Despite both being settled by people of English origin
, by 1700 New England
and the Chesapeake
region had evolve
d into two distinct societies due to the different backgrounds and motive
s of the original settler
s of the two regions. The original settlers to New England
were devout puritan
s in family
units with the goal of establishing religious
communities, leading to a more urban atmosphere
, while the settlers to the Chesapeake
region were young
, single men
seeking to gain land
, leading to the fragmented plantation society
of the South
The original settlers of the New England region varied widely with those of the Chesapeake region in social structure and background. As shown in the ship’s list of emigrants bound for New England, the original settlers to New England came mainly in large family units, while the ship’s list of emigrants bound for Virginia consisted mainly of young men along with a few young women. The settlers coming to New England were devout puritans seeking refuge from religious persecution and foreign cultural assimilation. The settlers coming to Virginia were Englishmen seeking wealth and land in the New World. Those who could not afford the trip were to serve as indentured servants. John Smith describes in his “History of Virginia (1624)" there being little food, poor conditions, and frequent brawls on the travel to Virginia. The disparate backgrounds and identities of the two groups of settlers arriving in New England and the Chesapeake region caused the social settings for the two regions to vary widely from the start.
The settlers arriving in New England and those arriving in the Chesapeake region had contrasting motives in coming to the New World. The settlers arriving in New England had the goal of creating close religious communities. In “A Model of Christian Charity” written on board the Arbella on the Atlantic Ocean in 1630, John Winthrop describes his ideal of what the New England community should be – a community united with equality for its citizens, demonstrating for the world the benefits of religious devotion. In the “Articles of Agreement (1636)”, the settlers of Massachusetts set among their top priorities to secure a minister to lead the people in church and to grant all inhabitants a portion of the land for their farms and houses. The settlers arriving in the Chesapeake region sought land and wealth. John Smith describes how most of the settlers upon arriving in Virginia fervently sought out gold while neglecting the more pressing needs of setting up houses and farms. Many settlers came to Virginia and Maryland seeking land in response to the rising cost of real estate in England. The differing aspirations of the settlers arriving in New England with those arriving in the Chesapeake region led to distinct the distinct cultures and characters of the two regions.
Due to the different social and geographic settings of the two regions, New England and the Chesapeake region developed distinct economies. In the Chesapeake region, tobacco was recognized as a cash crop and thereby dominated the area’s agriculture and economy. New England’s climate could not produce such a cash crop so the area’s residents were forced to have a more well-rounded economy of agriculture, fishing, trading, etc. In Virginia, there was a disparity in wealth and social status among the settlers, leading to disproportionate land ownership and a hierarchical social system. Also, as life expectancy in the area grew, the region became more and more dependent on the labor of black and Indian slaves. Governor Berkeley describes the majority of the population being either servants or freemen in poor financial situations. Bacon, in his “Manifesto” justifying his rebellion (See Bacon's Rebellion), describes how some of the region’s inhabitants grew wealthy at the expense of the public wealth. New England began with a strong community aspect centered on the town, leading to a more urban atmosphere. The farmers of the region were independent and worked for themselves, while large cities grew along seaports and featured thriving commerce. The economy of the Chesapeake region was based on cash crops and slave labor with a wealthy elite presiding over the populace while the economy of New England was diverse and based on cities and trade with a more egalitarian division of wealth.
By 1700, the New England and Chesapeake regions had split into distinct societies. The differing social and religious backgrounds of the original settlers to each region had led to distinct social atmospheres. The differing motives for settling of the two groups of settlers had led to distinct cultures developing in each region. Social and geographic differences in the two regions had led to distinct economies. In examining the history of the two regions and the backgrounds of their settlers, we can find out what led to the split in America between the societies of the North and South which reached its climax in the Civil War and continues diminished to this day.