U.S. History
Material Type:
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • History
  • Ohs0432
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
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    Colonial Societies 1500-1700

    Colonial Societies 1500-1700


     By the mid-seventeenth century, the geopolitical map of North America had become a patchwork of imperial designs and ambitions as the Spanish, Dutch, French, and English reinforced their claims to parts of the land. Uneasiness, punctuated by violent clashes, prevailed in the border zones between the Europeans’ territorial claims. Meanwhile, still-powerful native peoples waged war to drive the invaders from the continent. In the Chesapeake Bay and New England colonies, conflicts erupted as the English pushed against their native neighbors.

    The rise of colonial societies in the Americas brought Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans together for the first time, highlighting the radical social, cultural, and religious differences that hampered their ability to understand each other. European settlement affected every aspect of the land and its people, bringing goods, ideas, and diseases that transformed the Americas. Reciprocally, Native American practices, such as the use of tobacco, profoundly altered European habits and tastes

    Learning Objectives

    • Identify the main Spanish American colonial settlements of the 1500s and 1600s
    • Discuss economic, political, and demographic similarities and differences between the Spanish colonies
    • Compare and contrast the development and character of the French and Dutch colonies in North America
    • Discuss the economies of the French and Dutch colonies in North America
    • Identify the first English settlements in America
    • Describe the differences between the Chesapeake Bay colonies and the New England colonies
    • Compare and contrast the wars between native inhabitants and English colonists in both the Chesapeake Bay and New England colonies
    • Explain the role of Bacon’s Rebellion in the rise of chattel slavery in Virginia
    • Explain the reasons for the rise of slavery in the American colonies
    • Describe changes to Indian life, including warfare and hunting
    • Contrast European and Indian views on property
    • Assess the impact of European settlement on the environment

    Module Supplemental Readings/Videos

    Glossary of Key Terms

    Bacon's Rebellion: Uprising of Virginia backcountry farmers and indentured servants led by planter Nathaniel Bacon in response to Governor William Berkeley's refusal to protect backcountry settlers from Indian attacks.

    charter: Legal document granted by a government to a group or agency for a stated purpose. British colonial charters guaranteed inhabitants all the rights of Englishmen, which helped solidify colonists' ties to Britain

    Edict of Nantes: Decree issued by the French crown granting limited toleration to French Protestants.

    headright system: To encourage the importation of indentured servants to, the system allowed an individual to acquire fifty acres of land if he paid for a laborer's passage to the colony.

    Huguenots: French Protestant granted limited toleration under the Edict of Nantes. After King Louis XIV outlawed Protestantism in 1685, many Huguenots fled elsewhere, including to British North America.

    indenture:  an agreement to work for a certain amount of years in exchange for passage to the Americas

    Iroquois Confederacy: Bound together five tribes -- the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, and the Senecas -- in the Mohawk Valley of what is now New York State

    Jamestown: First permanent English settlement in North America founded by the Virginia Company.    

    joint-stock company: Short-term partnership between multiple investors to fund a commercial enterprise; such arrangements were used to fund England's early colonial ventures.

    King Philip's War: Series of assaults by Metacom (known as King Philip to English settlers) on English settlements in New England. The attacks slowed the westward migration of New England settlers for several decades.

    Mayflower Compact: Agreement to a majority rule government in Plymouth, signed aboard the Mayflower.

    Massachusetts Bay Colony: Established by Puritans, it soon grew to be the largest and most influential of the New England colonies.

    middle passage: Transatlantic voyage slaves endured between Africa and the colonies.

    Puritans: English Protestant reformers who sought to purify the Church of England of Catholic rituals and creeds. Some of the most devout Puritans believed that only "visible saints" should be admitted to church membership.  

    Royal African Company: English joint-stock company that enjoyed a state-granted monopoly on the colonial slave trade from 1672 until 1698.

    Salem witch trials: Series of witchcraft trials launched after a group of adolescent girls in Salem, Massachusetts, claimed to have been bewitched by certain older women of the town. 

    Separatists: Small group of Puritans who sought to break away entirely from the Church of England;

    triangular trade: Exchange of rum, slaves, and molasses between the North American Colonies, Africa, and the West Indies.

    Instructor Resources


    • Class is broken into 3 tribes and must role play their tribe in a confederacy town hall meeting to resolve business.  see PDF below for full details.

    BACON'S REBELLION: Measures to Prevent/ Sustain Bacon's Rebellion

    • Class is broken INTO GROUPS OF 3-6. They read out loud an account of Bacon’s Rebellion, & and then collaborate to develop soloutions. see PDF below for full details.