Compare and contrast the English colonies in the Chesapeake and in New England. In what ways were they different, and in what ways were they alike?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Chesapeake colonies, starting in Jamestown in colonial Virginia, were generally populated by people who wanted to make money, including people who had been held in debtors' prisons in England and indentured servants. The harsh conditions of early Jamestown, including the "Starving Time," meant that there was a high mortality rate and that families could not establish themselves. In addition, many of the early settlers were single men, so the settlement was not, for the most part, populated by families. As a result, women were generally under less control by their families and had more power than they did in other colonies. Colonists in Jamestown turned to growing tobacco to survive, and the first slaves were recorded arriving in the colonies in 1619. Over time, the colony increasingly turned to slavery. Most of the colonists were members of the Church of England, or the Anglican Church. Later, Maryland was founded along similar lines, though it was at first a colony that offered religious freedom for Catholics. 

Colonial New England, on the other hand, was populated by religious dissenters (first, Pilgrims who broke away from the Church of England and later Puritans who stayed within the church but wanted to purify it). The Puritans saw themselves as a model to the rest of the world—a "city upon a hill," and placed a high value on literacy and education. The inhabitants were settled into families, as they immigrated largely as families, and their towns were rigidly controlled by the church. Young people and women were under the strict control of the patriarchal church and family structure. As the soil in New England was rocky, many colonists turned to small-scale industries such as shipbuilding over time, and there were far fewer slaves than in colonial Virginia.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Historians generally discuss the ways in which the Chesapeake colonies and the New England colonies were different.  These differences are said to have created completely different societies whose differences even helped to bring about the Civil War. 

While these two regions were very different, they did have similarities.  For one, these areas were largely colonized by English people.  This was in contrast to places like Pennsylvania, which had more people from other European countries.  As another similarity, both of these areas had some amount of democratic rule.  They had elected assemblies that provided a voice for their people in government.  Finally, both of these regions had established churches and tax money went to support those churches.

However, there were many important differences as well.  The most important of these is that the Chesapeake colonies’ economy was generally dominated by large plantation owners.  Most of the labor for these plantations was provided by unfree workers.  By contrast, New England’s economy was dominated by small farmers and by merchants and artisans in cities.  This made for a much more egalitarian society.  As another difference, the New England colonies were settled by families and became very family-oriented.  By contrast, the Chesapeake colonies were often settled by single people and thus had less social cohesion.

These are some of the most important similarities and contrasts between the two.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were similarities and differences between the English colonies in New England and the English colonies in the Chesapeake. Some of the colonies in the Chesapeake included Maryland and Virginia. Some of the New England colonies included Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

One difference was the jobs in each region. In the New England colonies, there wasn’t as much large scale farming. Subsistence farming was common because the soil was rocky and the growing season was shorter. There was more manufacturing in New England. Mills were common. Shipbuilding was an important activity as was fishing. In the Chesapeake colonies, there was more large scale farming. The soil was very fertile, and the climate was better suited for farming.

A few other differences existed. There were fewer slaves in the New England colonies than in the Chesapeake colonies. The people of the New England colonies came for religious reasons. The Chesapeake colonies were formed to hopefully make money.

There were some similarities with these colonies. English was the language that was spoken in both sets of colonies. The King chartered both sets of colonies. As a result, these colonies had English roots.

While there were more differences than similarities, some similarities did exist  between the New England colonies and the Chesapeake colonies.