Classroom activity: Colonization


Colonization of the New World began in 1492 with Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas. It was not until 1607 that the English gained a permanent foothold in the New World with the establishment of Jamestown. As the English began to settle the North American continent, conflict among settlers, war with the Native Americans, and conflict with the Spanish and French for control occurred. English colonies began to develop a distinct American colonial identity as they developed early forms of representative government and unified against outside European forces. The conclusion of the French and Indian War set the stage for the next steps for the American colonies.

Directions: Use the content from the Bee in a Box website to help answer the following questions:


William Blackstone

  1. How has William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England helped the Supreme Court over the years?

Thomas Hooker

  1. Why was Thomas Hooker forced to leave England?
  2. Why is Thomas Hooker sometimes referred to as the “Father of American Democracy”?

Anne Hutchinson

  1. Why was Anne Hutchinson exiled from Massachusetts Bay Colony?
  2. How does Anne Hutchinson’s experience later influence the founding fathers attitude toward religion when they wrote the Bill of Rights?

William Penn

  1. What experience in William Penn’s background led him to desire a colony with religious freedom?
  2. Provide examples of policies in William Penn’s colony Pennsylvania that later influenced the founders when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

John Peter Zenger

  1. Why was John Peter Zenger charged with seditious libel?
  2. Describe several features of the John Peter Zenger trial that would be illegal today.
  3. Explain why they would be illegal?


Mayflower Compact and Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

  1. Explain how the Mayflower Compact and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut are examples of early forms of representative government in the colonies.

Navigation Acts of the 1650’s

  1. Explain how the Navigation Acts of the 1650’s exemplified Britain’s mercantilist policy?
  2. Why were the Navigation Acts of the 1650’s enforced after the French and Indian War and what effect did this have?

Albany Plan of Union

  1. Despite the Albany Plan of Union never being formally adopted by the colonies, why was it important?
  2. Why were some colonies hesitant to adopt the Albany Plan of Union?

Join or Die Cartoon

  1. Why was the Join or Die Cartoon significant? Treaty of Paris
  2. How did the Treaty of Paris alter the colonial land holdings in North American?



The Transatlantic Slave Trade

  1. Explain how slaves were part of the Triangular Trade?

Founding of Jamestown

  1. How might the outcome of Jamestown been different if both John Smith and John Rolfe had not been present?
  2. Creation of the House of Burgesses
    Why is the meeting of the House of Burgesses important?

Establishment of Mercantilism

  1. Explain how Mercantilism works.
  2. How can Mercantilism be seen as a cause of the American Revolution?

Bacon’s Rebellion

  1. Why were Nathanial Bacon and his followers inspired to revolt?

First Great Awakening

  1. Describe the First Great Awakening and explain how it influenced American History?

French and Indian War (Seven Year’s War)

  1. Despite the French and Indian War being a victory for the British and the American colonists, what was an unintended consequence of that victory?

Connection Questions

  1. What key person most represents the principles found in the 1st Amendment? Defend your answer.
  2. Which document do you feel is still important to Americans today?
  3. Why were the English successful in colonizing the North American continent?
  4. Several colonial people, events, and documents set the stage for the American Revolution. Which one would be the best example of breaking away from British control?

Click here for a PDF copy of the questions.