Us History

Topics: New England, New England town, Thirteen Colonies Pages: 5 (1759 words) Published: February 4, 2008
Compare and Contrast the Chesapeake and New England colonies

The dawn of the 1600's brought about a new chapter in American history. The United States experienced an influx of almost 400,000 Europeans and 350,000 Africans, most of which were (indentured) servants. Most settlers, seeking the benefits of unclaimed land, migrated into the West Indies, Mid-Atlantic, New England, or South regions/colonies. It would be the differences between these groups that would set them apart from each other for several years to come. Differences not only between environment and geography, but also between motives, politics, religious beliefs and business aspirations would eventually lead to the American Civil War two hundred years later. New Englander's immediately faced a harsh first winter then quickly flourished and experienced a rather successful immigration into several colonies. Chesapeake's early history consists of difficult times. They experienced trouble with many social and economic forces that suppressed their culture for many decades. A further look into these two regions will allow us to see the similarities and differences of early English life in America.

The first New England settlement consisted of a fishing village named Salem in 1629. 1000 new settlers quickly spread and found the nearby colonies of Dorchester, Roxbury, Boston, Charlestown, and Cambridge. During the early years movement served the purpose of locating the richest soil, best neighbors, and the most charismatic minister. By 1645, however, most New Englander's were settled, and society became a very tight and closed community. Their farming towns often refused strangers and slaves to avoid tainting their religion. The towns had become distinct from the church congregation. Most settlers chose farms on the edge of town, while others chose open-field agriculture (where farmers owned part of the land and the town decided what to grow). The open-field arrangement did not survive past the first generation of towns' people. The New Englanders were heavily tied to and dependent on their religious beliefs. It was these beliefs that encouraged (or required) individuals to settle in very compact villages and towns where they could closely monitor each other's lives for sin.

In the Chesapeake regions, individuals had a different agenda. Most came to America for unclaimed and untitled land. What resulted were settlers in the South which were very spread out, separated by long walking distances. They each sought the best and most fertile lands from which to grow tobacco and other agriculture. The South quickly became a region of thinly spread towns and villages. This caused some political implications because people were more difficult to govern. Trade was hindered by some, however, many was able to use local rivers for trade and exports of their tobacco and other products.

New England settlers came primarily from the middle class English society. Most of them were property owners which liquidated their assets for their future homes in America. Society was overbearing patriarchal where the fathers did not pass land to their sons before death. The settlers who survived the first winter found themselves in surprisingly good health. European disease was no longer a threat and the new continent did not bring any new ones. Life expectancy for men exceeded 80 (better than their homeland) and child mortality and death during childbirth shrank considerably.

Chesapeake men heavily outnumbered the women five to one. The population began to grow for the first time around 1680 when births began to outnumber deaths. Life expectancy slowly improved with time but remained much lower than England (contrasting with New England's higher life expectancy). Most men and women died between 45 and 50 and disease, such as malaria, caused many problems. Although New England patriarchal system held strong, 70 percent of Chesapeake men either never...
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