How can I trace the development of the North and South from the start of the colonies in 1607 up to the start of the revolutionary war, taking into consideration economic, political, religious, and...

How can I trace the development of the North and South from the start of the colonies in 1607 up to the start of the revolutionary war, taking into consideration economic, political, religious, and social components including gender, race and class?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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After James I decided to offer charters for setting North America in 1606, several different groups began to found English colonies in the New World.

The first permanent colony was established in Jamestown in 1607, but it was not initially successful. Geographically, the area was swampy and infested with mosquitoes. The settlers lacked the necessary skills to make a success of the colony and had an uneasy relationship with Native Americans, ranging from occasional truces to frequent battles. It was only when the colony was transplanted to the Middle Plantation, now known as Williamsburg, in 1633 that Virginia began to thrive. Jamestown also was distinguished for its discovery of tobacco as a viable cash crop; tobacco and cotton were among the foundations of the plantation system in the southern colonies. This agricultural economy led to another feature of the south, intense social stratification with a small aristocracy of planters and a lower class consisting of the poor and slaves, but little in the way of a middle class. Because plantations needed unskilled labor, they were worked mainly by slaves; there was no need to develop a skilled workforce. Because many of the southern settlers were relatively well off Englishmen with the capital necessary to invest in plantations, arriving in the colonies primary due to economic rather than religious motives, the Church of England predominated. Gender roles, carried over from aristocratic English traditions, were quite distinct, with upper class women not participating in the labor force.

The northern colonies were founded primarily for religious reasons. Many of the northern colonists were Puritans, not just escaping from religious persecution but rather wishing to found their own Calvinist communities of the elect in a new land. Because the poor rocky soils of the north could support subsistence farming but not the tremendously valuable cash crops of the south, the northern economy became far more diversified, and included manufacturing and fishing as well as agriculture. Due to the middle class nature of the immigrants and the nature of an economy depending on skilled labor, the north was less socially stratified than the south, with a substantial middle class as well as skilled laborers. Gender roles were not completely equal, but due to the Protestant notion of "the priesthood of all believers" and middle class life styles, gender roles were less distinct than in the south.

The mid-Atlantic colonies were devoted to the cause of religious freedom, and had many Dutch settlers, and religious groups including Anabaptists and Quakers. The economy of this region was diverse, balancing agriculture and industry. 

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