Compare and contrast the English colonies of the Chesapeake with their counterparts at Massachusetts Bay.  What were their similarities and their differences?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A similarity between both settlements is the hopeful realization intrinsic to them.  One of the primary similarities between the English founding of colonies in both the Chesapeake and those at Massachusetts Bay represents a belief that happiness lies outside of one's established home. Both settlements represent an attempt to expand horizons and boundaries.  Both featured much in way of suffering and pain in the accomplishment of such a vision.  For example, both voyages to the New World were extremely trying.  Many died on the respective voyages and sacrificed a great deal. Yet, this only underscores how important the founding of both sets of colonies were to the settlers who embraced such hardship.  They did not relent in their pursuit of happiness in another setting, and this reality binds them both.

One of the distinct differences between both sets of colonial settlements was their primary reason for being founded.  The Massachusetts Bay colonies were primarily founded for religious freedom.  For example, the Pilgrims settle Plymouth Bay because of their pursuit of religious expression.  Edward Winslow and William Bradford write the document entitled, A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England or Mourt's Relation.  The purpose of this document is to explore the religious leanings of the settlement and publicize it in the hopes of more migration.  This is in stark contrast to the settlement of the Chesapeake Colonies, which focused on primarily on economic wealth.  For example, Jamestown in Virginia was founded on a charter from the Virginia Company of London.  It is founded for the growth of business and economic wealth.  Gold, silver, and other resources were the primary focus of discovery in Jamestown. Once tobacco was discovered, this became the cash crop of the region and provided the ability to generate wealth and develop the accumulation of material goods from the region.  

Both colonial discoveries were driven by a dream to establish a new life away from England.  The sacrifice in the form of suffering and death that took place on the voyage over to the New World and in the initial start up of life in both serve as testament to this reality.  This binds both settlements as representative of the possibility of what can be that lies at the heart of all colonization.  The reason and motivation for founding becomes where this vision of conditionality and promise reflects divergence.

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