Today, the United States of America is a very racially and religiously diverse society. We saw the seeds of diversity being sown in the early days of colonization when the Chesapeake and New England colonies grew into distinctive societies. Even though both regions were primarily English, they had similarities as well as striking differences. The differentiating characteristics among the Chesapeake and New England colonies developed due to geography, religion, and motives for colonial expansion. Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay area, was not interested in long-term colonization in America.
Most emigrants bound for Virginia were young males, only a handful of women came across the Atlantic to the Chesapeake colonies. At this time, men out numbered women 5 to 1, later this ratio only reached 5 to 2. Because of the shortage of women, 70% of Chesapeake men never married. Thus not producing any children to add to the colonys population. In 1607 the English were originally looking for gold, and silver, they also wished to find the cure for syphilis and the western passage to India. After additional people had arrived in 1609, nearly 80% of Jamestowns population had died.
John Smith referred to Jamestown as a misery, a ruin, a death, a hell, then the colony started producing and exporting tobacco. King James comment to this was, no one can build a colony on smoke, but Jamestown did. In 1640, Jamestown began to export three million pounds of tobacco to England annually. This number grew considerably in 1660, when Jamestown was exporting over ten million pounds to England annually. To cultivate these tobacco crops the Chesapeake Bay colonist utilized slave labor, and the use of indentured servants.
The use of indentured servants soon died out when Virginia, forbid the whipping of white servants. In the Chesapeake colonies, religion was not as strict as in New England. In these colonies there were a number of small optional religions, this was very different than the ways of the New England colonies. Unlike the Chesapeake, the New England colonies were greatly interested in their long-term colonization efforts. A man by the name of John Winthrop led the Puritans, which composed the New England colonies. He believed that their colony was a city on the hill, as described in the book of Matthew.
The Puritans were a fervent religious colony, where the church was never disputed. There were some historical cases when the Puritan people would speak out and therefore speak out against the church; the story of Anne Hutchinson was just such a case. She held weekly meetings in her home where her and her husband would interpret the bible for their followers. In addition she noted that not all the clergy would be saved and attacked many of their teachings. She was banished and took her husband and seven kids to Road Island where religion was not as strict.
The New England colonies survived on exporting lumber, grain and the production of ships. The Puritans wanted to be the model society; they did not realized that being a city on a hill would not prevent them from an attack by their own people, this is what happened during the Salem witch trials. Suddenly, people were accusing everyone that did not completely agree with the Puritan beliefs. One of the accused was Mary Dyer; she was tried for heresy and hung in the gallows. Look how she hangs like a flag, exclaimed one of her fellow colonists.
Another Puritan, Roger Williams was not afraid to voice what changes he thought needed to be made. Williams ideas were to buy the land from the Natives rather than take it, he proposed separation of church and state, and he thought that, forced religion stinks in the nostrils of God, and wanted to break away from the Anglican Church of England. For his intolerable behavior he was banished, as Anne Hutchinson did, he went to Road Island. The differences between the Chesapeake Bay colony and the New England colonies were very obvious.
While New England was a royal colony, that put enormous emphasis on the Puritan religion, the Chesapeake Bay colonies were propriety colonies who were Anglican but did not put as much emphasis on their religion. New England wanted to settle in America, while the Bay colonies were searching for riches and the western passage to India. The only similarity between these two colonies was that they were both destroyed by problems with in their own colonies. Both colonies were different in many ways; they were two distinct societies that had spawn from a common original country.