Creating America (Survey) Chapter 5: Beginning of an American Identity

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1 Creating America (Survey) Chapter 5: Beginning of an American Identity Section 1: Early American Culture Main Idea: The British colonies were shaped by prosperity, literacy, and new movements in religion and thought. Land ownership in the colonies was the means to wealth. Wealth, in turn, determined social standing. Most colonists were in the middle ranks. The wealthiest people were in the highest ranks. Owning land brought political power by giving men the right to vote. Most colonial white women were farm wives. They tended gardens and farm animals, and made clothing. They often bartered, or traded, with their neighbors. Enslaved black women helped raise cash crops. In the cities, women sometimes practiced trades. Despite their role in the economy, women could not vote or own property. Large families were common, because more children meant more workers. Many boys became apprentices, meaning that they learned a trade by working with an experienced craftsman. Colonial schooling emphasized religion. Being able to read the Bible was the main reason for teaching children to read. Children learned at home or attended schools taught by women. Wealthy children had tutors or attended private schools. Between 50 and 85 percent of colonial men were literate, and about half as many white women were. Most African Americans could not read, and slaves were forbidden an education. Colonists published almost 80 different newspapers. They also published poetry, history, and life stories. Almanacs, which usually contained a calendar, weather predictions, and farming advice, were especially popular. In 1682, Mary Rowlandson published a bestselling captivity narrative. Captivity narratives described the experiences of colonists who had been captured by Native American tribes and were living among them. 1

2 In the 1730s and 40s, a religious movement called the Great Awakening took place. Its ministers preached that inner religious feelings were more important than outward behavior. Two of its best-known preachers were Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. The movement stirred up ideas of equality and the right to challenge authority. It also caused a split in the church. The Enlightenment was a movement that valued reason and science. This movement began in Europe, as scientists learned about natural laws, such as gravity, that controlled the universe. Other Enlightenment thinkers applied the idea of natural law to human societies. The English philosopher John Locke argued that people have natural rights and that governments are created to protect these rights. His ideas later led colonists to break away from England. Ben Franklin was a famous American Enlightenment figure. Section 2: Roots of Representative Government Main Idea: Colonists expected their government to preserve their basic rights as English subjects. Long before the colonies were founded, English people expected certain rights. In 1215, England s King John signed the Magna Carta, which guaranteed certain rights. It stated that people could not be put on trial without witnesses and could only be punished by a jury of their peers. The Magna Carta also prevented the king from seizing property and limited his right to tax. The colonists modeled their government on Parliament, England s chief lawmaking body. Parliament is made up of two houses. Members of one house, the House of Commons, are elected by the people. Similarly, American colonists elected their own assemblies, which gave them some self-rule. Nevertheless, the English king and Parliament still had power over them. 2

3 James II became England s king in He combined Massachusetts and other northern colonies into the Dominion of New England and named Edmund Andros as its governor. Andros angered the colonists by ending their representative assemblies. Soon, however, a change in England s leadership occurred. Fearing the Catholicism of King James, Parliament s leaders offered the throne to the king s Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange. They accepted and King James fled. This change is called the Glorious Revolution. William and Mary soon signed the English Bill of Rights, which stated that the government was to be based on laws made by Parliament. The Bill strengthened the rights of the English people. The colonists quickly claimed these rights. They jailed Governor Andros and asked Parliament to reinstate their old government. After the Glorious Revolution, Massachusetts colonists could again elect representatives to an assembly. Their governor, however, was still chosen by the crown. During the first half of the 1700s, England maintained a policy of salutary neglect towards the colonists. Salutary neglect means leaving alone in a helpful way. In 1735, John Peter Zenger was tried for publishing criticism of the government. Zenger published the New-York Weekly Journal, in which New York s governor was criticized. Zenger s lawyer argued that people had the right to speak the truth. When Zenger was set free, the colonists moved closer to gaining freedom of the press. Section 3: The French and Indian War Main Idea: Britain s victory in the French and Indian War forced France to give up its North American colonies. France and England were rivals in the American colonies. They competed for land and for furs. The English settled North America s eastern coast. By the late 1600s, the French had claimed the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, as well as the entire Great Lakes region. 3

4 The fur trade created alliances between the Europeans and their Native American trading partners. By the 1750s, British traders and settlers also wanted part of the fur trade in the Ohio River valley. The colony of Virginia also claimed the area and built a fort at the head of the Ohio River. Soon the French took over the fort, calling it Fort Duquesne. Then, Washington s forces built a second fort, called Fort Necessity. On July 3, 1754, the French and their Native American allies started the French and Indian War by attacking Fort Necessity. Washington surrendered. This war became part of the Seven Years War between France and Britain. Meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin proposed a plan that the British colonies band together for defense. He called it the Albany Plan of Union. The colonial legislatures turned down the plan. In 1755, British forces under General Edward Braddock attacked Fort Duquesne. Although the British numbered 2,100 men, they were defeated by fewer than 900 French and Native American troops. Then, in 1757, William Pitt, Britain s new secretary of state, sent top British generals to America. He also paid American colonial troops to fight. In 1759, British troops captured Quebec, the capital of New France. The Battle of Quebec was the turning point of the French and Indian War. This Seven Years War ended in 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris ended. France gave up most of its land in North America, while Britain claimed almost all of North America east of the Mississippi. France gave New Orleans and Louisiana to Spain, who had been France s ally during the war. Spain also took back Cuba and the Philippines from Britain in exchange for Florida. In 1763, Native Americans attacked British forts and settlers. The Native Americans were angry because British soldiers would not give them supplies. Also, British settlers had moved onto their land. These attacks are known as Pontiac s Rebellion named after one of the Ottawa war leaders. 4

5 The rebellion made the British government realize that defending Western lands would be costly. Parliament issued the Proclamation of 1763, forbidding colonists to settle west of the Appalachians. This made the colonists angry. 5

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