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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
Suggested Lecture Topics
Chapter 5
Developing The Chapter: Suggested Lecture Or Discussion Topics


  • Expand on the economic activities and relationships of the different parts of the colonial "social pyramid" discussed in the text on pp. 87, 90. Explain especially the trend toward greater hierarchy, with a wealthy elite on the top and "jayle birds" and others on the bottom. The focus might be on the concern this tendency would have aroused among the "middle class" of colonists.

    REFERENCE: John J. McCusker and Russell R. Menard, The Economy of British America, 1607-1789 (1991).

  • Show how the Great Awakening marked a key transition from the lukewarm style of religion fostered by "established" (tax-supported) colonial churches to the strong commitment required by the "voluntary" (member-supported) churches that later became the American norm. The focus might be on how a religious "revival" like the Great Awakening could arouse marked fervor among some colonists while also causing opposition among those who distrusted emotional religion. Consider the arguments regarding the role that evangelical Protestantism played in promoting the American Revolution. Consider the contentions of some historians like Jon Butler that the Great Awakening did not have the extensive influence usually attributed to it.

    REFERENCE: Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, eds., Religion in a Revolutionary Age (1994); Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (1990).

  • Examine the ordinary social lives of colonial Americans.

    Consider the relationship between the way average people lived in the eighteenth century and the kinds of public concerns they had in the areas of politics, religion, economics, and culture.

    REFERENCES: Stephanie G. Wolf, As Various as Their Land: Everyday Lives of 18th Century Americans (1994); Bruce Daniels, Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England (1995).

  • Explain more fully the evolution of colonial politics and why politics was especially important to colonists jealously trying to control their own affairs.

    The emphasis might be on the development of a distinctively American type of "opposition" politics, which was anxious to preserve local liberties and fearful of centralized or corrupt governmental power-such as the royal governors represented.

    REFERENCE: Bernard Bailyn, The Origins of American Politics (1967).



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