Religion in Early North American Colonization

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AP US History

Religion in Early North America
The development of early colonization in North America would not have been prominent or innovative without the influential role religion played in early colonization. The responsibilities of religion in the New England colonies were different, as well as similar, socially and politically to the colonies of the Chesapeake. The motivation behind the Chesapeake colonists and the New Englanders contrasted on a large scale. The immigrants of the Chesapeake arrived in the area for the sole purpose of seeking fortune and gaining wealth. Therefore, the drive for money created a society based on prospering financially. On the other hand, the New Englanders sought religious freedom. Thus, their society was centered on living a strong faith-based life, as opposed to an economic gain. Due to these ideals held by two different groups of people, it led them to contrasting societies. An example of this would be the idea that in the Chesapeake area, wealth determined one’s social standing. In order to obtain wealth in this area acquiring more land for the cultivation of tobacco, lumber, or any other cash crop was necessary. Now, the majority of the population was planters and the establishment of large plantations increased rapidly. With much land to spare, in 1618 the Headright System was created in Jamestown, Virginia. The Headright System gave 50 acres of land to any immigrant who settled in Virginia or any person that paid for the passage of another immigrant to Virginia. This law contributed to making the society and area of the Chesapeake largely rural while New England was more urban, consisting of many small towns and villages. Another social difference religion played in these early colonies was the founding of Maryland. This Chesapeake colony was granted by King Charles I, who was Anglican. It seemed the Church of England would be its official church although many of Maryland's first settlers were Catholic....
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