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Differences In Colonial America: New England And The Chesapeake

1288 words - 5 pages

When someone first thinks of the colonial history of the United States of America they are likely to think of New England. Most people do not know about the other major area the country that was just as important as New England, the Chesapeake. The two areas were very different due to many factor including propose of the settlement, the environment of the region, and presence (or lack) women. These to areas of the New World were different from the on set and grew farther apart as the nation moved toward independence.In 1607 a group of merchants established England's first permanent colony in North America at Jamestown, Virginia. They operated as a joint-stock company that allowed them to sell shares of stock in their company and use the pooled investment capital to outfit and supply overseas expeditions. This joint stock company operated under a charter from James I with a concern for bringing Christian religion to the native people. However, most of the settlers in the Chesapeake were not in the colony for God, they were there for the other G of colonialism, gold. Their real aim was profit rather than religion. The type of people that arrived in the new land can account for this. They were not high minded or highly educated. In fact many were criminals. The society was not a tightly knit unit or one over concerned with lives of other.Profits were elusive in the early years; expectations of gold and other minerals, trade with Indians for beaver and deerskins were not to be had by the colonists. To make matters worse was the fact that the whole colony had been built on a swamp. In this environment disease was rampant and took a heavy toll. Many Virginia colonists died of dysentery, malaria and malnutrition. Many settlers died of starvation in the first years. Something was needed in order for the region to prosper and it was needed quickly. That something came in a new product that England was just starting to hunger for, tobacco.In England the use of tobacco was starting to take off. It was discovered that the Chesapeake was ideal for grow the crop. This gave them an instant cash crop that would fuel growth. The planters shipped the first crop in 1617 and thereafter tobacco cultivation spread rapidly. In 1624, Virginia was exporting 200,000 pounds of tobacco; by 1638 the crop exceeded 3 million pounds. In order to make a profit from tobacco two things are needed: large tracks of land and lots of labor. Land was plentiful but there was a major shortage of laborers. To fill this need, planters recruited indentured servants. Most of the indentured servants were unemployed and held the lower class on the social ladder from their places of origin. They were eager to come to America in hopes that too could make money in off growing tobacco. That is if they could survive their 5-7 years of harsh labor that was needed to repay the debt of passage from England. But after the English economy begin to turn around the pool of people willing to be indentured...

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