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Land of Milk and Honey: Propaganda and the Colonies

Using primary sources students will examine the use of propaganda and how it influenced people's decisions to immigrate to the colonies.

Grade Level 4th grade

Learning outcomes

Students will:

Teacher Planning

45 minutes

NC Colonial records vol. 4 pg 18 (Memorial of the Swiss to be Carried over to Carolina)


Remind students that people immigrated to the colonies for many different reasons. Explain that sometimes they were given information that made them think that where they were going was a great place with lots of resources and opportunity. When actually life was very hard for the colonists, they would arrive without many supplies and had to build their homes, find food, and survive without many resources. Relate this to advertising on TV that makes a toy look great but when you actually buy it, it turns out to not be what you expected.

When people are trying to convince you to do something sometimes they use propaganda to make their product or idea seem better than it is. Propaganda is information, ideas or rumors that are told on purpose to help influence a person or group of people.

Read the petition written by the Swiss asking for permission to come to the Carolinas. How is Carolina described? They say they have heard it is a land flowing with milk and honey. Ask the children to think about what that might mean. Does it sound like they are expecting the Carolinas to be an easy place to live? How do you think they got the idea that it is the land of milk and honey?

There were two sources that the future colonists used to make their decision. One was a booklet written by Joshua Kochertal, in 1706, describing the advantages of living in North Carolina. The second source was a travel diary written by John Lawson. The website listed above is the entire document written by Lawson as he traveled through North Carolina. The below is an excerpt to share with the children.

From pg 79 of John Lawson's travel account
"The Inhabitants of Carolina, thro' the Richness of the Soil, live an easy and pleasant Life. The Land being of several sorts of Compost, some stiff, others light, some marl, others rich black Mould; here barren of Pine, but affording Pitch, Tar; and Masts; there vastly rich, especially on the Freshes of the Rivers, one part bearing great Timbers, others being Savanna's or natural Meads, where no Trees grow for several Miles, adorn'd by Nature with a pleasant Verdure, and beautiful Flowers, frequent in no other Places, yielding abundance of Herbage for Cattle, Sheep, and Horse . The Country in general affords pleasant Seats, the Land (except in some few Places) being dry and high Banks, parcell'd out into most convenient Necks, (by the Creeks) easy to be fenced in for securing their Stocks to more strict Boundaries,"

There is more examples that can be pulled out to show how Carolina was described, at the website above.

If you read John Lawson's account of Carolina would you consider immigrating? What if you knew you wouldn't have any shelter and you had to catch your own food? Why? Why not?

At the conclusion of the lesson, ask the students if the propaganda worked. Did the Swiss settlers immigrate to the Carolinas? How do you know? New Bern was established by Swiss settlers perhaps the same settlers who were asking permission.

Write a journal entry convincing a friend to travel with you to colonial America. Make sure you are persuasive in your writing.

Have students create a poster describing North Carolina for the purpose of convincing someone to move here.

NC curriculum alignment

Social Studies
2.02 Trace the growth and development of immigration to North Carolina, over time from Europe, Asia, and Latin America

Language Arts
3.01 Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by:

Lesson plan created by Lara Willox.