1. Social Class and Colonial Life
• A New Kind of Society- British Culture was the basis
for colonial society. They adapted old ways for a new
world and the American Identity was born
• Abundant farmland and resources gave colonists a
chance to prosper. Land ownership gave people
political/voting rights as well
• This also created a different type of class system.
People were able to advance themselves through
hard work. There was no titled aristocracy
(royals), there was a huge middle class filled with
educated or skilled workers and land owners. There
was also a huge underclass of slaves.
2. • Day to day life- Women had many responsibilities but were
given few rights in the colonies. In order to own property they
had to have permission from their husbands and they could not
vote. Men most often worked outdoors.
• American families were large. This gave more help around the
farm. Around 13 boys often left the family to become
apprentices and learn a trade from a craftsman. Girls were
taught skills for taking care of the home.
• Literacy was greater in the colonies than in England (85% in
some colonies –men/ half that for women)
• Most colonists thought that it was more important to educate
males. Children learned to read in order to learn about the
• Reading brought the colonies together. There were many
newspapers and colonists began to publish their own books like
Benjamin Franklin and his “Poor Richard’s Almanac”
3. The Great Awakening
• Religious Revival- The Great Awakening appealed to colonists
faith and emotion. Beginning in the 1730’s a religious
movement called the Great Awakening swept through the
• Traveling ministers preached that inner religious emotion
was more important than outward behavior.
• Huge crowds came to revivals to hear preachers like
Jonathan Edwards who promised that all could be “saved.”
• The main belief was that a sudden rebirth would create a
spiritual relationship with God. This is the foundation for
• Many people created new denominations of Christianity and
this increased debate among religious scholars encouraging
diversity and religious tolerance
4. The Enlightenment
The Age of Reason- The “Enlightenment” emphasized the idea
that human reason and science were the paths to knowledge
• Ben Franklin was a well know Enlightenment figureConducting famous experiments with electricity and inventing
things like the Franklin Stove (not for money but to better
• Leaders of the Enlightenment challenged
authority, condemned tyranny, and encouraged science
education to understand nature.
• John Locke was an English Philosopher that challenged the
idea of rule by divine right (God Given power). He believed
that government was “by consent of the governed” and that
all people had natural rights – Life, Liberty and Property”
• They also believed in progress or bettering themselves and
society. The ideas of Progress, Natural rights and Govt by
agreement encouraged colonists to distance themselves from
the British govt.