Life in the Thirteen Colonies

Start Free Trial

What are some similarities between Colonial times and today?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Some of the most pressing concerns in modern society existed in colonial times. Economic inequality, the relationship between people and government, debates about trade, and nearly constant warfare are issues in the twenty-first century, and they were major issues in colonial times, as well. Of course, colonial society was over 90% agrarian, which is perhaps the most fundamental difference, but similarities existed as well. For example, in some colonies, elites, and even ordinary people, worried about the effects of immigration, and politicians rather cynically used it for political advantage. Benjamin Franklin, for example, very famously decried German, Scots-Irish, and Swedish influence in Pennsylvania, writing:

Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs any more than they can acquire our Complexion?

So xenophobia, an unfortunate aspect of today's political discourse, existed in colonial times as well. Colonial people also had to worry about the effects of their actions on the environment. In North and South Carolina, for example, hunters nearly exterminated whitetail deer by the late eighteenth century, a development that eliminated what had been a significant part of the economy. Like today, older colonists worried about what they perceived as dangerous social change. In New England, for instance, the founding generation of Puritans feared that material comfort and territorial expansion compromised the religious fervor that led to the colony's founding. So in many ways, people who lived in colonial society, although it was a vastly different world than our own, would have recognized some aspects of modern life, for better or for worse.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Colonial era in the United States is usually referring to the early 1600s until 1776.  Jamestown was first settled in 1607, which marks the beginning of the Colonial era.  The Thirteen Colonies declared themselves independent from England in 1776, which marks the end of the period.

The most striking similarity between the Colonial period and now is the political unrest.  In the years leading up the the American Revolution, most people were divided into two ways of thinking.  Loyalists were loyal to England and King George III.  They wanted the Thirteen Colonies to remain under British rule.  Patriots wanted to separate themselves from Britain.  Some Patriots wanted to remain part of Britain, but they wished for the colonies to have more freedoms and choices.

Similar to those days, today in America most people belong to one of two political parties.  Democrats prefer a liberal way of thinking, while Republicans choose a conservative way of thinking.  

In the Colonial days, people were also upset about new taxes.  They disagreed with some of the new taxes imposed on them by the British Crown.  Today, people still disagree about taxes and tax reform.

Freedom was something that was valued in the Colonial era and it is something that is still valued today.  North America was a new frontier, and it was seen as a land of opportunity.  The United States is still seen as a land of opportunity for many people.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial