Throughout the seventeenth century, the English evolved into two distinct societies within the northern New England area and southern Chesapeake region. These territories contained inhabitants that were different economically, religiously, and in overall living conditions. The grounds for these distinct developments were mostly based on the type of people that came from England and the lifestyle they wanted, adapted, or were forced to live.
In the vicinity of the New England and Chesapeake region, the first differentiating quality that they had was in economics. Economically, New England had agriculture in a more diverse kind. Although agriculture continued to dominate in the New England area, it was less favorable there than in the south. The combination of hard and rocky soil along with cold weather conditions made it complicated for farming to become a main source commercial farming system, as seen in the south. To compensate, New Englanders engaged in home industries. Intermittently, these home industries provided surplus goods that one may sell or trade.
Colonists worked at home as cobblers, blacksmiths, silversmiths, cabinetmakers, and printers. Some people harnessed the power of water to run small mills for grinding grain, making clothes, or processing lumber. Shipbuilding operations and ironworks also began to blossom in New England during this period. In the Chesapeake region, economics were primarily focused on farming cash crops. Fertile soil and clement weather supported the production of farming. Planters cultivated Indigo and Rice but the main source was all in thanks to Tobacco. Tobacco played a major role as it was the foundation of the southern economies success. Strong European demand for Tobacco made many farmers wealthy and several prospered. In Georgia and South Carolina, rice production under the radiating sun in knee deep mud motivated the white laborers to quit. As a result, planters took advantage of African slaves for labor and found it to be more economical and effective to get the job done.
Religious influences and objectives also differed amid these two regions. New England was a safe haven for religious tolerance; people living their religious beliefs openly. People who immigrated to the Chesapeake region had no religious motives. As a result, New England shaped a much more religious culture than the Chesapeake region. John Winthrop affirmed in 1630 that their goal was to create “a city upon a hill,” which symbolized a “pure” community, where Christianity would be practiced in the most correct manner. Equally, the Pilgrims and the Puritans were very religious people. In both cases, the local government was controlled by the same people who controlled the church, and the bible was the center for all laws and regulations. In the Chesapeake region, almost everything was exactly opposite of New England. The immigrants were not idealists, but materialists, most of whom for the most part wanted money.
Living conditions also varied in the contrasting regions of New England and Chesapeake. In Virginia and Maryland, scorching hot and humid summers assisted the spread of diseases. Water carried typhoid, cholera, and dysentery. Mosquitoes spread malaria. In addition, water from the James River was detrimental to ones health as drinking water because its high salinity damaged metabolism and occasionally killed settlers. By the mid-seventeenth century, approximately 40 percent of indentured servants in Virginia and Maryland had died prior to earning their freedom. At age 20, an inhabitant of the Chesapeake could expect to live only 20 more years. On the contrary, New England’s winters killed many pathogens, sparing New Englanders from the vigorous diseases that plagued the residents of the Chesapeake. Additionally, the modest labor requirements of agriculture in New England secured farmers from the devastating fatigue that plagued indentured servants and slaves in the Chesapeake. Consequently, at age 20, a New Englander may possibly live 40 more years.
As a result of these differences, two totally different types of people formed in New England and in the Chesapeake region during the seventeenth century. New Englanders were faithful followers of church teaching, had a diversified economy, and lived a healthier life. The southerners of Chesapeake became independent citizens, with the capability to organize and the will to fight to get what they wanted.