Chapter 3Opportunity and Oppression in Colonial Society Daniel Batista Pedro Bravo Marcos Carriedo
The Challenge of the Chesapeake Environment An entirely different society developed in England’s Chesapeake colonies, Virginia and Maryland. • Family Life at Risk • Due to high mortality rates and other factors • The Structure of Planter Society • Very few wealthy planters, the Gentry, and many poor farmers.
Family Life at Risk • Unlikenorthern colonies, the settlers of places like Virginia and Maryland were mostly young white men owing 5 to seven years of indentured servitude. As such, the early male to female ratio was around 6 to 1 before 1640. • Most immigrants who arrived to the Chesapeake region died soon after arriving. Either due to disease or famine. • Family life was very unstable, grandchildren never met their grandparents, only 1 in 3 marriages would last more than a decade due to the death rate.
The Structure of Planter Society • Those who survived the horrid conditions grew tobacco, as much as they possibly could, making it Virginia's staple crop. • Labor made the difference, and those who controlled it made the most money. • That created a social hierarchy with the wealthy gentry at the top, poor freeman farmers under them, then white indentured servants. • Although it wasn’t considered a demeaning job, indentured servants faced grueling conditions under wealthy planters. • As time progressed, this ruling elite became harder to enter by newcomers and many sought their fortunes in other colonies. • These native elite soon took local offices and Virginia began to take on a permanence it did not have before.
Race and Freedom in British America • Roots of Slavery • Needed for Labor, but English did not hesitate to enslave them or Native Americans for that matter because they associated them with barbarous practices– and evil itself. • Constructing of African American Identities • Over time, Africans transplanted in America developed their own unique customs and language.
Roots of Slavery • Most Africans were sold either in the Caribbean or Brazil, and a vary small percentage arrived in the 13 colonies, most after 1700 when there were fewer indentured servants to be found. • British colonials justified their slave labor practices not only as a way to get labor, but also because the believed these people were heathens and that if they shed their supposedly barbarous ways and embraced Christianity, then they would benefit from their enslavement. • As Slave populations increased, lawmakers enforced stricter slave codes. • Even murder was accepted, as it was though that a person would never “intentionally harm ones own estate.”
Constructing African American Societies • Eventually, the children of transplanted slaves would be born into a life of slavery in the colonies, and in larger slave communities like in Virginia, they had a chance to form their own unique culture. • Many slaves adopted the Christian beliefs of their masters but managed to retain many of the traditions from their native land. • However this meant that newly arrived slaves would be slightly alienated as they were seen as newcomers and couldn’t converse with the other English speaking slaves.