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The different motivations for colonization in the Chesapeake and New England areas had a great impact on their population and socio-economic characteristics. In 1606, King James I issued a charter granting English merchants two tracts of land along the mid-Atlantic coast that would be known as the Chesapeake colonies. The northeastern coast of North America, what would soon be called New England, was settled by thousands of people troubled by religious and economic upheavals in England.

The Virginians that sailed to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay in 1607, were all male settlers in search of riches. They named their settlement, Jamestown, in honor of their king. During their failed explorations for gold, the settlers neglected to plant crops. Low food supplies and diseases from the swampy region nearly diminished their inhabitants. The population of the Chesapeake colonies grew when the colonists were obligated to search for a marketable product, tobacco. This labor-intensive cash crop required heavy recruitment of indentured servants. The populace had three times as many male servants than women. Gender imbalance and high mortality limited family sizes and decreased the growth of population from natural increase in Jamestown.

New Englanders, however, emigrated for more religious purposes. Their Puritan faith led them to believe that God determined their economic prosperity. Unlike the vast amount of unmarried men who populated Virginia, families mostly settled the New England colonies. Marriage and childbearing were more common with the balanced sex ratio. Family sizes of New Englanders were nearly three times the size of those in the Chesapeake. The healthier climate of New England also contributed to the growth of their communities.

Tobacco also had an impact on the socio-economic characteristics in the Chesapeake colonies. The price plummet of their once highly lucrative cash crop caused planters to disperse into plantations far away from their neighbors as they were just seen as competition. Colonists scrambled to produce and get their crop to the market faster even if there was only a small price advantage over everyone else.




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