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United States Era 2

Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)

Standard 1: Why the Americas attracted Europeans, why they brought enslaved Africans to their colonies, and how Europeans struggled for control of North America and the Caribbean  

Standard 2: How political, religious, and social institutions emerged in the English colonies  

Standard 3: How the values and institutions of European economic life took root in the colonies, and how slavery reshaped European and African life in the Americas 

The study of the colonial era in American history is essential because the foundations for many of the most critical developments in our subsequent national history were established in those years. The long duration of the nation's colonial period--nearly two centuries--requires that teachers establish clear themes. A continental and Caribbean approach best serves a full understanding of this era because North America and the closely linked West Indies were an international theater of colonial development.

One theme involves the intermingling of Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans. Students first need to understand what induced hundreds of thousands of free and indentured immigrants to leave their homelands in many parts of Europe. Why did they risk the hardships of resettlement overseas, and how well did they succeed?

Students must also address two of the most tragic aspects of American history: first, the violent conflicts between Europeans and indigenous peoples, the devastating spread of European diseases among Native Americans, and the gradual dispossession of Indian land; second, the traffic in the African slave trade and the development of a slave labor system in many of the colonies. While coming to grips with these tragic events, students should also recognize that Africans and Native Americans were not simply victims but were intricately involved in the creation of colonial society and a new, hybrid American culture.

A second theme is the development of political and religious institutions and values. The roots of representative government are best studied regionally, so that students can appreciate how European colonizers in New England, the mid-Atlantic, and the South differed in the ways they groped their way toward mature political institutions. In studying the role of religion--especially noteworthy are the foundations of religious freedom, denominationalism, and the many-faceted impact of the Great Awakening--a comparative geographic approach can also be fruitful. Comparison with the role of religion in Dutch, French, and Spanish colonies can be valuable as well.

A third theme is the economic development of the colonies through agriculture and commerce. A comparative approach to French, Spanish, Dutch, and English colonies, and a regional approach to the English mainland and West Indian colonies, as part of a developing Atlantic economy, will also be instructive. As in studying politics and religion, students should ponder how economic institutions developed--in ways that were typically European or were distinctively American--and how geographical variations--climate, soil conditions, and other natural resources--helped shape regional economic development. 

Each standard was developed with historical thinking standards in mind. The relevant historical thinking standards are linked in the brackets, [ ], below.

Standard 1

Why the Americas  attracted Europeans, why they brought enslaved Africans to their colonies, and how Europeans struggled for control of North America and the Caribbean.

Standard 1A 

The student understands how diverse immigrants affected the formation of European colonies.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze the religious, political, and economic motives of free immigrants from different parts of Europe who came to North America and the Caribbean. [Consider multiple causation]
 5-12 Explain why so many European indentured servants risked the hardships of bound labor overseas. [Consider multiple perspectives]
 5-12 Evaluate the opportunities for European immigrants, free and indentured, in North America and the Caribbean and the difficulties they encountered. [Compare competing historical narratives]
 9-12 Compare the social composition of English, French, and Dutch settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. [Interrogate historical data]
 5-12 Trace the arrival of Africans in the European colonies in the 17th century and the rapid increase of slave importation in the 18th century. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]

Standard 1B

The student understands the European struggle for control of North America.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze relationships between Native Americans and Spanish, English, French, and Dutch settlers. [Compare and contrast different sets of ideas]
 5-12 Compare how English settlers interacted with Native Americans in New England, mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake, and lower South colonies. [Consider multiple perspectives]
 7-12 Analyze how various Native American societies changed as a result of the expanding European settlements and how they influenced European societies. [Examine the influence of ideas and interests]
 7-12 Analyze the significance of the colonial wars before 1754 and the causes, character, and outcome of the Seven Years War. [Analyze multiple causation]
 9-12 Analyze Native American involvement in the colonial wars and evaluate the consequences for their societies. [Consider multiple perspectives] 

Standard 2

How political, religious, and social institutions emerged in the English colonies.

Standard 2A

The student understands the roots of representative government and how political rights were defined.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze how the rise of individualism contributed to the idea of participatory government. [Assess the importance of the individual]
 5-12 Compare how early colonies were established and governed. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
 7-12 Explain the concept of the "rights of Englishmen" and the impact of the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution on the colonies. [Hypothesize the influence of the past]
 9-12 Analyze how gender, property ownership, religion, and legal status affected political rights. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
 7-12 Explain the social, economic, and political tensions that led to violent conflicts between the colonists and their governments. [Examine the influence of ideas]
7-12
Explain how the conflicts between legislative and executive branches contributed to the development of representative government. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 2B

The student understands religious diversity in the colonies and how ideas about religious freedom evolved.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Describe religious groups in colonial America and the role of religion in their communities. [Consider multiple perspectives]
 5-12 Explain how Puritanism shaped New England communities and how it changed during the 17th century. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]
 7-12 Trace and explain the evolution of religious freedom in the English colonies. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]
 9-12 Explain the impact of the Great Awakening on colonial society. [Examine the influence of ideas

Standard 2C

The student understands social and cultural change in British America.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain how rising individualism challenged inherited ideas of hierarchy and deference and affected the ideal of community. [Assess the importance of the individual]
 5-12 Explain how and why family and community life differed in various regions of colonial North America. [Consider multiple perspectives]
 9-12 Analyze women's property rights before and after marriage in the colonial period. [Interrogate historical data]
 5-12 Explain how Enlightenment ideas, including Benjamin Franklin's experiments with electricity, influenced American society. [Examine the influence of ideas]
 9-12 Explore the seeds of public education in the New England colonies and explain how literacy and education differed between New England and southern colonies. [Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas]

Standard 3

How the values and institutions of European economic life took root in the colonies, and how slavery reshaped European and African life in the Americas

Standard 3A

The student understands colonial economic life and labor systems in the Americas.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain mercantilism and evaluate how it influenced patterns of economic activity. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Identify the major economic regions in the Americas and explain how labor systems shaped them. [Utilize visual and mathematical data]
9-12 Explain the development of an Atlantic economy in the colonial period. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]

Standard 3B 

The student understands economic life and the development of labor systems in the English colonies.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain how environmental and human factors accounted for differences in the economies that developed in the colonies of New England, mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake, and lower South. [Compare and contrast different sets of ideas]
 7-12 Analyze how the early Navigation Acts affected economic life in the colonies. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
 9-12 Explore how the mobility and material success of many colonists encouraged the development of a consumer society and led to the imitation of English culture. [Utilize quantitative data]
 7-12 Compare the characteristics of free labor, indentured servitude, and chattel slavery. [Compare and contrast differing labor systems]
 9-12 Explain the shift from indentured servitude to chattel slavery in the southern colonies. [Challenge arguments of historical inevitability

Standard 3C

The student understands African life under slavery.

GRADE LEVEL
THEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Analyze the forced relocation of Africans to the English colonies in North America and the Caribbean. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
 7-12 Explain how varieties of slavery in African societies differed from the chattel racial slavery that developed in the English colonies. [Compare and contrast differing institutions]
 9-12 Assess the contribution of enslaved and free Africans to economic development in different regions of the American colonies. [Interrogate historical data]
 7-12 Analyze how Africans in North America drew upon their African past and upon selected European (and sometimes Indian) customs and values to develop a distinctive African American culture. [Identify gaps in the historical record while constructing a sound historical interpretation]
 7-12 Analyze overt and passive resistance to enslavement. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

 

 

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