Compare and Contrast the New England Middle and Southern Colonies Essay Example



In the early 17th century, Britain began colonizing in the Americas. Many European nations had already done so, leaving Britain to fear being left behind. It was the perfect opportunity for Britain to solve their problems of overcrowding and lack of natural resources, and the promise of gold was too much for many of the British people to resist. On May 14, 1607, the first British colony in North America was established, named the Jamestown colony. As more English colonies were created, the New England and Chesapeake regions were formed. Although both regions were settled by people of English origin, they would soon grow into extremely contrasting societies due to differing motives for colonization, contrasting types of colonists living in each region, and due to the geography of the land they occupied. 

The settlers of New England were motivated by religion, while the Chesapeake colonists were motivated by money. In “A Model of Christian Charity”, John Winthrop motivates the passengers aboard the Arbella ship in 1630 to spread God’s work in America. He stresses the importance of working together as a community to make sure everyone has what they need, and tackling every obstacle together, united with God. The purpose of his speech was to inspire the Puritans to work hard, and make sure they understood that they were making this colony to honor God and to be a model for all other civilizations. 

This is important because it shows how much creating this colony meant to these colonists, and it was not just some selfish hunt for money (Document A). Not only were they coming to America to spread God’s word, but they were also fleeing religious persecution. The Puritans wanted to reform the Church of England, causing them to be discriminated against. This meant that they planned on moving to America in order to develop a new and permanent community to practice their faith freely. They wanted to settle down and create towns and neighborhoods with people helping each other and living without fear of oppression from the Church of England. 

This contributes to the differences between New England and the Chesapeake, because the colonists in New England were creating a permanent society where everyone would work cooperatively to live peacefully and comfortably for God, while the southern colonists were not. The citizens of the Chesapeake region also had a goal, but their goal could not be more different from New England’s. In the “History of Virginia 1624”, John Smith expresses the hard times he and his crew have experienced since coming to Virginia. Smith goes on about how men have charged him fifteen times the price for basic commodities, how there have been brawls, and how all the men were only focused on one thing, gold (Document H). 

This document clearly demonstrates how the people in the Chesapeake region did not express the same goals as those headed for New England, as the people in the Chesapeake region are not helping each other, but are selfishly robbing each other of money. Money was all that the colonists in the Chesapeake region cared about, and the only reason they came to America. The men were planning on landing in America, stuffing their pockets with gold, and then heading back home to England. This means that they did not create communities or towns for a long term settlement like those in New England did, and they were not well prepared. 

Without these towns and communities, the Chesapeake region would operate and grow much differently than New England, for it was practically every man for himself, and no cordiality or “all in this together” mentality existed between the colonists. However, it is important to point out that things may or may not have been as rough as John Smith makes them out to be, as he was trying to sell a book. Tough times and hardships are much more interesting and sell better than some average interactions, so there is a chance that this document is not completely reliable. Essentially, differing ambitions had a large impact when determining how each area would develop as a society.

The original groups of people that moved to New England and the Chesapeake region greatly influenced how each region would evolve, as families moved to the northern colonies, while single white men moved to the Southern colonies. “Ships List of Emigrants Bound for New England” created on March 20th, 1635, lists the names of the members of numerous families headed to New England. Whole households made up of ministers, wives, sons, daughters, and servants, were all traveling to New England to settle. This document was made by deputy clerk John Porter, for the purpose of keeping track of who was leaving England and heading to New England. 

This document helps historians understand what kinds of people were colonizing in America (Document B) The multiple families that moved to New England required a town setting. The typical New England town was complete with a green space in the center of town with all of the most important shops around the center, houses nearby, and of course a town church, since one of the major reasons the Puritans left England was to practice their religion freely. The children who came to New England with their family would grow up and continue the rest of their lives in their New England town, and generation after generation could reside in these communities. 

Many modern-day towns of New England still reflect the original setup of a town common with important buildings surrounding it, that was used in the early days of New England. The fact that whole households were moving to New England supports the idea that they were coming to America to stay, and had no plans of heading back to England, therefore they would make their living conditions more permanent than the people of the Chesapeake region. In a list of emigrants headed to Virginia, a very different group of people was headed west. This list of passengers on the Merchant’s Hope ship in July, 1635 is full of single men averaging around the age of 23. There are no families or titles listed, simply name after name of young British men, with the exception of a few women (Document C). 

The fact that it was just single young men headed to the Chesapeake region enforces the idea that they were not planning on spending the rest of their lives in America, raising families to live on the land for generations. A majority of the men were second-born sons who would not get much of an inheritance, so they simply wanted to get money and leave, they would not waste their time organizing towns or building community schools and churches. After all, there were no kids to go to school or a pastor to give a sermon, so these establishments would not show up in the South until later. The fact that the Chesapeake region would not have the intimate towns so well known in New England, further differentiates the two areas.

The type of land and the geography of the two regions further impacted how they would develop into contrasting societies. In “The State of the English Colonies, 1755”, published in the Maryland Gazette on May 22, 1755, the author details the success of the Virginia colony, specifically in farming. He describes how very privileged Virginia is to have great soil and the perfect conditions for cash crops, and that Virginia is well known for growing tobacco. Although this article was published in the Maryland Gazette, it was originally published in England.

This is important because the British would not want to hear of how badly the colonies were doing, all they would want to know is that the colonies were doing fantastic and were making money for “Mother England”, therefore there may be bias (Document I). Since the Chesapeake region has such great land, it is only natural that they would utilize this by making farming their major source of income. As a result of this, many large farms were set up throughout the Chesapeake region. These farms went on for acres and acres. This meant that homes could be miles away from their nearest neighbor. Since these farms were operated on their own and miles apart from one another, there was no small-town setting, neighborhoods, or town shops, as found in the North. 

The fact that these farms were independent from one another also greatly affects how the Chesapeake region would be run, as it would be impossible to coordinate town meetings, such as those in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A map of European settlements and Indian tribes in 1750 shows where the English were settled. Looking at the New England region, it is obvious to see that there is plenty of coastline available for ships to relay back and forth. Meanwhile, there is not nearly as much coastline between Maryland and Virginia, the colonies of the Chesapeake region (Document F). 

This abundance of coastline caused the economy of the North to center around fishing and trading. This differs from the South which relied on farming. These differences affect how each area will develop because the land and people will look and work in different ways to support each of these economies. These dissimilarities play a part in the societies developing divergently as the setup of the areas would have to be different in order for their individual economies to grow, as a colony that relied on farming would not do too well trying to operate in a city. The land people live on can greatly influence how they go about their lives. 

Differing reasons for colonization, contrasting groups of people, and geography all contributed to New England and the Chesapeake region evolving into two unique societies by 1700. The colonists in New England were focused on living for God and creating a city on a hill for all to look up to, by working together and supporting each other to get things accomplished. They developed cities and towns that relied on fishing and trading to get by. Meanwhile, the colonists who populated the Chesapeake region came to get rich quick, and were not anticipating a long stay. These colonists would soon become dependent on the land they were on, as farming would be their biggest source of income. These economic differences became political by the year 1861, when the Civil War broke out. As New England focused on trade and industry, they did not require the use of slaves. However, the southern states used slaves for farm work. What originally began as getting the most out of the land in each region, would soon lead to one of the bloodiest wars in American history.