How can I write an autobiographical narrative about my life and experiences as an ordinary person living in colonial America during either the 17th or 18th century?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To write this narrative, you will first want to decide where you live. Each colony had a distinctive culture and way of functioning. For example, if you lived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, you would have been subject to a government that functioned as a theocracy (a merging of church and state) that was run by Puritans. If you were a dissenter and wanted to break away from the Puritans, you might have lived in Rhode Island, which was founded for dissenters and allowed people freedom of religion. New York also allowed some degree of religious freedom, while the south was largely Anglican and had an economy based on agriculture (including raising cotton, tobacco, rice, indigo, and other crops) and slavery.

Next, you should decide what type of status or profession your character has. As demand for cheap agricultural labor grew, particularly in the south, many people immigrated to the United States, mainly from Britain, as indentured servants. They had to work about 4-7 years in return for passage before being set free. There were also slaves in the United States, concentrated in the south, starting in 1619. As time went on, the codes making slavery a lifelong condition became harsher and harsher. In the north, the beginnings of industrialization were in evidence, such as in the Saugus Ironworks, founded near Boston, Massachusetts in the 1640s. Many colonial Americans were farmers. The crops they raised depended on where they lived. For example, in colonial Virginia, farmers raised wheat, corn, cotton, and other crops and raised livestock.

Your character will also want to respond to events occurring during the time period during which he or she lived. Major events include (but aren't limited to)  the Pequot War that Puritans conducted against Native Americans in the Connecticut River Valley in the 1630s, Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia in 1676 (in which Virginians rose up against Native Americans as part of a class struggle between poorer farmers and wealthy plantation owners), and the events leading up the Revolution in 1776 (such as the Boston Tea Party, etc.).