What was life like for the Colonies and the development of Colonial America?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that Colonial life possessed some of the basic elements that would end up playing a defining role in America for years to come.  On one hand, there was a growing sense of industry.  Mercantilist philosophies that dominated England indicated that colonies must operate as cash producing elements for the parent nations.  In cultivating this, the British started to sow the seeds of discontent in the colonies because colonial life was being driven by economic opportunity and the manifestation of wealth, something that would start the process of demanding separation from England.  At the same time, while commercialism and wealth were increasing, there was a drive to determine where spirituality figures in this configuration.  The questioning of spirituality resulted in the movements such as the Great Awakening in the midst of miscarriages of religious spirituality such as the Salem Witchcraft Trials.  In the midst of all of this, I think that the growing influence of the Enlightenment intellectual movement in Europe started to make its way to the colonies:

During the eighteenth century a unique "American spirit" began to take shape. Colonists were not only questioning English rule but also rebelling against various forms of local authority. Demanding the rights and freedoms—religious, political, economic, and individual—symbolized by the New World (a European term for North and South America), Americans were setting the stage for revolution.

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