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Colonial America: New England And The Chesapeake Bay

1135 words - 5 pages

By 1700, England had established colonies along the eastern coast of the modern United States of America. The settlers of these colonies, therefore, were mostly of English descent. Despite this fact, the Northern and Southern regions developed differently, eventually molding two distinctly different societies, each with its own way way of life. This phenomenon is most clearly demonstrated in the development of the New England and Chesapeake colonies. Differences between these colonies developed as a direct result of the planning and social organization.Preparation factored heavily into the progress of the American colonies. In the case of the Chesapeake colony of Jamestown, poor planning hindered its growth. An official list of emigrants bound for Virginia in July of 1635 illustrates a major oversight made by the settlers; the number of men en route to Jamestown exceeds the number of women by a large margin (C). Such an unbalanced ratio of men to women resulted in a poor family structure, and also led to an average mortality rate that vastly surpassed the average birthrate. The settlers also lacked a proper work ethic for accomplishing their goals in the New World. The colony's population was mostly comprised of rich gentlemen, hoping to obtain great wealth from the new settlement. They were not, however, prepared for or willing to perform the intensive labor necessary to help the colony survive. John Smith, in his History of Virginia, describes how the settlers' lust for wealth led to unrest among the colonists (F). Unprepared for the required work, the wealthier settlers created a hierarchy, with themselves at the top, forcing others to work for them in the hopes of gaining wealth. However, this servitude backfired, and fights broke out among the colonists. John Smith recalls, "These brawls are so disgustful...they were better forgotten." These early settlers of Virginia were not concerned concerned with the toils of urbanization, preferring instead to grow cash crops such as indigo and tobacco on isolated plantations. Little to no subsistence crops were grown, and the distance between plantations was so great that very few educational or religious institutions were founded. The decentralized Jamestown colony suffered greatly as a result.In sharp contrast to the settlers of the Chesapeake, the Puritans of New England prepared themselves well for life in the colonies. Deputy Clerk John Porter listed the names and ages of a Puritan group headed for the New England colonies, revealing that there was much diversity among the settlers (B). Entire families traveled to America, ages ranging from newborn children to 50 year-olds. More importantly, a nearly even ratio between men and women provided a basis for future family units. Another advantage of their society was the close knit communities and towns, which in turn led to commercial growth and the development of strong institutions. These communities provided the means for town-centered government,...

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