the common colonial life

by: Emily Hoffart & Nicole Sechelski


In 1769 most colonists were farmers. A few were wealthy plantation owners with land close to the coast from Maryland to Georgia. These plantations specialized in growing tobacco for export. By 1769 the colonies were exporting about 100 million pounds of tobacco each year. Most farmers worked family farms, growing as much as possible of what the family needed. Men, women and children worked on the farm, perhaps with the help of oxen or horses, maybe even a slave. Wooden plows were crude, and farmers sowed seed by hand. Depending on how successful they were, farmers lived in crude log cabins or substantial brick or stone homes.

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Educating children was the responsibility of the family. Wealthy parents employed tutors, but for many families, educating children meant teaching them what they needed to know to carry on the family business or work the family farm. Parents might also find apprenticeships for their children as a way of educating them. Children of wealthy parents often went to England for higher education, but by the time Dartmouth College was chartered in 1769, it was the ninth institute of higher learning in the colonies. However, according to, the college was the first chartered "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land...and also of English Youth and any others."

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The Anglicans were already established in most of the colonies and were even part of the group of people that were "persecuted" by the Puritans. However, after the dispersement of the Puritans, the number of other religions in the colonies began to increase. Baptists appeared in a majority of the colonies, Roman Catholics and Protestants organized in Maryland and even some German religions surfaced in a few of the colonies. Later came the Lutherans, who formed in the German communities in Pennsylvania, and the Presbyterians, who even had an appearance in the Massachusetts Proposals of 1705.