Even though the New England and the Chesapeake regions were both settled largely by people of English origin, the two regions had developed into two distinct societies by 1700. The cause of this division is clearly identified by three prominent factors, which are differences in religion, geographic location, and economy. These differences set a huge precedent in how the colonies were to be run later on and even to this day as states are being run. The first reason for why the colonies developed in such a fashion is because of the differences in religion.
The first settlers which arrived at Roanoke in 1585 came for one and only one purpose in the beginning and that purpose was gold. They hoped to arrive and see huge masses of gold just lying there waiting to be picked; however, they soon realized this wasn’t the case. This is in direct contrast to the group of separatist Puritans known as the Pilgrims which arrived at Plymouth in 1620. This group hoped to find religious freedom in the New World although they themselves would not tolerate any other religion that what they practiced.
These Pilgrims had a type of iron fist rule on the colony with strict codes of worship. This was reflected when their first governor, a man by the name of John Winthrop was elected in 1630. In Document A, an excerpt from one John Winthrop speeches, the governor clearly states the colonies purpose to be closely knit together and model city of Christianity as he says, “We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, labor and suffer together… We must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” Rich and poor, the town of Springfield Massachusetts, according to Document D, would not exceed forty families and would share everything so that everyone would be taken care of.
This tightly weaved community idea and strict religious concepts are very different from the Chesapeake colonies views. The Chesapeake colonies adopted an almost unspoken policy of “every man for himself.” Instead of closely knit, religious communities where families were appointed a plot of land to live, the majority of people in the Chesapeake region came as single men who became subsistence farmers. By the inspection of Documents B and C, which were ship’s lists of emigrants bound for the New World, one can see this quite easily. The list in Document B gives a list of families bound for New England in 1635, while the list in Document C shows sixty-four single men mostly in their twenties bound for Virginia with only eleven women on board.
These people did not come looking for freedom of religion; they came simply looking for wealth and a better life. The next reason that colonies became so divided was due to the fact that there geographic locations were so different. The Chesapeake region suffered greatly because of illnesses in the colonies. Malaria from mosquitoes as well as other diseases handicapped them from having a large growth rate because the medicines at the time were so ineffective at treating the illnesses leading to so many people’s deaths. The New England colonies did not have such a problem because there were not as many insect related diseases there.
As mentioned before, the New England colonies were very tight. This helped the Puritans know exactly what was going on with everyone in the community, especially since church attendance was the law. However, the Chesapeake colonies, because of the way they were settled, did not demand church attendance due to the fact that an average distance of thirty miles or more could be between a colonists home and the nearest church. For this reason the colonists in the Chesapeake region simply had worship services in their own homes. Finally and perhaps the most important reason the colonies developed so differently, was because of the differences in how they developed economically.
The Chesapeake region had remarkably fertile soil. However the colonists made a fateful move that shaped the way the country would develop by planting tobacco. The nicotine rich weed flourished in the region; unfortunately the colonists soon realized that tobacco drained the soil of its nutrients. The crop was so demanded in Europe however, that the colonists continued to grow it because of price willing to be paid by Europeans to get it, thus becoming its main staple crop.This greed caused the land to be destroyed at a great rate, and instead of finding a way to fix it, the colonists simply picked up and moved westward.
As this happened, they pushed further and further into Indian lands. This westward expansion caused the London government to issue its Proclamation of 1763. This Proclamation stated that the colonists were not to move west of the Appalachian Mountains, even though some already had, straining the relationships with the Native Americans. The New England region was not so fortunate in finding any kind of staple crop that could grow in their very rocky soil. This being the case they soon had to turn to trading as the French did as well as shipbuilding. The demand for timber was great in Europe since its own supply had long been on the brink of exhaustion.
Since the Chesapeake region cleared its lands for tobacco growing, the heavily wooded area New England became the prime provider of the raw material. This region also had good relations with the Iroquois tribes, mostly due to the fact that the French had allied themselves with the Huron and engaged the Iroquois in war. Because the New Englanders had these better relations the Natives helped them greatly in cultivation methods, as well as how to trap game for the fur trade. In conclusion, the reason that the Chesapeake and the New England colonies developed so differently are evident through their religious beliefs, their geographic locations, as well as the development of their economies. Because of these reasons, though both were predominately of English descent, the New England and Chesapeake colonies developed into two distinct societies.