Maryland.
16Origins of American Slavery Focus Question:How was slavery established in the Western Atlantic world?The purpose of the focus questions is to help students find larger themes and structures to bring the historical evidence, events, and examples together for a connected thematic purpose.As we go through each portion of this lecture, you may want to keep in mind how the information relates to this larger thematic question. Here are some suggestions: write the focus question in the left or right margin on your notes and as we go through, either mark areas of your notes for you to come back to later and think about the connection OR as you review your notes later (to fill in anything else you remember from the lecture or your thoughts during the lecture or additional information from the readings), write small phrases from the lecture and readings that connect that information to each focus question AND/OR are examples that work together to answer the focus question.
17Origins of American Slavery: History Englishmen and AfricansSlavery in HistoryWhile the English, like all other European colonists in the Americas, did not intend to rely on African slaves as a labor force, the growing demand for labor for tobacco cultivation in the Chesapeake region led planters there to turn to the transatlantic slave trade. White masters saw many advantages in using African slaves rather than white indentured servants: African slaves were not protected by English common law, their terms never expired, they did not become discontented landless men, as had so many former servants, their children were slaves, their skin color made it more difficult for them to escape, and they were accustomed to difficult agricultural work. Also, compared to Native American slaves, African slaves were already immune from many European diseases.While the English did not have modern notions of “race”—in which humankind is divided into groups associated with skin color—or racism—-an ideology based on the idea that some races are inherently superior to others and entitled to rule over them—the English did view other peoples, such as the Irish, Native Americans, and Africans as uncivilized, pagan, and savage and animal-like. At the time, the English, like other Europeans, tended to divide humanity between those who were either civilized or barbarian, or Christian or non-Christian. Yet, Africans, because of their skin color, religion, and social practices were seen by the English as “enslaveable” in a way that poor Englishmen were not.Slavery has existed for almost all of human history. It was central to ancient Greece and Rome and survived in northern Europe among Germans, Vikings, and Anglo-Saxons after the Roman empire’s collapse. Although slavery existed in the 1600s in the Mediterranean and Africa, it was quite different from the plantation form of slavery that developed in the Americas, in which large numbers of slaves were brought together for very demanding agricultural labor under a single owner. The large numbers of slaves increased the dangers of slave rebellion and invited harsh discipline. Unlike in Africa, the death rate was higher, and African slaves who became free still had a skin color that whites associated with slavery, and thus were marked as unworthy of equality in a free society.
19Origins of American Slavery: Laws Slavery in the West IndiesSlavery and the LawThe African slave trade became a major international and transatlantic business only in the 1600s. Slavery developed first in the Western Hemisphere outside of North America. By 1600, Brazil (a Portuguese colony), had large sugar plantations worked by African slaves. By the end of the seventeenth century, the profits to be had from sugar had transformed English, Dutch, French, and Danish colonies in the West Indies from mixed economies with few slaves and small farms worked by white servants to those dominated by lucrative sugar plantations worked exclusively by African slaves. Sugar was the first good to be mass-marketed to European consumers, and became the most important product of the British, French, and Portuguese empires.Compared to its rapid introduction in Brazil and the West Indies, slavery grew slowly in North America. English indentured servants constituted the majority of the labor force in the Chesapeake well into the 1680s. The most significant line of division in this region in the seventeenth century was not between whites and blacks, but between white plantation owners who dominated politics and society and everyone else—small farmers, servants, and slaves.While Spain had liberal laws granting slaves various rights and the Catholic church often encouraged masters to free their slaves, the legal status of slaves in the English colonies was initially ambiguous and undeveloped. Beginning in 1619, small numbers of Africans were brought to the Chesapeake, and while they were almost certainly treated as slaves, some were freed after serving a term of years. But racial distinctions were codified into law from the beginning; one such early Virginia law barred blacks from serving in the militia. But in both Virginia and Maryland, free blacks could sue and testify in court, and some even acquired land and purchased white servants and black slaves. Blacks and whites worked side by side in the region’s tobacco fields, occasionally ran away together, and established intimate relationships.
21Origins of American Slavery: Bacon’s Rebellion The Rise of Chesapeake SlaveryBacon’s Rebellion: Land and Labor in VirginiaThe End of the Rebellion, and its ConsequencesThough evidence shows that slaves were being held for life as early as the 1640s, only in the 1660s did Virginia and Maryland’s laws refer explicitly to slavery. As tobacco planting spread and labor demand increased, conditions facing black and white servants diverged. To encourage migration, colonial authorities tried to improve the status of white servants. Simultaneously, blacks’ opportunities for freedom were restricted. By 1680, ideas of racial difference were strongly reflected in these colonies’ laws, despite their small black population. New laws, for example, mandated that children of free and slave parents would have the legal status of the mother—ensuring that masters could profit from sexually abusing female slaves, since the child would become the master’s property.The shift from white indentured servants to African slaves as the main plantation workforce was hastened in 1676 by Bacon’s Rebellion. Governor William Berkeley had long ruled Virginia through a corrupt regime, forged in alliance with a small elite of the colony’s wealthiest tobacco planters, giving his supporters the best lands as white settlement pushed inland. With all the best lands already taken by wealthy planters, an increasingly poor population of freed white servants and migrants found it harder to acquire land. Forced to settle frontier areas, these men were also disenfranchised in 1670 by a new law limiting the vote, once given to all adult men, to landowners.In 1676, disgruntled frontier whites demanded that Berkeley exterminate or expel frontier Indians to make room for white settlers, but the governor, fearing war and profiting from the Indian trade, refused. Led by planter Nathaniel Bacon, small farmers, landless men, indentured servants, and even some Africans who also demanded lower taxes and an end to elite rule waged war against the Indians and the colonial government. They plundered plantations and burned Jamestown to the ground before English warships helped quell the rebellion. Virginia’s ruling elite consolidated their rule by both limiting democracy and expanding social opportunity for poorer whites. They reinforced property qualifications for voting, but also reduced taxes and adopted aggressive policies toward Indians to open up more western lands. Most important, tobacco planters more and more spurned potentially rebellious white servants for African slaves, making the Chesapeake region a society based on slavery.
24Origins of American Slavery: Freedom A Slave SocietyNotions of FreedomBetween 1700 and 1750, blacks went from more than 10 percent to almost 50 percent of the colony’s population—and almost all were slaves. Several factors contributed to the growth of slavery in Virginia. In 1705, Virginia’s legislature adopted a new slave code, embedding white supremacy in law, clearly defining black slaves as property and sharply limiting the freedom of free and enslaved blacks. Virginia had shifted from being a “society with slaves,” in which slavery was just one labor system among other systems, to a “slave society,” in which slavery was central to the society and economy.Europeans, Indians, and Africans alike all feared enslavement. Slaves often tried to escape, and those who spoke or read English or were familiar with European culture sometimes contested their condition. Slaves continued to resist their masters even as legal avenues for freedom receded in the Chesapeake at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries.
25Colonies in Crisis Focus Question: What major social and political crises rocked the colonies in the late seventeenth century?The purpose of the focus questions is to help students find larger themes and structures to bring the historical evidence, events, and examples together for a connected thematic purpose.As we go through each portion of this lecture, you may want to keep in mind how the information relates to this larger thematic question. Here are some suggestions: write the focus question in the left or right margin on your notes and as we go through, either mark areas of your notes for you to come back to later and think about the connection OR as you review your notes later (to fill in anything else you remember from the lecture or your thoughts during the lecture or additional information from the readings), write small phrases from the lecture and readings that connect that information to each focus question AND/OR are examples that work together to answer the focus question.
26Colonies in Crisis: The glorious revolution The Glorious Revolution in AmericaUpheaval in England also affected the colonies. In 1688, the struggle for control over English government between Parliament and the crown culminated in the Glorious Revolution, a bloodless event that finally established parliamentary supremacy and a Protestant succession to the throne. Under Charles II’s rule, Parliament had expanded its authority and powers, but his unpopular successor, James II, alienated much of England after claiming to rule by divine right and seeking religious toleration for Protestant dissenters and Catholics. Fearing that the throne would go to his Catholic son, English aristocrats invited William of Orange, a Dutch nobleman and husband to Mary, James II’s Protestant daughter, to assume the throne in the name of English liberties. In 1688, James II fled before William’s invading army, and William and Mary took the throne. The Parliament soon enacted a Bill of Rights, giving the Parliament control over taxation and establishing individual rights like trial by jury. This peaceful coup assured the perpetuation of England’s balanced constitutional monarchy, allowing English subjects at home and in the colonies to celebrate English Protestantism and “rights and liberties.”Before the Glorious Revolution, England’s rulers sought to reduce growing colonial autonomy within the empire. Charles II had revoked Massachusetts’ colonial charter for violations of the Navigation Act, which the Massachusetts legislature had earlier refused to recognize (because the colony, they alleged, had no direct representation in Parliament). And by 1688, James II had combined the colonies of Connecticut, Plymouth, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, East and West Jersey (Pennsylvania) into a single super-colony, the Dominion of New England, ruled by New York’s former governor, Sir Edmund Andros, who was unaccountable to any legislature. The actions of King James and Andros alienated many colonists.
28Colonies in Crisis: Uprisings The Maryland UprisingLeisler’s RebellionNews of King James’s ouster in 1689 caused rebellions in several American colonies. Boston militia jailed Andros and other imperial officials, whereupon the New England colonies re-established their governments. In New York, rebels led by Jacob Leisler took control. Soon thereafter, Protestant rebels in Maryland overthrew the government of that colony’s Catholic proprietor, Lord Baltimore, successfully revoked the old charter and created a new, Protestant-dominated government.Leisler’s Rebellion was not as successful. Leisler’s government unintentionally divided the colony along ethnic and economic lines, causing strife between the Dutch majority and English minority and between poor rebels and the wealthy. Soon, alienated Dutch merchants and prominent English colonists united against him and convinced King William to suppress Leisler, who was executed, and his regime. The rebellion and its suppression polarized New York politics for decades.
29Colonies in Crisis: Witch trials Changes in New EnglandThe Prosecution of WitchesThe Salem Witch TrialsWith the removal of Andros and the dissolution of the Dominion of New England, the English crown restored most colonies’ old charters. But Massachusetts received a new charter as a royal colony, which now incorporated Plymouth. The new charter made property ownership, not church membership, the qualification for voting in elections for the colony’s legislature, made the governor a crown appointee, and required religious toleration for all Protestant denominations. These measures ended the Puritan’s Bible Commonwealth, empowering non-Puritan merchants and large landowners, and increasing anxiety among Puritans ever alert to the devil’s work.Many Puritans, like other Europeans and colonial Americans in the seventeenth century, believed in magic, astrology, witchcraft, and other supernatural phenomena, and often interpreted natural events as having religious or otherworldly meaning. Witchcraft was punishable by hanging in Europe and the colonies, and occasionally individuals convicted of witchcraft had been hanged in New England. Most accused of witchcraft were women beyond childbearing age who were outspoken, economically independent, estranged from their husbands, or otherwise thought to violate gender norms. A witch’s powers were held to challenge God’s will and the stature of men as family heads and rulers of society.In 1691, in Salem, Massachusetts, initial accusations of witchcraft snowballed into a full-blown crisis, as more and more of the accused tried to save themselves by confessing and naming others as witches. The frenzy of accusations led to legal charges against nearly 150 persons, most of them women, and nineteen men and women were hanged. Massachusetts religious and civil authorities were aghast. They dissolved the Salem courts, and warned that courts should no longer accept testimony from those claiming to be possessed or accept the confessions and accusations of those facing execution. The Salem witchcraft craze discredited the prosecution of witches and encouraged a greater interest among prominent colonists in finding scientific explanations for natural events.
31The Growth of Colonial America Focus Question:What were the directions of social and economic change in the eighteenth-century colonies?The purpose of the focus questions is to help students find larger themes and structures to bring the historical evidence, events, and examples together for a connected thematic purpose.As we go through each portion of this lecture, you may want to keep in mind how the information relates to this larger thematic question. Here are some suggestions: write the focus question in the left or right margin on your notes and as we go through, either mark areas of your notes for you to come back to later and think about the connection OR as you review your notes later (to fill in anything else you remember from the lecture or your thoughts during the lecture or additional information from the readings), write small phrases from the lecture and readings that connect that information to each focus question AND/OR are examples that work together to answer the focus question.
32The Growth of Colonial America: diversity A Diverse PopulationAttracting SettlersAlthough the Spanish and French empires remained particularly powerful in the Americas in the eighteenth century, England’s mainland colonies in North America soon exceeded those of France and Spain in trade and population, growing from 265,000 in 1700 to over 2.3 million in 1770.Colonial American society in the eighteenth century was very diverse. The number of African and non-English European arrivals greatly increased, while the number of English migrants declined. Nearly 40 percent of those emigrating to the English colonies did so as unfree indentured servants. An increasing number of migrants were professionals and skilled craftsmen, causing the English government to stop promoting migration to North America.While English authorities worried that the colonies might drain England of skilled workers and professionals, they sent thousands of convicts to work in the Chesapeake’s tobacco fields, and still promoted Protestant migration from non-English areas of the British Isles and Europe. Many thousands came from Scotland and northern Ireland, where many Scots (“the Scotch-Irish”) had settled as part of England’s colonization efforts.
35The Growth of Colonial America: religion The German MigrationReligious DiversityThe more than 100,000 Germans who came to America were the largest group of European migrants in this period. Many were members of the Catholic church or small dissenting Protestant sects fleeing from persecution, while others migrated to escape worsening economic conditions. Tending to settle in the frontier areas of New York, Pennsylvania, and the southern colonies, Germans migrated as families, often as “redemptioners,” families of indentured servants working to pay back the cost of passage to America.While ethnic groups tended to live and worship in relatively homogenous communities apart from each other, the American colonies, except for New England, were far more diverse than England. This was especially evident in the religious makeup of British America. In 1700, the colonies’ churches were almost entirely Congregational and Anglican. But despite colonies’ commitment to official churches everywhere except New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, de facto religious toleration increasingly defined religious life. Especially with the Great Awakening of the 1740s, sects such as Lutherans, Mennonites, Anabaptists, Moravians, Seventh Day Baptists, and Presbyterians, and even Jews and Muslims were increasingly free to worship as they pleased, even if they were still taxed to support the official church and banned from holding public office.
38The Growth of Colonial America: Regions Indian Life in TransitionRegional DiversityNewcomers to America, who equated liberty with secure ownership of land, threatened surviving Indian populations. By the 1700s, Indian communities had changed dramatically from the time of the Europeans’ arrival, and were very much part of the British Empire, trading and using European goods and allying and fighting for the British in successive imperial wars against the French and Spanish. New settlers pressured colonial governments to open up new frontier lands at the expense of Indian tribes. In Pennsylvania, mostly peaceful relations between the Quaker-dominated government and Indians disintegrated as the new migrants often fraudulently made purchases or attacked natives for their lands.By the mid-eighteenth century, different regions of the British colonies had developed distinct economic and social orders. New England and frontier settlements in other colonies were characterized by families laboring on small farms, producing for local consumption. The frontier “backcountry” areas rapidly grew in population. In the older “middle colonies” of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, more farmers produced for commercial markets and used non-family wage or slave labor.
40The Growth of Colonial America: colonial life The Consumer RevolutionColonial CitiesColonial ArtisansIn the 1700s, Great Britain became the leading producer and trader of inexpensive consumer goods, including colonial goods such as coffee and tea and manufactured goods like linen, metalware, glassware, ceramics, and clothing. Trade knit together the British empire, and the American colonies shared in this consumer revolution. Even modest farmers and artisans bought items such as books, ceramic plates, metal cutlery, and tea that were once considered luxury goods.Britain’s mainland colonies were almost entirely rural and agricultural, and only a very small percentage of the population lived in the small port cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. In 1770, Philadelphia’s 30,000 inhabitants made it the largest city in British North America. These cities were centers of trade and exchange, and were inhabited by growing numbers of merchants, artisans (skilled craftsmen), and the poor.The urban artisan population included furniture makers, jewelers, and silversmiths serving wealthier citizens, and lesser artisans such as weavers, blacksmiths, coopers, and construction workers. The typical master artisan owned his own tools and worked in a small workshop, often his home, assisted by family members and young journeymen and apprentices learning the trade. The artisan survived by his skill, which gave him economic independence and freedom compared to unskilled laborers. Most craftsmen had a reasonable chance of becoming a master in their lifetime.
43The Growth of Colonial America: The Atlantic An Atlantic WorldThe Atlantic Ocean was not so much a barrier as a highway, linking communities and economies within and between empires. Sugar, tobacco, and other products of the Americas were marketed in Europe, London bankers financed the slave trade between Africa and Portuguese Brazil, and Spain spent its gold and silver importing goods from other countries. As trade expanded, the British colonies in the Americas became the major overseas market for British manufactured goods. In turn, North Americans shipped farm products to Britain and the West Indies, imported slaves and rum from Africa and the West Indies, exported fish and grains to southern Europe, and New Englanders built one-third of the ships in Great Britain’s trading fleet.American colonists benefited from membership in the British empire. Most did not complain about British regulation of their trade because commerce enriched the colonies, and lax enforcement of the Navigation Acts allowed smuggling. Besides, Britain’s powerful Royal Navy protected American ships. Despite significant differences, British America in many ways became closer and more similar to its mother country.
45Social Classes in the Colonies Focus Question:How did patterns of class and gender roles change in eighteenth-century America?The purpose of the focus questions is to help students find larger themes and structures to bring the historical evidence, events, and examples together for a connected thematic purpose.As we go through each portion of this lecture, you may want to keep in mind how the information relates to this larger thematic question. Here are some suggestions: write the focus question in the left or right margin on your notes and as we go through, either mark areas of your notes for you to come back to later and think about the connection OR as you review your notes later (to fill in anything else you remember from the lecture or your thoughts during the lecture or additional information from the readings), write small phrases from the lecture and readings that connect that information to each focus question AND/OR are examples that work together to answer the focus question.
46Social Classes in the Colonies: The elite The Colonial EliteAnglicizationAs colonial America matured, an elite emerged that increasingly dominated politics and society, although they were not as powerful or wealthy as England’s aristocracy. The gap between rich and poor probably grew faster in the 1700s than in any other period in American history. In New England, growing trade created a powerful merchant upper class, often linked by family or business connections to London’s great trading firms. (With no banks in America, success often depended on the credit to be had from personal connections.) By 1750, colonies of the Chesapeake and Lower South were dominated by slave plantations producing tobacco, rice, and other staple crops, and the enormously wealthy planters who owned them and ruled these colonies’ governments. Even though colonial America had no titled aristocracy or legally established social ranks as did Britain, men of families with growing landed and commercial wealth came to control much of the colonies’ political, economic, and social life.In this period, the different colonies were more strongly connected to England than to each other. In a process that historians call “Anglicization,” they soon came to see themselves as more English than “American.” Wealthy colonists imitated emerging British fashions and taste in behavior, consumption, and architecture.
49Social Classes in the Colonies: wealth The South Carolina AristocracyPoverty in the ColoniesBy far the wealthiest of mainland colonists were South Carolina’s planters, who spent most of their time in Charleston, the richest city in British North America. They lived as colonial America’s aristocrats, enjoying theaters, literary societies, ostentatious social events, and lavish lifestyles of imported luxury goods and uniformed house slaves. Compared to other colonies, wealth in South Carolina was highly concentrated.Colonial elites emulated what they saw as England’s balanced and stable social order. Freedom for them was based in their power as “superiors” to rule over “dependents,” those without wealth or prominence, within a hierarchical society differentiated by men with greater or lesser talents. Society was held together by webs of influence linking patrons and those dependent on them. Each place in the hierarchy carried certain responsibilities and was revealed in dress, manners, and possessions. Colonial elites prided themselves on their refinement—their manners, education, and cultural knowledge—and they favored leisure over manual labor. Freedom from labor defined the “gentleman.”Yet, poverty increasingly became part of colonial life in eighteenth-century America. Fewer free colonial Americans were poor compared to Britain, where one-quarter to one-half of all people required public assistance. But slaves lived in impoverished conditions, and the number of poor without property grew, with diminishing land and the growth of wage labor. Better-off colonists generally viewed the poor as lazy and responsible for their poverty, and while rural communities and cities gave some assistance to their own, they prevented the unemployed and propertyless newcomers from receiving aid.
52Social Classes in the Colonies: middle ranks The Middle RanksWomen and the Household EconomyMost free Americans were members of “the middle ranks,” living between extremes of wealth and poverty, and the vast majority of these were small-farm families. The wide distribution of land and the economic autonomy that went with it distinguished colonial America from Europe. Perhaps two-thirds of the free male population owned their own land, while three-fifths of England’s population owned no property at all. By the 1700s, colonial farm families viewed land ownership as a kind of right, the social precondition of freedom, and strongly resented the efforts of Native Americans, great landlords, or colonial governments to limit access to land. Their dislike of personal dependence, and their understanding of freedom as not relying on others for a livelihood, sank deep roots in British North America and, to a great extent, reflected social reality for many white colonists.The family was the center of economic life in the eighteenth-century American household economy. Most work revolved around the home, and men, women, and children all contributed to the family’s well-being. The small farmer’s independence depended to a great degree on the work of his dependent wife and children. While most farmers first focused on growing food to survive, as commerce expanded in the eighteenth century, more and more farmers also produced for the market. Women were constantly at work, raising children and working in the home by cleaning, cooking, sewing, and other activities, and also working in the fields. Women’s work increased in the eighteenth century, despite the introduction of new consumer goods that replaced items previously made at home.
55Social Classes in the Colonies: North america North America at Mid-CenturyBy the mid-eighteenth century, the area that would become the modern United States was remarkably diverse in peoples, cultures, and social organization, from the Pueblo villages of the Southwest to the tobacco plantations of the Chesapeake, small farms of New England, feudal-like land estates of New York’s Hudson Valley, and frontier fur trading outposts. While elites tied to imperial centers of power dominated the political and economic life of most colonies, large numbers of colonists enjoyed greater opportunities for freedom—such as access to the vote, landownership, the right to worship freely, and an escape from government persecution—than in Europe. Free colonists probably enjoyed the highest per capita income in the world, and the colonies’ economic growth made for a high birthrate, long life expectancy, and expanding demand for consumer goods. Yet, many colonists experienced the partial freedom of indentured servitude or the complete absence of freedom as slaves, making freedom and hopes for freedom essential to the development of North America’s colonies.
56Review Global Competition and the Expansion of England's Empire Focus Question: How did the English empire in America expand in the mid-seventeenth century?Origins of American SlaveryFocus Question: How was slavery established in the Western Atlantic world?Colonies in CrisisFocus Question: What major social and political crises rocked the colonies in the late seventeenth century?
57Review continued The Growth of Colonial America Focus Question: What were the directions of social and economic change in the eighteenth-century colonies?Social Classes in the ColoniesFocus Question: How did patterns of class and gender roles change in eighteenth-century America?
58MEDIA LINKS —— Chapter 4 —— TitleMedia linkEric Foner on the Pueblo RevoltEric Foner on the Salem witch trialsEric Foner on William Penn's contribution to religious freedomEric Foner on the Glorious Revolution, 1688–1689Eric Foner on religious freedom for German immigrants in 1739Eric Foner on religious freedom in the 18th centuryEric Foner on slaves' rights in the 18th century
59Next Lecture PREVIEW: —— Chapter 4 —— Slavery, Freedom, and the Struggle for Empire to 1763 Slavery and EmpireSlave Cultures and Slave ResistanceAn Empire of FreedomThe Public SphereThe Great AwakeningImperial RivalriesBattle for the Continent
60Independent and Employee-Owned Norton Lecture SlidesIndependent and Employee-OwnedbyEric FonerThis concludes the Norton Lecture Slides Slide Set for Chapter 3 Give Me Liberty! AN AMERICAN HISTORY FOURTH EDITION