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United States History Focus Essay

In terms of culture the New England colonies and Chesapeake colonies had many differences. The New England colonies were populated entirely by white or English families, Quakers, puritans, and Catholics and had an assortment of different ages and genders in it’s populations. While the Chesapeake colonies were comprised of a majority of African slaves who worked on plantations producing mainly tobacco, the tobacco was then sold to other colonies and countries. In the 1700’s there was a boom in tobacco sales and it became one of the leading trades in the Chesapeake colonies, other than slave trade. Other than slaves the rest of the Chesapeake population were White plantation owners and servants.

Yet another difference was the economy of the two. As mentioned previously, the Chesapeake economy revolved around the tobacco industry, which paved the way for other industries as well. Slave trade relied fully on the tobacco plantation owners as a market to sell the slaves to. In addition, the tobacco raised enough to finance the importation of indentured servants, who would then go to work the tobacco, increasing the production further. It became a cycle, with the result being the ever-increasing production and sale of the tobacco.

New England did not “have all of it’s eggs in one basket” quite like the Chesapeake. The economy was based on fishing, shipbuilding, and farming. The farming in New England was done on a much smaller scale, however. Because the religion (and society) was so family-oriented, farms were usually just large enough to feed one’s family, with a small surplus. It was no where near the size of the vast plantations in the Chesapeake. This was simply because New England’s focus was not on economic gain.

The religion of the two areas differed greatly as well. Because New Englanders came to escape religious persecution, one would think that it would become a land of complete tolerance. This was not the case, though. The New Englanders were very religious-based, and claimed that they “were far more godly than all other colonists”. Religion was family-based and with extreme piety, There was one clergyman for every 600 people, the highest in the New World. In the Chesapeake, religion was much less severe. The established church was the Anglican Church, but only became so after 1692. The religious tone was low-church, and many people (mostly slaves) did not participate in the Anglican Church.

Clearly the Chesapeake and the New England regions did differ in numerous ways. These differences included culture, religion, and economy. But also the differences were on a wide-scale range involving almost every aspect of the society, they all sprouted from one initial difference between the two: the very reason the colonists came. It was due to these ideals held by the groups that lead them to create the contrasting societies. Therefore, it cannot be denied as a significant cause of the contrast. As shown, this purpose was carried out in the society. The fortune-seeking economists in the Chesapeake created a society based around this ideal, which affected their entire community. The New Englanders, looking for religious freedom, sought to create a very different society centered around a very different ideal, that of religion, not economic gain. Obviously, then, we can say that it because of these motives that the Chesapeake and the New England regions of the New World became so different by 1700.


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