Life in Colonial America

Essay by Vunit2007High School, 11th gradeA+, May 2005

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By 1700, more than 250,000 people of European origin or descent lived within what is now the United States. These settlers covered much of the eastern seaboard. Each region of colonization was economically and socially distinct, as each area developed differently based on geography, immigration trends, and other factors.

The New England Colonies

The New England colonies spanned modern-day Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. New England's economy centered on small farming, fishing, and home manufactures, as well as sea trade and shipbuilding. The region quickly expanded as immigrants streamed in and families grew.

New England economy was based on small-scale agriculture, fishing, home manufactures, shipbuilding, and trading.

Life was fairly stable for New Englanders. They often lived 15-25 years longer than their British counterparts or colonists in other regions, due in part to a better diet. Puritan communities were close-knit, and because all followers of God were expected to read the Bible, they placed great emphasis on education.

New England was likely the most literate community in the world.

Religion dominated all aspects of life in New England. In order to vote or hold office, a person had to be a member in good standing of the church. Religious dissenters were subjected to public spectacle or banishment. Fervent religious superstition also fueled New England's most notorious scandal: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and 1693.

Beginning with the Mayflower compact, and continuing with the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter, the New England Colonies quickly established a tradition of self-government. By 1641, 55 percent of males in Massachusetts could vote--a much higher percentage than in England. Connecticut developed a similar government with even more voting rights: all male landowners were granted suffrage under the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, which in 1639 became the first written constitution in the New...

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