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Religious Freedom and Recreation!
Living Conditions in Colonial Rhode Island
Rhode Island was a New England colony for the people that wanted religious freedom. If they believed differently than the church, they went to Rhode Island for freedom. The settlers of Rhode Island had many different faiths.
Slavery was a big deal in Rhode Island. The idea of freedom did not reach the slaves. Sea merchants quickly discovered the riches that could be made off slave trade. Rhode Island was soon transformed into one of the world’s largest slave-trading centers.
Large and small farms were an important industry in Rhode Island. Not only did farmers grow fruits and vegetables but they also raised cattle for meat and dairy. Other industries in Rhode Island included lumber, shipbuilding, whaling and trade.
Rhode Island was a New England colony so they were forced to give the children education. In small towns, the children were taught to read and write. In the larger cities, they had one-room schools. The school had a chimney, fireplace, no maps, and no boards to write on. The children wrote with ink on pieces of bark. There was usually only one book and it was the New England Primer.
A lot of people ate corn in the colonial times, they were taught to grow and cook corn by the Indians. One common way that corn was eaten was by grounding it into a mush or cake. Besides corn the colonist also ate meat. They hunted for there own meat or raised it on a farm, but often time it went bad because they did not have any refrigeration. Fruit and vegetables also were included in the colonist’s diets. Apples were plentiful so they had apple pie year round. In the spring and summer you could find strawberries, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and huckleberries. The colonists thought raw vegetables were unhealthy and as a result usually cooked them into stews that had meat and herbs in it.
In colonial times, the people had harsh crimes that resulted in harsh punishments and lesser crimes that resulted in minor punishments. Some harsh crimes were murder, treason, piracy, theft, forgery, and highway robbery. These types of crimes carried punishments of death, jail time, being whipped, or being branded with hot irons. Some minor crimes were drunkenness and breaking Sabbath. These were punished by fines, short jail terms, or being put in the stocks.
Extended families were common in colonial times. Often grandparents and other relatives lived in the same household. People usually married in their mid twenties. People who were indentured servants could not marry until they had gained their freedom. It was not unusual for couples to have a large number of children. Children were expected to be productive workers. Large families were especially important to people who lived on farms. The colonies were populated with more men than women. This meant that the ladies were almost guaranteed one or more marriage proposals. During colonial times, the death rates for children and adults were very high due to diseases like malaria.
The colonists enjoyed leisure time as well. The children liked to play with dolls, marbles and tops. They would also play games like blindman’s bluff, tag, and a game similar to cricket called stoolball. The men would gather both for pleasure and work. They would hold “bees” such as a “chopping bee” where they would all help each other clear wood off their land. This made the work go faster and made it more fun. They would also do barn or house raisings. This would be where all the men would build the four frames of a house or barn in one day and than raise it up. The women would cook a big feast for them. The women would also gather for “bees,” like quilting bees. They could work and socialize at the same time.
The men played sports such as “tick-tack,” a game similar to backgammon and “trock,” a game similar to pool. Many of the villages had a bowling green. They would roll an egg shaped ball down the grass toward a white ball.