ENGLISH COLONIES 7
TheThirteen Colonies encompassed a group of regions under theBritish rule in the East Coast of North America. Colonization tookplace in the 17th and 18th centuries before the territories acquiredindependence in 1776 to form the United States. The thirteen regionshad similar constitutional and legal frameworks, with the ProtestantEnglish speakers dominating the settlements. The colonies remainedunder the Britain’s authority in the New World, which included themodern Canada and the Caribbean. The Thirteen states can besubdivided into four geographic regions, namely, the Southerncolonies, Chesapeake, New England and the Mid-AtlanticColonies. Each of the regions had distinct characteristics, rangingfrom socio-economic to political developments. Theaim of this paper is comparing and contrasting New England andSouthern territories.
Oneof the major reasons that led to the establishment of the New Englandterritory was a desire to achieve religious freedom. The Puritanswanted to establish a society that was basedon the principles that God wanted humans to observe. Religiousconflicts had drastically escalated, in England, by 1500s. King HenryVIII catalyzed the differences after he denounced the Rome CatholicChurch, and the English Parliament endorsed the new faith, which wasled by the king. The Puritans’ faith contrasted substantially withthat of the Church of England. The Separatistsleft their native land to establish ‘New England’ in the UnitedStates.
NewEngland was rich in fur trappings and forests. The region had poorfarmlands that were not conducive toagricultural activities. As such, the inhabitants engaged in otheractivities such as fishing, lumbering, and shipbuilding. The colonywas famous for enhancing trade with the European regions. One of thesignificant events was the ‘Triangular Trade’ that allowedslavery business to thrive in the West Indies. The commerce wasdubbed ‘triangular’ because the Britishsailors purchased slaves in Africa and then shipped them to NorthAmerica and West Indies to exchange them for sugar and rum1.
NewEngland political structure was democratic, but itwas guided by theocratic principles. The founders of theterritory were both Puritans and the Pilgrimsfrom England. The communities wanted to establish a society that isdesigned according to God’s principles for man. The Puritanswere the majority in the new settlements thereby, they successfullyestablished a religious based government. The Massachusetts’separatists originated with the contract known as “Mayflowercompact-first.” The document was acollection of regulations that guided theadministration in the colony. For instance, the constitution requiredpeople to gather at the town hall to elect leaders and solve otherleadership issues that required democratic approach.
Thepatterns of settlements were mainly influencedby the immigrants’ religion affiliation, as well as, one’s faith.The New Hampshire jurisdiction was establishedso that it could facilitate fishing and trading. However, theseparatists and Puritans founded the RhodeIsland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts with the intention ofachieving religious freedom.
Oneof the unique characteristics of the New England colony was theexistence of democracy. The residents were allowed to cast votes atthe town hall whenever there was a contentious issue, such asselection of a leader. Moreover, the colony was guided by a writtenconstitution. Finally, religious thoughts and academic knowledgeoriginated in the protectorate as the residents believed in observinga holy life.
TheSouthern Region was established to introduce competition in trade,agriculture and land acquisition. It consisted of the province ofMaryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. TheAmerican-Indian Tribes of Algonquin, Siounanand Iroquoian that inhabited the area were politically powerful. TheBritons chartered it to participate in the race for territorydominance, which was common in the 15th, 16thand 17th centuries. The Southern region became famous forits large number of slaves and cash crops.
Theeconomic activity turned out to be a major cause of socialdisparities. The plantation owners cultivated tobacco, indigo dye,and rice. The slaves provided cheap labor,and the few liberties they enjoyed did very little to improve theirconditions. The agricultural practice contrasted the lumbering andtrade activities in the New England. The landownersexploited the slaves who were economically and politically weak. Theyworked in the farms with very little compensation.2
Anotheressential nature of the Southern Territory was its heavy reliance oninternational markets for its products. The wealth accumulatedthrough exports triggered the need to expand the lands and increasethe market contribution. The competition for land that ensued betweenthe 15th and 17th centuries provoked themasters to expand their lands in efforts of remaining dominant. Toachieve the objective, the settlers confronted the nativeswith the intention of intimidating and compelling them to submittheir lands.3Waves of intolerance were common in the colony,and it bore unending conflicts.
Thesettlement pattern was discriminative since the slaves,and the masters could not share compounds. The plantation ownerslived in permanent establishments while the slave dwelled inconcentration camps. Unlike in the New England, where work wasrelatively simple, Slaves in the South were exploited and overworkedin the plantations.
Thefarming system was the primary cause of the sharp socialstratification. The rationale for this is that the influence oflandowners extended beyond their premises.They had a strong ascendancy on social matters. They passed favorablepolitical decisions for their localities without involving theirworkers or women. Consequently, the lawspassed tended to favor their interests while diminishing the statusof the laborers.4
Inthe Southern Territory, the political structure was not centralized.The mayors acted as the representative guides in law making. The menvoted for the legislations, and the womenand children adopted them. This was unlike in the New England thathad a centralized government that made regulations.5In New England, the representatives made rules and they wereuniformly enforced. Another difference in the political decisionsmade in the two regions was that the New England made religiousbound legislations. They applied toall the citizens dwelling in the territory. In the South, someinhabitants were Catholics while otherswere Anglicans. The political decisions could not bedivinely established.
TheSouth, just like the New England, had a distinct religious tradition.The Southerners went to churches whose architecture and decorationreflected the modern American churches and New England prayer houses.The inhabitants would congregate every Sunday, and as a result, themeeting centers became bustling commercial hubs. By 1630, Cecilius adCalvert had already established a haven in the Southern Territory forthe Roman Catholics persecuted in England. Although it was thedominant denomination in the region controlled by the two brothers,Anglican was made the official religion by the law. However, theSoutherners did not fully support their churches,and they sometimes went without ministers. In the early18th century,the Baptist and the Methodist wooed a large number of the citizens,particularly, the slaves and the disenfranchised.
Unlikethe Southern Territory, New England’s religion predominantlyconsisted of reformed Puritans. Also, the Churches in New Englandwere not uniformly distributed. They were builtin the major trade centers. There were only 18 churches to serve apopulation of 17,000 people.6 The Colonists in the New England enrolled a clergy that washighly educated on both social and theological matters. Thesociety, therefore, integrated the elements of Protestantism andpolitical structure.7The leaders in the territory believe that their authority was divine,and they enforced political laws religiously. The citizens whodeviated for the conventional rule were considered threats to thesocial order.
Inconclusion, New England and the Southern territory remainedinstrumental units of the British colony. The inhabitants of bothregions encouraged slave trade and exploitation of some natives.Also, they established a British political and social environment.However, the Southern Territory was rich in agriculture while the NewEngland was dominant in lumbering. Furthermore, the Puritan religiousbackground of the New England contrasted the Anglican and Catholicdenominations of the South. In both regions, the need for expansionand competition led to a fallout between the masters and the natives.
BBC.2014. “The Triangular Slave Trade.” Bitesize. AccessedJune 23,http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/history/industrial_era/the_slave_trade/revision/2/
Carnes,Mark C., and John A. Garraty.. The Americannation a history of the United States. Volume 1.15th ed. Boston: Pearson (2015).
Purvis,Thomas L. 1999. Colonial America to 1763. New York: Facts onFile.http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=229444.
1 BBC. 2014. “The Triangular Slave Trade.” Bitesize. Accessed June 23, http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/history/industrial_era/the_slave_trade/revision/2/
2 Purvis, Thomas L. 1999. Colonial America to 1763. New York
3 BBC. 2014
7 Carnes, Mark C., and John A. Garraty. The American nation a history of the United States. Volume 1. 15th ed. (Boston: Pearson, 2015) p21