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Colonial Comparison


Submitted By michaelmenendez
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Compare and Contrast America has always been a land of diversity but also a land of unity. This statement also applied to the first English settlements that were established here in North America. In the beginning years of America, the colonies could be divided into three regional areas: New England colonies, middle colonies and the southern colonies. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island comprised the northern colonies; New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania made up the middle colonies; and Virginia, Maryland, Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia composed the southern colonies. These three colonial areas had both similarities and differences that will be analyzed in respects to their economic base, political structures, and attitudes toward slavery established in these three regional areas throughout this essay.

Although many different types of Europeans founded the colonies throughout the eastern seaboard they were some similarities as to how they were established and how they made their economic bases. Throughout the Norton text I’ve noticed that all of the colonies were established through some sort of business enterprise, whether it was through the Massachusetts Bay Company, or the Virginia Company, or even a lone entrepreneur, looking to make a fortune for them. These businesses were all expected to turn a profit, some of them did and some of them didn’t. However all of the hard work that was done and all of the profit made usually went back to owners of these companies like the Massachusetts Bay Company and the Virginia Company or the profits went to the King of England or to the individual entrepreneur. Another benefactor in having the colonies established on the eastern seaboard is the easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of the world.

The colonies were also a part of the global trade economy as the colonies slowly became some of the best producers of agriculture and tobacco products, due mainly to the climate for that geographical area. This in turn allowed farmers to offer such fine agricultural and tobacco products to the global trade system which the colonies relied on. However all these goods that came and went across the world was mainly produced by indentured servants or enslaved Africans and African Americans.

The three regions of colonies; the New England, middle and southern colonies heavily relied on slavery, and indentured servants to help promote and continue the economic growth of the colonies and eventually America. Indentured servants were “young men and women, usually unemployed and poor, who were given free passage to America, plus basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing, in exchange for labor, usually four to seven years” (Norton 41). These were laborers that were in high demand due to the quick growing economic scene in the colonies. African’s and African slaves were considered property and used as laborers for especially in the southern and middle colonies on plantations and farms. Although slaves would cost more than indentured servants, they were still more valuable because they become property of the owner till they died. The colonists established a sense of racial and cultural superiority to slaves that resulted in the evolution and creation of racism; that is still a heavily debated and problematic issue that still afflicts our great nation today.

The three regions of colonies all had very comparable similarities, as they were all democratic; however they ran their democratic government in different ways. The Middle Colonies felt that they needed their government to be separated from their church. The New England Colonies, however were quite opposite from the middle colonies because they functioned their government on a system in which priests ruled in the name of God or a god, which means the church, controlled the government. However all of these regions still were largely dependent of England.

The Southern Colonies were the least concerned with government since the southern colonies mainly comprised of a small group of people having a firm control over the region. This meant that the wealthy plantation owners controlled the government because they were the only people who could afford to pay for all their own expenses. Even though the three colonies were all self-ruled, they all had distinguishing features. Politics in the colonies varied as much as their religious choice. Northern colonies were governed largely by the Puritans. Middle colonies were ruled by British monarchy, with the exception of Pennsylvania and Southern colonies had some of the oldest legislative bodies in America.

All of these three regions were very similar to how they conducted themselves to prosper in a new world and very different as to how they established themselves in these regions on a social level. Some regions were established solely on the idea to the pursuit of religious freedom like the New England colonies where a largely Puritan Separatists population was established. The middle colonies pulled both from Southern and Northern philosophies incorporating both freedom of religion and economic agricultural farming which suited there climate in that geographical location. The southern colonies primarily was established on its ability to create successful plantations and agricultural products, putting religious on the back burner and focusing the foundation of their society on a class system that was very similar to European social standards where you had an upper, middle and lower class.

In an overall overview of the similarities and differences between the three categorized regions of the New England or Northern colonies, the middle colonies and the southern colonies you establish that a majority of the population was there for religious freedom and economic prosperity to break the class system. With the establishment of slavery and indentured servants economic growth was able to be achieved in a timely manner, due largely to the endless back breaking labor of the servants and slaves.

Although the political and economic environments in these three regions was somewhat different, yet very similar there was still this overall shared English heritage amongst the colonists. Eventually this heritage would be traded in for American Heritage with the start of the revolutionary war. The major similarities between all three of these colonial regions were to be able to pursue religious freedom, as well as the need to govern themselves without excessive taxation and no representation. The only difference is how they went about establishing these ideals amongst the colonies and eventually states. This eventually led to the states joining all together, and banding under one declaration of independence and one United States constitution.

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