New England Essay, Research Paper
English Settlers of the Chesapeake Region and New England
Although New England and the Chesapeake region were both settled largely by
people of English origin, by 1700 the regions had evolved into two distinct societies.
As English settlements in North America began to progress, social, economical, and
religious ideas divided the English immigrants. The settlers journeyed to North America
to meet their individual needs and beliefs. Whether they were fleeing to become wealthy
or to escape religious pressures; all of these settlers came attempting to improve their
lifestyles. The Chesapeake region and New England settlements proved how two English
settlements could have differing societies. English origins seemed to be their only
Life for the earliest Chesapeake settlers was brutal and deadly. Diseases such as
malaria, dysentery and typhoid shortened life expectancy, while nearly half of the
Virginia and Maryland settlers didn’t live to see their twentieth birthday. This frail
Chesapeake region continued a slow growth primarily because a majority of the settlers
were “single men in their late teens to early twenties”(Document C). Because of the
overpopulation of men and the scarcity of women, families became sparse. However,
despite the harsh beginnings of its society, the Chesapeake region continued to endeavor
by acquiring an immunity to diseases and increasing birthrates.
The Chesapeake region also held its own economic standards. When 120 men
arrived in Jamestown on May 14th,1607 they relied on the hopes of discovering gold.
Most of the settlers’ time was devoted to searches for gold instead of the stabilization of
their new settlement with farms or resources. They figured with the discovery of gold, a
rapid and prosperous future awaited them. “ Captain John Smith commented: The worst
(among us were the gold seekers who) with their golden promises made all men their
slaves in hope of recompenses. There was no talk …but ..dig gold, wash gold , refine
gold, load gold. (Document F)” This obsession with gold led to the “Starving Time”.
While everyone was in search of gold, others were dieing due to starvation and disease.
Private property was not granted, hence food was not planted or harvested. This flaw in
priorities also expresses another reason why women were needed in the Chesapeake
region. Perhaps if more women were present, the males’ priorities would incorporate
their family life instead of hopeless searches for gold. However, the region’s success
grew when John Rolfe began growing tobacco in 1613. Rolfe scientifically developed a
smoother tobacco, which caused England to go “Tobacco Mad”. This innovation
extended success in the European markets and aided the Virginia population. Also,
Virginia advanced when private property was later permitted, and once indentured
slaves were given opportunities to become free. Another Virginia improvement was the
development of a representative democracy, which enabled landowners to vote for
representatives, specifically in the House of Burgesses.
Life for the early New England settlers differed far greatly than that of the
Chesapeake region. Pure water and milder temperatures caused diseases to become rare.
Therefore, New England settlers added ten years to their life spans. Also, unlike the
Chesapeake settlers, “New Englanders migrated in family units”(Document B). This
observation in document B along with early marriages caused New England’s population
to dramatically increase. The New England town life was organized into small villages
and farms. It was stated in the “Articles of Agreement that: the new settlers intended for
their towns to be composed of forty families..rich and poor. Every inhabitant was to have
a convenient proportion for a house lot, as what was seen fit for everyone’s quality and
estate. Also, everyone was to have a share of the meadows or planting ground.”
Unlike the Chesapeake region, tobacco was not a successful crop. Because of the
poor soil, farming was not very profitable. New Englanders then began to turn toward
livestock to stabilize their economy. Pigs, sheep, horses, and cattle were brought to the
settlements from Europe.
As many other settlements, religious beliefs and freedoms were important to
New England’s immigrants. The Puritan Migration caused many English settlers to flee
to New England. Many Puritans left England after King Charles I became a dictator and
denied basic rights. The Puritans believed in a Covenant Theology, which was a
“contract with God”. If God permitted them to go to New England, the community
would follow God’s teaching and find a Bible Commonwealth. God would then either
take care of them or punish them, depending on whether or not the Puritans lived up to
their part of the Covenant. The Puritans led a very religious bound settlement. Religious
instructions were regularly preached in New England schools. They also included a
religious attitude towards their economy. “This court ….in the interim recommends (that)
all tradesmen and laborers consider the religious end of their callings.(Document E)”
The Chesapeake region and New England societies differed mainly because of the
ways their settlements were first organized and developed. The Chesapeake region began
with a irresponsible development, which led to severe consequences. An overpopulation
of men with desires to strike gold, slowed the settlements growth by making gold the
only priority. New England, on the other hand, settled as families with family priorities
and values. They developed well organized towns with Puritan teachings. Also, New
Englanders used practical resources to begin the process of developing their economy.