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 ifestyles.

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 riorities 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 laves 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 bservation 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 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.

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