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Key Names, Events, and Terms from the 2010 Amsco book

J. Hector St. John Crèvecoeur

Wrote Letters from an American Farmer, which was the first text to ask and answer the question "What is an American?" Although Crèvecoeur was describing life in the British colonies in America, he used his character, James, to portray the new consciousness of emerging American society


Newcomers to the British colonies who came not only from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland) but also from other parts of Western and Central Europe, especially large numbers of Protestants from France and German-speaking people from various German kingdoms and principalities. Their motives for leaving Europe were many. However, in the 18th century, fewer immigrants headed for New England because the lands in this region were both limited in extent and under Puritan control

English cultural domination

Great majority of the population were English in origin, language, and tradition. At the same time, however, both Africans and European immigrants were creating a diversity of culture that would gradually modify the culture of the majority in significant ways


The government of each colony had a representative assembly that was elected by eligible voters (limited to white male property owners). Only in two colonies, Rhode Island and Connecticut, was the governor also elected by the people. The governors of the other colonies were either appointed by the crown or by a proprietor

religious toleration

All of the colonies permitted the practice of different religions, but with varying degrees of freedom. Massachusetts, the least tolerant, excluded non-Christians and Catholics, although it accepted a number of Protestant denominations. Rhode Island and Pennsylvania were the most liberal

hereditary aristocracy

The social extremes of Europe, with a nobility that inherited special privileges and masses of hungry poor, were missing the colonies. A narrower class system, based on economics, was developing. Wealthy landowners were at the top; craftspeople and small farmers made the majority of the common people

social mobility

With the major exception of the African Americans, everybody in colonial society had an opportunity to improve their standard of living and social status by hard work

colonial families

The economic and social centers of colonial life. With an expanding economy and ample food supply, people were marrying at a young age and rearing more children. Over 90 percent of the people lived on farms. While life in the coastal communities and on the frontier was not easy, it did provide a higher standard of living than in Europe

subsistence farming

farming that was most commonly found in the Southern colonies, which provided for the basic needs of the farmer without surpluses for marketing

established churches

17th century churches that were financed by taxing people who supported one of the Protestant denominations. There were two such churches in the early colonies: the Church of England (Anglican church) in Virginia and the Congregational Church in Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut

Great Awakening

The movement characterized by fervent expressions of religious feeling among masses of people. It was at its strongest during the 1730s and 1740s when a dramatic change occurred that swept through the colonies with the force of a hurricane

Johnathan Edwards

Reverend who initiated the Great Awakening with a series of sermons, notable one called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (1741). Invoking the Old Testament Scriptures, he argued that God was rightfully angry with human sinfulness. Each individual who expressed deep penitence could be saved by God's grace, but the souls who paid no heed to God's commandments would suffer eternal damnation

George Whitefield

A preacher of the Great Awakening who came from England in 1739 and traveled from one end of colonial America to the other. More than any other figure, he ignited the Great Awakening with his rousing sermons on the hellish torments of the damned. He preached in barns, tents, and fields, sometimes attracting an audience of 10,000 people. He stressed that God was all-powerful and would save only those who openly professed belief in Jesus Christ; those who did not would be cast into hell. He also taught that ordinary people who had faith and sincerity could understand the Christian Gospels without depending on ministers to lead them

Georgian style

This style was widely imitated in the 1740s and 1750s, in colonial houses, churches, and public buildings. Brick and stucco homes built in this style were characterized by a symmetrical placement of windows and dormers and a spacious center hall flanked by two fireplaces. Such homes were found only on or near the eastern seaboard. On the frontier a one-room log cabin was the common shelter

Benjamin West and John Copley

American artists who went to England where they acquired the necessary training and financial support to establish themselves as prominent artists

Cotton Mather

A Massachusetts minister who had written a widely read religious tract

Benjamin Franklin

The remarkable jack-of-all-trades and by far the most popular and successful American writer of the 18th century, who wrote Poor Richard's Almanack. He is also known for his pioneering work with electricity and his more practical developments of bifocal eyeglasses and stove, which brought him international fame

Poor Richard's Almanack

Written by Benjamin Franklin, it is a collection of his witty aphorisms and advice and was a best-selling book that was annually revised from 1732 to 1757

Phillis Wheatley

Poet who is noteworthy both for her triumph over slavery and the quality of her verse

John Bartam

The Botanist of Philadelphia who was self-taught like most other scientists such as Ben Franklin


Type of college that existed to promote the doctrines of a particular religious sect


College with no religious affiliation, or religious sponsor, e.g. The College of Philadelphia (future U Penn)

Christian ministers

The only profession in the first hundred years of colonial life (1607-1707) to enjoy widespread respect among the common people


Needed because thousands of colonists fell prey to epidemics of smallpox and diphtheria and were treated by a cure that only made matters worse. The common practice then was to bleed the sick, often by employing leeches or bloodsuckers. For a beginning doctor, there was little to no formal medical training other than acting as an apprentice to an experienced doctor


Often viewed as talkative troublemakers, and were not commonly seen in the colonial courts of the 1600s. During the 1700s, however, as trade expanded and legal problems became more complex, the need for expert assistance in court became apparent. The most able formed a bar, which set rules and standards for those that aspired to pursue this profession. They gained further respect int he 1760s and 1770s when they argued for colonial rights

John Peter Zenger

A New York editor and publisher who was brought to trial on a charge on libelously criticizing New York's royal governor. In the end, the jury voted to acquit Zenger. While this case did not guarantee complete freedom of the press, it encouraged newspapers to take greater risks in criticizing a colony's government

Andrew Hamilton

Zenger's lawyer who arguedthat he had printed the truth about the governor

colonial governor

The chief executive of the colony

colonial legislatures

The legislature that voted either to adopt or reject the governor's proposed laws

town meetings

Dominant form of local government in New England, in which people of the town would regularly come together often in a church, to vote directly on public issues

county government

Government in the southern colonies, which was carried on by a law-enforcing sheriff and other officials who served a large territorial unit

limited democracy

Democracy that barred people from voting (white women, poor white men, slaves of both sexes, and most free blacks). The barriers to voting that existed in the 17th century were beginning to be removed in the 18th. Voters in all colonies were still required to own at least a small amount of property

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