English Settlers of the Chesapeake Region and New England
Although New England and the Chesapeake region were both settled largely by
people of English origin, by 1700 the regions had evolved into two distinct societies.
As English settlements in North America began to progress, social, economical, and
religious ideas divided the English immigrants. The settlers journeyed to North America
to meet their individual needs and beliefs. Whether they were fleeing to become wealthy
or to escape religious pressures; all of these settlers came attempting to improve their
lifestyles. The Chesapeake region and New England settlements proved how two English
settlements could have differing societies. English origins seemed to be their only
Life for the earliest Chesapeake settlers was brutal and deadly. Diseases such as
malaria, dysentery and typhoid shortened life expectancy, while nearly half of the
Virginia and Maryland settlers didn’t live to see their twentieth birthday. This frail
Chesapeake region continued a slow growth primarily because a majority of the settlers
were “single men in their late teens to early twenties”(Document C). Because of the
overpopulation of men and the scarcity of women, families became sparse. However,
despite the harsh beginnings of its society, the Chesapeake region continued to endeavor
by acquiring an immunity to diseases and increasing birthrates.
The Chesapeake region also held its own economic standards. When 120 men
arrived in Jamestown on May 14th,1607 they relied on the hopes of discovering gold.
Most of the settlers’ time was devoted to searches for gold instead of the stabilization of
their new settlement with farms or resources. They figured with the discovery of gold, a
rapid and prosperous future awaited them. “ Captain John Smith commented: The worst
(among us were the gold seekers who) 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. (Document F)” This obsession with gold led to the “Starving Time”.
While everyone was in search of gold, others were dieing due to starvation and disease.
Private property was not granted, hence food was not planted or harvested. This flaw in
priorities also expresses another reason why women were needed in the Chesapeake
region. Perhaps if more women were present, the males’ priorities would incorporate
their family life instead of hopeless searches for gold. However, the region’s success
grew when John Rolfe began growing tobacco in 1613. Rolfe scientifically developed a
smoother tobacco, which caused England to go “Tobacco Mad”. This innovation
extended success in the European markets and aided the Virginia population. Also,
Virginia advanced when private property was later permitted, and once indentured