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New England V. Chesapeake Colonies

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New England vs. The Chesapeake Colonies

The Chesapeake and New England colonies. Both settled within a year of each other, both located around the same area, both bursting with potential- but not in the same way. There are many factors that go into the development of society. The people, the culture, the tradition; all of these influence society in many ways. Although the Chesapeake and New England colonies were settled for the most part by people of English origin, their ways of life were incredibly dissimilar. Why?

The Chesapeake colonies, Virginia and Maryland, were some of the first to be settled in the New World. Virginia, the oldest colony, was settled in 1607 after a charter was given to the Virginia Company by King James I in 1606. The land was rumored to be loaded with gold and other riches, and many colonists (mostly men) (C) journeyed there in search of wealth. On the voyage to Jamestown Captain John Smith, who played a large part in the settlement of the colony, wrote “The worst, with their golden promises made all men their slaves in hope of recompenses. There was no talk… but dig gold, wash gold, refine gold, load gold…” (F). Maryland, however, was settled for different purposes. The colony was originally intended to be a save haven for English Catholics seeking refuge from religious discrimination, but not many Catholics actually took refuge there. Instead, protestants became attracted to the inexpensive land and built feudal-like manors there, paving the way for the plantation system, which became the basis of the Chesapeake’s society. Tobacco was the staple of the economy in Virginia and Maryland. English workers (indentured servants) were brought in to grow and cultivate the plant, which meant more land for the farmer he worked for. Over 110,000 indentured servants had been brought into the region by 1700, which was great for the plantation owners, but also meant that few women settled in the area. This, combined with the high mortality rate due to disease, stumped population growth considerably. Slavery became popular in this region when the wages in England grew and fewer men sound the need to seek a new life in America. This, however, widened the gap in the social structure and created a considerably less pleasant society.

Settlement of the area called new England became popular when puritans fled religious discrimination from the Church of England. The group of pilgrims who arrived at Cape Cod founded Plymouth, the first New England colony to last over a year. New England consisted of Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although they faced some hardships at first, the New England colonies soon became increasingly prosperous due to access to ports and harbors. New Englanders lived in harmonious communities, and believed that they were chosen by God to live there. They had set rules that they followed, along with the ones written for them in the bible, that stated that everyone shall have equal opportunities (D). This attitude created tight-knit communities that attracted large families to the area, creating an extremely family-based society.

The New England and Chesapeake societies varied in many ways. First, the two ares had very different work ethics. The south preferred to use indentured servants and later slaves to do their work, while the North, although they did have slaves, had a considerably



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