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The Difference getween Chesapeak and New England Religion

Both New England and the Chesapeake regions were settled predominantly by people of English ancestry, but by 1700 the areas had evolved into two distinct societies. This divergence was a result of numerous factors including the notion of communion and family, the motivation of settlements, and the eminence of God and religion. These aspects influenced the lives of the colonists and determined their actions as well.

The primary reason for diversity within the two societies is attributed to the perception of family. In New England, it was viewed as essential to the growth and development of colonies. For example, though social classes and other imbalances occurred, John Winthrop stated:

We must be knit together in this work as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience, and liberality. (Document A)

This passage presents the general outlook of New England colonists towards family. Existing as a unified community of brotherhood allows for the virtue of peace. The ideal colony served as a test by God which required subservience as well as integrity in order to maintain his guidance. Equality prevails itself within Document E, as the purpose of a mutual community is supported by accepting moderate revenues in return for the priority of God and the public good. On the other hand, there was no indication of family in the Chesapeake region. Document G symbolizes the incapability of trust and the separation of class, for there was absolutely no entity of a community that would faithfully defend its home during war when servants were so copious. Both indentured servitude and slavery arose in the Southern colonies due to the lack of family. Family members were willing to labor for the benefit of relatives, whereas slaves and servants were hired to compensate for reluctant individuals who had no responsibility besides themselves. The selfishness of colonists in the Chesapeake region directly contrasted with the family oriented society of the New England region.

The motivation of each settlement varied from region to region. Document D emphasized the incentive of New England colonies in that the first article of agreement was to obtain a worthy minister. In this regard, Chesapeake colonies differed; New England colonies were founded exclusively for religious toleration. Prime examples consist of the Plymouth Colony settled by Separatist Puritans in 1620 and the Massachusetts Bay colony settled by Reformist Puritans in 1630. However, other religious beliefs were bountiful in New England, and many prominent figures established colonies based on religious freedom including Roger Williams, Ann Hutchinson, and Thomas Hooker. Conversely, colonies around Virginia were instituted by joint-stock companies for the sole purpose of profit; mercantilism was their main objective. Therefore, colonies fluctuated greatly in this respect.

Another significant explanation of evolution between the two regions involves God and religion. New England colonists worshipped God by attaining religious freedom and structured their lives to revolve around religion. In John Smiths History of Virginia described in Document F, a sense of dismay and desperation appears to have taken hold of the colonists. This may have been a result of the monotonous realization that they had no concrete hope through faith. Rather than a focus on God, the attention was aimed at themselves. Most notable is the occurrence of Bacons rebellion and where it stemmed from. Originating in a place of no community, this major conflict between social classes represents incongruity. While there was more of an emphasis on equality under God in the New England colonies, the colonies in the Chesapeake region manifested a profound schism between social ranks, as expressed in Document H. Conclusively, colonists in the Chesapeake region did not view God with as much reverence as colonists in New England.

At the conclusion of the 17th century, two vastly unique societies had matured independently. In the north, New England provided a refuge for religious toleration, a new home for immigrant families, and a fervent belief in god. On the contrary, in the south, the Chesapeake region was an egotistic, godless society for individuals seeking money and a nether world for slaves. Consequently, slight variations in certain customs can lead to completely opposite forms of society.

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