The New England Colonies

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What was life like in the New England colonies?

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At first, life was rough in the New England colonies as settlers struggled to establish a foothold in a new land. There were very few of them, they didn't necessarily know how to farm or survive the terrain, and Native Americans posed a threat to their wellbeing. However, the colonies in that region, settled primarily for religious reasons, were also imbued with a sense of hope and animation, for the settlers no longer had to face imprisonment, fines, corporal punishment, and even death for violating British religious laws.

As time went on, the colonies became economically prosperous, especially the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the per capita income was very high, as wealth was distributed more evenly than in Europe. At the same time, however, the religious atmosphere that had once animated such hope that the Massachusetts Bay Colony would be a beacon to the rest of the world came to be perceived by some as repressive and stifling. This led to dissent and to the founding of new colonies in New England such as Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

The colonists very much wanted to replicate the life they knew in England, only without the religious persecution they had suffered. The Plymouth Colony pilgrims, for example, had left the Netherlands because they didn't want their children assimilating into Dutch culture. Therefore, even when it would have been more convenient to adopt Native American dress, housebuilding, or other customs, the colonists stubbornly insisted on keeping to their own way of life.

People largely lived in small villages and farmed as they had in England. They sent their children to school. For men of the correct religious faith, a somewhat flattened hierarchy gave them a voice in the political world.

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