A young man or woman who lives in either Massachusetts Bay or Virginia colony in 1640.



You will take on the “persona” of one of the people listed below.  You are going to write a “letter home” to your family. In that letter, you can put personal messages in but keep that in the beginning and/or end of the letter.   Your “letter” should be 1-2 pages double-spaced, have your name on the essay, and be in either .doc/.docx or .pdf format to be graded for credit.

Chose only ONE of the following:

1.        A young Conquistador on one of the early voyages to (now) Mexico in the 16th century.

2.       A young man or woman who lives in either Massachusetts Bay or Virginia colony in 1640.

Some “tips:” The purpose here is to write as though you have been away for a long time in a very strange to you place, you have no idea (nor do they) if you will ever return from such a trip---or if either of you will ever be in contact again. It’s a big ocean.  As this person you chose, you may have doubts, you may be excited about this new place, or you may see it as just another assignment you will one day return from.  It depends on what is *reasonable* for the person you chose and the details they share about what they are experiencing and what they see as their motive for leaving (migration? Job?) and what might influence their perspective.

Remember to set this up like any history essay---you explain the “who, what, when, where” in your first paragraph.  You also promise to tell them about 3 different things and those each will be a body paragraph (!)  Things such as:  the voyage, what you have done or seen in this new place, what is strange and why, what your plans are, how you feel about this new society you are building, etc.  The key is explaining where you are and what you are doing to your family who knows nothing of this place.  Use facts---that is details---from the lectures and readings. Saying “Indians here are terrifying” or “The people here have strange practices”  means nothing.  Being specific with details your person would see, hear, or witness matters.   Finally, your conclusion to the letter is like any other essay conclusion. You sum up or “remind” your reader of your main points and how you feel about your adventure. Then you can add the usual things you’d say in a letter to your family.

Students often have “fun” (or as much as you can on an assignment…) with this format.  Embrace your character! Let him or her have as much adventure as makes sense in their situation. Remember to use details about their experiences from the sources assigned---did your Conquistador witness Aztec rituals and want to terrorize their family back in Spain with the details?  Add them in---but don’t have your “Virginia colonist” taking a trip to Mexico because that makes no sense at all in 1640 or so…



Unit #1 Exam---Part 2:  Identifications (25%)

1.       Columbian Exchange

2.       Encomienda

3.       Puritans

4.       Pilgrims

5.       Middle Passage

“Tips” and some examples:

“Identifications” are basically mini-essays of no more than 5 sentences.  Most of you will do about 3.  Use the assigned sources---it is easy to tell “Wikipedia” from our text/lectures on these.  Very easy and you will get ZERO points for using other sources like that.

You need to define the term (who, what, when, where) and then provide what we call “significance.”  Significance is How or why did something happen, or something/someone matter enough that we remember it in history?  Often it is “the first, the worst, or started/ended something. “ Be sure that your “significance” statement is clear---you may, as I show in one of the examples below, even set it off from the main ID if you like:


Battle of Yorktown:  The battle between Great Britain and its former North American colonies took place in Yorktown, Virginia in the summer and fall of 1781.  The Americans were aided by the French and were victorious. Gen. Cornwall of the British Army surrendered to Gen. Washington and this was the last major battle of the American Revolution. The British agreed to a treaty and the United States was formally created and recognized as the Americans won the Revolution.


Roger Williams:  Roger Williams was a Puritan Minister in Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He arrived in the first ships to Boston in 1630 but by 1636 he was banished for his claim that mixing religion with government like Puritan Massachusetts did corrupted religion. He went south and founded Rhode Island as a colony with freedom of religion for all.

Significance:  He is considered the founder of the Baptist Church in America and of the first colony with religious freedom.

Related Questions in history category

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