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Life in Colonial America
Life in
Colonial America


Best of New England Puzzle
Best of
New England Puzzle



Teacher's Best - The Creative Process


Colonial Americas History Posters
for the social studies classroom and home schoolers.


social studies > COLONIAL AMERICA POSTERS < explorers < history


The first attempt by Europeans to colonize, or set up political / economic sovereignty in the Americas, was by the Vikings in the 11th century. Further colonization began in 1492, first by Spain and Portugal, then France, England and Russia.


Richard Hakluyt
Richard Hakluyt

Richard Hakluyt
b. c. 1552/3; England
d. 11-23-1616; London

The first serious English geographer William Hakluyt gathered accounts about the wide-ranging travels and discoveries of the sixteenth-century explorers. Intended to assist navigation and trade, Hakluyt's writing also advocated for colonies in North America.


The Spanish Empire spread across present day Central America, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, the Southeastern, Southern Coastal, Southwestern and California Pacific Coast regions of the United States.

Map Depicting the Destruction of the Spanish Colony of St. Augustine in Florida on 7th July 1586, Giclee Print
Map Depicting the Destruction
of the Spanish Colony of St. Augustine, 7th July 1586,
Giclee Print

St. Augustine, in the state of Florida, was founded in 1565, making it the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the United States. (Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, was founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, and is the oldest European founded city in the New World.)

Santa Fe, New Mexico was established in 1608, and is considered the 3rd oldest European city in North America (and was abandoned 1680-1692 because of Indian raids).

Typical Arrangement of a Spanish Colonial Mission Settlement in North America, Giclee Print
Spanish Colonial Mission
Settlement in North America,
Giclee Print

The first successful Spanish mission was Mission Loreto, founded on October 25, 1697 at the Monqui settlement of Conchó in the present city of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Father Junipero Serra, California Missions, Giclee Print
Father Junipero Serra, California Missions,
Giclee Print









Father Junipero Serra founded a chain of 21 missions in Alta (upper) Californina, present day state of California, beginning at the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, on July 1, 1768.


Map of New France and Canada, c.1597, Poster
Map of New France and Canada, c.1597, Poster

France's American colonial empire began in 1605 with the establishment of Port Royal in the colony of Acadia, current day Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1608 Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec and by 1699 the French claimed Louisiana and a trade network through the Mississippi Valley up to the Great Lakes.

The French also founded colonies in the Caribbean West Indies islands of Saint Kitts, Guadeloupe, Martinque, Saint Lucia and the western half of Hispaniola (Haiti), and French Guiana on the South American coast.


Arrival of the English at Roanoke, 1587, Justin Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America, Giclee Print
Arrival of the English at Roanoke, 1587, Justin Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America, Giclee Print

The Roanoke Colony, in present-day Dare County, North Carolina, is also known as the “Lost Colony”.

The failed colony was a 1585-87 business venture financed and organized by Sir Walter Raleigh. The entire colony, including Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World, disappeared when resupply ships didn't arrive from England for three years.

Sir Richard Grenville was also involved in the Roanoke Colony.


Historical Facts about Jamestown Island, Virginia, Art Print
Historical Facts about Jamestown Island, Virginia, Art Print

Jamestown, regarded as the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, was founded on May 14, 1607 on Jamestown Island of the Virginia Colony.

Jamestown and the James River were named for King James I of England (he was also King James VI of Scotland), the son of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots.

Did you know? - In 1609 the Virginia Company sent a relief flotilla to Jamestown with supplies and more settlers. Unfortunately, for Jamestown, a storm blew the flotilla apart and the flagship “Sea Venture” wrecked on the island of Bermuda.

It is thought that William Shakespeare's 1611 play The Tempest was inspired by an account of Sir George Somers who was in charge of the relief effort, survivor of the wreck, and founder for the settlement of Bermuda for the crown.


New Amsterdam - view of the Dutch colonial settlement that later became New York City, Giclee Print
New Amsterdam
Giclee Print

English sea explorer Henry Hudson, in the employ of the Dutch East India Company in 1609, layed the foundation for the Dutch colonization of the area around modern New York City.

A fur trading post at Albany was established in 1614 and the settlement of New Amsterdam was founded in 1625 by Willem Verhulst and his council who selected Manhattan Island as the optimal location. New Amsterdam became New York City.


Plymouth, Massachusetts - Mayflower Model, the Compact in Plymouth Hall Scene, 1620, Giclee Print
Mayflower Compact 1620, Giclee Print

The Mayflower, Mayflower Compact, 1620

“In the name of God, amen, we whose names are under written, the loyal subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, Franc and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glorie of God and advancements of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and countrie, a voyage ot plant the first colonie in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of the another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherence of the ends aforesaid: and by virtue hereof to enacte, constitute and frame such just and equall laws, ordenances, acts, constiutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the general good of the colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cap-Codd, the 11 of November, in the year of the raigne of our soveraigne lord, King James of England, Franc and Ireland, the eighteeth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. ANO DOM 1420.


New England Colonies

New England Colonies Wall Poster
New England Colonies
Wall Poster

During the first half of the 17th century, thousands of English families crossed the Atlantic Ocean to escape the hardships of living in England. They were fleeing religious persecution and strict rule of King James I and, later, his son Charles I.

Both James I and Charles I believed in the “divine rights of kings” and ruled with absolute power. And both kings threatened anyone who questioned their authority or the power of the English church. Unhappy with their life in England, many families chose to make the dangerous journey across the Arlantic to the New World, where they hoped to find peace and religious freedom. Although life in the rugged New England wilderness was hard, families created strong communities there. Men hunted, cleared the land, built homes, and formed churches. And women, often with the help of their children, grew vegetables, dried fish, and raised animals for food and clothing, By 1650, New England was the richest region in the colonies.

1639 Maps of British Colonies in North America, with Locations of Plymouth and Jamestown, Giclee Print
1639 Map of British Colonies
in North America, with Locations of Plymouth and Jamestown,
Giclee Print

Pilgrims and Puritans -
Two groups of English Protestant settled in New England, where they hoped to establish their own churches and live freely according to their religious beliefs. The Pilgrims broke from the Church of England in 1607. They traveled on the Mayflower in search of a safe home for their religious community, landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in December of 1620. Because they had separated completely from the English church, the Pilgrims were also called "Separatists." The second group was the Puritans. Unlike the Pilgrims, the Puritans had not split completely from the Church of England. The strong faith of both the Pilgrims and the Puritans helped them survive outbreaks of disease and the harsh New England winters. But life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was not always peaceful: big arguments, usually about religion, forced some people to move from Massachusetts and set up their own settlements elsewhere. These settlements eventually became the remaining New England colonies of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.



Period Costumes

Native Americans helped the early New England colonists survive. They taught the new settlers many necessary skills, such as how to build animal traps, use fish heads for fertilizer, and construct birch bark canoes. Indians also introduced the settlers to many important foods, including corn, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, and beans, The colonists traded with the Indians, exchanging tools, pots, guns, and horses for animal fur. But conflicts between the Indians an settlers grew as more and more settlers arrived, forcing native tribes to move from their land. These conflicts would explode over the next 250 years.

Maine posters
Vermont posters
Nathaniel Hawthorne posters


Middle Colonies

Middle Colonies Wall Poster
Middle Colonies
Wall Poster

By the year 1700, Philadelphia had become the major trading center of the Middle Colonies. Wheat, the most important crop of the region, was brought to Philadelphia from the surronding area. From there, it was shipped to Europe, the West Indies, and other American colonies. Most of the city's residents were single men trying to make money in the trading business. Many had come to the colonies as indentured servants – that is, they agreed to work without pay for a few years in exchange for passage to the New World and a place to live. By 1700, the shipbuilding and iron industries had developed to a point at which many men could earn a decent living in these jobs. The few women working in the city at this time clerked in shops and stitched clothes for export to Europe and elsewhere.

Map of the Middle British Colonies, in America, Art Print
Map of the Middle British Colonies, in America
Art Print

Early colonial homes were often built with a fireplace in one large, central room. The light and warmth of the fire made this one of the most-used rooms in the house. Women cooked and knitted here, while men made pottery, glass and silverware. Children used the open space around the fire to play popular games such as marbles, hopscotch, and blindman's bluf. the also received some schooling here from educated women in the community.

Quaker meetings were common in the Middle Colonies. The Quakers, also known as the Society of Friends, settled in the region after William Penn, a Quaker leader who had been jailed for his beliefs in England, founded Pennsylvania, or “Penn's Woods”, in 1681. Quakerism began in England during the early 1600s as a protest against the Church of England's elaborate ceremonies and its ties to the government and the king. At their meetings, the Quaker faithful often sat in silence, waiting for what they believed was God speaking directly to them. Anyone who felt he or she had been given a message from God could rise and speak freely. In Colonial America, Quakers lived not only in Pennsylvania, but also in Rhode Island, North Carolina, and western New Jersey. Quakers were among the first in the colonies to condemn slavery on moral grounds.



Period Costumes

Maine posters
Vermont posters
Nathaniel Hawthorne posters


Southern Colonies

Southern Colonies Wall Poster
Southern Colonies
Wall Poster

By 1750, the Southern Colonies had become the wealthiest region in Colonial America. Charleston, South Carolina, was an important shipping city. Planters in the large rural areas near the eastern seaboard grew tobacco, rice, and indigo. Many plantations were located on bays or rivers, where products could be loaded on ships to be sent overseas or to other American colonies. More than 150,000 slaves and 50,000 Bristish convicts provided cheap labor for planters. Poor white farmers, many still indentured to the sponsors who provided their passage to America, farmed and raised animals in the wooded areas of the South. But unlike slaves, indentured servants had some hopes of rising out of poverty if their farms were successful.

Map of the Middle British Colonies, in America, Art Print
Map of the Middle British Colonies, in America
Art Print

The success of the Southern Colonies was due in large part to the endless work of slaves. Most slaves led miserable lives. They were beaten, abused, and prevented from learning to read and write. Slaves were considered property to be bought and sold at will by their masters. Families were often split apart at slave auctions, as sons and daughters, fathers and mothers were sold off to the highest bidders. Slave labor led to huge profits for the southern planters. In Virginia, Maryland, and Morth Carolina, tobacco was the most profitable crop. In South Carolina and Georgia, indigo – which produces a blue die used to color clothing – and rice were the most common crops. Some planters grew cotton, but it wasn't until the late 1700s, with the invention of the cotton gin, that it became the chief cash crop of the South.

In the 1740s, preachers such as George Whitefield [aka Whitfield] revitalized the religious life of many colonists by giving passionate sermons to thousands of people, usually in outdoor settings. Whitefield's central message was that everyone was born a sinner and that people must actively find God in order to avoid going to hell. This message spread quickly throughout the colonies. Hundreds of thousands of people listened to the words of Whitefield and strengthened their faith in God. Because this message was shared by rich and poor, by whites and blacks, it is thougt to be one the earliest truly “national” movements in America. Often referred to as the “Great Awakening,” this movement gave slaves and the white population a shared experience as it actively changed the way people practiced religion throughout America.

Maine posters
Vermont posters
Nathaniel Hawthorne posters

Anne Hutchinson, Preaching in Her House, 1637, Illustration by Howard Pyle, Giclee Print
Anne Hutchinson, Preaching in Her House, 1637, Illustration by
Howard Pyle,
Giclee Print

Anne Hutchinson
b. July, 1591; England
d. 8-20-1643; killed by Indians in what is now Pelham Bay Park, NY.

Anne Hutchinson, née Marbury, was a key figure in the development of religious freedom in the American colonies.

Hutchinson taught that salvation was through inward grace and not through performing religious works in Bible study and discussion groups she held in her home.

FYI ~ Mary Dyer, one of the Boston Martyrs, was a follower of Anne Hutchinson's teaching.


Anne Hutchinson quotes ~
• “But now having seen Him which is invisible I fear not what man can do unto me.”
• “How did Abraham know that it was God that bid him offer his son, being a breach of the sixth commandment?”
• “If any come to my house to be instructed in the ways of God what rule have I to put them away? Do you think it not lawful for me to teach women and why do you call me to teach the court?”
• “One may preach a covenant of grace more clearly than another... But when they preach a covenant of works for salvation, that is not truth.”

women posters
American Jezebel, The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans


Map of Colonial Sweden in America, c. 1638-1685, Giclee Print
Map of Colonial Sweden in America, c. 1638-1685,
Giclee Print

Map of New Sweden
c. 1638-1685

Nya Sverige was a Swedish settlement along the Delaware River (as in George Washington “Crossing the Delaware”). The colony was centered on Fort Christina (now Wilmington DE), named for Queen Christina of Sweden, and included parts of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The founder of New Sweden was Peter Minuit who was hired by the Swedes after he was relieved of his post with the colony of New Netherlands.


Map Showing British Colonies and Northern New France during the French and Indian War, c.1750, Giclee Print
Map Showing British Colonies and Northern New France during the French and Indian War, c.1750,
Giclee Print

British Colonies and Northern New France, 1750-1760
Map depicting the colonies of England and France during the French and Indian War. The spine of the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Lakes form a natural boundary to settler's ambitions.


Map of the U.S. in 1792, Showing Colonial Claims on Oregon Territory, Giclee Print
1792 Map of the U.S. Showing Colonial Claims on Oregon Territory, Giclee Print

The United States in 1792
Legend: The Mississippi was then the western boundary of the United States, but we had a claim on the Oregon country. England, Spain and Russia also claimed Oregon.

• more maps and charts posters


A Colonial Six Dollar Bill of 1776, an American Fifty Dollar Bill of 1779, Giclee Print
A 1776 Colonial
Six Dollar Bill;
1779 American
Fifty Dollar Bill
Giclee Print

A Colonial Six Dollar Bill of 1776, an American Fifty Dollar Bill of 1779

money posters


Colonial Correspondence Art Print
Colonial Correspondence
Art Print

Colonial Correspondence


william bradford, roger williams, anne hutchinson, Peter Minuit, john smith, Junípero Serra, Peter Stuyvesant, James Oglethorpe, William Penn, jonathan edwards, John Winthrop, Lord Baltimore, de la ware, Priscilla and John Alden, Captain John Mason, Governor Sir John Wentworth, Lord Berkeley, Sir George Carteret, Increase Mather, Willem Kieft

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