Chapter 4 The Colonies Grow 1607-1770

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The Colonies Grow


Why It Matters

Independence was a spirit that became evident early in the history of the American people. The spirit of independence contributed to the birth of a new nation, one with a new government and a culture that was distinct from those of other countries.

The Impact Today

Americans continue to value independence. For example:

• The right to practice one's own religion freely is safeguarded.

• Americans value the right to express themselves freely and to make their own laws.

The American Republic to 1877 Video The chapter 4 video, "Middle Passage: Voyages of the Slave Trade," examines the beginnings of the slave trade,

c. 1570 Iroquois Confederacy formed

1603 Tokugawa Shogunate emerges in Japan

1610 Galileo observes planets and stars

1651 First Navigation Act regulates colonial trade

1644 Qing Dynasty establish in China

1676 Bacon’s Rebellion


1689 English Bill of Rights signed

1690 Locke's Two Treatises of Government

1700s Enslaved Africans brought to America

1702 England and France at war

c. 1740 Great Awakening peaks

1748 Montesquieu's The Spirit of Laws

1754 French and Indian War begins

1763 Proclamation of 1763

FOLDABLES Study Organizer

Compare-Contrast Study Foldable Make the following (Venn diagram) foldable to compare and contrast the peoples involved in the French and Indian War.

Step 1 Fold a sheet of paper from side to side, leaving a 2-inch tab uncovered along the side.

-Fold it so the left edge lies 2 inches from the right edge.

Step 2 Turn the paper and fold into thirds.

Step 3 Unfold and cut along the two inside fold lines.

Cut along the two folds on the front flap to make 3 tabs.

Step 4 Label the foldable as shown.

Reading and Writing As you read about the participants of the war, write facts about them under the appropriate tabs of your foldable.

---The South Side of St. John's Street by Joseph B. Smith This painting shows a quiet neighborhood in New York City during the late 1760s.

History Online

Chapter Online

Visit and click on Chapter 4- Chapter Overviews to preview chapter information.



Life in the Colonies

Main Idea

Each region developed a unique way of life.

Key Terms

subsistence farming, triangular trade, cash crop, diversity, Tidewater, backcountry, overseer
Reading Strategy

Classifying Information As you read Section 1, re-create the diagram below and describe the differences in the economies of the New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies.

Read to Learn

• what the triangular trade was and how it affected American society.

• how the regions in the colonies differed from one another.

• why the use of enslaved workers increased in the colonies.

Section Theme

Economic Factors Ways of earning a I living varied among the colonies.

Preview of Events

1700s Thousands of enslaved Africans are brought to America

1750 South Carolina and Georgia have the fastest-growing colonial economies

1760 New York City's population reaches 18,000

AN American Story

In 1760 Englishman Andrew Burnaby traveled throughout the North American colonies, observing American life. He could not imagine that these colonies would ever join in union for they were as different from one another as "fire and water," and each colony was jealous of the other. "In short, such is the difference of character, of manners, of religion, of interest, of the different colonies, that I think ... were they left to themselves, there would soon be a civil war, from one end of the continent to the other."

New England Colonies

Although Burnaby believed that the colonies would never unite, the colonies continued to grow. The number of people living in the colonies rose from about 250,000 in 1700 to approximately 2.5 million by the mid-1770. The population of African Americans increased at an even faster rate—from about 28,000 to more than 500,000.


Immigration was important to this growth. Between 1607 and 1775, almost a million peo­ple—an estimated 690,000 Europeans and 278,000 Africans—came to live in the colonies.

Another reason for the growing population was that colonial women tended to marry early and have large families. It was not unusual for a woman to have seven or more children. In addi­tion America, especially New England, turned out to be an unusually healthy place to live. Many babies survived the diseases of childhood to become adults, and many adults lived to an old age.

Most people in New England lived in well-organized towns. In the center of the town stood the meetinghouse, a building used for both church services and town meetings. The meet­inghouse faced a piece of land called the green, or common, where cows grazed and the citizen army trained. Farmers lived in the town and worked in fields on its outskirts.

Farming was the main economic activity in all the colonies, but New England farms were smaller than those farther south. Long winters and thin, rocky soil made large-scale farming difficult. Farmers in New England practiced subsistence farming which means that they generally produced just enough to meet the needs of their families, with little left over to sell or exchange. Most Northern farmers relied on their children for labor. Everyone in the family worked—spinning yarn, preserving fruit, milk­ing cows, fencing in fields, and sowing and har­vesting grain.

America's Architecture

A house design called a "salt box" became popular in many areas. The design featured a square or rectangu­lar house, often with an addition in the back that provided more living space. These houses were called salt boxes because they were similar in shape to the wooden box in which salt was kept in colonial kitchens.


Commerce in New England

New England also had many small busi­nesses. Some people used the waterpower from the streams on their land to run mills for grind­ing grain or sawing lumber. Women who made cloth, garments, candles, or soap for their fami­lies sometimes made enough of these products to sell or trade. Large towns attracted skilled craftspeople who set themselves up as black­smiths, shoemakers, furniture makers, gun­smiths, metalsmiths, and printers.

Shipbuilding was an important industry. The lumber for building ships came from the forests of New England and was transported down rivers to the shipyards in coastal towns.

---Pineapples symbol­ized hospitality in colonial America.


The region also relied on fishing. New Eng­landers fished for cod, halibut, crabs, oysters, and lobsters. Some ventured far out to sea to hunt whales for oil and whalebone.

Colonial Trade

As the center of the shipping trade in Amer­ica, northern coastal cities linked the northern colonies with the Southern Colonies, and linked America to other parts of the world. New Eng­land ships sailed south along the Atlantic coast, trading with the colonies and with islands in the West Indies. They crossed the Atlantic carrying fish, furs, and fruit to trade for manufactured goods in England and Europe.

These colonial merchant ships followed many different trading routes. Some went directly to England and back. Others followed routes that came to be called the triangular trade because the routes formed a triangle. On one leg of such a route, ships brought sugar and molasses from the West Indies to the New England colonies. In New England, the molasses would be made into rum. Next, the rum and other goods were shipped to West Africa and traded for enslaved Africans. Slavery was widely practiced in West Africa.

Many West African kingdoms enslaved those they defeated in war. Some of the enslaved were sold to Arab slave traders. Others were forced to mine gold or work in farm fields. With the arrival of the Europeans, enslaved Africans also began to be shipped to America in exchange for trade goods. On the final leg of the route, the enslaved Africans were taken to the West Indies where the) were sold to planters. The profit was used to buy more molasses—and the process started over.

---Slaves packed in a ship

Picturing History

A deck plan (above) reveals tightly packed ranks of slaves on a ship bound from Africa to the Americas. Once docked, the ship's human cargo was replaced with rum or molasses. What does the term “Middle Passage” refer to?

The Middle Passage

The inhumane part of the triangular tract shipping enslaved Africans to the West Indies was known as the Middle Passage. Olaudah­ Equiano, a young African forced onto a ship to America, later described the voyage:

“I was soon put down under the decks,. .. The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us.... The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, ren­dered [made] the whole a scene of horror.”


---Refer to page 103 for Triangular Trade and African Slave Trade chart

With its trade, shipbuilding, and fishing, New England's economy flourished. Although good farmland was lacking in much of the region, New England's population grew and towns and cities developed.

Reading Check Explaining Where was the shipping hub in America?

Geography Skills

Triangular trade routes developed among the British colonies, Africa, and the West Indies.

1. Comparing. What did the colonies export to Africa? What did they import from the West Indies?

2. Evaluating. Which part of the triangle—import or export—do you think was most important to colonists? Why?

The Middle Colonies

The Middle Colonies enjoyed fertile soil and a slightly milder climate than New England's. Farmers in this region cultivated larger areas of land and produced bigger harvests than did New Englanders. In New York and Pennsylva­nia, farmers grew large quantities of wheat and other cash crops, crops that could be sold easily in markets in the colonies and overseas.

Farmers sent cargoes of wheat and livestock to New York City and Philadelphia for ship­ment, and these cities became busy ports. By the 1760s New York, with 18,000 people, and Philadelphia, with 24,000 people, were the largest cities in the American colonies.

Industries of the Middle Colonies

Like the New England Colonies, the Middle Colonies also had industries. Some were home-based crafts such as carpentry and flour


---Refer to Art on page 104

History Through Art

Colonists brought traditions from their home­lands. One was the display of tapestry, a heavy fabric with a woven pattern or picture. What is happening in this tapestry?

making. Others included larger businesses such as lumbering, mining, and small-scale manufacturing.

One iron mill in northern New Jersey employed several hundred workers, many of them from Germany. Other smaller ironworks operated in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

German Immigrants

Most of the nearly 100,000 German immi­grants who came to America in the colonial era settled in Pennsylvania. Using agricultural methods developed in Europe, these immi­grants became successful farmers.

The Germans belonged to a number of Protes­tant groups. Together with the Dutch, Swedish, and other non-English immigrants, they gave the Middle Colonies a cultural diversity or vari­ety, that was not found in New England. With the diversity came tolerance for religious and cultural differences.

Reading Check Explaining What are cash crops?

The Southern Colonies

With their rich soil and warm climate, the Southern Colonies were well suited to certain kinds of farming. Southern farmers could culti­vate large areas of land and produce harvests of cash crops. Because most settlers in the Southern Colonies made their living from farming the land, they did not have the need to develop commerce or industry. For the most part, Lon don merchants rather than local merchants man aged Southern trade.


Tobacco and Rice

Tobacco was the principal cash crop of Mary­land and Virginia. Most tobacco was sold in Europe, where the demand for it was strong. Growing tobacco and preparing it for sale required a good deal of labor. At first planters used indentured servants to work in the fields. When indentured servants became scarce and expensive, Southern planters used enslaved Africans instead.

Slaveholders with large properties became rich on tobacco. Sometimes, however, a surplus, or extra amounts, of tobacco on the market caused prices to fall and then the growers' profits also fell. In time, some tobacco plays switched to growing other crops such as corn and wheat.

The main cash crop in South Carolina and Georgia was rice. In low-lying areas along the coast, planters built dams to create rice fields, called paddies. These fields were flooded when the rice was young and drained when the ice was ready to harvest. Work in the rice paddies involved standing knee-deep in the mud all day with no protection from the blazing sun or the biting insects.


Because rice harvesting required so much strenuous work, rice growers relied on slave labor. Rice proved to be even more profitable than tobacco. As it became popular in southern Europe, the price of rice rose steadily. By the 1750s South Carolina and Georgia had the fastest-growing economies in the colonies.

Tidewater and Backcountry

Most of the large Southern plantations were located in the Tidewater, a region of flat, low-lying plains along the seacoast. Plantations, or large farms, were often located on rivers so crops could be shipped to market by boat.

Each plantation was a self-contained commu­nity with fields stretching out around a cluster of buildings. The planter's wife supervised the main house and the household servants. A plan­tation also included slave cabins, barns and sta­bles, and outbuildings such as carpenter and blacksmith shops and storerooms. Even kitchens were in separate buildings. A large plantation might also have its own chapel and school.

West of the Tidewater lay a region of hills and forests climbing up toward the Appalachian Mountains. This region was known as the backcountry and was settled in part by hardy new­comers to the colonies. The backcountry settlers grew corn and tobacco on small farms. They usually worked alone or with their families, although some had one or two enslaved Africans to help.

In the Southern Colonies, the independent small farmers of the backcountry outnumbered the large plantation owners. The plantation owners, however, had greater wealth and more influence. They controlled the economic and political life of the region.

Reading Check Comparing How were the settlers of the Tidewater different from those of the backcountry?

History Through Art

The Old Plantation by an unknown artist This watercolor from the 1700s shows a tradi­tional African celebration on a Southern plan­tation. Where would you be more likely to find enslaved African laborers-in the Tidewater or backcountry? Why?



Most enslaved Africans lived on plantations. Some did housework, but most worked in the fields and often suffered great cruelty. The large plantation owners hired overseers, or bosses, to keep the slaves working hard.

By the early 1700s, many of the colonies had issued slave codes, strict rules governing the behavior and punishment of enslaved Africans. Some codes did not allow slaves to leave the plantation without written permission from the master. Some made it illegal to teach enslaved people to read or write. They usually allowed slaves to be whipped for minor offenses and hanged or burned to death for serious crimes. Those who ran away were often caught and punished severely.

African Traditions

Although the enslaved Africans had strong family ties, their families were often torn apart. Slaveholders could sell a family member to another slaveholder. Slaves found a source of strength in their African roots. They developed a culture that drew on the languages and customs of their West African homelands.

Some enslaved Africans learned trades such as carpentry, blacksmithing, or weaving. Skilled workers could sometimes set up shops, sharing their profits with the slaveholders. Those lucky enough to be able to buy their freedom joined the small population of free African Americans.

Fact Fiction Folklore

Slavery was first outlawed in the northern colonies. This is not true. Slavery was first outlawed in the colony of Georgia in 1735. Georgia eventually made slavery legal again.

Criticism of Slavery

Although the majority of white Southerners were not slaveholders, slavery played an impor­tant role in the economic success of the Southern Colonies. That success, however, was built o the idea that one human being could own another. Some colonists did not believe in slavery. Many Puritans refused to hold enslave people. In Pennsylvania, Quakers and Mennonites condemned slavery. Eventually the debate over slavery would erupt in a bloody war, pitting North against South.

Reading Check Describing What did slave codes do?


Checking for Understanding

1. Key Terms Use each of these terms in a sentence that will help explain its meaning: subsistence farming, triangular trade, cash crop.

2. Reviewing Facts Identify the various economic activities carried on in the Middle Colonies.

Reviewing Themes

3. Economic Factors How did New England's natural resources help its commerce?

Critical Thinking

4. Comparing How did farming in New England compare with farming in the Southern Colonies? Use a chart like the one below to answer the question.

5. Making Inferences How do you think plantation owners in the South­ern Colonies justified their use of enslaved Africans?

Analyzing Visuals

6. Geography Skills Study the map page 103. What goods were traded from the British Colonies to Great Britain? From the West Indies to Great British Colonies?
Interdisciplinary Activity

Informative Writing Imagine you live in New England in the 1750s and are visiting cousins on a farm in the Carolinas. Write a letter to a friend at home describing your visit to the farm.



Olaudah Equiano

(c. 1750-1797)

Olaudah Equiano was 11 years old when he and his sister were kidnapped by slave traders.

Olaudah was taken to the West Indies and sold into slavery. His life story includes memories of his child­hood in Africa. He wrote his story after receiving the name Gustavus Vassa from one of his masters and buying his free­dom. Published during the time of the movement to end slav­ery, Equiano's work became a best-seller.


This selection begins after Olaudah has been kidnapped and forced to endure the terri­fying trip across the Atlantic Ocean aboard a slave ship. As you read, think about what life must have been like for Africans who were sold into slavery.


parcel: group

lots: groups

toil: work

The Kidnapped Prince

Right away we were taken to a merchant's yard, where we were all penned up together like so many sheep. When I looked out at the town, everything was new to me. The houses were built with bricks, in stories, and were completely different from any I had seen in Africa. I was still more astonished at seeing people on horseback. . . .

We were not many days in the merchant's custody before we were sold—like this:

Someone beat a drum. Then all the buyers rushed at once into the yard where we were penned to choose the parcel of us that they liked best. They rushed from one group of us to another, with tremendous noise and eager faces, terrifying us all.

Three men who were sold were brothers. They were sold in different lots. I still remember how they cried when they were parted. Prob­ably they never saw each other again.

I didn't know it, but this hap­pened all the time in slave sales. Parents lost their children; brothers lost their sisters. Husbands lost their wives.

We had already lost our homes, our countries, and almost everyone we loved. The people who did the selling and buying could have done it without separating us from our very last relatives and friends. They already could live in riches from our misery and toil. What possible advantage did they gain from this refinement of cruelty?

From The Kid­napped Prince by Olaudah Equiano. Adapted by Ann Cameron. Copy­right © 1995 by Ann Cameron. Reprinted by per­mission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.


1. Recall and Interpret How did the Africans feel as they were being sold?

2. Evaluate and Connect Do you think Olaudah Equiano supports slavery? Explain.

Interdisciplinary Activity

Descriptive Writing Re-read till excerpt and think about what it must have been like to be sepa­rated from family members. Write a dialogue you think might occur between two family members as they are about to be separated from each other.



Government, Religion, and Culture

Guide to Reading

Main idea

The ideals of American democracy and freedom of religion took root during the colonial period.

Key Term

Mercantilism, export, import, smuggling, charter colony, proprietary colony, apprentice, literacy

Reading Strategy

Organizing Information As you read the section, re-create the diagram below and identify the three types of English colonies.

Read to Learn

• why the Navigation Acts angered the colonists.

• who had the right to vote in colo­nial legislatures.

Section Theme

Continuity and Change The roots of American democracy, freedom of reli­gion, and public education are found in the American colonial experience.

1636 Harvard College is established

1693 College of William and Mary is founded

1732 Benjamin Franklin publishes Poor Richard's Almanack

c. 1740 Great Awakening sweeps through the colonies

AN American Story

"Fish and Visitors stink after three days."

"Beware of little Expenses: a small Leak will sink a great Ship."

"No gains without pains."

Benjamin Franklin wrote these and other witty sayings for his annual book, Poor Richard's Almanack. The last saying—"No gains without pains"—was particularly true in the American colonies in the late 1600s.

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