Invitation To The Past: Early America and Colonization
By Allison De Meulder
America hasn't always been the America we know it as today. In fact, at one point in history, no one was even aware that the land that would become America even existed. In 1492, Christopher Columbus was searching to find a new way to sail to Asia when he accidentally landed on a whole new world. When Christopher Columbus began to discover this new world, he found that there were mountains, farmlands, plains and even gold. Even in 1492, gold was extremely valuable. Eventually, word of the new world and all that it offered, got back to the European countries. When the European countries heard of the new world, they wanted to explore the new land as well.
The 13 Colonies
When people from the European countries came to the new world, they began to claim the land as their own. England claimed much of the East Coast of the new world which later became known as 'the 13 colonies'. The very first colony that stayed the property of England was created in 1607 and called Jamestown. Jamestown was in the area that is now known to us as the state of Virginia. Thirteen years later, in the year 1620, the Pilgrims came to the new world and created another colony that was known as Plymouth. Plymouth was in the land that is now the state of Massachusetts. After many years, there were 13 colonies that were claimed by the English. The colonies included both Virginia and Massachusetts, along with New Hampshire in 1623, Maryland in 1634, Connecticut in 1635, Rhode Island in 1636, Delaware in 1638, North Carolina in 1653, South Carolina in 1663, New Jersey and New York in 1664, Pennsylvania in 1682 and Georgia in 1732. Other European countries did not like that the Pilgrims and the English claimed this land as their own and many wars were fought throughout the years of the 1600's and the 1700's over which country would get to keep the areas of land. England and France both had the most amount of land after a lot of the wars with other countries but neither country was satisfied with the amount of land they had. In 1754, the two countries went to war with one another to decide which country would get to keep the most land. England won the war and got to keep control of the 13 colonies.
Colonial Life and Style
In the 13 colonies, life was much different for everyone than it is for people today. People had to focus on surviving more than anything else. A lot of time was spent farming, making basic items (such as clothes), performing household chores and learning trades. Sometimes boys that lived in colonies were allowed to go to school to learn about religion and to learn to do the same trade as their fathers so that they could take over their job in the colony when their fathers retired. Girls were sometimes taught how to read at home by their parents, but they mostly spent their time learning how to cook, sew and do household chores from their mothers. Mothers and girls in the household were responsible for making most of the clothes. Clothes were not chosen by what the people liked to wear, but by what would keep them warm and what kind of material they could afford. Everything that people did in the colonies revolved around their religion and their survival.
Colonial Currency and Economy
In the beginning years, the colonies did not have their own type of money. People that lived in the colonies still used the money that they had used before moving to the colonies, such as Spanish Dollars. In the 1700's, colonies started to make their very own money but there were a lot of problems with the new money. A lot of people during the time made fake money and eventually because of debt, the money became worthless. Because of the problems with currency in the colonies, trading items was a popular way of living. Items such as furs, foods and tobacco were used in place of money.
Since the colonies were the property of England, the government of the colonies in the beginning was the same as the government in England. All of the laws in England were also enforced in the colonies. Eventually, the Colonies in America wished to establish their very own laws and taxes; however England was opposed to this. This led to one of the most important events in American history, the American Revolution. The American Revolution led to the American Revolutionary War, which was a war against Britain for the independence of America and it's colonies. The American's won the war and were separated from the ruling of Britain. On July 4, 1776 the Deceleration of Independence was adopted and officially became the United States of America.
Colonial Farming, Food, and Medicine
Since the colonies were all very new and people were just moving into the whole new world, there were no grocery stores like we have today. People in the 13 colonies had to work very hard for all of their meals. The people that lived in the colonies that were close to the Atlantic Ocean spent a lot of time fishing to catch fish and whales for food. Almost everyone had to grow their own vegetables, such as corn, and they often had apple trees so that they could grow fruit to eat. Families spent a lot of time raising and hunting animals that they found in the new world, such as deer and turkeys, so that they could feed their families. Farming and raising animals took a lot of work but the colonists had no other ways of getting food in the new world. The same way that there was no grocery store, there was also no pharmacy or a doctor's office that colonial people could go to for a minor illness, such as a cold. In the colonial times, a cold or the flu was actually very serious. There wasn't always a way to cure people when they got sick in the colonial times but colonial people and colonial doctors used things that they found in nature to try to cure illnesses, such as herbs.