The New England Colonies Questions and Answers

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In what ways did the New England Colonies' economy and society differ from the Chesapeake Colonies' economy?

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Let's start with the economies. The economy of the Chesapeake Bay colonies relied heavily on the production of cash crops—most notably, tobacco. Growing and processing tobacco is labor-intensive work. That is why many indentured servants, and later African slaves, were brought to these colonies. Tobacco also greatly diminishes the soil quality, so new farmland was always in demand. Tobacco from these colonies found its way into markets all over the English colonies as well as throughout Europe.

The short growing season and poor soil conditions of much of New England meant that the region could never support an agrarian economy. Instead, New England colonists turned to the forests and the seas to make a living. Just off the coast of New England lies one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world. Salted cod from New England waters became the lifeblood of the economy.

Add to this the timber resources of the interior, which supplied the shipyards. Many of these ships were built...

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