During the early 16th century and into the early 17th century, European colonies rapidly colonized the newly found Americas. England in particular sent large groups to the east coast of North America to two separate regions, which would later become known as the Chesapeake and New England areas. The Chesapeake region included Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the New Jerseys. The New England region of the colonies included Rhode Island, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony, New Haven, and Connecticut.
Eventually in the late 1700’s these two regions would come together to form one nation. Both regions were very different and did not share many common ideas. They were different in their views and beliefs on religion, economy, and motives for colonial expansion. In 1609 a group of settlers, led by Captain John Smith, founded Jamestown which became the first colony to thrive and prosper in the New World. The main goal of these Chesapeake settlers was to make money by finding gold, silver, or anything else that they could take back to England and make a profit on.
Another goal of theirs was to find a northwest passage to Asia. The New Englanders were mostly puritans who first settled in Plymouth and were driven to the New World in hopes of religious freedom. New Englanders wanted to escape religious persecution rather than make money and grow a rich economy. The living situations between the two colonies were extremely different. The Chesapeake colonies struggled early on to gather enough food and water. They did not know how to farm in their new area and quickly ran out of food and started to starve.
They quickly had to turn to Native Americans to trade for food and other essentials. The colonists learned quickly, somewhat due to John Smith’s leadership, that if they did not farm, they would not get to eat. Chesapeake Bay colonies were also much more unhealthy then the New England colonies. Diseases spread throughout the colonies and life expectancy was not very high. The colonies were mostly male with men outnumbering women at least five to one. Rarely did children reach adulthood because of the poor life quality and almost no one had a grandparent.
Life in the New England colonies was almost the complete opposite. Puritans came to the New World in families which made for a more diverse colony. Clean water and plumbing helped prevent disease from spreading and it was not rare for a settler to reach the age of seventy. New Englander’s also did not fight with the Native Americans as much as the Chesapeake colonists because they were not considered as much of a threat. The economy was another big difference between the two colonies.
The New England economy was not as much focused on economic growth and was mainly based on small fishing and farming. Most settlers owned small farms that were just big enough to feed their own families. New England was run by the Mass Bay Company whose leaders were rich church members, elected other by rich church members. The Chesapeake Bay on the other hand was focused on growth and had a vast economy. The Chesapeake population outnumbered New England’s three to one.
Chesapeake’s economy focused on growing tobacco and the slave trade. New settlers were more likely to try and make a living in Chesapeake Bay rather than in New England because there was greater opportunity to make money. The House of Burgesses was in charge in Chesapeake which was made up of rich planters that were voted into The House by other rich planters. The differences between the two colonies are clear. These differences include living situation, religion, economy, population, and ideas of what they wanted from the New World.
The New England colonists were trying to find land where they could have religious freedom and focus on family and their practice in religion. The Chesapeake Bay colonists were hoping to make a big profit from all of the new land that there was to have and discover. In the end, the New Englanders led a very easy going life that focused on family and religion with little worries while the Chesapeake colonists had tough lives that were due to hard labor and an unhealthy living.