What Was Education Like in the Southern Colonies?

A discussion of education in the southern colonies.

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Education in the Southern Colonies

In the Southern Colonies, education was not a priority for most families. This was because the majority of people in the Southern Colonies were farmers and did not have the time or money to send their children to school. However, there were a few private schools that were available to the wealthy.

Overview of the Southern Colonies

In the 1600s, English colonists began settling in what are now the southern United States. The first colony was Virginia, established in 1607. The southern colonies eventually included Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

The early settlers in the southern colonies had a hard time. Many of them died from diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. They also had to deal with attacks from Native Americans.

Despite these challenges, the southern colonies prospered. The climate was good for growing tobacco, rice, and indigo. These crops were profitable, and they made the southern colonies wealthy.

Like the other English colonies in America, the southern colonies had a system of social classes. At the top were the wealthy landowners. Below them were small farmers, artisans, and tradespeople. At the bottom were slaves and indentured servants.

Education in Virginia

In the seventeenth century, most Virginia children were taught at home by their parents or by tutors. wealthy families hired tutors to come and live in their homes and teach their children. poorer families could not afford to hire tutors, so they had to teach their children themselves.

Virginia law required that all children be taught to read and write. This was because the colonists wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible. In 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses (the colony’s legislature) passed a law requiring that all sons of wealthy families be sent to England to be educated.

The first school in Virginia was established in 1634 by the Rev. Robert Hunt. It was located in Jamestown, the colony’s capital. The school was called the College of Henrico and it educated boys between the ages of six and sixteen.

In 1693, the College of William and Mary was founded in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was the second college in America and it educated both boys and girls. The college is still open today and it is one of the eight colleges that make up the Ivy League schools.

Education in Maryland

Between 1696 and 1776, England’s southern colonies of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia established public systems of elementary and secondary education. Education in the South was based on the English tradition of “grammar schools,” or schools that taught young boys the Latin grammar so they could enter into college. In the southern colonies, however, very few boys had the opportunity to attend college. Instead, they were trained in the “useful arts” so they could enter into apprenticeships and learn a trade.

Education in North Carolina

In the early days of the colony, education in North Carolina was largely informal. Parents taught their children at home or hired tutors. There were no public schools, and only a few private schools. The first public school in North Carolina was established in 1715 in the town of Edenton.

By the mid-18th century, there were a few more public schools in North Carolina, but most children still received their education at home or from private tutors. In the late 18th century, things began to change. The state began to invest more money in public education, and new laws were passed that made schooling compulsory for all children between the ages of six and fifteen. As a result of these changes, the number of schools in North Carolina increased dramatically, and more children had access to formal education than ever before.

Today, education in North Carolina is still primarily provided by public schools. There are also a number of private schools, both religious and non-religious, that serve families across the state.

Education in South Carolina

In South Carolina, education was not as emphasized as it was in the New England colonies. This was mostly because the area was largely agricultural and there were not many large towns or cities. Most families sent their children to “dame schools,” which were small private schools run by women out of their homes. These schools taught the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Higher education was not common, but there were a few colleges in the colony, including the College of Charleston, which was founded in 1770.

Education in Georgia

Georgia was the last of the 13 colonies to be established, and it was also the only colony founded as a place for prisoners. As a result, education in Georgia was not a priority in the early years. However, by the mid-1700s, the colony began to focus on education more seriously.

All of the southern colonies had similar ideas about education. They believed that all children should be able to read the Bible and that boys should receive some form of higher education so that they could become ministers or lawyers. Girls were not typically given the same opportunities for higher education, but they were sometimes educated at home by tutors.

Like in other southern colonies, Georgia had a few private schools in larger cities like Savannah and Augusta. These schools were usually only for wealthy children, though some poor children were able to attend if they worked as janitors or something similar. The majority of children in Georgia, however, did not go to school at all.

In 1732, Georgia became a royal colony instead of a proprietary colony. This change meant that the king of England was now responsible for governing Georgia instead of a group of wealthy businessmen. One of the first things that the new royal governor, James Edward Oglethorpe, did was to establish public schools in Savannah and Brunswick. These were the first public schools in Georgia


In conclusion, education in the Southern colonies was varied and depended on the colony in question. In general, though, it was less formal than in the Northern colonies and focused more on practical skills. There were also fewer institutions of higher learning in the South.

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