History of New England and Chesapeake Colonies

Categories: New England

The colonist’s settlements faced many challenges everywhere they went. This was caused by their lack of preparedness, tense relationships with natives, and their own tensions between themselves. Over time the colonist learned how to survive off the land and some even built prosperous relationships with the natives and within their own communities. Yet, Chesapeake and New England shows how diverse their living was in the colonies and how impactful their ideals and beliefs shaped their people and their future.

Settlement in the Chesapeake and New England areas differed greatly due to the fact of the colony’s motive for settlement, their economy, politics, and religious views.

New England’s reason for settlement was for religious bonded people to get away from England’s religious persecution and to set up their own religious government. Then in 1630, the New England colonies population grew even greater because of the “Great Migration”. The Great Migration was a period in which English Puritans migrated to New England.

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A huge majority of New England’s population was devoted puritans while the others were satisfied with living under Puritan rule. This view quickly changed; there was a serious internal division which led to the New England’s founders’ ideals to giving way to a worldlier stance among the colonist which was actually the foundation of the Chesapeake settlement (Boyer). Chesapeake’s settlement was brought on by their business-like minds that saw the profitable potential of tobacco. The Chesapeake had very fertile land- New England had rocky and infertile land- that was ripe for tobacco farms which led to plantations.

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The Chesapeake had few incomes while the New England economy flourished with fishing, fur trading, shipbuilding, and lumbering.

Chesapeake families did suffer economically at the beginning of their settlement, but when they established their tobacco farmers, their economy flourished greatly unlike New England colonies where there were just a few wealthy from farming. To help with their increasing demand for tobacco, Chesapeake colonies hired indentured servants to help on the farms. The rise in indentured servants was immense, but failure in recognizing the servants needs led to future problems of owners losing money because their servants were dying. Soon slaves replaced indentured servants because they could handle the hard-working conditions which helped Chesapeake colonies economically. A fulfilling life, as far as family and jobs was concerned, was rare in Chesapeake colonies but it did thrive in New England colonies because of religion, the atmosphere of the environment and unity of communities while they lasted. New England had tight communities. With the communities being so close, the sense of family and religion was high. New England made sure that when colonists settle, the people would settle with a congregation. This was done by having legislatures awarding a land grant to several dozen landowners. These men would organize the church, distribution of land among themselves, the layout of the settlement itself, and establish a town meeting which served as a church and town hall (Boyer).

Church and politics were intertwined greatly till colonists began to abandon the structure of closely knitted communities to pursue their own interest and gain. The controversies between the Puritan clergy and rural elites began to put a strain on communities which led to congregation numbers dwindling because of New England colonist become independent. During this time, the New England colonists faced a huge devastation of ongoing Indian wars which only added to the social change tensions between the Puritan clergy and rural elites. In the 1690s, New England found an outlet that explained why all of these terrible things were happening, witchcraft. Witchcraft accusations and beliefs was a way for Puritans to look at their understanding of their relationship to the supernatural world. These accused witches were mostly women who were seen as greedy, envious, and prideful. Now, since New Englanders lived so close to each other, the smallest problem would be blamed on a fellow neighbor. Salem, Massachusetts serves as an example of the hysteria New England colonies faced during their power struggle between the church and rural elites. Member of the community would accuse women who owned a lot of land in hope to gain her land once she was convicted as a witch.

These power plays showed how much the New England colonies have evolved from their foundational beliefs when they settled. In the Chesapeake colonies, the Church of England was established in Virginia which meant that taxpayer, Anglicans or not, supported the church. Unlike the New England colonies where membership and attendance matter greatly, the Chesapeake colonies had little to do with their attendance between there was a lack of clergy and churches in the Chesapeake colonies. So, religion was seen as a secondary importance to them, and personal power and gain mattered most. There were problems with the clashing of multiple religions. To solve this, the Act of Religious Toleration was enacted in Maryland but did little to decrease the tensions of religious cultures clashing that wanted power in their communities. While New England’s power was held in the clergy’s hands and the men appointed by the crown, Chesapeake colonies had an elected lower house, the House of Burgesses in Virginia and the House of Delegates in Massachusetts, which served as their law enforcer (Boyer). With the church not fully being in control of their court system, the Chesapeake colonists had more say in their government if they owned land. The New England colonists had to be a church member in order to vote which caused problems because people weren’t going to church. Both methods of governances had problems with power control in the upper social status and England not thinking of the colonist needs and safety.

With Chesapeake colonies becoming more independent away from the church from the very beginning, people wonder if they deserved to survive. The Chesapeake colonists came to the colonies to get away from England’s religious beliefs. There they found a way to survive off the land and become a very profitable colony. Their ways of pursuing weren’t the most humane with taking natives land and working indentured servants and slaves to the point of death. So, did the Chesapeake colonist deserve to survive the first couple of hard years just to bring hardship on others? No, they didn’t deserve to survive, but this is life. Life is given, and people are entitled to their lives even if they don’t deserve it. Plus, the Chesapeake colonies were doing the same thing as the New England colonies minus the fact of slaves and indentured servants. Settlement in the Chesapeake and New England areas differed greatly due to the fact of the colony’s motive for settlement, their economy, politics, and religious views. Chesapeake came to the colonies to build new religions and to become a profitable community. New England areas came to be free of religious bondage in England and to center their life around their religious ideals and beliefs. Their view of settle helped with their economy.

New England focused on family center work while Chesapeake colonies wanted to own as much land as they could, so they could make more tobacco to sell. New England had multiple ways to bring in income so there were few wealthy farm owners while Chesapeake colonies focused on their cash crop, tobacco, and made a fortune. New England and Chesapeake colonies both pulled their resources together to build prospers settlement but took different paths to pursue this success.

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History of New England and Chesapeake Colonies. (2021, Oct 08). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/history-of-new-england-and-chesapeake-colonies-essay

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