Development of VA vs Mass
A colonist’s primary goal in traveling to the New World was escaping economic depression by seeking new fortunes elsewhere. Most members of the Virginia Company came to the New World with hopes of finding gold and capitalizing on lucrative trade opportunities.
Economic gain was also on the minds of Massachusetts Bay Company members, but more central in their motives for leaving was to avoid the religious persecution that threatened their lives in England.
A meager living and religious persecution brought many Puritans to Massachusetts. The proprietors of Massachusetts came to New England to form a holy commonwealth of religious people. The Puritans, as they were known, settled with the hopes that they could still reform the Church of England. This goal earned them the name Non-Separating Congregationalists. Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Company were the leaders of the Great Migration. The first settlers saw 80,000 more religious people of a variety of faiths fleeing persecution and depression to come to New England and other English colonies in the New World. Religious colonists founded Universities such as Princeton and Brown primarily as training facilities for clergy.
The governing system of Massachusetts evolved out of the religious roots of its settlers. Before setting sail for the New World, Governor John Winthrop saw a loophole in the colony’s charter that would allow him to transfer complete control of the colony to the New World. This realization allowed Winthrop to convince settlers to go with him to the New World. Once in Massachusetts the General Court consisted of an elected governor, assistants, and shareholders called freemen. The colony’s first difficulties arose out of religious men seeking to be freemen. Winthrop conceded but saw that freemen would have little power in decisions of consequence.
It wasn’t until the Watertown protest of 1632 that freemen were given power to elect the governor and assistants. Freemen also discovered that the colony’s charter gave the power to pass laws and levy taxes to the General Court, a secret Winthrop had kept from the freemen. The General Court in turn became a representative group with two or three representatives in the Council for each town.
This local representation was characteristic of the landholding patterns of Massachusetts. A great emphasis was placed on religion, not wealth, in the colony.
This meant that land was primarily for necessity of survival, not for personal gain. As demonstrated by a dispute, religious solemnity did not always prevail. After a small dispute startled the assistants making them realize they could easily be out voted, the Massachusetts General Council became a bicameral assembly. Each house now requiring a majority vote to pass legislation. The creation of the bicameral legislature did not change the original charter for the colony. The...