Many of colonies resulted from European expansion; perhaps the two most talked about would be the colonies in Virginia and Massachusetts. Each colony was unique in its own way, but similarities between the two were also apparent. These similarities and differences helped shape what would eventually become the “North” and “South” during the Civil War. The English settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts were both established in the early 1600s but the reason why and how they were established differed tremendously.
The first permanent English settlement began in the Chesapeake Bay area in 1607 (Reich, 2011, p. 59) and in Massachusetts in 1620 (Reich, 2011, p. 69). Each settlement encountered the Native American people once they landed in their respective area, but each handled the situation a little differently. The Puritans knew that it would be in the best interest of the colony to watch and interact with the Native Americans. The settlers could learn new ways to plant fields and harvest food from the Native Americans. These skills would be essential to survive in this new environment.
Puritans never treated the Native Americans as equals but understood the importance of a good relationship with them (Nash, 2010 pp. 75-79). The Virginia colony saw the Native Americans as an obstacle and a threat to the profit in which they came to Americas to pursue. This resentment would lead to many battles for land, food and resources. Neither of the colonies capable of accepting the Native American people as equals. This bias towards other races was even more evident in the Virginia colonies once indentured servants and slaves started to come over to work the tobacco fields (Nash, 2010, pp. 3-58). Virginia began as a misguided business venture of 144 colonists. The major focus of the Virginia colony was to bring back profit to the investors back in England. In the beginning, the Virginia colony struggled due to only being concerned with finding of gold and other profitable goods. The gold was nowhere to be found and the settlers were dying off quicker than they were being brought over. The people needed to find something that could help them survive as a colony. That savior would come in the form of tobacco.
The introduction of tobacco was the most important catalyst that led to the success of the colony, but the introduction of tobacco brought on another issue. The settlers would now need to find a source of labor. The colonists had never done manual labor like this in their entire life. The source of labor came in the form of indentured servants and slaves. Eventually, Virginia was transformed into a slave-based tobacco colony where slaves were traded freely, white families owned large parcels of land, and where a wealthy and stable planter-slaveholder class provided much of the leadership for the colony (Reich, 2011, pp. 9-64). The Puritans took a different approach to labor. The Puritans came over as whole families and sometimes even a whole church congregation. The fact that most of the colony was made up of families and close knit church groups helped the colony succeed. The family would be large enough to tend to the land and the eldest male in the house would be the supervisor. This approach of tending to land would help minimize the need for indentured servants and slaves in the area. The settlers quickly adapted to the area and started to spread out in the search of more land to be acquired.
The colony would eventually turn into a hierarchal system where family wealth, land ownership and religious status decided your place in the colony (Nash, 2011, pp. 70-73). The New England colony started off as a group of people seeking religious freedoms from England. They wanted to reform the Church of England, not abandon it. The Puritans were not so lenient on this same matter once they had arrived in Massachusetts. The people of the settlement were to adhere strictly to Puritan ways. Any person found not to be practicing the Puritan way would be banished.
The Puritans also made Native American religion illegal and convinced many to convert to Christianity (Nash, 2011, pp 74-75). The Virginia colony went about the religion in a whole different way. They declared the Anglican Church as the head church. They also tolerated other religions to be practiced within the colony (Reich, 2010, pp. 49-51). Each of the colonies continued to head in the direction for which they were started for in the first place. The “Northern” colony was trying to escape the religious persecution of England. The settlers left their homeland in order to find a better life.
They were able to have land here and govern themselves however they saw fit. The “Southern” colony continued to be solely about the money and profit. The Southern colony would continue to do whatever it took to generate profits. They even resorted to enslaving am entire race of people to achieve this financial success. When it came to the governing of the colony the saying, “Money equals power” was very true. Only the richest landowners had a say in political matters. These differences in views would eventually lead to a Civil War that separated America into the North and South.