Over time, a class structure formed in the
Gentry---HIGHEST SOCIAL CLASS (CHURCH
OFFICIALS, WEALTHY LANDOWNERS,
PLANTERS, MOST SUCCESSFUL MERCHANTS)
Middle Class---SKILLED ARTISANS,
Farmers and unskilled laborers
Indentured servants and slave workers
American COLONIAL society was unique in
that most people had the OPPORTUNITY to
move to a HIGHER social class
During the 1730s and 1740s, a movement
known as the GREAT AWAKENING swept
through the colonies. It was characterized by
a REVIVAL, OR RENEWED INTEREST, IN
The GREAT AWAKENING affected the way the
colonists viewed their society. They saw each
other not as MEMBERS OF DIFFERENT CLASSES
but as a larger, united group.
In addition to the GREAT AWAKENING, a
movement known as the ENGLIGHTENMENT
swept through the colonies during the mid-
1700s. It stressed the use of LOGIC AND REASON
in both SCIENTIFIC AND SOCIAL MATTERS.
An important ENLIGHTENMENT thinker was the
English writer JOHN LOCKE. LOCKE stressed that
a government’s sole purpose was to protect
PEOPLE’S NATURAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING
LIFE, LIBERTY, AND OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY.
The ENLIGHTENMENT was marked by respect for
science and a curiosity about the laws that
governed the natural world. One of the more
notable American scientists was BENJAMIN
American LITERATURE developed throughout
the 1700s. Influential colonial writers
included two women poets: ANNE
BRADSTREET and PHILLIS WHEATLEY, an
NEWSPAPERS were widely read in the
colonies. Because many NEWSPAPERS carried
political opinions, they helped to raise the
colonists’ AWARENESS OF POLITICAL ISSUES.
Throughout the 1700s, the COLONISTS made
great improvements to their ROAD SYSTEMS
AND MAIL SYSTEM.
Such improvements made it easier for the
colonists to spread INFORMATION AND NEW
IDEAS to each other more quickly.