Teaching Guide: Exploring the Motivations and Realities of Life in the Colonies

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, The Colonies: Motivations and Realities, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. According to the accounts of cases prosecuting Quakers, the summary of Quaker beliefs, and the pamphlet defending the position of the Quakers, what were the key beliefs and practices of the Quakers that brought them into conflict with British authorities? How were these Quaker actions addressed by British officials?

  2. Using specific examples drawn from the summary of Quaker beliefs and the pamphlet defending the position of the Quakers, summarize the arguments for and against the rights of Quakers in England.

  3. According to the letter to Sir Robert Walpole, what did the term “balance of trade” mean? Why was it important to the role of the colonies within the British Empire? How did Henry McCulloh describe the relationship between the colonies and England? How did he think that relationship could be improved?

  4. Describe the colony of Georgia from the five visual sources presented. Include in your descriptions rivers, other natural features, English towns, and Native American settlements. Does the information in your description help you to understand the meaning of the letter from Henry Ellis to the warriors and headmen of the Creek Nation? What is at stake in this discussion?

Classroom activities

Divide students into groups of four or five. Drawing on these materials and other information covered in the course, have groups consider the various motives for colonization. Have some groups determine the reasons individual colonists had for journeying to North America. Have other groups determine the reasons behind the English government’s support of colonization. In whole group discussion, have students’ representatives report their group findings. Then have students as a class predict the tensions that will arise from these distinct goals.

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