HST 141 Dr.
The Unfinished Nation: Chapter 3 Society
and Culture in Provincial America
Chapter 3 Main Themes
- The growth and diversification of the colonial
- The expansion and diversification of the colonial
economy to meet the needs of this rapidly growing population.
- The rise of slavery as the labor system of choice
in British North America.
- The social and political life of English
colonists in the various colonies.
- The emergence of a particularly American
"mind and spirit" in literature, philosophy, science, education,
A thorough study of Chapter 3
should enable the student to understand:
- The sources of colonial labor, including
indentured servants, women, and imported Africans.
- The reasons behind the gradual shift from
indentured servitude to African slavery.
- How patterns of birth and death influenced and
reflected cultural development in the colonies
- The nature of colonial medicine and its impact on
women of the seventeenth century.
- The social and familial roles of women in both
the Chesapeake and New England.
- The historical dispute over the origins of
- The origins and social contours of slavery and
racial discrimination in English America.
- The changing sources of European immigration
throughout the seventeenth century.
- The ways in which factors of soil and climate
determined the commercial and agricultural development of the colonies,
despite crown attempts to influence production.
- The importance, extent, and early limits of
technology in the colonial economic system.
- The beginnings of colonial commerce and
consumerism, and the early attempts at regulation by Parliament.
- The emergence of the plantation system, and its
impact on Southern society.
- The New England
witchcraft episode as a reflection of Puritan society.
- The rise and importance of cities in the colonial
- The reasons for the appearance of a variety of
religious sects in the colonies, and the effect of the Great Awakening on
- The ways in which colonial literature, education,
science, law, and justice began to diverge from their English antecedents.
Class Structure The
division of society into recognizable groups. Generally based on wealth, these
divisions are also affected by education, family ties, religion, and a variety
of other factors recognized by the society in which the divisions exist.
Declension A "falling
away from." Puritans of the seventeenth and eighteenth century were
deeply concerned about the religious declension in the Massachusetts Bay.
Enlightenment The intellectual movement that dominated the late
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe.
Believing that the universe operated through natural laws that human beings,
using their powers of reason, could understand, "enlightened"
thinkers argued that once these laws were understood, people could devise means
of living within them. Also called the "Age of Reason," this era was
marked by an explosion of activity that brought about significant advances in
science (especially natural science), education, and government. Stressing that
there were certain "natural rights" (life, liberty, and property)
that were given to all people--and that it was the duty of government to
protect these rights from selfish individuals (those not allowing reason to
control their actions)--philosophers of this age called forth many of the
principles that Americans later used in their struggle with Britain. From the Enlightenment came the beliefs that freedom
is the natural condition of humanity, that governments should be responsible to
the governed, and that it is the right of the people to oppose a government
that violates the natural rights of its citizens.
adherence to the belief that salvation comes through the personal recognition
of one's sins, the awareness of one's inability to save oneself, and the
acceptance of Christ as the only means of redemption. The process is usually a
highly emotional one that culminates in the rebirth ("born again"
state) of the sinner and his or her acceptance as one of the evangelical
community of believers. The evangelical emphasis on the spiritual rather than
the worldly was particularly appealing to the lower classes and to others (for
example, women and slaves) who sought a means to affirm their personal worth. This
often put evangelicals at odds with their social "betters," who
regarded the evangelicals' rejection of those things that defined the social
classes (fine dress, leisure activities, civil and religious ceremonies, and
such) as an attack on the status and authority of ruling elites.
of despair preached by ministers in the face of waning piety. The jeremiad is a longstanding religious and literary
genre used throughout history.
Nuclear Family The
social unit composed of father, mother, and children.
Paper Money In The Colonies In
an effort to overcome the lack of money in America, some colonial governments issued paper money to
serve as currency. The problem, however, was to get the colonists to accept
these paper bills at face value. So, to keep the bills from declining in value,
some colonies employed a system (currency finance) in which paper money would
be issued for only a specific purpose (for example, to buy goods that the
government needed, to pay for services to the government, and so on) and would
be accepted by the government, at face value, as payment for taxes or other
debts owed to the colony. It was generally hoped that this would be the only
exchange and that the money would not circulate; but if it did, the fact that
the government would accept it as full payment was believed to be enough to
keep it from depreciating greatly. In practice, however, the system did not
work. The bills lost their value as they circulated, creating the inflation that opponents of paper money feared. Nevertheless, under a
more controlled situation, the concept was indeed workable and, with some
changes, is used today.
to do with a social system in which the father is the head of the family.
practice of passing all inherited property to one’s firstborn son.
A legal status in which an
individual is owned by another individual who controls his or her actions and
benefits from his or her labor. The status is for life (unless altered by the
owner) and is inherited, usually through the mother.
Staple Crop The
primary export (cash) crop of a region, the crop on which the region's economy
rests. In the Chesapeake colonies, the staple was tobacco; farther south, it
was rice or indigo. In later years, sugar (the staple in the Indies)
was important in some areas on the mainland, but in time the classic
staple--cotton--came to dominate the South's economy.