1. During the late 1700s, almost 2.5 million people, lived in America. They moved from Europe into colonies that spread from Maine to Georgia. Each of the immigrants came for his own reasons; most people came because of the cheaper land, religious freedom, to serve jail time, or because of the opportunities. Some were brought to America as indentured servants. They agreed to work for a certain period of time to pay for their passage before they became free. Still others were brought to the country as slaves.
2. Most early Americans were farmers. Of course, the type of farms they had usually depended on the part of the country in which they lived. Those who lived in the northern colonies had to deal with cold climate and rocky soil. Because of this, their farms were typically small (around 55 acres) and easily run by a family with one or two indentured servants.
3. The warm climate and fertile soil of the South made farming easier. Most families lived on small farms; however, there were many families who lived on larger farms called plantations. These plantations often used many slaves to farm the land. Some of the largest plantations could easily be thousands of acres of land, housing several families, and hundreds of slaves.
4. Americans of the early colonial period were very self-sufficient. They raised and grew their own food and made their own clothes. They used the land and trees around them to build their own tools, homes, barns, and even make their own medicines. If they had anything leftover, most families would trade with a neighbor for other goods; things rarely went to waste in colonial America.
Source # 2
Settlement DePaul Center for Urban Education
1. Settlers came to this area to build farms. While they found the land difficult to plant in because of the thick root system, trees were not in the way – the area was mostly grassland. When settlers came, they traded goods with the Potawatomi to get food and animal skins. After a time, the Potawatomi were forced to move when homesteaders took over the land. The Potawatomi asked that they could remain “on the land given to use by their great spirit,” but they could not continue to live here. By 1831, they had to move.
Here is what one woman wrote about her trip to live in Illinois.
2. “I have dragged one foot after the other so long and hope for the best. Friday Eve. We commence a fourteen-mile prairie after we got to Paris, Illinois, hot though it was as the sun was setting, it was very good some part of the way – Many bad slews. The Doctor got stuck twice, and the oxen drew him out. The prairies look fine. Many kinds of flowers grow on them – and prairie hens live on them, one of the company shot one. Eliza looks bad but says she feels like helping me get supper. Oh dear, I think it’s a hard time - Saturday 15th. Today have been traveling through prairie and timber, both, and got lost in the bargain-we took the wrong road and wallowed around the prairies grass, sometimes as high as the horses’ back. Night came, we pitched our tent after mowing the grass down and made as comfortable as could be expected amongst mosquitoes.”
Here is what one woman’s life was like after settling.
3. “The woman told me that they spun and wove all the cotton and woolen garments of the family, and knit all the stockings; her husband, though not a shoe-maker by trade, made all the shoes. She made all the soap and candles they used and prepared her sugar from the sugar-trees on their farm. All she wanted with the money, she said, was to buy coffee and tea, and she could “get enough any day by sending a batch of butter and the chicken to market.” They used no wheat, nor sold any of their corn, which though it appeared a very large quantity, was not more than they required to make their bread and cakes of various kinds, and to feed all their livestock during the winter.”
Source # 3
Merriwether Lewis and William Clark Meet the Shoshone By America's Story for America's Library
1. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are best known for their expedition from the Mississippi River to the West Coast and back. The expedition, called the Corps of Discovery, was President Thomas Jefferson’s visionary project to explore the American West. It began in May of 1804 and ended in September 1806. Before the expedition, Lewis was Jefferson’s private presidential secretary. He also served in the military, where he met Clark.
2. In August 1805, Lewis and Clark were looking for the Shoshone Indians. The Corps (Lewis and Clark’s expedition party) needed horses to cross the Rockies, and the Shoshone had them. Sacagawea, a member of the Corps, was Shoshone, but she had been kidnapped by another tribe many years before.
3. The Corps were still recovering from their portage around the Great Falls of Missouri. Morale was low. Lewis and three men were scouting ahead when they finally met a band of Shoshone. They were the first white men the Shoshone had ever seen. Lewis wanted the Shoshone to know that he and his men came in peace. He gave them gifts and used sign language, a few Shoshone words, and red paint (the Shoshone color for peace) to tell them. Luckily, the Shoshone band and their chief, Cameahwait, were convinced.
4. They celebrated a peaceful meeting with hugs, shouts, and smoking a peace pipe. When they all sat on the ground to share the peace pipe, the Shoshone removed their moccasins to show their sincerity. Lewis wrote many pages about this day in his journal, including this drawing of the peace pipe. Lewis explained that the Shoshone took off their shoes to say they would “always go barefoot if they are not sincere”—a pretty heavy penalty if they are to march through that rough terrain. Lewis understood what they meant since the Corps had all hurt their feet on sharp rocks and prickly pear cactuses.
5. Although the Shoshone welcomed Lewis, they were suspicious. They had recently been raided by another tribe. When Lewis asked them to travel to meet the rest of his expedition party, the Shoshone worried that Lewis might be leading them into a trap. Eventually, Lewis convinced them. But when they got to the meeting place, Clark and the others had not yet arrived. So they waited.
6. The Shoshone were nervous. They didn’t want to be ambushed. Lewis was nervous, too; he had to get horses, or the Corps wouldn’t be able to finish the expedition. If Clark and the others didn’t show up soon, the Shoshone would leave and take their horses with them.
7. Finally, on August 17, 1805, the rest of the Corps arrived. Sacagawea and another member of the Corps were the first to see Lewis and the Shoshone. Sacagawea recognized the area as her home, and now she recognized this band of Shoshone as her people. In fact, Chief Cameahwait was her brother! Everyone celebrated this lucky coincidence. They even named the meeting place Camp Fortunate. Now Lewis and Clark could continue their expedition, thanks to the Shoshone.