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In the 17th and 18th century, many English people sought after religious freedom and riches, so they migrated to North America, where they established different colonies to create better lives for themselves. Some colonies faced many struggles, while others were better off. British colonies differed from each other by the types of settlers, intent for the colonies, environment, and indigenous people encountered.
Between the late 16th and early 17th century, England's population grew twice its size due to the new nourishing American crops. With more people, came the higher demand for food and clothes, thus creating high inflation (Norton et al. 2-3a). There were also not enough jobs or land for the newly increased population. According to Norton et al., "Steady streams of the landless and homeless filled the streets and highways". With that said, the rich did not like how things were going and said that Britain was way too crowded. They believed that better opportunities awaited them in America. Everyone thought that there was plenty of land available for the taking in America as well (Norton et al. 2-3a). With these recent economic changes, came a religious transformation.
The English reformation started when Henry VIII wasn't granted a divorce by the Pope. He decided to leave the Roman Catholic Church to create the Church of England. He originally did this so he could get a divorce from his wife because she gave birth to a daughter instead of a son. He wanted a King to rule after him, not a Queen (Norton 2-3b). The Church of England
collected a lot of taxes, which upset many of the other Christian religions (Norton 2-3d). These would include the Puritans, Separatists, and Presbyterians. The Church soon tried to conform the people of England. No one wanted to be prosecuted for their different religious beliefs so they fled to America for religious freedom (Norton 2-3d).
The settlers that came to the Southern colonies were wealthy, merchants, and gentry (Hollitz 17). The southern colonies included Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The people in the South were mostly Anglican or Catholic, but unlike the settlers in the middle and northern colonies, the southern colonists were not that interested in converting the Natives to Christianity; they were focused on making a profit (Hagen, trexxpublishing.wordpress.com).
Some of the northern colonies were Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. The North was colonized by the Puritans. The Puritans were a group of radical English Protestants that wanted to purify the Church of England. They also wanted to be able to practice their religion freely without people trying to convert them, so they moved to America, specifically to the North.
At first, the middle colonies were called New Netherlands because they were originally founded by the Dutch, but the British took over in the early 18th century. The middle colonies consisted of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. After the British crown took over New Netherlands, it was founded by the Quakers. The Quakers believed that there should be equality for all. They were originally in the North with the Puritans, but soon colonized in the middle region because they faced scrutiny over their religious views (Hagen
trexxpublishing.wordpress.com). Some of their views were the total opposite of the Puritans, and they were beaten and unfairly treated because of this (Hagen trexxpublishing.wordpress.com). After being founded by the Quakers, many people of other religions such as the Lutherans, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Orthodox, Calvinists, and Presbyterians joined in the colonization process ("The Middle Colonies"). The middle colonies became a melting pot and took on different qualities of the northern and southern regions.
At first the colonists in the South were mainly attracted to finding gold, but that ended fairly quickly. The realization that the colonists had to be able to support themselves in order to survive eventually kicked in (Searle helium.com). People of the South were looking to make a profit, and according to Searle, "they did find rice, tobacco, and cotton to be profitable exports". The most popular of the three at the time was tobacco. For the colonists that owned big plantations, life was easy, but for those that didn't own that much land, life was horrible (Searle helium.com). The owners of the plantations made a lot of money off of their slaves and tobacco, while the small land owners had a hard time staying alive (Searle helium.com). The South was focused on harvesting, which was different than the North.
The Puritans in the northern colonies were mainly focused on religion. Their whole lives revolved around their religion. According to Norton et al., "many devoted themselves to self- examination and Bible study, and families often prayed together each day under the guidance of the husband and father". If you didn't practice religion the same as the Puritans, you were looked down upon and sometimes even beaten. Even though the Puritans' primary focus was religion,
they did trade and manufacture goods (Hagen trexx.wordpress.com). Some of these goods included ships, fish, and lumber.
The Quakers came to the middle region to escape the scrutiny they received in the North. They were excepting of others, which was good because they middle colonies were filled with many different religions. Everyone tolerated each other because no one was in control of the others ("The Middle Colonies"). At first, most of the focus was put on religion. Later, the settlers became interested in profit, like the south. The middle region produced goods such as wheat, corn, and tobacco.
Whatever was produced in each region was largely dependent upon their environments. In the South, the climate was much hotter and had richer soil, leading to their incredible farming abilities. In the North, the soil was unfit for agriculture, which is why their economy was based on their industrial business. The middle region was a mixture of both the North and the South because it had rich soil for farming, but also traded and created goods ("Economic Differences Between the Northern & Southern Colonies").
Even though the South was flourishing with the tobacco business, the colonists had a hostile relationship with the indigenous people there. When the colonists first came to the south, they encountered the Powhatans, and then later they met the Algonquians. The Powhatans and the colonists agreed to a peace treaty (Hollitz 17). In return the Powhatans wanted items that would make them more advanced than the neighboring tribes (Hollitz 17). The relationships that the southern settlers had with Powhatans started off okay, but soon grew bad. According to Hollitz, "the fragile relationship soon foundered on mutual mistrust". The trust between the two
faltered because neither was able to rule over the other, thus leading to the colonists kidnapping the chief's daughter, Pocahontas.
With the Algonquians, the exchange between the southern colonists and them were hostile because of cultural differences. For instance, Native men didn't do agricultural work, while English men did. Even their views on property ownership were seen as a major problem. The English thought that they were superior to the Algonquians, so they constantly showed disrespect towards them (Hollitz 18).
In the North, the colonists initially had a very peaceful relationship with the Natives. When the settlers came across the Pokanets, they signed a peace treaty. The natives provided the colonists with food in return for certain items (Norton et al. 2-6d). The Pokanets helped keep the colonists in the North alive.
In the middle region, the colonists had a relatively peaceful relationship with Iroquois. The Quakers thought that it was imperative to have a good relationship with Natives ("The Middle Colonies").
In conclusion, there were many differences between the British colonies based on which region they were in. As the colonies develop over time, the many differences between them may prevent the colonists from coming together in a united front to fight a common cause. If everyone has views that clash, then how can they agree on anything? When conflict comes in to play, the colonists will have to put their contrasting ideas on the backburner and fight for their independence.