Chapter 4 13 Themes

Chapter 4

American Life in the Seventeenth Century

Big ideas matter. Here are the most important themes for this chapter.

The over-arching theme of chapter 4 is that the American colonies quickly became unique as compared to any other land. And, that each region quickly assumed its own personality.

  1. The Southern colonies were dominated by agriculture, namely (a) tobacco in the Chesapeake and (b) rice and indigo further down the coast.
  2. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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