Unlike the middle colonies, New England did not receive a stream of unstable migrants. More like a trickle. The rocky soil of the northern climate did not encourage widespread farming. Weather ranged from one extreme to the other, with sweltering heat in the summer and bitter cold in the winter. This was a fortunate boon to Yankee ingenuity, however, because it encouraged the diversification of agriculture and industry outside of staple products, unlike in the South. New Englanders were skilled merchants, lumberers, fishers, shipsmen, and industrial masters of the fledgling colonial enterprise. Religion also was another factor that kept New Englanders isolated and homogenous, with the sulferous Puritan sermon dominating the spiritual landscape straight to the Revolutionary War and beyond.

These traits had a major influence on the establishment of New England villages. Unlike in the Chesapeake, where establishment was random and somewhat haphazard, Yankee villages were required to go through rigourous processes for their establishment. A new town was to be legally chartered by colonial authorities, and town fathers, elderly gentlemen, took charge of the distribution of land. The colonial legislature would grant a large parcel to them, and they would then divvy it out as they saw by merit. Everything was done in an orderly fashion, with each family receiving several parcels of land, including a woodlot for fuel, a tract suitable for growing crops, and another for pasturing animals. Also constructed promptly were a meetinghouse, serving the needs of worship for the fiercly religious Puritan settlers, and a town hall. The village green was the final central addition, suitable for drilling the local militia.

An interesting note is that all towns of more than fifty families were required by colonial law to provide elementary education. Because of this, literacy was widespread throughout New England in the pre-Revolutionary days, unlike in other areas of the country. The oldest corporation in America, Harvard College, was established in New England as a place of training for local ministers in 1636, an early testament to the importance of education for New Englanders. Primers had heavy religious content to suppliment their education values, intended to promote the continued propagation of "God's people."

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