Chapter 3. Life in the American Colonies

Wonders of the invisible world

A wicked combination belief in witches and devils afflictions of unknown causes religious extremism and mass hysteria gave Cotton Mather, a Puritan minister and intellectual, all he wanted to promote the injustice to improve his own importance.

Bacon’s rebellion

Nothing had changed in Virginia since the Jamestown massacre of 1622 except the problem had gotten worse. The colonists steadily infringed on the lands along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay where rich planters established tobacco plantations. The success of these plantations was based on the labor of enslaved Blacks and on the land of disenfranchised Natives. Colonists felt that they had a right to defend themselves against the Indians whom they continued to persecute. The tidewater lands of Virginia were densely populated by the Powhatan, Potomack, Arrohateck, Appamattuck, Chiskiack, Mattaponi, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Susquehannock, Nansemond, Nottoway, and Patawomeck. Bacon’s rebellion was both against the colonial governor of Virginia and against the tribes that the governor didn’t defend them from. The colonists didn’t discriminate. If one tribe raided a village, all tribes were guilty and should be exterminated. “After convincing the Occaneechi warriors to leave and attack the Susquehannock, Bacon and his men followed by killing most of the Occaneechi men, women, and children remaining at the village.”


The Wabanaki were gradually introduced to Europeans through fur trading. The French established Acadia with permanent settlements coexisting on territory overlapping with the Wabanaki; however, French relations with the Iroquois and Mohawks were violent and unequal since the native bow and arrow was no match for the French arquebus. Increased dependence on trade goods and competition over fur animals disrupted native relations, so that the Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Mi’kmaq fought against the Abenaki and Penobscot until a pandemic, “The Great Dying,” killed between 70 to 95 percent of the native peoples between 1616 and 1619. The Wabanaki allied with the French against the English who were expanding into Maine. This led to the Wabanaki Confederacy, which united the Abenake, Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot nations.
The tribes were forced to “live like brothers and sisters who had the same parent.”

Hardships of Maine

The history of Maine concerns the hardships, hardiness, and foolhardiness of its people, who were heavily dependent on natural resources their own industry, and on merchants in Massachusetts who charged for goods over double the prices they paid for them in England.

Lazy louts

Fishermen will drink their pay until they are forced back to fishing. Backcountry men will stay abed while their wives weed the gardens. It’s good to avoid paying taxes to discourage government extravagance. In a land of plenty, why not smoke, drink, and nap all day?

Slaves and redemptioners

Poor Germans volunteered to serve as indentured servants for their passage, and were lucky to have survived the passage, as most didn’t. In Pennsylvania, an adult could be work for four to six years to earn his freedom, a child until he or she was 21. Conditions for indentured servants may have been as meager or cruel as for slaves but the difference was they had hope for their freedom.

Ben Franklin

He was exceptional. At least it may be said that Philadelphia in 1723 was a place where genius and industry could thrive.

George Mason estate

The estate was self-sufficient in all essentials, separated by rivers and a high fence at the neck of the isthmus where it is situated above the Potomac River. Situated within the estate and out of sight from the Hall were Log Town and the Negro quarters for slaves, servants, their overseers, and their families. Carpenters, coopers, sawyers, blacksmiths, tanners, curriers, shoemakers, spinners, weavers, knitters, and distillers, gardeners, swineherds, hunters, butchers, cooks, bakers, and house servants were all slaves. George Mason was allowed to be a great man because he inherited five thousand acres, and he had the wherewithal.