Why Did New England and the Chesapeake Region Develop Different Societies? | HistoryNet MENU

Why Did New England and the Chesapeake Region Develop Different Societies?

1/8/2015 • Ask Mr. History

Although New England and the Chesapeake region were both settled largely by people of English origin, by 1700 the regions had evolved into two distinct societies.  Why did this difference occur? I know both had farm lands.

Kim Lewis

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Dear Ms. Lewis,

Even though they were settled mostly by people of English origin, the original Thirteen Colonies of North America represented the different classes and religious, political and social philosophies that pervaded Britain at the time. Virginia was settled for commercial reasons by people representing the English establishment and were primarily Church of England. Catholics, who faced off-and-on persecution in Britain (depending on who was ruling) established their own separate place to be themselves when Lord Baltimore chartered another stretch of Chesapeake Bay that we now call Maryland. The English who landed in Massachusetts were Calvinist Puritans who wanted their own separate colony to do things their way—to the exclusion of others who did not approach Christianity their way. Those who did not found sanctuary in Rhode Island, where one of the exiles, Roger Williams, founded a colony that offered religious tolerance to any persuasion of Christianity—and even, as of 1750, to Jews.

Each of the colonies had its own separate origin, purpose and first wave of settlers. Those differences would continue to assert themselves when they became states (take, for just one early example, the complicated relationship between Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson and Massachusetts’ John Adams).



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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