Unit 3: The 13 English Colonies

Essential Questions

  • What are the political, economic, and social roots of colonial settlements in the Americas?
  • What role did geography play in the settlement pattern?
  • How did settlers adapt to the new environments?
  • How did colonial life evolve?
  • What kinds of political systems were created to provide order and justice?
  • What kinds of economic systems were created to answer the three basic economic questions:
    • What goods and services shall be produced? 
    • How shall they be produced? 
    • For whom shall they be produced?
  • What kinds of social systems were created to satisfy religious and cultural needs


A. English colonies: New England, Middle Atlantic, Southern

  1. Reviewed as a geographic region—criteria to define regions, types of regions
  2. Settlement patterns: who? when? why?
  3. Economic patterns emerge to meet diverse needs: agricultural and urban settlements
  4. Political systems: the Mayflower Compact
  5. Social order

B. New Netherland; French and Spanish colonies

  1. Reviewed as a geographic region—types, connections between regions
  2. Settlement patterns: who? when? why?
  3. Economic patterns emerge to meet diverse needs
  4. Political systems and social order

C. Colonial communities were the center of social, economic, and political life and tended to develop along European pattern

  1. Variations were found
    • Religious-based
    • Slave and free black communities
    • Place of national origin
  2. The social structure promoted interdependence
  3. Social goals promoted community consciousness over individual rights
  4. Role of religions
  • Puritans
  • Quakers
  • Catholics
  • Others
  • Survival demanded cooperation and a strong work ethic
  • Importance of waterways
  • A hierarchical social order created social inequity
  • D. Structure and roles of colonial families

    1. Nuclear families made up the basic social and economic unit
    2. Authority and obligation followed kinship lines
    3. Roles of family members

    E. Life in colonial communities was a reflection of geographic and social conditions

    1. Impact of physical environments on
      • Travel
      • Communication
      • Settlements
      • Resource use
    2. Social conditions led to
      • Different forms of government
      • Varying roles of religion
      • Inequalities of economic conditions
      • Unequal treatment of blacks
    3. The impact of geographic and social conditions could be seen in the divergent landholding systems that developed in:
      • New England
      • New Netherland: patroonship system
      • Southern colonies: plantation system
    4. Life in French and Spanish colonies was both similar to and different from life in other colonies