Chapter 4: American Life in the 17th Century 1607-1692

Intro:
  • Puritanism softened
  • Regional differences: importance of slavery in the South

The Unhealthy Chesapeake:

  • Disease - lowered life expectancy by 10 years.
  • Many young men and few women
  • Toward the end of the century, population of Virginia and Maryland began to grow (immunity to disease, more women)

The Tobacco Economy:

  • Chesapeake: planted tobacco like crazy, exhausted the soil, needed new land, provoked Indian attacks
  • Indentured servants labor - tobacco
  • "Headright system" - get an indentured servant and get 50 more acres of land
  • Indentured servants = hard lives

Frustrated Freemen and Bacon's Rebellion:

  • Virginia governer: William Berkeley
  • 1676: 1000 Virginians broke out of control led by Nathanial Bacon.
  • Killed Indians, chased Berkeley out of Jamestown, and torched the city.
  • Bacon died of disease, Berkeley hung many rebels.

Colonial Slavery:

  • Africans began being imported to Jamestown, but very few
  • 1680s: huge influx of black slaves
  • "Royal African Company"
  • "middle passage" Africa->America. Death rate: 20%
  • "Slave codes" - made blacks property

Africans in America:

  • Slave life worse in the South
  • Chesapeake - tobacco - more family life
  • African Americans: mixture of African and American culture and language
  • 1712: NYC slave revolt
  • 1739: S Carolina blacks revolted (neither were anything major)

Southern Society:

  • Social structure - plantation owners on top - not like English aristocrats
  • Small farmers (largest social group)
  • Landless whites: former indentured servants
  • Current indentured servants -> black slaves

From African to African-American:

  • Brought rice-cropping techniques
  • Early slave could buy their freedom
  • Became Christians

The New England Family:

  • Added 10 years of lifespan from Old England
  • Family was center of life. Women had a baby every 2 years until menopause!
  • Stable families, grandparents
  • Women in the south - more independent, had property titles.
  • Women couldn't vote
  • Divorce rare, adultery punished harshly

Life in the New England Towns:

  • "New England conscience" - Puritan roots
  • Meetinghouse - town hall and place of worship
  • Elementary education - most people could read and write. In Mass. Harvard was established.
  • Voting! Church and politically.

The Half-Way Covenant and the Salem Witch Trials:

  • New form of sermon: "jeremiad" - preached Old Testament about peoples' waning piety
  • The Half-Way Covenant - agreement between church and adherents - baptism but not full communion to children of existing members
  • Puritan congregations opened their doors
  • Witch trials - 20 women were hanged because they were accused of being witches by teenage girls
  • 1693: witch-hanging prohibited

The New England Way of Life:

  • Connecticut: the nutmeg state
  • "to get on, to get honor, to get honest"
  • rocky soil, cold climate, tobacco couldn't grow, black slavery couldn't exist profitably
  • Shipbuilding and commerce

The Early Settlers' Days and Ways:

  • Most colonists were farmers
  • Not aristocrats from England or poor slummin' it - middle class.
  • Huge separation of classes could not exist as it did in England.