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Discover_our_World_Yellow / Lesson 3: An Overview of Colonial Life and Beliefs

An Overview of Colonial Life and Beliefs


  • Some colonists came to America for religious freedom

  • Some came because they were poor and they could become indentured servants

  • Some came as prisoners

  • Some came from Africa as slaves

  • The colonists mainly sought a better life in America


  • There were 13 English colonies that ended up forming all together

  • So many people came to the colonies as a result of hard times in England that by 1760 England was said to have "Colony Fever"

  • Around the late 1700s, England began passing laws to stop people from going to America because so many were leaving

The Journey to the Colonies

  • It was dangerous and uncomfortable on the ship, as it took 4 months

  • People were crowded together with little light or air

  • The ceiling was only 4 1/2 feet high

  • The food was wormy and moldy

  • Many people died or got sick on the trip

Indentured Servants

  • If someone in Europe was poor, they might come to America as an indentured servant

  • An indentured servant is a person who bounds himself or herself to serve someone for a certain period of time in exchange for something

  • Between 1630 and 1700-half of all the immigrants who came to the colonies were indentured servants


  • Colonists who wished to learn a skill or craft became apprentices

  • An apprentice is a person who works for a skilled laborer to learn a trade or art

The Frontier

  • As more people came to the colonies, the population increased causing the frontier to move westward

  • A frontier is the far edge of a country, where people are just beginning to settle

Colonial jobs

  • Colonists did not have stores in the beginning so they had to do the following:

    1. Make their own clothing

    2. Grow their own food

    3. Build their own homes

    4. Make their own furniture

    5. Transport their own items everywhere

    6. Raise animals

What did colonists do for fun?

  • They had Quilting Bees

  • They had Plowing competitions

  • They had corn husking competitions

  • They had foot races

  • They hunted

  • They fished

  • They horse raced

  • They bowled

  • As you can see many activities they had were combined with work because they did not have a lot of time

Colonial Cities

  • Colonial cities grew by ports because it was easy to haul goods by the water

  • There were some famous portside cities that flourished:

    1.) Philadelphia, PA
    2 .)Boston, MA
    3.) New York, NY
    4.) Charles Town, SC

  • A very famous colonial citizen of Philadelphia, PA was Ben Franklin who invented the lighting rod, established the first fire dept., police force, the public library, and the first college, he was a scientist, a politician and much more

The Back country

  • The land between the Appalachian Mountains and the foothills by the Atlantic Coast was nicknamed the "back country"

  • The land along the Atlantic coast was very crowded, so the newcomers had to move farther westward so they moved to the back country

  • Also there was more land out west and it was cheaper than living on the Ocean

The Back country

  • Life in the Back country was hard as people had rocky land that made farming difficult

  • There were few waterways to transport goods

  • Colonists traveled on trails made by Native Americans

  • Also colonists faced Native American threats

The Yamasee War

  • Many Native Americans lived in the back country

  • Sometimes the colonists tricked the Native Americans into a fake trade and they captured and enslaved them

  • The Native Americans became angry at all colonists as a result

  • In 1715, fighting between the Yamasee Native Americans and the North Carolina colonists broke out---The Native Americans almost won, but the Cherokee came into the fight near the end and supported the colonists in exchange for goods-so the colonists won


  • Plantations or large farms developed in the South

  • Plantations were like small villages and in the center of the plantation was the big house where the planter and his family lived

  • Many African slaves lived in small cabins near the crop fields


  • There were overseers on the plantations

  • Overseers were the bosses of the plantations---the overseer's job was to tell the slaves what to do and if they did not do what they were supposed to do-the overseer punished them

The Slave Codes

  • In 1705, Virginia passed the slave codes

  • The slave codes were laws or rules that kept slaves under control

  • The laws were: Slaves were not allowed to practice their own religions, Slaves were not allowed to learn to read, Slaves were not allowed to marry, The slaves were not allowed to own property, Anyone who killed a slave would not be punished, Anyone who helped a slave would be punished

The colonies

  • The colonies were difficult places to live with many hardships

  • The colonists worked hard

  • The colonies would soon have other conflicts with Britain, that would lead to their independence as a New Nation