The Development of American Colonies: Why did the colonies in New England and the Chesapeake develop different societies if they were both settled by people of English origin?

Topics: Puritan, Thirteen Colonies, Massachusetts Bay Colony Pages: 7 (2171 words) Published: November 20, 2006
Since the discovery of the New World by European powers, the newly established European settlements on American soil varied from region to region. Two such regions were The Chesapeake and The New England regions. Although both were settled vastly by the English people the societies they formed were different. These differences were due to a few factors. The factors include motivation for migration, geography, social, political and economical structures of the settlements. These factors are what contributed to the variations seen in the societies formed by settlers of distinct regions.

In the 1600s life in Great Britain was no too pleasant for certain groups of people. The farming population of England was pushed off their land by landlords who began enclosing areas for pasture of animals such as sheep needed to maintain the increasing woolen industry of England. The landless farmers swarmed into cities such as London and Bristol. The cities became overpopulated and unemployment rates soared. People were desperate for jobs. In the 1600s a system called primogeniture was practiced in England. The system ensured that all inheritance went to the oldest son in the family. Younger sons of aristocratic families were left without inheritance where eager to find prosperity of their own. Such people looking for profit decided to try their luck in the New World. The motivation of these people was mostly personal profit. For those of elite origin escaping primogeniture was also a motivation. Another motive which stimulated these courageous people was finding a better route to the Indies which a few competing European powers were also seeking. The leadership was provided by a popular monarch Queen Elizabeth, and the financing by Virginia Joint Stock Company.

In 1607 a group of Englishmen set out and settled James Town which became a colony in the Chesapeake region. The first band of settlers was all males, although later shipments of people did include a small fraction of women. This trend could be seen in Document C which contains a list of passengers headed for Virginia in 1635.The passage to the New World was rough and people died in its pursuit. The geography in the Chesapeake region was different from that in England. The hot climate provided for diseases such as malaria to which the English people were not immune. These diseases killed off many of the colonists. The soil was fertile; the woods full of game and fish was present in the ocean. Yet many of the emigrating men were gentlemen who were not accustomed to work and therefore did not know how to take advantage of these resources. Other colonists spent time searching for gold instead of focusing on survival and "the starving time" came into being. The colonists died in large numbers of malnutrition and starvation and disease.

The colony survived due to the leadership provided by Capitan John Smith. His theory of "Those who shall not work shall not eat" caused some discipline within the men. As stated in Document F by Captain John Smith the colonists faced hard times. They died of cold and hunger. Captain Smith explained in the document that getting colonists to work was troublesome. Those who hunted gold got others involved and the men wasted time instead of gathering food. Capitan Smith realizing such starvation sent out a ship to summon supplies for the next year.

The two councilor that were present in the colony to maintain law and order made friends with the sailors and wanted to sail back to England thus causing Smith trouble to prevent such from happening.

Such unruly colonists owed a large part of their survival to Capitan Smith. He made relation with the local Indians and their leader Powhatans aided the colonists in obtaining food. When another shipment of people arrived amongst them was leader Lord de la Warr. He held a harsh military rule and made trouble with the local Indians whom the colonists raided for food. A war was started yet peace came to be...

Bibliography: Bailey, Thomas, and David Kennedy. The American Pageant. 10th. Lexington Massachusetts: D.C. Health and company, 1994.
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