U.S. History: Inheritance and Experience in British North America 1607-1763 (970 words)

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Question

Write an essay addressing some of these questions:

How did the intersection of inheritance and experience shape social development in British North America between 1607-1763?
Define the concepts of social simplification, social elaboration, and social replication.
How does social simplification explain labor and gender relations in the seventeenth century?
How did slavery change life in the Chesapeake?
Why did family life, politics, and religion change during the social elaboration period?
How well did the colonists replicate English life in the eighteenth century?
Does the model explain life in New England?

Solution Preview

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Social development in British North America between 1607 and 1763 was shaped by many factors, the most influential being inheritance and experience. How the colonists lived their lives depended on what they had to work with when they got there and what they learned the longer they were there. As they learned more about the New World they got better at making it productive which left more for the people who came behind them.
The first British colonists went through the experience of social simplification. Life as they had known it was drastically altered and simplified. Their lives were ones of survival. They were dealing with new climates, new vegetation and crops, and new people (namely Native Americans). This was a difficult transition and many did not make it. Because of this altered way of living, the social landscape was necessarily very different. Most of the early colonists were male which actually gave women a higher status. If widowed they inherited property and usually remarried very quickly. Some became quite wealthy and could have great influence. Before slavery, every hand was needed. Masters lived in conditions that were only just better than their laborers. One could not afford to treat the help too harshly because there was none else to be had. The death rate was so high that they could barely keep up as it was....

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