Colonial Period (1607-1760)
Colonial literature gives us an understanding of the early experiences, which formed our national character and our institutions—churches, schools, government, etc.
People during this time had little time for anything except survival; therefore, no novels or plays were written.
I. Kinds of colonial writing
A. Diaries and journals
B. Historical accounts
D. Religious poetry
II. Purposes for writing
A. To persuade others to come to America
B. To record events as they happened
C. To record religious experiences
III. Early settlements
A. Jamestown, Virginia—1607-settled primarily for economic and nationalistic purposes.
B. Plymouth, MA—1620—settled by the Puritans primarily for religious purposes. This New England colony fared better than Jamestown because its leaders were better, its citizen worked harder, the Indians were friendlier, and their faith in God sustained them through rough times.
A. Olde Deluder Law—stated that all Puritan children must be able to read in order to read the Bible.
B. Harvard College (University)—First instituted to educate Puritan ministers.
V. Seventeenth Century Views of God, man, and nature
A. People saw God in all events.
B. Man was regenerated (born again) by God’s grace, but only the “elect” could be saved.
C. All people were to strive to bring themselves closer to God.
D. Nature was considered the enemy.
VI. Two types of early settlers
A. Puritans—see # V above—settled in New England
B. Cavaliers—settled in the South. Were more interested in social, economic, and political aspects of life than they were in religion. They, like the Puritans, believed in God; however, religion was not their top priority. They were “gentlemen”—believed in using good manners—believed also in aristocratic rule; however, they believed that they were socially responsible for those over whom they ruled. They were model persons.
VII. Ideals vs. realities
A. People who came to America expecting life to be easy found it to be very hard.
B. People who came to America for religious freedom found religion to be repressive