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To lie low before God, as in the dust, that I might be nothing, and that God might be all. ––Jonathan Edwards I n 1736, Alexander MacAllister left the Highlands of Scotland for the back- country of North Carolina, where his wife and three sisters soon joined him. Over the years, MacAllister prospered as a landowner and mill proprietor and had only praise for his new home. Carolina was “the best poor man’s country I have heard in this age,” he wrote to his brother Hector, urging him to “advise all poor people . . . to take courage and come.” In North Carolina, there were no landlords to keep “the face of the poor . . . to the grinding stone,” and so many Highlanders were arriving that “it will soon be a new Scotland.” Here, on the far margins of the British empire, people could “breathe the air of liberty, and not want the necessarys of life.” Some 300,000 European migrants — primarily Highland Scots, Scots-Irish, and Germans — heeded MacAllister’s advice and helped to swell the population of Britain’s North American settlements from 400,000 in 1720 to almost two million by 1765. The rapid increase in white settlers and the arrival of nearly 300,000 enslaved Africans transformed life in every region of British America. Long-settled towns in New England became overcrowded; antagonistic ethnic and religious communities in the Middle Atlan- tic colonies jostled uneasily with one another; and the infl ux of the MacAllisters and thousands of other Celtic and German migrants altered the social landscape of the southern backcountry. Everywhere, two European cultural movements — the Enlightenment and Pietism — changed the tone of intellectual and spiritual life. Most important, as the migrants and the landless children of long-settled families moved in- land, they sparked wars with the native peoples and with France and Spain, which were also vying for empire in North America. A generation of dynamic growth produced a decade of deadly warfare that would set the stage for a new era in American history. Freehold Society in New England In the 1630s, the Puritans left a country in which a small elite of nobles and gentry owned 75 percent of the arable land and farmed it with leaseholding tenants and propertyless workers. In New England, the Puritans set out to create a yeoman society Growth and Crisis in Colonial Society 1 7 2 0 – 1 7 6 5 4 C H A P T E R 96 © APUS/AMU - Property of Bedford St Martin's - 0-312-62422-0 / 0-312-62423-9 - Copyright 2009
CHAPTER 4 Growth and Crisis in Colonial Society 1720–1765 u 97 of relatively equal landowning farm families. They succeeded all too well. By 1750, the migrants’ descendants had parceled out all of the best farmland, threatening the future of the freehold ideal. Farm Families: Women and the Rural Household Economy The Puritans’ vision of social equality did not extend to women. Puritan ideology placed the husband firmly at the head of the household, with almost complete con- trol over his dependents. The Reverend Benjamin Wadsworth of Boston advised women in The Well-Ordered Family

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