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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 3: English Settlement

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

Why settle in New England?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

The early settlement of the Frontier is examined in terms of the Puritan understanding in terms of the "Will of God." The English settlers were determined to turn the New Land into a place of milk and honey from the howling wilderness.

Teacher Background Information:
Notes by Susan McGowan about The Social and Cultural Landscape of 17th Century New England by David Grayson Allen

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • that there were increasingly in this period competing political agendas and competition for land, power, and wealth in Deerfield

  • the physical boundaries of Deerfield in the context of the geologic formations and land use and settlement.

  • the motivations for the settlement in Deerfield by the English.

  • that it is valuable to study the lives, actions, ideas, political experiences, and judgments of people in the past.

  • that it is important NOT to judge people in the past by today's notions and beliefs.

Students will be able to:

  • utilize the mapping graphic organizer to tease out the salient points of an article

  • make reference to previously presented material.

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In Preparation for Teaching

1. Read the Teacher Background Information:
Notes by Susan McGowan about Vacuum Domicillium: The Social and Cultural Landscape of 17th Century New England by David Grayson Allen.

2. Find or prepare blank maps of England and Massachusetts

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

Allen, David Grayson. Vacuum Domicillium: The Social and Cultural Landscape of Seventeenth Century New England. New England Begins. pp. 1-9.


  1. Atlases
  2. Blank maps of England and Massachusetts
  3. Overhead projector
  4. Acetate
  5. Pens

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1

1. Using a number of large atlases, ask the class to examine the towns in England, and then locate towns by the same name in Massachusetts, placing them on a map of England. Then as a discussion, hypothesize what the linkage may be and why.

2. As a class, drawing on the homework assignment, map the Vacuum Domicillium article, indicate what the major issues of the English Settlement to Colonial America were. In the process, answer the following:

• Explain the Puritan philosophy expressed in David Grayson Allen's article: "it is a principle in nature, that in a vacant soyle, hee that taketh possession of it, and bestoweth culture and husbandry upon it" has an inviolable right to the land.

• Allen says that English attitudes were both benevolent and presumptuous. Explain what that means.

• Refer to the Whittemore family of Malden. Using a map, trace their pattern of movement in New England.

• Contrast marriage patterns of the early English settlers in New England with those of the Native Peoples and explain the difference.

• Review the "Essay on the Ordering of Towns" in the article.

a) Make a drawing to illustrate the essay and label it.
b) What is the central role of the towns?

• What factors does the author believe contributed to New England's population rise from c.27,000 in 1650 to c.100.000 by 1700? Why does he believe New Englanders could look forward to a fairly long life?

• Explain the bold portion of the following sentence from the article:

"Most of the grain, cattle, and other products were funneled through Boston, coming there by cart, on horseback, or on foot from the hinterland of the "New England metropolis," or else by water from the Connecticut River Valley."






David Grayson Allen's Vacuum Domicillium: The Social and Cultural Landscape of Seventeenth Century New England





Whittemore family




"Essay on the Ordering of Towns"






"Most of the grain..."

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Ask students to pass in their mapping exercises for grading. Consider the active participation of each student as an indicator.

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