The English Colonies
During the 17th century, Europeans had unquestionably come to North America to stay, a fact that signaled major changes for the people of both hemispheres. At first, the English sought to benefit from the New Found land by trading across the continents, but later many English people decided to migrate to North America. Unlike other Europeans, the English transferred their society and politics to their new environment. The New England colonies and the Chesapeake colonies were both English colonies but each had different factors that influenced them.
Around 1606, a large population boom followed by high inflation and a fall in real wages motivated men and women to migrate to the New Found land. Merchants and wealthy gentry, who were interested in gaining great profits by finding precious metals and opening new trade routes, formed the Virginia Company which was to become the Chesapeake colonies. On the other hand, men and women migrated to New England mostly for religious purposes.
The climate in New England was very cold and the soil was infertile unlike the climate in Chesapeake were the region’s wide rivers, climate and soil were very fruitful. Hence agriculture was an essential and successful trade in the Chesapeake where tobacco and sugar were the major products. While immigrants rushed to New England looking for freedom of religion, men and women migrated from a small landscape apparently over populated island to Chesapeake, a large, land-rich content.
Puritans organized the New England colonies in hope of finding a place where they could practice their religion. Except for the few Catholics who moved to Maryland, immigrants to Chesapeake seem to have been little affected by religious motives. Puritan congregations quickly became key institutions in colonial New England, whereas neither the Church of England nor Roman Catholicism had much impact on the settlers or the early development of the Chesapeake colonies.
The New England colonies’ method for distributing land, helped to further the communal idea unlike the Chesapeake colonies where individuals acquired head rights and sited their farms separately, in Massachusetts groups of men applied together to the General Court for grants of land on which to establish towns.
The men then receiving these grants decided how to distribute it. Thus, the New England settlements tended to be more compact than those of the Chesapeake.
Due to socioeconomic conditions in the Chesapeake colonies, there was a predominance of males which meant that many males remained single and lived in pairs and females often remarried more than once. Thus Chesapeake families were few, small and short lived. Families in New England continuously and immediately reproduced itself because people immigrated in family groups and sometimes accompanied by relatives and friends. Furthermore, lacking such diseases as malaria, New England was much healthier than Chesapeake which meant people had a longer life expectancy. While Chesapeake population patterns gave rise to families that were few in umber, small size and transitory, the demographic characteristics of New England made families there numerous, large and long lived.
In New England, church and state were intertwined to a greater extent that they were in Chesapeake. Although Puritans came to New England seeking freedom to worship as they pleased, they refused to award that freedom to others. Even similar offences were considered differently among colonies. Men and women, who were homosexual, were hanged in both colonies but such executions were far more common in New England than they were in Chesapeake even though men’s behavior in the two regions would have probably been similar.
New England and Chesapeake differed in the sex ratio and age range of their immigrant populations, in the nature of their developing economies, in their settlements patterns, and in the impact of religious beliefs on their settler’s lives.