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Why did everyone in average colonial household have to work?

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rj1895lng | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:28 AM via web

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Why did everyone in average colonial household have to work?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:38 AM (Answer #1)

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Everyone in a colonial household had to work because life was much more labor-intensive in those days.  In other words, it took a lot more work just to get the basics of life.

Think about how things were in those times.  The vast majority of people lived on their own farms and made or grew most of the things they needed.  These were people who had to grow their own food, get milk from their own cows, and make that milk into butter or cheese on their own.  There were no labor-saving devices for those jobs so that meant a lot of hard work like churning butter and milking cows by hand.

As far as growing the staple crops like grains, again, there was no mechanization.  A farmer would have to, for example, plow his fields with a horse-pulled plow and then plant them by hand.  He would have to harvest them by hand.  Everything was done without mechanisation.

This already sounds like a lot of work.  Now take into account that we haven't discussed making clothes, making food, making candles, washing, or any of those things.  No wonder everyone had to work!

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scwebber | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:42 AM (Answer #2)

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The average colonial household was no easy place to make a living. Today we have so many modern conveniences that it is sometimes hard to identify with the problems that colonists faced everyday. Things like water and food were something that had to be worked for everyday. Clothing and furniture had to be handmade as well as pretty much everything else. If colonists lived close to a town, they had more access to goods than those who lived in the deep country. The country colonists had to provide everything to sustain life for themselves. Colonists had to gather their own water, grow or hunt for food, and physically make anything that they wanted. Due to this fact, everyone was required to work in the colonial household, usually from daylight to dark. It took a lot of work just to provide for one day of existence in colonial life.

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