1 Answer | Add Yours
Each colonial region was distinct in its own way and that's largely because of the pattern of colonization that occurred from 1607 to the early 1700's. But if you really break it down, societies in the colonies were seperated either economically or religiously.
From the religious stand point, New England societies were primarily founded on staunch religious views which created covenant communities orginally based off of the Mayflower Compact. The people of New England colonies (Mass., CT, NH, RI) saw no real difference between separation of church and state. The religious leaders were the political leaders who made the rules and had the people abide by them. Doing this made these colonies a theocracy in every sense of the word.
Economically, the geography of New England colonies dictated the people be primarily subsitance farmers. Their society could not sustain large scale farming, but fishing, ship building, and lumbering was a necessity for economic growth. The specific economic activity coupled with the religious communities created tight knit societies within the New England area, distinct none other than to themselves.
The Middle Colonies (NY, NJ, DE, PA) were slightly different in the sense that there were more religious freedoms allowed and they were more tolerant to other religious views as well. Economically, the Middle Colonies had two major commercial centers that was conducive for growth; Philadelphia and New York City. These two cities helped develop manufacturing and trade within the colonies and create a more diversified economic artisan base. Not only this, but the Middle Colonies earned the nickname as "the breadbasket" for all the other colonies due to the amount of wheat it was able to produce and sell. Due to being in the middle, the societies faired better with trade and made use of the interior roads for transportation of goods and services more so in the early stages of the Colonial era prior to the Revolutionary War. The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road is an example of this. Economic and religious diversity exemplified these colonies and gave them their unique distinction the different societies before the American Revolution.
Lastly, the Southern colonies were definately unique in their own way simply because of the economic characteristics that made them up. Hierarchy within society in the Southern colonies was not based off of religious standing as in New England, but the amount of land and slaves one had. The more an individual had, the more power one wielded. The peculiar institution of slavery itself seperated them from the rest of the colonies by a long shot. It's not that the other colonies didn't have them, it's just that they didn't have so many of them on their farms. Of course geography played a large part in this as well, with the fertile soil and the longer growing seasons as well. The South just didn't have farms, but plantations that grew thousands of acres of tobacco or rice and they required many slaves to do labor intensive work.
As mentioned before, religious standing had nothing to do with political power in the South. Matter of fact, many in the South chose to have close ties with the Church of England whereas those in New England couldn't wait to break away from it. Economics ruled the day in the South in the end and tobacco was king until Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin in the late 1700's.
We’ve answered 317,665 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question