Evangelism: Seeking to spread a religion.  The colonists attempted to convert many Native Americans to Christianity.  Both the English and the Spanish attempted to convert the Indians to Christianity, though their methods differed: the Spanish Franciscans sought to eliminate Indian culture and forcibly replace it with Christianity, why the English missionaries learned the Indian languages and attempted to incorporate Christianity into their culture. 

Indentured Servitude: Individuals who contracted to serve a master for a period of four to seven years in return for payment of the servant’s passage to America.  Most were young, unskilled males, some were skilled, and some were convicts.  They were often treated harshly.

Joint-stock Company: A group of investors that pooled money to send colonists to the New World (at first in hopes of finding gold and reaping benefits on their investments).  The Virginia Company sent colonists to Jamestown.

Mercantilism: An economic system in which the government regulates the economy.  This policy was most successfully applied in Britain, where the government established a monetary system, controlled wages, subsidized agriculture and manufacturing, and put tariff barriers in place to protect from foreign competition.  A mercantilist system is generally one that exports more than it imports.

Middle Passage: The journey from Africa to the Americas on a slave ship.  It was very arduous, conditions were horrible, and many slaves died aboard the slave ships.  This was the middle leg of the Triangular Trade.

Proprietary Colony: A colony created when the English monarch granted a huge tract of land to an individual or group of individuals.  Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York were proprietary colonies.  Such colonies were generally ruled by a colonial charter that was reviewed by the king.

Royal Colony: Colony ruled by officials appointed by the king himself.  Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas were royal colonies.

Salutary Neglect: Because the colonies were not allowed their own currency, foreign currencies and commodities were used, and official currency exchange rates were put into place.  This went against the desires of Britain, but it worked so well that most Britons agreed to leave this system alone, known as a policy of “salutary neglect.”

Tariffs: Taxes placed on imported goods designed to raise their price and promote the sales local businesses.



Bacon’s Rebellion: Nathaniel Bacon led violent raids against the Indian peoples in Virginia in 1675.  The governor of Virginia, William Berkeley, attempted to stop this unauthorized military activity, but Bacon responded by raiding and burning the capital, forcing Berkeley to flee.  Bacon soon became sick an died, effectively ending his rebellion.  This rebellion was evidence of the tensions between frontier areas (those with Indians living near) and the coastal regions (where there were no Indians).

Glorious Revolution in England: A shift in power in England in 1688 when William of Orange ascended the throne with little bloodshed.  This ended Catholicism’s reign as the national religion, and Catholics were persecuted.  As a result, many Catholics migrated to the New World seeking religious freedom.

Great Awakening: A widespread colonial revival of Christianity.  People began to turn away from dry sermons and looked to inspired ministers who preached with emotion.  Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and William Tennent were the major catalysts for the awakening.

Great Migration: The migration of over 20,000 Puritans to Massachusetts between 1629 and 1643, began by the migration of the Massachusetts Bay Company.

King Philip’s War: The English forced the chief of the Pokanokets, Metacom, to give them sovereign authority over his territory, a humiliation for him.  As tensions between the Indians and English in New England had been high, Metacom decided to prepare for war through alliances.  The English took this opportunity to destroy the Indians and take their land in 1676, killing Metacom and taking many of his people as slaves.

King William’s War: Began in 1689, it was a conflict between England and France.  The Covenant Chain between New York and the Iroquois challenged French fur trade in the area, and France responded by expanding their domain to the west.  Tensions were high, and skirmishes began in the Hudson’s Bay region, which led England to capture France’s Port Royal; however, England failed to capture the province of Quebec.  The result of the war was indecisive, and was concluded with the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.

Pequot War: Conflict between English settlers and Pequot Indians over control of land and trade in eastern Connecticut.  It was followed by nearly 40 years of peace with the Indians.

Salem Witchcraft Trials: The community of Salem, MA was in pandemonium when a group of local girls began declaring witchcraft on the town’s women.  The women that were usually suspect tended to be wealthy, older women who lived alone.  When the trials stopped, over 20 supposed witches had been executed.

The Starving Time: The period during 1609-1610 in the colony of Jamestown when King Powhatan (Indian leader) cut supplies from the colonists because he felt threatened.  Mass starvation ensued, more than 400 died, and some resorted to cannibalism.

Stono Uprising: A slave rebellion in 1739 in the colony of South Carolina.  It was the largest uprising in the colonies until the American Revolution.  When it was suppressed (after over 50 casualties), South Carolina enacted harsher slave codes.

PEOPLE (Individuals & Groups)

Absolutists: Those who believed in the absolute rule of a monarch and the divine right of kings.  The Enlightenment and thinkers such as Adam Smith challenged these beliefs.

Congregationalists: Members of Puritan churches governed by congregations.  They were the first to doubt the Calvinist theology of predestination and viewed God as loving rather than punishing.  These sentiments were the precursor to the Great Awakening.

Jonathan Edwards: The most prominent figure of the Great Awakening, Edwards focused on touching the hearts of the young people by appealing to their emotions.

Benjamin Franklin: Wrote Poor Richard’s Almanac, which was influential in that it brought Enlightenment thinking to the common people.  He discovered electricity. He served as the first United States Ambassador to France.

Anne Hutchinson: A Puritan who criticized ministers in Boston for their emphasis on good works, which she believed implied that people could earn their way to heaven and was reverting back to the corrupt Catholicism they left.  She was excommunicated and banished from Boston, and she and her followers migrated to Roger Williams’ Providence.

Pilgrims: Religious dissenters known as Separatists (believed the Church of England to be corrupt).  They migrated to the Americas and became the first English settlers in New England.

Pocahontas:  the daughter of King Powhatan, married John Rolfe to unite the Powhatan Confederacy with the colony of Jamestown

Powhatan: Led by Chief Wahunsonacook, also known as “King Powhatan”, the Powhatan Confederacy was a political system that allied the Indians native to the Chesapeake area.  Envious of European technology, King Powhatan allowed the English to settle at Jamestown.

Puritans: Followers of John Calvin in England who wished to purify the Church of England.  They were persecuted heavily by King James I and King Charles I, causing them to migrate to America and form settlements.  The first were led by William Bradford and landed in Plymouth.

Sir Walter Raleigh: Was sent by Queen Elizabeth to quell dissension among the Irish Catholics using force during the 1560s.  He later attempted to establish a settlement at Roanoke, South Carolina, but it failed miserably as hostility with the Indians led to its doom.

Separatists: Religious dissenters known as Separatists (believed the Church of England to be corrupt).  They migrated to the Americas and became the first English settlers in New England.

John Smith: Leader of the English colony of Jamestown.

George Whitefield: An influential Anglican preacher during the Great Awakening, he helped bring the movement to all colonies by going on multiple preaching tours, where crowds were awed by his powerful oratories.  He avoided differences between sects of Christianity, and encouraged people to be Christian “in deed and truth”.

Roger Williams: Another New England minister, Roger Williams believed in the separation of church and state, tolerance of different religions, and that the English had no right to force the Indians off their land.  He was banished in 1636, and migrated with his followers to found the town of Providence.


Charter Colony: In a charter colony, the King granted a charter to the colonial government establishing the rules under which the colony was to be governed. The colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts Bay were charter colonies.

The Chesapeake: The colonies around Chesapeake Bay (VA, MD). A lot of land was given to tobacco plantations because there was such a high demand for the good in Europe. Initially land worked by indentured servants, later slaves.  The Church of England was the only accepted religion.

Jamestown: An English settlement formed in 1607 with the permission of King Powhatan, led by John Smith.  It suffered many hardships due to the lethargy of the original settlers.  The settlement at first depended on the Indians for sustenance, but when the Indians cut supplies, the colony suffered mass starvation. 

The Lower South: Triracial (white settlers, black slaves, Indians).   The area was predominately rural with few towns; social life centered around plantations.  Plantations focused on commercial crops, rice and tobacco

Massachusetts Bay Colony: A group of 200 wealthy English Puritans, calling themselves the Massachusetts Bay Company traveled to Salem, Massachusetts in 1629.  The leader of the colony was John Winthrop.

Middle Colonies: Included New York, Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey.  Ethnically diverse – Dutch, Huguenots, Flemish, Scots, Africans (free & slave).  All religions were accepted.  People were more mobile than in New England because land was sold in individual parcels rather than communal lots.

New England: All NE colonies except RI were governed by Puritan congregations.  Land was held communally. Other religions were banned. Dissenter had to flee (e.g Roger William – RI, Anne Hutchinson).


Dominion of New England: In order to gain more control over the colonies, King James II removed the existing governmental systems of New York, New Jersey, and New England and united them all under a royal governor, Edmund Andros, to form the Dominion of New England.  Strict Anglican worship was promoted and local self-rule was nonexistent.  The Dominion of England was overthrown after rebellions following the Glorious Revolution in 1689.

Fundamental Orders of New England:  (a.k.a. Fundamental Orders of Connecticut) The first written constitution in the United States.  Created in 1638, it asserted individual rights

Half-Way Covenant: Because Puritans required attendance of all members of a community and to be a member of the church, one must have had a conversion experience, there were problems with attendance.  The Half Way Covenant offered an opportunity for people (mainly children) to join as half-way members until their conversion experience allowed them to become a full-fledged member.

Maryland Toleration Act:  A law mandating religious tolerance for Trinitarian Christians. Passed on April 21, 1649 by the assembly of the Maryland colony, it was the second law requiring religious tolerance in the British North American colonies and created the first legal limitations on hate speech in the world.

Mayflower Compact: The first document of independent government in North America created by William Bradford at the Plymouth Colony.

Navigation Acts: Because other nations were stealing Britain’s business with its colonies due to aggressive competition, Britain passed Navigation Acts which regulated trade with its colonies, and forbade the trade of certain colonial goods with other countries.
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