New England vs. Chesapeake: Religion and People
Throughout the 17th century many people of English origin flooded into the new world with the thought of a new beginning. In order to start their new lives, the English began settling in two main areas; known as the New England and Chesapeake regions. Although these areas were colonized by the same type of people, many differences existed amongst them. Religion was a main aspect in the differences between New England and Chesapeake. New England was founded for the purpose of religious freedom.
The Puritans who first stepped off the Mayflower and landed in New England arrived with a perfect vision of what they believed their church would be like. They left England for the reason that they didn’t agree on the principles of the Church of England. This colony allowed them to worship whomever they chose. Although they had started a new life in a new place they remained faithful to the king of England. In order to become a saint one had to go through the conversion process which included declaring your sins in front of your community. This granted church membership, which included the right to vote.
Unlike New England, religion wasn’t a main objective in the Chesapeake society. Religion in the Chesapeake region was not at all common, except in a few areas. The colony of Maryland was intended as a sanctuary for Catholics after being mistreated when the Catholic Church separated from the Church of England. Some Virginians who were still religious remained Anglican. These differences between the colonies developed because of the people who settled there. New England was compromised of families who came to the New World in search of religious freedom while the Chesapeake Region consisted of young men whose only focus was money.
This proves that the types of people that settled in these regions, led to the religious diversity between them. Furthermore the political systems that existed in the New England and Chesapeake regions were also different. The government in New England changed many times through history, starting with the Mayflower Compact. It stated how the Puritans would establish a civil government while still being loyal to the king. Later the colonists demanded a court system known as General Court and a representative government. The king appointed a royal governor for each colony. These governors followed the orders of the king.
They had a bicameral legislative: one which was appointed by the king and the other by the people. The local government involved the county court system which dealt with issues in the immediate town. These issues were discussed in the town meeting which only men were allowed to attend. Every man was given a freedom of speech during the town meetings. The right to vote was based on church membership. In the Chesapeake region every colony had a royal governor appointed by the king. They convinced the king to let them have an elected assembly but only if they paid for colonies by taxes.
This assembly was known as the House of Burgesses and if elected it was a lifetime position. The local government consisted of a county court system which could set local tax rates and build roads. The right to vote was based on land ownership. The reasons the governments were different is because of the beliefs the inhabitants of each area had. The New Englanders believed religion was the key which led to more of a democratic type of government where they have more say. The people of the Chesapeake region revolved around making money. These differences in beliefs led to the variations in the types of governments.
In addition to religion and political systems, the types of people that settled in these regions contributed to the differences. In the New England region the main focus was religion and family. People who first settled here were Puritans who broke off from the Church of England looking for religious freedom. New England attracted many families at the time. Since there were an equal number of males and females the birth rate was through the roof. They believed public education was key to resist the devil, which resulted in the Old Deluders act.
Most New Englanders were loggers, fishers, or shipbuilders since the colony didn’t have a suitable geography and climate for agriculture. Social reciprocity was also common where everything was equal among people. The Chesapeake region was inhabited mostly by young men who come to the New World in pursuit of money. Since women were rare they had a larger influence than in New England. Tobacco was responsible for the success of some of these men. Tobacco became a very popular crop and required lots of land and labor. Indentured servants were hired to grow the tobacco.
Settlers started replacing indentured servants with slaves because they could be driven harder with little to no compensation. These differences between the people of these colonies were based on their principles. New Englanders was centered on religion and family while Chesapeake revolved around young men trying to make money. The settler’s principles led to the variances between the types of people that occupied in these colonies. Religion, political systems, and the types of people who occupied the New England and the Chesapeake regions, contributed to why they had evolved into two distinct societies over time.