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The Colonial Era: A Documentary Reader

The Colonial Era: A Documentary Reader

Paul G. E. Clemens (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-405-15661-5

Jan 2008, Wiley-Blackwell

240 pages

In Stock



Comprehensive and accessible, this title offers a clear and original framework for studying the important issues in colonial American history.

  • Provides students with more than 60 essential documents on Colonial America
  • Short headnotes introduce each selection
  • Begins with a brief introduction by the editor and concludes with a bibliography designed to stimulate student research
  • Can be used in conjunction with other books in a course or as a stand-alone text
List of Illustrations.

Series Editors’ Preface.




Part I: Beginnings:.

1. English and African Background.

Gregory King’s A Scheme of the Income and Expence of the Several Families of England, Calculated for the Year 1688.

William Harrison’s Description of England, 1577.

Gomes Eanes de Zurara Chronicle of the Initial Portuguese Voyages to Sub-Saharan Africa, 1453: Chapter LX. How those Caravels Arrived at the River of Nile, and of the Guineas that They Took; Chapter LXIII. How the Caravels Set Forth from the River, and of the Voyage which They Made.

Olaudah Equiano Recounts his Life in Africa before Being Captured by Slave Traders, 1789.

2. Images of the New World.

Amerigo Vespucci Discovers America, ca. 1570s.

Amerigo Vespucci Describes his First (Third) Voyage to “America,” 1505/6.

A Native American Warrior, ca. 1590.

John Smith, Of the Naturall Inhabitants of Virginia, 1624.

Pocahontas in England.

John Smith on Pocahontas, 1624.

Illustration from John Lawson’s A New Voyage to Carolina, 1709.

John Lawson’s History of North Carolina, 1709.

3. Native American Lives.

The Beginning of the World -- Costanoan California Native American Story.

A Dutch View of the Native Americans in the New Netherlands, from a Letter of Isaack de Rasieres to Samuel Blommaert, ca. 1628.

A French Jesuit Missionary Reports on Life Among the Illinois, 1675.

Joseph Francis Lafitau, Portrait of Iroquois and Huron Culture, 1724.

4. Borderlands.

Dutch--Native American Relations Deteriorate: Kieft’s War, 1640--1645.

The Natural Wonders of California: Jose de Gálvez’s Expedition, 1769--1770, as Recorded by Father (Franciscan) Juan Crespí.

Pedro Fages describes California Native Americans, 1775.

Natchez War in Louisiana, 1729--1730.

5. Founding Colonies.

John Winthrop’s A Modell of Christian Charity, 1630.

Slave and Servant Codes in the Seventeenth-Century English West Indies: Barbados Laws for Servants (and Slaves), 1652.

The Concessions and Agreements of the Proprietors, Freeholders, and Inhabitants of the Province of West New Jersey, 1676/1677: Chapter XVI, Chapter XVII, Chapter XXV.

William Penn Purchases Land from the Lenape (Delaware) Indians, 1682.

6. Northern Colonies.

Articles of Agreement Among the First Settlers of Springfield, Massachusetts, 1636.

John Winthrop Describes Congregational Minister John Eliot’s Work as a Missionary to the Native Americans in Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1647.

The Raid on Deerfield, 1704: “An account of ye destruction at Deerfd febr 29, 1703/4,” by Samuel Partridge; “Account of the Captivity of the Rev. Doctor Stephen Williams, Written by Himself”; “When I Was Carryed to Canada,” attributed to Joseph Kellogg of Deerfield.

7. Southern Colonies.

Richard Frethorne’s Letter from Jamestown to his Parents in England, 1623.

Witchcraft Trial of Jeane Gardiner, Bermuda, 1651.

Cases Before the Maryland Provincial Court in the 1650s: A Case of Adultery/Fornication, 1652; A Case of Murder, 1653; An Agreement about Marriage, 1657.

Hans Sloane, Observations on Living in Jamaica, 1707.


Part II: The Eighteenth Century:.

8. Politics.

Address of the House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay to the King. November 22, 1728.

A Virginia Election Dispute, 1740.

A Contested Election in Pennsylvania, 1742.

9. Economy.

Commerce at the Port of Bristol, Great Britain, July 2, 1731.

A New England Farmer’s Expectations of Profit, 1742.

The Business of a South Carolina Commission Merchant, 1738 and 1740.

10. Empire.

A Memorial Concerning the Fur Trade of the Province of New York: Cadwallader Colden to William Barnet, Governor of New York, November 10, 1724.

Lieutenant Governor William Gooch of Virginia to the Council of Trade, on the Need for a Tobacco Inspection Act, June 29, 1729 and February 27, 1731.

James Oglethorpe Promotes a New Colony in Georgia, 1732.

James Ramsay on the Abolition of the British Slave Trade, 1784.

11. Slavery.

Lieutenant Governor William Gooch of Virginia to the Board of Trade, Comments about African American Slaves in Virginia. June 29, 1729.

New York Conspiracy Trials of 1741.

A Virginia Planter Instructs his Plantation Manager about Enslaved Workers, 1743/4 and 1754.

Runaway Servant and Slave Advertisements, as Published in Colonial Newspapers: Pennsylvania Gazette, Runaway Servants; Virginia Gazette, Runaway Slaves; South Carolina Gazette, Runaway Indian Slave, and South Carolina and American General Gazette, Runaway Slave.

12. Everyday Life.

Examination of Daniel Tice, 1765.

Brinton Farmhouse, Birmingham Township, Chester (Delaware) County, Pennsylvania, 1704.

Everyday Life in the Colonies as Seen through Probate Inventories and Wills: Inventory of Archibald Curry, laborer, Darby, Chester County, October 24, 1764; Inventory and Will of Sarah McWilliams, East Nottingham, Chester County, Pennsylvania, March 15, 1765; The Inventory of the Estate of Thomas Benedict late of Norwalk deceased taken this 28th day of June An. D. 1763; Slaves in the Inventory of Thomas Beach, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, May 1776.

Household Consumer Goods of the Comfortable and Prosperous.

Colonial Taverns: Sarah Kimble Knight’s Account of a Night at a Tavern, 1704; James Birket’s Cursory Remarks about his Tavern Accommodations, 1750.

13. Family and Gender Relations.

Grand Jury Presentation of Martin Rierden, 1736.

From the Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, 1742.

The Politics of Gender Relations in Pennsylvania, 1730s--1760s.

Scenes from the Life of a Great Tobacco Planter in Eighteenth-Century Virginia: William Byrd to Charles, Earl of Orrey (Great Britain), 1726; William Byrd of Westover’s Diary, 1710, 1712.

14. Religion.

The Anglican Clergy of Maryland Appeal to the Bishop of London about the State of the Church In Maryland, 1696.

Benjamin Franklin Offers his Opinion of the Great Revivalist, George Whitefield.

Dr. Alexander Hamilton Comments on the Revivalist James Davenport, 1743.

James Ireland’s Battle with Satan, Virginia, ca. 1760s.

15. Culture.

Cadwallader Colden [New York] to Mr. Peter Collinson [London], on Women as Botanists, November 13, 1742.

Books and Reading in Eighteenth-Century America: A Selection of Books from the Probate Inventory of Alured Popple, Governor of Bermuda, 1745; A Bookseller’s Catalog, Philadelphia, 1762; The Practice of Reading in Early America, from the Journal of Esther Edwards Burr on the Reading of Richardson’s Pamela, 1755.

Observing the Transit of Venus from Newport, Rhode Island, June 5, 1769.

Phillis Wheatley, On Virtue, 1773.

Musical Instruction: William Charles Hulet, Advertisement for Musical Lessons, 1770; Young Ladies Conduct, Advice on Musical Instruction, 1722.

16. The Great War for Empire.

Seven Years War Begins: George Washington to John Augustine Washington, 1754.

Description of the Battle of Ticonderoga, July 1758.

Pontiac’s Rebellion: Captain George Etherington to Major Henry Gladwin, Michilimackinac, June 12, 1763.

Frontier Life during Warfare: Captain Lewis Ourry (Fort Bedford) to Colonel Henry Bouquet (Fort Pitt), August 27, 1763.



"A stunning collection of familiar and newly mined sources that introduces students firsthand to the breadth of Atlantic world experiences of Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans."
Jean R. Soderlund, Lehigh University<!--end-->

"This remarkable collection encourages students to glimpse the many faces of colonial America, sample the varied sources historians use, and, most important, think critically about how we know the past."
Daniel K. Richter, University of Pennsylvania

"Clemens has assembled a challenging array of primary documents that highlight the extraordinary Atlantic dimensions of British America. His blend of private, published, and institutional sources sheds light on important topics ranging from exploration, cross-cultural encounters, and labor systems to the quest for enlightenment, salvation, civility, profit, and survival on an American frontier stretching beyond the Thirteen Colonies. This is an immensely valuable collection that will provoke lively classroom discussions."
Michael Jarvis, University of Rochester

"Distinguished by its carefully chosen, substantial, and well-edited documents, this superb reader also offers a thoughtful introduction, thought-provoking discussion questions, helpful guidance for further exploration, and useful, unobtrusive headnotes to the texts. Who could ask for more?"
Fred Anderson, University of Colorado at Boulder

"This remarkable reader offers students a wide range and diverse set of documents, which in turn provide a compelling and comprehensive view of colonial America. It is a superb collection."
Philip Morgan, Johns Hopkins University

"These marvellously diverse documents will introduce students to the full complexity of colonial America, and Professor Clemens's expert commentaries should inspire students to reconsider the very nature of historical analysis."
Steve Sarson, University of Wales, Swansea

  • Provides students with more than 60 essential documents on Colonial America
  • Short headnotes introduce each selection
  • Begins with a brief introduction by the editor and concludes with a bibliography designed to stimulate student research
  • Can be used in conjunction with other books in a course or as a stand-alone text