Colonial America

Image Gateway –Join or Die

Join or Die

Join, or Die by Benjamin Franklin, 1754

Eighteenth-century American culture moved in competing directions.  Yawp, chapter 4

Discussion Questions

  • How was a culture of individualism both on the rise and yet also in decline in colonial America, especially by the middle of the eighteenth century?
  • What was the impact of the French & Indian (or Seven Years’ War) on the political push for greater American colonial unity?
  • How does Cornelia Dayton’s article about the tragic abortion case in Pomfret, Connecticut in 1742 help illustrate some aspects of the changing nature of colonial New England?


18th-Century Individualism

“What then is the American, this new man?”

–Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer (1782)

  • Consumerism
  • Currency & credit
  • Trade
  • Slavery
  • Religious Awakening


Colonial Unity

  • How many British colonies in North America?  (Clue = not 13)
  • Importance of Organization (Provincial or Royal, Proprietary and Charter)
  • Print culture (Benjamin Franklin)
  • French & Indian War (1754-63)
  • Pontiac’s War (1763-66)


Case Study:  Taking the Trade

  • 1742 in Pomfret, Connecticut
  • Amasa Sessions (age 27) impregnates Sarah Grosvenor (age 19)
  • “Doctor” John Hallowell gives Sarah “trade” and attempts surgical abortion
  • Sarah miscarries and dies in September 1742
  • Sarah’s older sister Zerviah reveals the story in 1745
  • Hallowell convicted in 1747 but escapes to Rhode Island
  • Sessions and Grosvenor families continue to remain intermingled
  • Amasa Sessions serves in French & Indian War and dies as an old, respected figure in town