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Life and Death in 17 th Century British North America. How did birth and death rates influence the development of British colonies?. I. Stable Societies: The New England Colonies. A. The “Numbers”. Nuclear families came in tact across the Atlantic

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life and death in 17 th century british north america

Life and Death in 17th Century British North America

How did birth and death rates influence the development of British colonies?

a the numbers
A. The “Numbers”
  • Nuclear families came in tact across the Atlantic
  • Key to population increase was longevity, not fertility
  • One of the first western societies in recorded history where one could count on knowing one’s grandchildren
  • Average woman marrying in early twenties bore eight children
b family life
B. Family Life
  • Family = central unit of social stability
  • Goal = “godly” family ruled by the patriarch
  • Young people generally picked their own mates, usually neighbors
b family life cont
B. Family Life (cont.)
  • At first, married children continued to live in the same towns with their parents
  • Romantic Puritans and the practice of “bundling”
  • Burst of illegitimacy during the first half of 1700’s
b family life cont6
B. Family Life (cont.)
  • Puritans were much more “secular” than often recognized
  • The place of “work” was the household and children were the source of extra laborers
b family life cont7
B. Family Life (cont.)
  • Churches were built on the foundation of family life

-- “Half-Way Covenant” (1662)

  • Significant rates of literacy characterized New England

--Ye Olde Deluder Satan Act (1647)

b family life cont8
B. Family Life (cont.)
  • Cambridge has a printing press by 1639

--The Day of Doom

  • First Bible printed in America (1663)

--Algonquian, produced by John Eliot

  • First newspaper to endure in the colonies = Boston Newsletter (1704)
  • Harvard established (1636)
c women s roles and class status
C. Women’s roles and Class Status
  • A Proverbs 31 Woman
  • Distinct duties in the household
  • Women joined church more than men
  • Little political and legal rights
  • Women seen as weaker vessels with feebler minds
  • Less class inequality than in Europe or in the Chesapeake

-- “yeoman” farmers

c women s roles and class status cont
C. Women’s roles and Class Status (cont.)
  • Wealth, not bloodlines nor religion, becomes the key determinant of social ranking
  • Pressure on the land brought tension due to the creation of new towns and the move into alternative occupations
  • Not uncommon for northern colonists to be servants at one time or another
a the numbers12
A. The “Numbers”
  • Much lower life expectancy than in New England
  • People married later due to indenture contracts
  • Greater informal power for women
  • Only one of three marriages survived a decade—lots of blended families
b family life13
B. Family Life
  • 70-85% of immigrants came as single indentured servants with many more men than women immigrating—so fewer stable nuclear families as a foundation
  • Wealthy fathers sent their sons to England for school and no printing press until 1671
  • Sex ratio finally nearly even by 1690
c class status
C. Class Status
  • A Tobacco Economy produced class inequity
  • Indentured servants more economical than African slaves until the death rate drops
  • Third generation of planters come to dominate society and politics
c class status cont
C. Class Status (cont.)
  • Freed indentures and indentured servants represented an increasing problem with land becoming increasingly difficult to obtain
  • Alternatives = Middle Colonies, Backcountry, or just wandering about
a some freedom before the 1670 s
A. Some Freedom before the 1670’s
  • Approximately 12 million Africans brought to the Americas—most to the Caribbean
  • Experience on board for African slaves
  • Sullivan’s Island in Charleston Harbor = the African “Ellis Island”
a some freedom cont
A. Some Freedom (cont.)
  • Gender imbalance 2:1 in favor of males
  • Christian conversion = “benefit” for loss of freedom
  • Status of African-Americans fluid until death rate drops
escalation of slavery after 1670 s
Escalation of Slavery after 1670’s
  • Formation of Royal African Company in 1672
  • Increase of Black codes during the last quarter of the 17th century

--1660 = first recognition of slavery in Va. Law

--1661 = comprehensive code in Barbados

--1670 = recognized as life-long, inherited status

--1696 = S.C. adopts Barbados-style slave code

--1705 = Va. adopts Barbados-style slave code

c colonial african american culture
C. Colonial African-American Culture
  • Cultural identity protected by the size and density of population
  • Typical slave lived on a plantation having a work force of ten or more
  • Arrival time creates barriers between African-Americans
c colonial african american culture cont
C. Colonial African-American Culture (cont.)
  • Early decades of 18th century = “turning point” for African-American family life
  • Number of rebellions small, but fear of them occurring was great

--Stono Rebellion (1732)

iv social and political instability 1675 1700
IV. Social and Political Instability: 1675-1700
  • Pressure on the land north and south
  • Bacon’s Rebellion (1676)
  • “Glorious Revolutions” in America (1688-1691)

--Massachusetts, New York and Maryland

  • The Salem Witch Trials (1692)

-- “Spectral Evidence”