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> Chapter 5 > Prepare for Class
Prepare For Class

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Chapter Summary


By 1775 the thirteen American colonies east of the Appalachians were inhabited by a burgeoning population of two million whites and half a million blacks. The white population was increasingly a melting pot of diverse ethnic groups including Germans and the Scots-Irish.

Compared with Europe, America was a land of equality and opportunity (for whites), but relative to the seventeenth-century colonies, there was a rising economic hierarchy and increasing social complexity. Ninety percent of Americans remained agriculturalists. But a growing class of wealthy planters and merchants appeared at the top of the social pyramid, in contrast with slaves and jayle birds from England, who formed a visible lower class.

By the early eighteenth century, the established New England Congregational church was losing religious fervor. The Great Awakening, sparked by fiery preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, spread a new style of emotional worship that revived religious zeal. Colonial education and culture were generally undistinguished, although science and journalism displayed some vigor. Politics was everywhere an important activity, as representative colonial assemblies battled on equal terms with politically appointed governors from England.



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