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American history is mostly focused on when the Founding Fathers lived, and it sometimes forgets to mention other important periods of history. The Colonial era is one of the most essential chapters of Americans’ life. It is extremely interesting to find out more about the life of ordinary colonists.

  1. Sharing Beds

Most people believe that back in the days, girls would lose their virginity on the wedding night. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true. Colonial-era sexual morals were indeed stricter than they are nowadays, but most of the women who got married were already pregnant by the time they entered the church.

One of the most interesting techniques in which couples tested whether they match sexually or not was sharing beds. The unmarried couple was left alone for one night in a shared bedroom. They had to find out if they were compatible before they got married. That was because their main goal was to procreate.

  1. Getting Married Was Expensive

Most of the marriages would last less than 15 years. The rate of mortality at the time was really high, so people would get remarried often. The funny thing is that they wouldn’t quite do it on paper. Getting married costed way too much at that time – it was basically the equivalent of one teacher’s salary for a year. Therefore, couples would post announcements of their marriage in the papers. Their marriages were not formal, but they were always respected by the community they lived in.

  1. Infant Mortality Rate Was High

We already know that couples got remarried because the rate of mortality in individuals was high. But who would expect a high rate of infant mortality? Unfortunately, the lack of proper hygiene affected more children than expected. After a woman gave birth to a child, she expected him/her to die at some point in the near future. If children were being taken care of, the chances of mortality were lower but still higher than 50%.

Because the African-American communities were poorer, more than half of the Black children died in the mid-1700s before their first year anniversary. Lady Barrel, an important landlord wife at the time, outlived all of her children – three of them died before they turned one, and one died right before he turned five.

  1. There Was a Lack of Jobs

Men usually occupied jobs that would require demanding physical work. Most of them were great farmers and skilled merchants, while others were labourers and artisans. Slaves and servants were two jobs mainly performed by men too, but sometimes we saw women doing these types of jobs as well.

Women mainly took care of the household and of the children, and sometimes they also gardened and traded goods for money. As towns developed, more artisan jobs started to appear, but many people did not have a job still. It was extremely hard feeding a family with no active income coming their way.

  1. Currency

Colonial Americans did not only get paid in money. Because there was a shortage of coins at the time, colonists would use commodities as a means of trade between parties. They would trade cows for tobacco, or fish for rum. They assigned different values to different commodities and set their scale according to the values.

Besides that, each American colony would print its own paper money. They again assigned a value to the papers, and thus sold and bought goods using the adapted currencies. They usually used Spanish dollars or English pounds to set their values. The money was called “proclamation money,” since each currency relied on each colony’s proclamation.

  1. Imports Cost Way Too Much

Clara Turner, historian at Oaks Dale Institute of History, and freelancer at UKBestEssays, shares her opinion. “Importing any type of product in America was very expensive during the Colonial era. It was easier to manufacture the goods inside the country than to import them. The only impediment with that was the time it took for those good to be produced.”

The most expensive countries to import from were France and England – England because the Queen limited the export of goods to only rich families worldwide, and France because their production costs were extremely high in general. Wood was one of the most expensive raw materials to be imported, and that made it even harder for Americans to increase production and expand the job market.


People in the Colonial era lived much more complicated lives than we do. The job market was basically inexistent at that point, production was dead, and import costs were too high. Children were dying soon after they were born, and social classes were more divided than ever. So, how much do you actually know about your history?