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Differences in Development Between the Chesapeake Regions and New England

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Essay title: Differences in Development Between the Chesapeake Regions and New England

2006

Differences in Development between the Chesapeake Regions and New England

The seventeenth and early eighteenth century, brought thousands of immigrants to America in pursuit of freedom and a new life. Some desired freedom from religious persecution, others wanted a chance to be free from the poverty that ensnared them in England Thus the American colonies were formed. Although the colonies were all united under British rule, they eventually separated into various regions including the Chesapeake region, the New England region, the Middle region, and the Southern region. Despite all the colonies being primarily inhabited by people of English origin the Chesapeake and New England regions evolved into two distinct societies due to religious, economic, and societal factors.

The religious preferences of the Chesapeake region had a dramatic impact on its development into a secure and stable society. This region included the colonies of Maryland and Virginia. The colony of Maryland was developed originally by Lord Baltimore as a safe haven for him and his fellow Catholics; however after Baltimore’s death his son Cecil Calvert assumed his title and continued implementing his father’s plans. These plans eventually led Calvert to persuade the Maryland assembly to adopt the Act of Toleration. The Act of Toleration granted religious freedom to all Christians, but also required the death of anyone who denied Jesus’ divinity. Eventually, the law was overturned in a revolt led by Protestants in the late seventeenth century. The Chesapeake region’s chapels and meeting houses became the focal point for immigrants while the missionary work done by the Catholics and Quakers assisted in forming a community by reminding the colonists that they had sacred identities as people favored by God. The Quakers and Catholics jointly utilized their experiences as nonconformists in England to bond as one, allowing them to offer exceptional support to their communities which, in turn led them to further prosperity.

The impact religion had on the Chesapeake region is minimal, however when compared to the overwhelming effect it had in New England. The New England region included the colonies of New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Plymouth. The foremost religion of the New England region was Puritanism, which was most prominent in the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Connecticut colonies. The colony of Rhode Island was formed when Roger Williams was expelled for radical ideas. He found the Church of England to be corrupt and stressed the importance of religious tolerance while creating one of the first Baptist churches. Later Anne Hutchinson, another colonist expelled for radical and dangerous ideas, founded Portsmouth which stressed the importance of faith, not deeds. Eventually Williams joined the colonies to form Rhode Island. New England became a fortress of congregationalism which developed community religion and further strengthened the Puritan church. The church, though wholly religious, still faced issues preserving orthodoxy without compromising the rights of the congregation, but they were hesitant to undermine the authority of the laity in favor of the ministry. The Puritans mistrust of any English authority governing them, eventually led to their refusal to adhere to these new ideals of separation, causing the development of a new form of government. Puritanism led the colonies to seek a confederation in which two representatives from each magistrate colony met to form the United Colonies of New England, which was a “firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity…for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the Gospel and for their own mutual safety and welfare.” The United Colonies of New England was the basis on which the Articles of Confederation drafted in 1777 was assembled.

The development of the Chesapeake region was greatly affected by the economy as well. The main export produced by the Chesapeake colonies was tobacco. Tobacco was so intertwined with the colonies’ prosperity that a bad season of tobacco could have lead to starvation or destitution for that particular colony. The economy of the Chesapeake region resulted in a great number of indentured servants being brought over from England and other countries. These indentured servants and their situation were the cause of the societal and familial structure that became associated with the Chesapeake regions. The majority of the indentured servants brought over were single males between the ages of 18 to 25, and the remainder were mostly single women 25 years old or younger. These indentured servants normally came alone without any family, which did not nurture any familial bonds. This was partly due to their unfamiliarity with each other, but mostly due to the harsh environment in

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