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Society Developments in Colonial America

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Essay title: Society Developments in Colonial America

Society in New England and the Chesapeake region had been greatly developed by 1740. The different religions in these two regions played a huge role in shaping these developments. The unique societies in both New England and the Chesapeake region would influence how they functioned in future conflicts, such as the unavoidable conflict with Great Britain.

After missing their destination in Virginia after sixty-five days of sailing, a group of English Separatists landed off the coast of New England and founded the first of many Puritan colonies. The first colonies of New England were founded as religious havens exclusively for Puritans fleeing persecution in England. The New England colonies based their culture and laws on Puritan values. They justified things such as taking land from natives and massacring the Pequot Indians because they believed that it applied to passages in the Bible that stated: “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” The New England colonies also used the Bible to preserve their social structures. Only the “visible saints” in the communities could be church members and be able to enforce God’s laws in the colonies. Religious problems in New England began when people started rebelling against Puritan authority. Quakers were harshly persecuted in New England with floggings and banishment. Anne Hutchinson went against Puritan beliefs claiming if their predestination was unknown than “the truly saved need not bother to obey the law of either God or man.” Rodger Williams was an extreme Separatist and considered dangerous to the Puritan orthodoxy by trying to convince Puritan leaders to break all ties with the Church of England. Both Hutchinson and Williams were banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and fled to Rhode Island, the most liberal and inclusive of the New England colonies that was considered “the sewer of New England”. A union of New England colonies called the New England Confederation not only showed independent colonial decision making, but also unified Puritan colonies in New England against their common enemies. These common enemies included the Indians, the French and the Dutch. The Confederation also focused on intercolonial problems like runaway servants and criminals who could now be caught within the jurisdiction of the confederation. The New England Confederation was also useful during the ‘bloody war’ against King Philip from 1675 to 1676. Education in New England colonies was important because church members were required to read the Bible so they had to be literate. Eight years after the colony was founded, the Massachusetts colony created Harvard College to train Puritan ministers. Not only did the Puritans colonies provide their citizens with churches and education, but they also gave free men the ability to vote in town meetings. Thomas Jefferson declared that town meetings were the “best school of political liberty the world ever saw”. Not only did New England have stable community structures, but the New England families were healthy and had strong Puritan values. Because New England settlers migrated as families, the family unit became an important part of Puritan life. New Englanders usually married in their early twenties and produced many children. This made New England’s population naturally rise more than other regions. The New England colonies were formed around Puritan beliefs that governed over church, government,

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