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A Comparison of the New England and Chesapeake Bay Regions
During the 1700's, people in the American colonies lived in very distinctive societies. While some colonists led hard lives, others were healthy and prosperous. The two groups who showed these differences were the colonists of the New England and Chesapeake Bay areas. The differentiating characteristics among the Chesapeake and New England colonies developed due to economy, religion, and motives for colonial expansion. The colonists of the New England area possessed a very happy and healthy life. This high way of living was due in part to better farming, a healthier environment, and a high rate of production because of more factories. The colonists of the Chesapeake Bay region, on the other hand, led harder lives compared to that of the colonists of New England. The Chesapeake Bay had an unhealthy environment, bad eating diets, and intolerable labor.
The colonists had different reasons for settling in these two distinct regions. The New England region was a more religiously strict yet diverse area compared to that of the Chesapeake Bay. The development of religion in the two regions came from separate roots. After Henry VIII and the Roman Catholic Church broke away from each other, a new group of English reformers was created called the Puritans. The Puritans came from protestant backgrounds, after being influenced by Calvinistic ideas. When their reforms were thwarted by King James I of England, they fled to the New World in what is now known as the "Great Migration". The Puritans were then joined by Quakers, Protestants, and Catholics in the religiously diverse New England area. These diverse religious factions were allowed to live freely but under the laws of New England. It was due to this religious freedom that these people came to escape religious persecution back home. The New Englanders had a religion-based society and religion was based on family. As the Bible highly regarded family, it condemned adultery. Adultery was considered a punishable crime. Adulterers were marked as impure by a letter "A" stitched on their clothing, as in the book "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. As religion was a very high priority in New England, it was very much less severe in the Chesapeake Bay region. The one established church in the region, the Anglican Church of Jesus Christ, was only then established in 1692, more than 70 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
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The differences in the two regions are not only seen in their religion, but can also be found in their economies. The economy of New England was far more inferior to that of the Chesapeake economy. This was because the New England society was family-oriented and primarily owned only small family farms just large enough to feed their families. Their economy was mainly based on small farming and fishing. This shows that New England was not focusing on economic growth and expansion. The Chesapeake Bay, on the other hand, had a vast economy. The population of Chesapeake Bay outnumbered New England's population nearly three to one. Their economy was mainly based on the tobacco and slave trading industries. These businesses contributed greatly to the Chesapeake Bay's economic and colonial expansion. This explains why people who came to the New World looking to make money chose to go to Chesapeake Bay rather than the New England area.
Colonists living in the Chesapeake Bay region led harsh lives, while settlers of the New England area had more favorable conditions. The people of the Chesapeake Bay region faced malaria, typhoid, and dysentery. As a result, nearly half of the population did not live to see their twentieth birthday, and even less lived to age into their forties. The colonists of the Chesapeake Bay were mostly male, with a ratio of six males to one female. Men had to compete with one another for women. Families were both few and weak in the Chesapeake Bay environment. Scarcely any children reached adulthood with just the care of their two parents and almost no one knew a grandparent. The exact opposite occurred in the New England area as in the Chesapeake area. In New England, propitious climates, clean water, and plumbing helped prevent the spread of disease. As a result, it was not unusual for New Englanders to live to the age of seventy. The settlers who came to New England migrated to the New World with their families, allowing the family to stay in tact and remain the center of New England life. The lifestyles of the two regions differed immensely. Life in New England well surpassed life in the Chesapeake Bay in almost every aspect.
The New England and Chesapeake Bay regions differed clearly in many different ways. These differences included religion, economy, and population. The New England colonists were trying to find a more suitable land of opportunity where they could better their lives and use New England's religious freedom. They wanted to create a society where they could focus on their family and religion; whereas the Chesapeake Bay colonists were hoping to "strike it rich" in the New World with the various industries that this region offered. The New Englanders led "easy-going" lives tending to their families and farms. They had very little to worry about and were very happy and healthy; whereas the colonists of the Chesapeake Bay led harder lives, growing tobacco and living in an unhealthy atmosphere. It is now clear that these factors contributed to the contrasting societies of the Chesapeake Bay and New England colonies.