Compare and Contrast Essay on Life in the Chesapeake and New England Colonies

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1187 Words
Date:  2022-04-04


In the late 16th and into the early 17th centuries, European nations rapidly colonized the newly discovered Americas. These European nations were overly eager to continue their already existing state of colonizing various states within the newly created Americas. More specifically, England particularly sent out various groups to the eastern coast of North America forming the two most renowned parts, New England and Chesapeake. Right from the earliest English colonization, the two regions developed differently but were later united to form a significant driving force behind the American Revolution. This being said, the core intent of this essay is to compare and contrast the overall life of the two colonies.

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To begin with, concerning the people who settled there, the Chesapeake colonies were populated by money-oriented people. A majority of the Chesapeake population consisted of those who had been held in debtors' prison in England and indentured servants. Besides, the Chesapeake region was not populated by families for the better part since a majority of the early settlers of Chesapeake were men. This being the case, women were overly under less control, and more power was generally bestowed unto them, as compared to what they did in other colonies. On the other hand, however, colonial New England was populated by settlers who comprised of religious dissenters such as Pilgrims and Puritans, who broke away and stayed in the Church of England respectively. According to many scholars, the Puritans saw themselves as a model to the rest of the world and for this reason, they highly valued education and the general literacy. Unlike in the Chesapeake, the New England inhabitants settled in families, immigrated as families and had their towns under the strict ruling and control of the patriarchal church.

Motivations for Colonizing in The First Place

History has it that for the longest time, the prime motive for the establishment of the New England colonies was religious freedom. In his book, Allan Taylor contends that the early colonists of New England wanted to be religiously free and also get the freedom to worship God. However, they did not extend this freedom to everyone, and for this reason, those who expressed a different approach to their form of religious worship were not welcome. The Chesapeake colonialists, on the other hand, had their primary motivation as making fortunes and getting rich through the cultivation of tobacco and hence setting a pattern which was followed in Maryland, among other places.

Relationships with Native Americans

In a similar regard, Chesapeake and New England had varying relationships with the Native Americans, whom they found on the regions that they chose to settle in. Taylor points out that a majority of the differences in these relationships were highly attributed to the social compositions of each of the colonies. For instance, the Chesapeake region was categorically set aside for occupation by male settlers who were adventure seekers and businessmen. On the contrary, New England's social composition consisted of a very different demographic mix since the colonialists in these regions moved in families and were also friendlier to the Native Americans. Unlike the Chesapeake colonialists, the New Englanders maintained unity thin themselves and with the Native Americans and hence developed a society that was well balanced regarding their social compositions and their economy.

Besides, concerning the relationship of the colonies with the Native Americans, the Chesapeake colonies were characterized by various diseases which did not only affect the social and cultural characteristics of the population but also significantly lowered the life expectancy of the people in Maryland and Virginia. In a similar vein, the culture and the demographic features of the Chesapeake colonies were characterized by a very high gender imbalance ratio. Thus, as a result of the diseases and the gender imbalance led to a high disregard for community and family relations. In New England, however, although the colonialists had high regards in family and community, women were said to have less power as compared to Chesapeake. This, in essence, was highly attributed to the fact that the low life expectancies in Chesapeake led to the death of many males, who were the majority, and as a result, there was more land owning widows who significantly introduced intrinsic value to marriages. In New England, however, the existence of concrete families meant an increase in the birth rates and this resulted to more male heirs rendering a majority of the women powerless since a lot of the family wealth was bequeathed to the boy child.

Their Cultures and Economies

After their settlement, the Pilgrims and the Puritans, who formed the most significant populations of the New England region turned to small-scale industries as their primary income generating source, since a majority of the New England soil was rocky. More fundamentally, some of the small industries consisted of activities such shipbuilding and this, in essence, saw a reduction in the number of slaves as compared to colonial Virginia. On the other hand, those who settled in the Chesapeake region, especially the colonists in Jamestown adopted farming, explicitly growing of tobacco as a source of their income. Unlike in the New England colonies, the first group of slaves was recorded arriving in Chesapeake in 1619.

With regard to their economies, the economy of the Chesapeake region was primarily dependent on the growing of tobacco. As the Chesapeake regions grew economically, the demand for labor increased. The New Englanders, on the other hand, went through a slow developing economy, and they survived mainly by working in small-scale industries and catching fish. Compared to the Chesapeake colonies, the New Englanders had a very stagnant economic growth, and the lives of the population that settled in this region were strictly ecclesiastical.


In conclusion, it is evident that both New England and Chesapeake colonies had a common goal which was to look for better territories for them to acquire more social, economic and religious freedom. Nevertheless, the lives of the settlers of the two colonies differed in various ways. More fundamentally, the differences were majorly centered on the land use, religion, social composition, and economic achievements. For instance, with regard to religion, the colonialists had varying spiritual agendas and needs based on the region in which they settled. Besides, the two colonies differed in their social composition because the colonial settlers had a different social need and were faced with different social challenges which influenced both their religious practice and their overall prosperity in the lands in which they settled. Thus, in a nutshell, it is evident that although the lives of the colonialists in both Chesapeake and New England differed in various ways, the two had a similar commonality in regard to their mission for colonizing the regions in the first place.


BluetT, Thomas. ""A Slave About Two Years in Maryland"." Becoming American: The British Atlantic Colonies, 1690-1763, no. 2 (1734), 3.

Bradford, William. "History of Plymouth Plantation. 1620-1647." The William and Mary Quarterly 21, no. 3 (1913), 207. doi:10.2307/1914702.

Greene, Jack P., and Edmund S. Morgan. "American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia." Political Science Quarterly 91, no. 4 (1976), 742. doi:10.2307/2148833.

Taylor, Allan. American Colonies. Viking, 2001.

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Compare and Contrast Essay on Life in the Chesapeake and New England Colonies. (2022, Apr 04). Retrieved from

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