Colonies Essay, Research Paper
In the 1500s, the Old World was going through many significant events like the Enclosure Movement or the Protestant reformation. For some people the changes turned out to be positive: they’ve gained more land and prospered. For others the changes weren’t as positive, for example the small British farmers were forced out of their land and became homeless and were left without any stable source of income. The Protestants didn’t have an easy fate also, for they were greatly oppressed by the Catholics. All those who became outcasts of their own lad, found that migrating to the New World was their only hope for a better future. Because the different groups moved from the Old Land for miscellaneous reasons, the settlements, they founded, varied. As the colonies developed with time, the distinctions in many things between them became more and more obvious.
New England colonies were the place where the Protestants seeked refuge from religious oppression. This purpose of theirs greatly reflected itself upon the society they have built. First of all, the Puritans moved not only with whole families, but in whole groups ready to set up communities. This created unity within the societies, which led to forming a unique (for those times) form of government: a direct democracy, where all those who were landowning Puritans could take part in. Their laws were created to enforce god’s rules and they advocated prevention, thus peaceful resolutions to conflicts. The Puritan society was very strict, hence it didn’t appeal to any outsiders and newcomers, unless they were Puritans. This kept the communities very ethnically undifferentiated, which was probably the reason for colonial unity. Since everybody was of the same opinion, conflicts did not arise. Because of the geographical features of their land, New Englanders were forced to turn to other sources than farming to support them. They found profits in industries such as lumbering of shipbuilding. All members of the society, guided by their code of work ethics, took part in contributing to the community’s success, thus creating a large middle class. Which further enhanced their unity. The Puritans were very much devoted to a common cause of strengthening their communities, forming stability necessary for surviving.
The Chesapeake colonies were very different from the New England ones. First of all, people had quite a different purpose for immigrating to North America. They came to seek job opportunities and fortune by finding gold. Because their success was uncertain, they came as individuals instead of bringing out their families. The chance for a profit attracted various people, thus the new-found communities were very both ethnically and religiously diverse, which didn’t help the formation of their unity. Chesapeake region was abundant in land on which planting crops was possible, hence agriculture became the main economy for the settlers. Farming led to the creation of plantations which affected their way of life. At the beginning, almost everybody owned land, however later on the number of indentured servants increased. Some wealthy plantators have emerged. Most of the time, they came from England already as aristocrats, who thanks to their connections, became the owners of large estates. This led to large class distinctions. Practically, there was no middle class, for it only existed in cities and there were very few of those. The biggest class, was the poor class, meaning the indentured servants and other slaves. The rich aristocrats took over the government, thus the other classes weren’t properly represented. The poor didn’t appreciate the situation, which led to many rebellions against the aristocrats. One such example could be Bacon’s rebellion against governor Berkley.
Even though, the original colonists were subjects to the same country and they migrated guided by the same hope of a better future in the New World, their goals were quite different.. The diversity between the colonies was so obvious, it could already be observed in the 1700s, just a century after the first settlements were set up. This laid the foundation for the great mixture of cultures in the present nation of the United States.