Modern history

Conclusion: A Divided Society

By 1750 religious and political awakenings had transformed colonists’ sense of their relation to spiritual and secular authorities. Both Gilbert Tennent and Sarah Grosvenor were caught up in these transitions. Like most colonists, they did not conceive of themselves as part of a united body politic but rather identified most deeply with their family, town, or church. Indeed, most colonists thought of themselves as English, or Scots-Irish, or German, rather than American. At best, they claimed identity as residents of Massachusetts, New Jersey, or South Carolina rather than British North America. By 1750 the diversity and divisions among colonists were greater than ever as class, racial, religious, and regional differences multiplied across the colonies. Still, by midcentury, religious leaders had gained renewed respect, colonial assemblies had wrested more autonomy from royal hands, freemen participated more avidly in political contests and debates, printers and lawyers insisted on the rights and liberties of colonists, and local communities defended those rights in a variety of ways. When military conflicts brought British officials into more direct contact with their colonial subjects in the following decade, they sought to check these trends, with dramatic consequences.

Chapter Review

IDENTIFY KEY TERMS

Identify and explain the significance of each term below.

spectral evidence (p. 86)

patriarchal family (p. 87)

Walking Purchase (p. 96)

New Light clergy (p. 98)

Old Light clergy (p. 98)

Enlightenment (p. 98)

Pietists (p. 98)

Great Awakening (p. 99)

impressment (p. 104)

REVIEW & RELATE

Answer the focus questions from each section of the chapter.

1. what factors led to a rise in tensions within colonial communities in the early 1700s?

2. How did social, economic, and political tensions contribute to an increase in accusations of witchcraft?

3. why and how did the legal and economic status of colonial women decline between 1650 and 1750?

4. How did patriarchal ideals of family and community shape life and work in colonial America? what happened when men failed to live up to those ideals?

5. How and why did economic inequality in the colonies increase in the first half of the eighteenth century?

6. How did population growth and increasing diversity contribute to conflict among and anxieties about the various groups inhabiting British North America?

7. what groups were most attracted to the religious revivals of the early eighteenth century? why?

8. what were the legacies of the Great Awakening for American religious and social life?

9. How did ordinary colonists, both men and women, black and white, express their political opinions and preferences in the first half of the eighteenth century?

10. How did politics bring colonists together across economic lines in the first half of the eighteenth century? How did politics highlight and reinforce class divisions?

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

1636

• Harvard College established

1647-1692

• Some 160 individuals tried for witchcraft in Massachusetts and Connecticut

1688

• Glorious Revolution

1692

• Salem witch trials

1693

• College of William and Mary established

1700-1750

• 250,000 immigrants and Africans arrive in the colonies

1700-1775

• Population of British North America grows from 250,000 to 2.5 million

1712

• Benjamin Wadsworth publishes The Well-Ordered Family

1720-1740

• Large numbers of Scots-Irish arrive in Pennsylvania

1734

• John Peter Zenger acquitted of libel in New York City

1736

• First permanent almshouse built in New York City

1737

• Delaware Indians acquiesce to Walking Purchase

• Protest against public market in Boston

1739

• George Whitefield launches fifteen-month preaching tour of the colonies

1741

• Gilbert Tennent expelled from the Presbyterian Church

1742

• Sarah Grosvenor dies as a result of a botched abortion

1745

• 40,000 Scottish Catholics shipped to the Carolinas after a failed rebellion

1747

• Impressment leads to three days of rioting in Boston

1750

• American colonists resist appointment of an Anglican bishop for the North American colonies

1757

• George Tennent initiates effort to reunite the Presbyterian Church

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!