APUSH – 2.7 Colonial Society and Culture | Fiveable (2023)

Diversity in the Colonies

The culture of the thirteen colonies was constantly evolving.Various European ethnic and religious groups migrated to America between 1600-1750.They brought with them their different religious, political, social, and cultural beliefs.However, over time, these European beliefs would both blend and conflict with a new way of life that would shape early American identity. Were these new people more European or more American?

By the start of the French and Indian War of 1754, 80% of the population was white, with 20% African.Most of this white population was comprised of the English and Welsh, who could be found in New England and along the Atlantic Coast.The African slaves worked largely in the South, while Germans, Scots-Irish, and the Swiss would move further inland and into the frontiers of America.

Ethnic composition in the British American Colonies of 1700 • 1755 • 1775







English and Welsh


English and Welsh






















Other European














Other European






Over time, America became more ethnically diverse; Table Courtesy of Wikipedia

The First Great Awakening

APUSH – 2.7 Colonial Society and Culture | Fiveable (1)

(Video) Colonial SOCIETY and CULTURE [APUSH Review Unit 2 Topic 7 (2.7)] Period 2—1607-1754

George Whitefield is shown supported by two women, “Hypocrisy” and “Defeat”. The image also includes other visual indications of the engraver’s disapproval of Whitefield, including a monkey and jester’s staff in the right-hand corner.C. Corbett, publisher, “Enthusiasm display’d: or, the Moor Fields congregation,” 1739.Image Courtesy ofLibrary of Congress.

While America became more ethnically diverse by 1750, it also displayed religious diversity. Protestantism was the predominant religion in America while other religious groups like Jews (New York/New Jersey) and Catholics (Maryland) practiced their beliefs.The Puritans formed the tax-supported Congregational Church, found mostly in New England, while the South had the tax-supported Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church.

TheGreat Awakeningmovement of the 1700s rekindled the religious spirit of an America that was growing tired of the strict codes of Calvinist Puritans and becoming less interested in church.Dynamic preachers likeJonathan EdwardsandGeorge Whitefieldscared their followers into being better souls. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, a famous sermon delivered by Edwards, converted sinners into saints as he declared that hell was “paved with the skulls of unbaptized children.”

While the Great Awakening was spreading throughout the colonies, so was religious diversity.The Great Awakening created more religious denominations because of some of its new methods of preaching. New branches, such as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Evangelicals, split within Protestantism because of differences in how to make sense of the new tactics and beliefs associated with the Great Awakening.

Culturally, the European ideas of the Enlightenment in the 1700s also had an effect on the colonies.The Enlightenment emphasized ideas such as a belief in science and reason over religion, the equality of all people, the idea that individuals can control their own destiny, and the political ideas associated with democracy and republicanism.

🎥Watch AP US History teacher Pat DiFilippo examine and analyze the similarities and differences between colonial American regions.

(Video) Colonial Society and Culture (APUSH 2.7, Period 2)

Europe Influences Colonial Culture

The American colonies were part of the vast British Empire.Many immigrants from England would imitate English political, economic, and cultural characteristics while living in the New World.

Politically, the colonies created their government based on the British model.Most colonies had a governor, an upper house, and a lower house form of government that reflected the structure of the British king and his Parliament.Each colony had a representative in London to help both London and the colonies mediate potential problems.

English common law was used and colonists believed that they enjoyed the rights of European Englishmen, such as the right to liberty, equality, and to own private property.The colonial judicial system looked like the Old World with county courts and local judges administering justice. County government structures were found in the rural South and townships were used in New England.

Economically, the colonies were at the mercy of the British mercantile system.Colonists could only trade with England and only English ships could be used to transport goods. As part of these Navigation Acts, ships bound for the colonies had to go through English ports.

Mercantilismdirectly affected what the colonists would produce and buy economically. Colonial raw products such as iron, ship parts, timber, flour, wheat, tobacco, rice, furs, and indigo would be sent to England while finished products like guns, tools, textiles, clothing, furniture, beads, tea, and spices were sent to the colonies from England.

(Video) #14 - APUSH 2.7 Colonial Society and Culture [UPDATED]

APUSH – 2.7 Colonial Society and Culture | Fiveable (2)

Image Courtesy ofTeach Social Studies

These finished products from England created a material culture in the colonies that looked the same. Culturally, the people of the coastal urban areas of the colonies seemed to mimic the rich, gentrified aristocrats of old England.They would drink tea, go fox hunting, read the local newspaper, display proper etiquette, enjoy nice linens, and use fancy ceramic cups/saucers while smoking tobacco.

Early Conflicts Between Europe and the Colonies

The New World initially copied English ways and institutions.However, conflicts erupted between these two worlds which led the colonists to create a more independent American identity.From 1600-1750, political and economic issues between Britain and the colonies tested the loyalty of Americans to the Crown.

Throughout much of the 1600s and the early 1700s, Britain followed a policy ofsalutary neglecttowards its administration of the colonies.London was inconsistent and lax in enforcing its laws, particularly the rules of mercantilism. By neglecting the colonies, the British thought that the colonists could make money from other regions, like the West Indies, while Britain could focus on more important matters at home. The money earned by the colonists could be spent on British manufactured goods.

Salutary neglect led to the American desire for self-rule and independence. Politically, the cherished town meetings of New England and the colonial legislations were good examples of the colonists doing their own thing and defying the Brits.King James I of England detested the colonial House of Burgesses in Virginia as too disloyal, which resulted in the king revoking the charter of Virginia and placing it under his control in 1624.

(Video) APUSH TOPIC 2.7 Colonial Society and Culture

TheEnglish Civil Warof the 1640s allowed several colonies in New England to form their ownNew England Confederationin 1643. This confederation used its own resources to fight against the Indians and the French. However, in 1684, Charles II paid more attention to the colonies and punished rebellious Massachusetts by revoking its charter.

Shortly after this, a major conflict happened in 1684 when England replaced the New England Confederation with the royal Dominion of New England. This was done to strengthen defense against the Indians and to also enforce the English Navigation Laws of trade that helped England while restricting the colonists.The colonists despised Sir Edmund Andros, the English leader of the new dominion, who restricted their town meetings, took away titles to land, levied new taxes, and enforced the Navigation Laws.

Other problems stemmed from land conflicts involving colonial westward expansion into Indian territory.King Philip’s War in New England in 1675, frequent Indian conflicts with poor white farmers in Virginia in the 1670s that led to Bacon’s Rebellion, and the rebellious Scots-Irish expansion and settlements in the frontiers of Pennsylvania were all problems that both the colonists and the English Crown attempted to manage.

The most serious conflict between the colonists and the British was the restrictions of mercantilism.Colonists resented the rules that restricted their ability to trade with other countries. Many protested this rule by smuggling colonial products to the French West Indies, thus only starting a rebellious attitude.

🎥Watch AP US History teacher Kate Regan review periods one and two, discussing native regions, slavery, and colonial regions and differences.

(Video) Colonial Society and Culture (APUSH Topic 2.7)


What were some important aspects of colonial society? ›

Some of those shared characteristics were an emphasis on family, hard work, and clearly defined gender roles. In colonial America, many people lived with their extended families. Most colonists lived on farms, where having a large family was an advantage because many people were needed to do all the work.

What is the key point of Unit 2 Apush? ›


Unit 2 of the AP U.S. History Course focuses on what life was like in the Americas between the founding of Jamestown in 1607 and the start of the French and Indian War. The European countries that settled the New World did so for very different reasons.

What was the structure of colonial society? ›

In Colonial America, there were three main social classes. They were the gentry, the middle class, and the poor. The highest class was the gentry. They could vote.

What was colonial society like? ›

Most American colonists lived as farmers and planters, either in rural communities, small villages or in virtual solitude on the frontier. Because of their isolation, these local communities became self-reliant and largely self-sufficient.

How did colonialism affect culture? ›

Colonialism's impacts include environmental degradation, the spread of disease, economic instability, ethnic rivalries, and human rights violations—issues that can long outlast one group's colonial rule.

What is the hardest APUSH unit? ›

DBQ stands for Document Based Question and is arguably the most difficult component of the APUSH exam. The DBQ is in the essay-writing section of the exam, where students are expected to write a clear and concise essay that revolves around ten to twelve primary-source documents.

Is APUSH 2 hard? ›

APUSH is considered moderate difficulty, with class alumnae rating it 5.9/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 11th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

What is a short answer on the APUSH exam? ›

WHAT IS THE SAQ? The Short Answer Questions, or SAQs, are questions meant to check your analytical skills (your ability to pick out meaning and explain it). The response to each question is no more than three to four sentences (hence, the SHORT description). This portion of the exam is 20% of your overall exam score.

What did the colonial society do? ›

The People

Colonists were largely farmers, artisans, merchants, fishermen, or craftspeople. Others were adventurers or fortune hunters, who, after finding there were no precious metals to be had along the eastern seaboard, turned to other employments.

What was the foundation of colonial society? ›

B. The family was the foundation of colonial society. Men were the formal heads of the households. They managed the farms and represented the family in community matters.

What were the 5 sectors of society in colonial politics? ›

Colonial American society can be divided into five predominant sectors: (1) the New England merchants; (2) the southern planters; (3) the “royalists”; (4) shopkeepers, artisans, and laborers; and (5) small farmers.

What is colonial culture? ›

The term cultural colonialism refers to the extension of colonial state power through cultural knowledge, activities, and institutions (particularly education and media) or the systematic subordination of one conceptual framework or cultural identity over others.

What was colonial society like before the American Revolution? ›

Colonists enjoyed the full wealth and protection of the British government, including the British army and navy. Colonists, who inherited a large amount of English common law and thoughts on rights and liberties, tended to discuss local affairs in the town tavern.

What changed in colonial society after the American Revolution? ›

The period following the Revolutionary War was one of instability and change. The end of monarchical rule, evolving governmental structures, religious fragmentation, challenges to the family system, economic flux, and massive population shifts all led to heightened uncertainty and insecurity.

What was the culture like in the Southern Colonies? ›

Most colonists lived on small family farms, but some owned large plantations that produced cash crops such as tobacco and rice. Many slaves worked on plantations. Slavery was a cruel system. Enslaved Africans developed a culture that helped them survive.

What was the early colonial society of America? ›

The American Colonization Society was established to address the prevailing view that free people of color could not integrate into U.S. society; their population had grown steadily following the American Revolutionary War, from 60,000 in 1790 to 300,000 by 1830.

What are the general characteristics of the colonial structure? ›

Defining Qualities of Colonial Architecture

American colonial homes are simple, symmetrical, and rectangular. They are always two or more stories tall, with the staircase located in the center of the home. For that reason, the staircase is a prominent design feature, and is usually made of wood.

How did colonization change culture? ›

As Europeans established their colonies, their societies also became segmented and divided along religious and racial lines. Most people in these societies were not free; they labored as servants or slaves, doing the work required to produce wealth for others.

What are two negative culture results of colonialism? ›

There were several negatives of colonialism for the Africans like resource depletion, labor exploitation, unfair taxation, lack of industrialization, dependence on cash crop economy, prohibition of trade, the breaking up of traditional African society and values, lack of political development, and ethnic rivals inside ...

How were colonial cultures affected by imperialism? ›

Imperialism adversely affected the colonies. Under foreign rule, native culture and industry were destroyed. Imported goods wiped out local craft industries. By using colonies as sources of raw materials and markets for manufactured goods, colonial powers held back the colonies from developing industries.

What is the easiest AP class? ›

Easiest AP exams by pass rate
  • AP Art & Design: Drawing.
  • AP Art & Design: 2-D.
  • AP Calculus BC.
  • AP Chinese Language.
  • AP English Literature.
  • AP French Language.
  • AP Government & Politics.
  • AP Italian Language.
Jan 13, 2023

What is the hardest AP ranked? ›

Hardest AP exams by pass rate
  • AP Calculus AB.
  • AP Chemistry.
  • AP Economics—Macro.
  • AP Economics—Micro.
  • AP English Language.
  • AP Environmental Science.
  • AP European History.
  • AP Government & Politics United States.
Jan 24, 2023

What is the hardest AP class ever? ›

United States History, Biology, English Literature, Calculus BC, Physics C, and Chemistry are often named as the hardest AP classes and tests. These classes have large curriculums, tough tests, and conceptually difficult material.

Is it OK to fail the APUSH exam? ›

If you fail or your score on the AP® US History exam is not high enough to receive college credit at the institution of your choice, it is important not to panic! You can retake the AP® US History exam as many times as you choose to achieve a higher score. The exam is given once a year in May.

Does APUSH look good for college? ›

For many students, AP U.S. History is worth it. Not only can this course prepare you for college-level courses, but it can also help you gain college credit before you graduate high school. If you want to study history in college, this course can help you jump-start your higher education journey.

What is the fail rate of APUSH? ›

You need at least a 3 to pass, but some colleges only give credit for scores of 4 or 5. To objectively analyze the difficulty of AP U.S. History, let's look at the exam pass rate. In 2021, 47.1% of students who took the AP U.S. History exam passed it. The average exam score is 2.84, which is not a passing score.

Is a 3 on the APUSH exam bad? ›

Many colleges and universities will give you college credit if you attain a 3 or higher. But don't forget, all schools are different. Some might require you to score a 4 or a 5 to get credit. Make sure you research this to avoid disappointment.

What is a good APUSH score? ›

What is a good AP® US History score? If you score a 3, 4, or 5 on an AP® exam, that is generally considered a good score. The College Board denotes a 3 as 'qualified, 4 as 'well qualified,' and a 5 as 'extremely well qualified. ' Many colleges and universities will offer you college credits for scoring in these ranges.

How do I ace my APUSH exam? ›

You need to learn to attack questions methodically and to plan your answers before putting pencil to paper. Carefully analyze the question, thinking through what is being asked, and identify the elements that must be addressed in the response. Each AP Exam asks different types of questions about each subject.

Who had power in colonial society? ›

Colonial Governments

Charters of royal colonies provided for direct rule by the king. A colonial legislature was elected by property holding males. But governors were appointed by the king and had almost complete authority — in theory.

Who was at the bottom of colonial society? ›

The social structure of the colonies.

At the bottom of the social ladder were slaves and indentured servants; successful planters in the south and wealthy merchants in the north were the colonial elite.

How was life in the 13 colonies? ›

Much of colonial life was hard work, even preparing food. But colonists found ways to mix work with play. They also enjoyed sports and games. For most of the 1700s, the colonists were content to be ruled by English laws.

What was the religion in colonial society? ›

Toward the end of the colonial era, churchgoing reached at least 60 percent in all the colonies. The middle colonies saw a mixture of religions, including Quakers (who founded Pennsylvania), Catholics, Lutherans, a few Jews, and others. The southern colonists were a mixture as well, including Baptists and Anglicans.

Who was the upper class of colonial society? ›

The gentry were the upper class of colonial society, which included wealthy planters, merchants, ministers, royal officials, and lawyers.

Why was colonial society democratic? ›

In conclusion, Colonial America was democratic when they had a representative government and gave some people the right to vote. It as well was undemocratic when there was slavery and women had no rights. The 13 colonies did many actions that impacted how our government is today.

What was the economic system of colonial society? ›

The colonial economy was a mercantile system, in which Britain controlled the production and trade of colonial goods. Usually, the colonists were only allowed to produce raw materials, which Britain then turned into finished products and sold back to the colonists at a higher price.

What were the social classes in the Southern Colonies? ›

The social structure of the Southern Colonies became increasingly stratified into three distinct classes: planters, servants, and slaves.

What were the 3 main categories of political structures in the colonial era? ›

American Colonial Government

There were three types or systems of government used within Colonial Government - Royal, Charter and Proprietary. However, they all operated using the following basic principles: All of the systems of Colonial government in the 13 Colonies elected their own legislature (parliament)

What is an example of colonialism culture? ›

The imposition of Christianity on cultures with other religions. Imposing educational material in English on the colonies, promoting the values and history of the empire through books. Imposing the British dress code and sports (e.g., rugby).

What is an example of cultural colonization? ›

One of the clearest examples of the forced acculturation of a colonized population was the Spanish influence in Latin America, beginning with the conquest of the Aztec empire by Hernán Cortés during the early 16th century.

What was the material culture in colonial America? ›

In colonial North America, objects of material culture – furniture, clothing, books, and more substantial possessions, like land – played crucial social and economic roles. European Americans used such things to construct prestige, amass wealth for their families and institutions, and experience comfort and leisure.

How was colonial society divided during the Revolutionary War? ›

American colonists were divided among those who wanted independence, those who wanted to remain part of the British Empire, and those who were neutral. The vast majority of American colonists were neutral and didn't take a side between Loyalists and Patriots.

What happened after the American Colonization Society? ›

Despite deteriorating political conditions in the United States, however, the vast majority of blacks rejected this new call for emigration. The ACS sent its last settlers to Liberia in 1904. Thereafter, the American Colonization Society functioned as a Liberian aid society until it finally dissolved in 1964.

In what ways did cultural and social influences help shape the Southern Colonies? ›

In what ways did cultural and social influences help shape the southern colonies? The southern colonies depended on slavery. This helped certain individuals become rich, which led to two social classes of rich and poor. There was only a very small middle class.

How did the Revolution change American culture? ›

Political and social life changed drastically after independence. Political participation grew as more people gained the right to vote. In addition, more common citizens (or “new men”) played increasingly important roles in local and state governance. Hierarchy within the states underwent significant changes.

What is the cultural impact of the American Revolution? ›

Some changes would be felt immediately. Slavery would not be abolished for another hundred years, but the Revolution saw the dawn of an organized abolitionist movement. English traditions such as land inheritance laws were swept away almost immediately. The Anglican Church in America could no longer survive.

How did revolutions lead to cultural changes? ›

The influence of revolutionary ideas in America and Great Britain swung the pendulum back toward a republican simplicity. Men began to wear English “country clothes, loose trousers and jackets and high boots.” It became acceptable to wear one's own hair again. Women adopted high-waisted, looser dresses.

What are the basic aspects of colonialism? ›

Robert Blauner identified four components of the dynamics of colonization: (1) forced entry into a territory and its population; (2) alteration or destruction of the indigenous culture and patterns of social organization; (3) domination of the indigenous population by representatives of the invading society; and (4) ...

What were 3 things that made the middle colonies society unique? ›

The Middle colonies had a mild climate with warm summers. The land was better for farming than in the New England colonies. The region produced enough wheat, corn (maize), and other grains to feed the colonies, with plenty left to export to England. The colonists also built mills to grind the grain into flour.

What are the important points of colonialism? ›

Colonialism implies domination of people's life and culture. The main goal of colonialism is extraction of economic benefits from the colony. Colonialism results in control over life of natives in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. It is more subtle whereas Imperialism is more formal and aggressive.

What was the most important thing to the colonists? ›

Colonists came to America because they wanted political liberty. They wanted religious freedom and economic opportunity.

What are the three C's of colonialism? ›

The philosophy underpinning the “White Man's Burden” consisted of the “Three C's of Colonialism: Civilization, Christianity, and Commerce.”

What are the three stages of colonialism? ›

Further, explain the three distinct stages of British colonialism with their respective features. The three stages were: Mercantilism (1757-1813), Laissez Faire (1813-60), and Finance Imperialism (1860-1947). The respective features should mention the British conduct as well as consequences.

What are the pros and cons of colonialism? ›

  • What Is Colonialism?
  • Advantages of Colonialism. Health System Improvement. Infrastructure Development. Education and literacy.
  • Negative Effects of Colonialism. Constant Conflicts and War. Culture and Identity Dissolving. Economic Dependence. New Illnesses.
  • Wrapping up.
  • Books About Colonialism Where You can Find More In.

Which colonies were the most culturally diverse during the colonial period? ›

The Middle Colonies were the most ethnically and religiously diverse British colonies in North America with settlers from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and German states.

What was the culture in the middle colonies? ›

The middle colonies contained Native American tribes of Algonkian and Iroquois language groups as well as a sizable percentage of African slaves during the early years. Unlike solidly Puritan New England, the middle colonies presented an assortment of religions.

What was society in the middle colonies known for? ›

The Middle colonies, like Delaware, New York, and New Jersey, were founded as trade centers, while Pennsylvania was founded as a safe haven for Quakers. The Middle colonies were also called the “Breadbasket colonies” because of their fertile soil, ideal for farming.

What are 4 major effects of colonialism? ›

Some outcomes that former colonies are left to deal with today are poor treatment of indigenous populations, income and wealth inequality, weak governmental infrastructure, and religious conflicts.

What are the 4 stages of the growth of colonialism? ›

Colonial Intrusion and Stages of Colonialism in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
  • Abstract:
  • Exploration.
  • Expropriation.
  • Appropriation.
  • Exploitation.
  • Justification.
May 28, 2019

What is the most important legacy of colonial rule? ›

The negative impact of colonialism had resulted in systemic racism, cyclical poverty, economic inequity, violence, loss of language and culture, and an enormous number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It was crucial to take concrete steps to address the negative legacies of colonialism.

What factors led to the colonists success? ›

While there remains plenty of debate concerning their relative importance, most historians consider these to be among the most important contributing factors:
  • Alliance with France. ...
  • British Debt. ...
  • Distance. ...
  • Familiarity with the Territory. ...
  • Hearts and Minds.

What were the 3 main reasons why English settlers came to America? ›

The British settlers came to these new lands for many reasons. Some wanted to make money or set up trade with their home country while others wanted religious freedom. In the early 1600s, the British king began establishing colonies in America.

What was one major advantage that the colonists had over the British? ›

Colonists had a few key advantages over the British during the American Revolution: they were fighting on home territory they knew well, they could access resources and reinforcements much more quickly, and popular support against the British government.


1. #11 - 2.7 Colonial Society and Culture
(APUSH Slides)
2. 2.7 Colonial Society (AP U.S. History)
(Ms. Sinclair's History Class)
3. APUSH DIG: Colonial Society
(The APUSH Dig)
4. Lesson 2.7.1 Colonial Society and Culture, Part 1
(BW AP Lessons)
5. APUSH Review Unit 2 (Period 2: 1607-1754)—Everything You NEED To Know
(Heimler's History)
6. APUSH Period 2 (Topic 2.7) - Society & Culture (Growing Resistance)
(Mr. T)


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