Massachusetts Bay Colony

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Which colony, Virginia or Massachusetts, better reflects the development of British colonial society prior to the American Revolution? Please discuss settlement patterns, religion, social hierarchies, and economic development.

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Although the first permanent British colony in what is now the United States was established in Jamestown, Virginia, it was in Massachusetts that British culture flourished more fully. A majority of the immigrants who populated the Massachusetts colony were from central and, to a lesser extent, northern England. The South, including Virginia, saw many English immigrants from the agrarian communities of southern England, as well as Ireland and Scotland. Spiritually, Massachusetts colonies trace their roots to the Puritan tradition of Protestantism.

Massachusetts also became urbanized more quickly than Virginia. English culture flourished more in cities like Boston because urban centers attracted the cosmopolitan class of England, including diplomats and artists. Virginia colonies, on the other hand, began to develop a distinctly Southern culture that distinguished itself from traditional English culture.

In Massachusetts, British culture remained alive because of the strong administrative ties the colony had with the Royal Crown. It wasn't until the mid- to late-19th century that Massachusetts began to get a larger influx of Irish immigrants, which gave cities like Boston its distinctively Celtic-American culture.

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