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Chesapeake Colonies and New England Colonies Comparison of Culture and Religion-Thesis

Updated on September 21, 2015

What is the difference between the Chesapeake Colonies and the New England Colonies?

The early colonies in the New England and Chesapeake Bay area's similarities included their religion, language and where their loyalty was placed, whereas their differences included life expectancy, education and the center of their societies.

In England, Catholicism was still an on again and off again affair, this pressed many Protestants to leave England and go to the New World in search of freedom. Protestantism had became a more widely accepted faith and England was becoming much steadier in this faith staying with it longer and longer, so this is one of the main reasons as to why England's new world colonies of New England and Chesapeake share this religion.

The New England Colonies were formed by those seeking religious freedom,  most notably the Puritans. Gallery of famous 17th-century Puritan theologians:
The New England Colonies were formed by those seeking religious freedom, most notably the Puritans. Gallery of famous 17th-century Puritan theologians: | Source

Which states belonged to each colony?

Chesapeake Colonies

  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • East and West New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania

New England Colonies

  • Massachusetts Bay Colony
  • Plymouth
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • New Haven

A map of the Virginia Colonies dated 1721.
A map of the Virginia Colonies dated 1721. | Source

Shared Language and Beginning of the Colonies

The shared language of the colonies was English, creating a cultural division from south and central American colonies that were colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese. The charters for both the New England colony and the Chesapeake colony where received from the King of England. This common background guaranteed the colonies the same language roots, as the people brought their language with them from England.

Even though the two colonies groups began similarly, the reason for their origin are quite different. The people that settled the New England area did so for religious freedom (most notable the Puritans), but decided that breaking away completely from the crown would not be to their best interest. While the entire reason the Chesapeake Bay area colonies were started was purely capitalistic, as they seeked to bring wealth from the New World back to England.

Virginia is where the British Empire began,... this was the first colony in the British Empire.

— William Kelso

Differences between the colonies

Even though these two colonies shared some similarities, they had even more dissimilarities, such as the extreme difference in their life expectancy. The Chesapeake Bay Colonies where placed in a more sever climate area, and the land chosen to build and farm on was badly chosen. Their water was brackish, mosquitoes swarmed the area, and most of the incoming manpower would not live out their indentured servitude. These factors dramatically lessened the life span of the people. The average man could have expected to live to about the age of 43, while women could live anywhere from about 35 to 38 years. On the other hand, in New England the people settled in a much more moderate climate and lived in a healthier society that was concerned about the other citizens. The New Englanders life span was close to that of modern day.

Education was also another difference in the two societies. New England required any village with 15 families or more to have an elementary school, and then any town with 100 or more families had to build an advanced middle school. The Chesapeake Bay areas had no such laws. In fact, in Virginia they bragged that you couldn't find a printing press in the entire state. Because of this the North had higher literacy rates that would take the Southern Colonies over 100 years to reach.

Written in Bone: Life and Death in Colonial Chesapeake

Since the Chesapeake Colonies were formed for profit, this meant that they accepted the practice of slavery more than their Puritan counter parts.
Since the Chesapeake Colonies were formed for profit, this meant that they accepted the practice of slavery more than their Puritan counter parts. | Source

Town Centers Matter

The placement and design of the towns and villages show the stark differences between what each of the colonies prioritized. While the New Englanders had a strong sense of unity, and had the church and God in the center of their societies, the Chesapeake Bay citizens didn't even have towns to create unity. In fact, they would not have any town of consequence for decades after their northern counterparts.

While these two areas may have had slightly similar beginnings, they evolved into two distinctly separate cultures that in the end became part of the strong American image of Yanks and Southerners.

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      niall.tubbs 5 years ago

      Not much change since then.