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Chapter 4 American Life in the 17th Century

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1 Chapter 4 American Life in the 17th Century

2 The Unhealthy Chesapeake
The settlements near the Chesapeake (Jamestown among them) struggled early on against disease Most of the early settlers were single men who competed for the attention of increasingly scarce women. The family structure was weak due to death and many pregnancies from unmarried women. Eventually Chesapeake colonies became more stable as survivors developed immunity to diseases.

3 The Tobacco Economy The Chesapeake region was perfect for tobacco cultivation, which soon depleted the soil. To ensure more land for tobacco cultivation, commercial growers went deeper away from the coast provoking more tension with Indians. Tobacco was a labor intensive crop, so labor was needed. Indians died too easily and African slaves were too expensive so the initial choice of Plantation owners was indentured servants.

4 The Tobacco Economy England had a surplus of workers without land to farm In exchange for a paid voyage to America, indentured servants agreed to work without wages for a period of time (4-7 years) Virginia and Maryland used the headright system – granting land to those who paid the way of indentured servants – to increase population sizes The headright system favored the wealthy, those who could afford to pay for passage of servants. Life as an indentured servant was tough and got worse as the 17th century rolled along and land became more scarce

5 Frustrated Freemen & Bacon’s Rebellion
By the late 1600s there were many free, young, landless, womenless former indentured servants living in the Chesapeake region. In 1670 the Virginia assembly disallowed them from voting, Governor Berkeley of Virginia was increasingly displeased with their presence. Additionally Governor Berkeley refused to punish Indians for a variety of frontier attacks due to his business relationship with them.

6 Frustrated Freemen & Bacon’s Rebellion
In 1676, revealing deep anger among the former servants Nathaniel Bacon led them in a rebellion against the British Governor. They chased him from Jamestown and burned most of the city. After Bacon died of disease, Berkeley returned and brutally crushed the rebellion However, the rebellion caused many wealthy planters to rethink their use of indentured servitude, they turned elsewhere for their labor needs

7 Colonial Slavery Only in the 1680s did the move away from indentured servants begin, and until the 1700s African slavery in the new world was not extremely widespread Rising wages in England and planters fears of another Bacon’s Rebellion led to less focus on use of indentured servants In 1698 the Royal African Company lost its crown-granted monopoly on trading slaves, opening up this industry to American traders.

8 Colonial Slavery Most slaves coming to North America came from west Africa and had to endure horrific and brutal journeys aboard ships known as middle passage. As these slaves and servants were coexisting at first the difference between them legally was unclear. However, as time went on legal differentiation or slave codes based on race, began to emerge.

9 Africans in America Life was more tolerable in the Chesapeake for African slaves than in the deep south. Native born African-Americans gave rise to a distinct slave culture – which combined African and English language religion and customs There were early slave revolts – both in the North and south. The New York Slave Revolt in 1712 and the South Carolina Slave Revolt (Stono River Revolt) in 1739 These ended with brutal punishment for the slaves.

10 Southern Society Slavery led to a widening of the social gaps in southern society The first families of Virginia dominated landholdings, the wealth of the Chesapeake region and politics in the House of Burgesses. Below the planters in Southern society were smaller farmers, tilling modest plots to sustain their families. Beneath these farmers were remaining indentured servants (their numbers were continuously reduced as more slaves arrived) At the bottom of southern society were African slaves.

11 Southern Society There were few southern cities
A professional class (lawyers, merchants, financiers) was slow to emerge The distance between large plantations made the emergence of town centers and schools difficult. The best way to travel was rivers, because roads were mostly in terrible condition

12 The New England Family The life span of New Englanders was greater than their southern counterparts Whole families tended to migrate to New England together, thus there was less of a problem around too many single men The birthrate for New England was high Longer lives contributed to increased family stability Women tended to have less rights in New England than in the south, where widows would sometimes be allowed to inherit land.

13 Life in New England Towns
Abolitionism (the movement to end of slavery) has its roots in New England Purtianism and Quakerism. New England towns were usually better planned and closer together than their southern counterparts The town center had a meetinghouse (crucial for democratic government) Larger towns provided elementary schools and the establishment of schools and colleges occurred in New England much earlier than in the Chesapeake. The democratic values of the congregational church – essentially a collection of various protestant churches

14 The Half-Way Covenant & the Salem Witch Trials
Expansion of settlements was making it harder for church officials to maintain control of outlying areas and some were losing their religious intensity. Preachers began using a new type of sermon, the jeremiad – harsh scolding of church followers for their lack of religiousness. Additionally, strict guidelines of church membership led to less followers of the faith. In 1662 Church leaders instituted the half-way covenant which said the church members who had not yet fully “converted” or felt god’s grace, could still have their children baptized.

15 The Half-Way Covenant & the Salem Witch Trials
The halfway covenant helped to open up church members to less religiously intense people and thus allowed for an increase in membership. HOWEVER, religious zealots still existed in Puritan life as can be seen in the Salem Witch Trials In 1692 this witch hunt resulted in the legal lynching of 20 people – a sign of religious and social uncertainty relating to the roles of women occurring at the time. The phrase “witch hunt” as an unsubstantiated accusation made in error, comes from this event.

16 The New England Way of Life
The bad soil and frustrating weather produced a diverse and stable economy based not only on agriculture, but also early manufacturing, trading and education Colonists were continuously clearing forests for their sheep, pigs, horses and cattle. Puritanism, bad soil and good harbors created a New England with high moral character, a diverse economy and excellent ship building and trading industries

17 The Early Settlers Days and Ways
Generally speaking… Most colonists were farmers, and women cooked and took care of the house. Men did outside work like fence-building or land clearing Land was easier to get in America than in Europe (though harder to get in the south where wealthy planters dominated) There was tension between an emerging upper class and lower class as seen in Bacon’s rebellion and Liesler’s Rebellion of New York between lordly landholders and aspiring merchants.

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