Settlements Of The British Essay, Research Paper
Many factors led to the diversity found in the British settlements in America. More than simply for religious freedom, economics played a large role in the settlement of various geographic regions in North America. Like the Spanish and the French however, the first successful English settlement Jamestown, was dependent on the trade of tobacco back to England for its success. The differences in the settlers reason for moving to the colonies can be explained by where they decided to settle. The first colonies were built in areas that the colonists thought would best support new towns, and where the Indians happened to be helpful enough to assist the newly formed towns in survival. Both in climate and in geography, the northern coast of North America was far different from the Chesapeake. (63)
The south was a much more favorable region to plant and grow crops, for the land in the north would not grow plants such as tobacco. It was in this line of reasoning that those who came to North America came not in search of trade and riches, but in search of religious freedom. It became a haven for Protestant dissenters from England, who gave the colonies of the North a distinctive character. (63) Conversely, those in the south planted cash crops and were usually not fleeing religious persecution.
The Pilgrims were the first of the English to form a colony in New England. They were English Separatists who fled England to establish their own church. Because there was no land suitable for the Pilgrims in Europe they, backed financially by Virginia Company landed in Massachusetts Bay in 1620. However, because most families raised their own crops and kept their own livestock, they produced little to trade with the Indians and were always deeply in debt to their investors. Although it was not the financial success their investors had hoped, the Pilgrims succeeded in establishing the separate church and community that they had hoped for.
In 1629 many Puritans left England to form a city on a hill in New England. Backed by the Massachusetts Bay Company, a force of 200 settlers left for a fishing settlement on Massachusetts Bay they named Salem. Soon however (1643), New England was filled with 20,000 people and had spread seventy-five miles west into the Connecticut River Valley. Using a loophole in their charter, Puritan leaders transferred company operations to America in 1629, and within a few years they had transformed the company into a civil government. (65) The motivation for religious freedom eventually shifted to a religious expansion in which the settlers wished to rapidly expand their territory by taking advantage of the Indians unused lands. Soon the colonists were forcing their religion on nearby Indian tribes and were even punishing them for working on the Sabbath. Many of the coastal Algonquians eventually surrendered themselves and were placed under English control. Because the Puritans believed that they earned their place in heaven, they were very hardworking. With very few servants, much pressure was placed on the children.
The Puritan family life was strict. Parents ruled over their children and chastised the spirit out of them. Men worked the fields and were responsible for the success of the households. Women however, were the heads of the households. The high male to female ratio also made marriage a problem. Almost all of the marriages that took place were arranged by the parents of the two to be wed. The Puritans may have emigrated to North American in order to practice Christianity, but they showed no tolerance for people of different religions. The Puritan Commonwealth that was formed in England tended to England and not the colonies. This period of self-rule led to more colonial assemblies that were more powerful and resistant to outside rule. However when Cromwell died in 1658 the Puritan new order died with him.
The North American colonies were also not the huge financial success the southern colonies were to be. The colonies in the south such as those in Carolina had one main difference between their northern counterparts: slavery. Such a practice was rare in the northern colonies but was critical to the large, labor intensive plantations in the south. Slavery itself played a role in the social, economic and political climate in both the north and the south. In 1663 the first Restoration charter was issued which called for the establishment of the new colony of Carolina stretching from Virginia south to Spanish Florida. (70) The plantation owners soon learned that their large plantations could not function without the help of slaves. In South Carolina, slaves were imported from the English controlled Barbados to work on the plantations. These slaves soon made up a majority of the population in South Carolina. It was not long before slavery was to become the staple of the economy in the entire south. In 1662 colonial officials declared that children inherited the status of their slave mothers and in 1669 it was stated that a master could kill a slave during punishment and would not be regarded as a felon. Finally in 1705 all the slave laws were gathered together in the Virginia Slave Code.
This code of laws protecting the master s rights to his property became the model for other colonies. By 1770 more than 250,000 slaves labored in the colonies of the Upper South and there was such a market for the tobacco they were producing their numbers were expanding at twice the rate of the general population (91). By the 1740 s many of the arriving Africans were being taken to Georgia, a colony created by an act of the English Parliament in 1732 (92), and by 1770 there were almost 90,000 slaves in the Lower South. Slavery in the Chesapeake was much less important than it was in the south. Slaves made up about nine percent of the cities population and were mainly stationed in port cities. New York and New Jersey kept slaves on a more regular basis then in Chesapeake. African Americans made up about ten percent of the population in the two cities. Although most of the slaves came from Africa, some were Indians while others came from islands controlled by the English. At any rate, the mixture of peoples in the English slave colonies helped to diversify the population as a whole during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
New England promised to be a safe haven for all those wishing to escape religious persecution and although it fell far short of its promise, religion not money was its motivation. This motivation influenced the social aspects of the North well into the future. It was the North that was the first to speak out against slavery, except of course for the slaves themselves. In the Chesapeake areas it was the lust for wealth and the use of tobacco to attain this goal that allowed slavery to thrive in the area. Because the economy depended on slavery, slave owners were not about to give up their means of production without a fight. The politics, economy, and social system all revolved around slavery in the South and it was this motivation for money that kept slavery in practice for as long as it was. The more religious North, while somewhat reliant on slaves, did not have roots in slavery and therefor was willing to give it up. Also because the North was more religious, they were also more willing to force what they believed to be the right way of thinking on others. They did it to the Indians when they first settled and when slavery no longer suited them they attacked its practice in the South.
The many factors that led to the diversity in the newly formed colonies of New England and the Chesapeake relied mostly on the diversity of people spilling into the areas. Factors that contributed greatly to this were slavery and the slave trade, and the belief that there is only one true religion. These people in the two regions differed greatly during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and still differ today. Each group of people had their own ideas, beliefs and motives for coming to the Americas and the direction they sent the colonies in has endured over two centuries.