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American History 1--HIST 2111 (OER): Chapter 3: British North America

American Yawp Chapter Summary

Whether they came as servants, slaves, free farmers, religious refugees, or powerful planters, the men and women of the American colonies created new worlds. Native Americans saw fledgling settlements turned into unstoppable beachheads of vast new populations that increasingly monopolized resources and remade the land into something else entirely. Meanwhile, as colonial societies developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, fluid labor arrangements and racial categories solidified into the race-based, chattel slavery that increasingly defined the economy of the British Empire. The North American mainland originally occupied a small and marginal place in that broad empire, as even the output of its most prosperous colonies paled before the tremendous wealth of Caribbean sugar islands. And yet the colonial backwaters on the North American mainland, ignored by many imperial officials, were nevertheless deeply tied into these larger Atlantic networks. A new and increasingly complex Atlantic World connected the continents of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Events across the ocean continued to influence the lives of American colonists. Civil war, religious conflict, and nation building transformed seventeenth-century Britain and remade societies on both sides of the ocean. At the same time, colonial settlements grew and matured, developing into powerful societies capable of warring against Native Americans and subduing internal upheaval. Patterns and systems established during the colonial era would continue to shape American society for centuries. And none, perhaps, would be as brutal and destructive as the institution of slavery. Read the rest of Chapter 3.

Things to Consider

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. Describe the Atlantic Economy. What were its origins? How did Europe, the Americas and Africa play a role in the triangular trading system that emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, with the Atlantic Ocean as the highway for trade?
  2. How were some Native Americans enslaved in the Americas? Why did Native American slaves ultimately not provide American colonies with a significant labor force?
  3. Describe African societies and the institution of slavery in Africa. How and why did Africans come to supply European colonies in the New World large numbers of slaves? Where did most African slaves sent to the New World go and why?
  4. What was the Middle Passage like for African slaves? How profitable was the slave trade for the Europeans involved in it?
  5. How did slavery come to be connected to ideas about race in colonies such as Virginia and South Carolina? How did new laws in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century contribute to the way people thought about race?
  6. How tumultuous political events in seventeenth century England such as the civil war of the 1640s and the Glorious Revolution of the 1680s impact the English colonies in the New World?
  7. Define mercantilism. How did it impact the English colonies in the New World?
  8. What was the role of religion in the founding of new English colonies in the seventeenth century such as Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Maryland?
  9. Why did New England experience wars with Native Americans in the seventeenth century such as the Pequot War and King Philip’s War? What were these wars like? What was the impact on both English and Native peoples?
  10. What was Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia? What were its causes and consequences?
  11. How did Bacon’s Rebellion contribute to the transition away from indentured servants to race-based slavery?
  12. Why did the Yamasee fight a war against the English settlers of South Carolina? What happened during this war? What were the results of the war?

Learning Objectives and Assessment

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate their ability to read, analyze, and comprehend college level written texts.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of diversity among cultures.
  • Students will be able to recognize differing perspectives and points of view.

Course Outcomes

  • Students will understand the centrality of slavery to the emerging Atlantic economy.
  • Students will be able to explain the causes & consequences of exploration & colonization including issues of trade, cultural diversity, & the origins of the American Revolution.
  • Students will be able to understand the consequences of the cultural collision among Europeans & Indian Nations, from New England to New Spain, from the initial colonial encounter through the policy of removal.
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