Compare the settlements of Virginia and Massachusetts in regard to their founding religion, form of government, and landholding patterns. It is noted that settlers to New England had a greater life...

Compare the settlements of Virginia and Massachusetts in regard to their founding religion, form of government, and landholding patterns. It is noted that settlers to New England had a greater life expectancy than those to colonies south of the Chesapeake Bay. Why?
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corinnedolci eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite being founded during the same era in history by people from the same nation, the settlements in Virginia and Massachusettes had very different characteristics.

Founded in 1607, Jamestown, Virginia, was settled by representatives of the Virginia Company of London. Though they had a shared Protestant background, the settlers' goal was to find gold, spices, and wealth (they were hoping to get in on the same profits the Spanish were enjoying as they colonized Central and South America). As a result, their society was modeled after the mercantilist monarchy from which they came: the colony was ruled by a governor appointed by the king. Communities came to be centered around large agricultural plantations needed to support life in the swampy terrain. Later, agricultural plantations shifted to growing tobacco for export.

Landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620, the colonists in Massachusetts had very different intentions. They were Puritans, a religious group that had been persecuted in England. Puritans believed in predestination and an all-powerful God. They traveled to the New World so they could live free of religious persecution. In a document known as the Mayflower Compact, these settlers determined to govern themselves through town-hall-style meetings. Some consider the Massachusetts colony to be a theocracy because the Puritans' religious leaders and laws also governed the greater society. Towns in Massachusetts centered around the church, and homes featured individual farms.

Life expectancy in New England surpassed life expectancy in the Virginia Colony. The primary reason for this is environmental. The climate of Virginia is more conducive to tropical maladies, primarily malaria, that resulted in high fatalities. Further, the Massachusetts colony had greater economic success sooner, thriving sooner as a result.

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