Unit One- Colonial America Chapters 1-5
Big Picture Themes
1. The New World, before Columbus, there were many different Native American tribes. These people were very diverse. In what’s today the U.S., there were an estimated 400 tribes, often speaking different languages. It’s inaccurate to think of “Indians” as a homogeneous group.
3. The coming together of the two worlds had world changing effects. The biological exchange cannot be underestimated. Food was swapped back and forth and truly revolutionized what people ate. On the bad side, European diseases wiped out an estimated 90% of Native Americans
4. The Southern colonies were dominated by agriculture, namely (a) tobacco in the Chesapeake and (b) rice and indigo further down the coast.
5. Bacon’s Rebellion is very representative of the struggles of poor white indentured servants. Nathaniel Bacon and his followers took to arms to essentially get more land out west from the Indians. This theme of poor whites taking to arms for land, and in opposition to eastern authorities, will be repeated several times (Shay’s Rebellion, Paxton Boys, Whisky Rebellion).
3. Taken altogether, the southern colonies were inhabited by a group of people who were generally young, independent-minded, industrious, backwoodsy, down home, restless and industrious.
4. A truly unique African-American culture quickly emerged. Brought as slaves, black Americans blended aspects of African culture with American. Religion shows this blend clearly, as African religious ceremonies mixed with Christianity. Food and music also showed African-American uniqueness.
6. New Englanders developed a Bible Commonwealth—a stern but clear society where the rules of society were dictated by the laws of the Bible. This good-vs-evil society is best illustrated by the Salem witch trials.
7. Taken altogether, the northern colonies were inhabited by a group of people who grew to be self-reliant, stern, pious, proud, family oriented, sharp in thought and sharp of tongue, crusty, and very industrious.
8. The Americans were very diverse for that time period. New England was largely from English background, New York was Dutch, Pennsylvania was German, the Appalachian frontier was Scots-Irish, the southern coast African-American and English, and there were spots of French, Swiss, and Scots-Highlanders.
9. Although they came from different origins, the ethnicities were knowingly or what mingling and melting together into something called “Americans.”
10. Most people were farmers, an estimated 90%. The northern colonies held what little industry America had at the time: shipbuilding, iron works, rum running, trade, whaling, fishing. The south dealt with crops, slaves, and naval stores.
11. There were two main Protestant denominations: the Congregational Church up north, and the Anglican Church down south. Both were “established” meaning tax money went to the church. Poised for growth were the “backwoods” faiths of the Baptists and Methodists that grew by leaps thanks to the Great Awakening.