Colonial America 1492-1754 First European Contacts with Native Americans

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Colonial America


  1. First European Contacts with Native Americans

  1. The Iroquois Confederacy

  1. Political and linguistic differences hindered Native Americans as they attempted to respond to the threat posed by the European colonists.

  2. The Iroquois Confederacy was the most important and powerful Native American political alliance. It successfully ended generations of tribal warfare.

  1. Trade and the Columbian Exchange

  1. The exchange of foods, plants, animals, and diseases between the Europeans and Native Americans is known as the Columbian Exchange.

  2. Native Americans who interacted with the English became increasingly dependent on the fur-and-hide trade

  3. European diseases such as smallpox, influenza, and measles decimated the population of Native Americans.

  1. Similarities and Differences Between Native Americans and English


  1. Similarities included the following:

  • Both lived in village communities.

  • Both shared a strong sense of spirituality.

  • Both divided labor by gender.

  • Both depended on agricultural economies.

  1. Differences included the following:

  • Native Americans did not share the English concept of private property.

  • Native American children were often part of their mother’s clan.

  1. The Plantation Colonies

  1. The Virginia Company

  1. This was a joint-stock company.

  2. The primary goal was to make a profit.

  3. Religious motivation was much less important than in the founding of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

  1. Tobacco

  1. The introduction of tobacco cultivation made the British colonies in the Chesapeake region economically viable.

  2. By the mid-1700s, tobacco was the most valuable cash crop produced in the Southern states.

  1. The Plantation Colonies and the Growth of Slavery

  1. From Servitude to Slavery in the Chesapeake Region, 1607-1690

  1. Indentured servants played a key role in the growth of the tobacco plantation system in Virginia and Maryland. They were the chief source of agricultural labor in both of these colonies before 1675.

  2. Planters in Virginia and Maryland used the “headright” system to encourage the importation of indentured servants. Whoever paid the passage of a laborer received the right to acquire 50 acres of land. Masters thus enjoyed the benefits of this system.

  3. The number of slaves increased dramatically in the last quarter of the seventeenth century.

  4. Slave labor in colonial Virginia spread rapidly in the late seventeenth century, as Blacks displaced White indentured servants in tobacco fields.

  1. Bacon’s Rebellion, 1676

  1. Bacon’s Rebellion exposed tensions between the former indentured servants, who were poor, and the gentry (the genteel class of planters), who were rich.

  2. As planters became more suspicious of their former indentured servants, they turned to slaves as more reliable sources of labor.

  1. Growth of Plantation Economies and Slaves Societies, 1690-1754

  1. Slavery developed and spread because the cultivation of tobacco required inexpensive labor.

  2. Slavery was legally established in all 13 colonies by the early 1700s.

  3. Although enslaved, Africans maintain cultural practices brought from Africa.

  4. Rice was the most important crop grown in South Carolina during the mid-eighteenth century.

  5. The Stono Rebellion (1739) was one of the earliest known acts of rebellion against slavery in America. It was organized and led by slaves living south of Charleston, South Carolina. The slaves tried to flee to Spanish Florida, where they hoped to gain their freedom.

  1. The Puritans

  1. Key Facts

  1. The Puritans came to New England in family groups. They wanted to escape political repression, religious restrictions, and an economic recession.

  2. Their leader was John Winthrop.

  3. The Puritans typically lived in small villages surrounded by farmland.

  4. The typical Puritan community was characterized by a close relationship between church and state.

  5. The Puritans believed in the necessity for a trained and educated ministry. They founded Harvard College and Yale College to ensure an adequate supply of ministers.

  1. “ A City Upon a Hill”

  1. John Winthrop called on the Puritans to build a model society, which he referred to as “a city upon a hill”

  2. The Puritans had a powerful sense of mission – to build an ideal Christian society.

  3. The Puritans created a model Christian society with a strict code of moral conduct. For example, Puritans banned the theater.

  4. Here is a full quote from Winthrop’s famous sermon, in which he defined the purpose of the Puritan colony:

“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.”

  1. The Puritans and Religious Freedom

  1. The Puritans immigrated to America for religious freedom. However, they did not tolerate religious dissent or diversity.

  2. Not everyone shared Winthrop’s vision. Both Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams were expelled for challenging the Puritan authorities.

  1. Anne Hutchinson

  1. She is best known for her struggle with the Massachusetts Bay authorities over religious doctrine and gender roles.

  2. Hutchinson challenged clerical authority and claimed to have had revelations from God.

  3. Massachusetts Bay officials banished Hutchinson to Rhode Island. She later moved to New York, where she and all but one of her children were killed by Indians.

Test Tip- Few Americans can identify Anne Hutchinson. She is most frequently remembered by New York motorists driving on the Hutchinson River Parkway and by tourists who admire her statue in front of the Boston statehouse. Hutchinson is a noteworthy example of a dissident who challenged the early Puritans. APUSH test writers admire dissidents and think you should know about them.

  1. Roger Williams

  1. Roger Williams founded Rhode Island.

  2. He advanced the cause of religious toleration and freedom of thought.

  3. He believed that the state was an improper and ineffectual agency in matters of spirit.

  1. The Half-Way Covenant

  1. As time passed, the Puritans’ religious zeal began to diminish.

  2. The Half-Way Covenant eased requirements for church membership by allowing the baptism of the children of baptized but unconverted Puritans.

  1. The First Great Awakening

  1. Key Points to remember about the First Great Awakening:

  • It took the form of a wave of religious revivals that began in New England in the 1730s.

  • The wave soon swept across all the colonies during the 1740s.

  1. A key consequence was the “New Light” ministers advocated an emotional approach to religious practice; this weakened the authority of traditional “Old Light” ministers and established churches.

  2. New Light ministers did the following:

  • Promoted the growth of New Light institutions of higher learning, such as Princeton

  • Sparked a renewed missionary spirit that led to the conversion of many African slaves.

  • Led to a greater appreciation for the emotional experiences of faith

  • Led to divisions within both the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, resulting in growth religious diversity

  • Led to the growing popularity on itinerant ministers

  • Led to an increase in the number of women in church congregations (Women became the majority in many church congregations.)

Test Tip- It is easy to allow the First Great Awakening to slip off your APUSH radar screen. Don’t let that happen. The First Great Awakening has appeared on five of the six APUSH released tests. Pay special attention to reviewing the consequences of the First Great Awakening.

  1. Pennsylvania and the Quakers

  1. Pennsylvania

  1. The colony was founded by William Penn.

  2. Penn created an unusually liberal colony, which included a representative assembly elected by the landowners.

  3. Pennsylvania granted freedom of religion and did not have a state-supported church.

  1. Quakers

  1. Quakers were pacifists who refused to bear arms.

  2. Quakers advocated freedom of worship and accepted a greater role for women in church services.

  3. Quakers opposed slavery and were among America’s first abolitionists.

  1. Colonial Society on the Eve of the Revolution

  1. Key Features

  1. Northern merchants and Southern planters amassed great wealth. Nonetheless, colonial society did not have a hereditary aristocracy.

  2. The number of non-English settlers continued to increase. For example, Scotch-Irish and German immigrants moved into Appalachia as the Native Americans were defeated.

  3. The 13 colonies were religiously diverse. As a result of this religious pluralism, there was no single dominant Protestant denomination.

  4. Slavery was generally accepted as a labor system. The institution was legally established in all of the colonies.

  5. Functioning primarily as mercantile centers, colonial cities collected agricultural goods and distributed imported manufactured goods. Most colonial cities were ports that maintained close economic and cultural ties with England.

  1. Mercantilism and the Navigation Acts

  1. Mercantilism was England’s dominant economic philosophy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

  2. The goal of mercantilism was for England to have a favorable balance of trade. To achieve this goal, the colonies were expected to export raw materials and import finished goods.

  3. Mercantilism was designed to protect English industry and promote England’s prosperity.

  4. The Navigation Acts were part of the British policy of mercantilism. They listed colonial products that could be shipped only to England.

  5. The mercantilist system led to the subordination of the colonial economy to that of the mother country.

  6. The North American colonies took advantage of Great Britain’s policy of salutary neglect to work out trade agreements so they could acquire needed products from other countries.

  1. Women in Colonial America

  1. During the colonial period, a woman usually lost control of her property when she married.

  2. During that period, a married woman had no separate legal identity apart from her husband.

  3. During that period, single women and widows had the right to own property.

  1. Republican Government/Republicanism

  1. Republicanism is the belief that government should be based on the consent of the governed.

  2. Republicanism inspired eighteenth-century American revolutionaries.

  3. Key principles include the following:

  • Sovereignty comes from the people. Representation should therefore be appointed, based on population.

  • A republic is preferable to a monarchy because it would establish a small, limited government that is responsible to the people.

  • Widespread ownership of property is the bulwark of republican government.

  • Standing armies are dangerous and should be avoided.

  • Agrarian life is both desirable and virtuous.

  1. Colonial Literature

  1. Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was the first notable American poet and the first woman to be published in colonial America.

  2. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was the first published African American poet. Her writing helped create the genre of African American literature.

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