This essay Colonization has a total of 1452 words and 12 pages.
Although New England and the Chesapeake regions were settled largely by people of English origin, by
1700 the regions had evolved into two distinct societies. I have described both societies in an attempt to
demonstrate their developments.
In 1607 a group of merchants established England’s first permanent colony in North America at
Jamestown, Virginia. They operated as a joint-stock company that allowed them to sell shares of stock in
their company and use the pooled investment capital to outfit and supply overseas expeditions. This joint
stock company operated under a charter from James I with a concern for bringing Christian religion to the
native people. However, most of the settlers probably agreed with Captain John Smith that the real aim
was profit rather than religion.
Profits were elusive in the early years; expectations of gold and other minerals, trade with Indians for
beaver and deer skins were not to be had by the colonists. Many Virginia colonists died of dysentery,
malaria and malnutrition. The Virginia Company sent a diverse collection of people to Jamestown; there
were artists and glassmakers, as well as unskilled servants. Both types of people adapted poorly to the
wilderness conditions. Relations between the colonists and the Indians were bitter from the beginning.
John Smith dealt with the Indians by shows of force and the Indians withdrew trade with the English.
Many settlers died of starvation in the first years.
The discovery that tobacco would grow in the Chesapeake region was a salvation for Virginia. The planters
shipped the first crop in 1617 and thereafter tobacco cultivation spread rapidly. By 1624, Virginia was
exporting 200,000 pounds of tobacco; by 1638 the crop exceeded 3 million pounds.
The cultivation of tobacco caused Virginia’s planters to find a reliable supply of cheap labor. To fill this
need, planters recruited immigrants from various countries. These immigrants were called indentured
servants. They willingly sold a portion of their working lives in exchange for free passage across the
Atlantic ocean. Many of the indentured servants were unemployed and held the lower class on the social
ladder from their places of origin.
Life for indentured servants was often a nightmare. If diseases did not kill them, many succumbed to the
brutal work routine that harsh masters imposed upon them. When the remaining servants neared the end of
their contract, masters would find ways to add time to the contracts.
The profitable tobacco crops created an intense demand for land. As more and more colonists settled along
the rivers that flowed in Chesapeake Bay, the local Indian tribes retaliated. The murder of an Indian
captain triggered a fierce Indian assault that dealt a staggering blow to Virginia. This attack led to the
bankruptcy of the Virginia Company. The surviving planters felt they had justified reasons for the
destruction of the Indians. As more settlers arrived, more pressure was placed on the Indians for land.
Wars over land was provoked in 1644 and again in 1675. In each of these conflicts, the colonizers were
victorious. The native population of Virginia was reduced to less than 1,000 by 1680.
Immigrants to the Chesapeake Bay region found existence difficult. Many immigrants arrived as
indentured servants and could not marry until their time was paid. Once marriage was made, diseases
claimed many within about seven years. Few children growing up could expect to have both parents alive.
Widows and widowers often remarried soon after the death of their spouse, creating a complex web of
family life. Because of mortality, the Chesapeake settlers remained, for most of the seventeenth-century, a
land of immigrants rather than a land of settled families. Social institutions such as churches and schools
took root very slowly.
The Chesapeake region architecture showed the fragility of life in the tobacco growing environment.
Settlers at first built primitive huts and shanties. After establishing crops, planters improved their habitats
but still built ramshackle one-room dwellings. Even as Virginia and Maryland matured, cheaply built and
cramped houses remained the norm. Life was too uncertain and the tobacco economy was too volatile.
Massachusetts Bay Colony
While some English settlers scrambled for wealth on the Chesapeake, others were seized by the spirit of
religion. These individuals were known as Puritans. They aimed their efforts at reforming the corrupt new
land. They wanted the
Topics Related to Colonization
Thirteen Colonies, English colonization of the Americas, James River, Colony of Virginia, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Puritans, Jamestown, Virginia, Colonial South and the Chesapeake, Colonial history of the United States
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