The Role of Religion Was the Big Part of the Shaping and Growth of the Colonial Life in North America
APUSH Essay Throughout history, the role of religion was the big part of the shaping and growth of the colonial life in North America. Europeans had begun to settle in these American colonies for many reasons. One major reason for their settlements was to gain their freedom from religious persecution. Though as the Europeans came over, they were not very open to any other religions. New England and the Chesapeake are two main regions that had colony religion help shape their development.
Though they differed in the amount of importance of other religions and how much it came to effect their own government and how they handled it, each region had the same goal, to leave Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. New England was north of the Chesapeake and was settled by Puritans, a group of English Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries supported strict religious discipline, in the early 1600’s . The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established “as plantations of religion”.
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The Massachusetts Bay Colony , Plymouth, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Haven were also included in the colonies of New England. The New England colonies took the role of religion very seriously. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the most serious colony. The puritans that came to America from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, came to America to get away from the problems growing in the Church of England. Strict rules to obey the puritan religion were made and they faced the penalty’s of being fined, banished, whipped, or even imprisoned.
Also in Massachusetts, in order to take part in office it was required that you must follow the puritan faith. Rhode Island though, opposite from Massachusetts Bay , had religious freedom. Connecticut followed an Orthodox Puritans belief. An Orthodox Puritans belief meant that people had to obey laws provided for a “Christian Common Wealth”. New Hampshire was Puritan based and Maine had many scattered settlements. The different viewings of the Puritan ideals, was what helped shaped the development throughout the New England colony. In New England, Religion was a lot more important than it was in the
Chesapeake area. The Chesapeake area was much more tolerant, they didn’t have a defined religion that shaped the development of the colony. The people of the Chesapeake colony had very little spiritual motivation , they were actually a lot more Atheists in the Chesapeake because of the low life expectancy, this caused people to not believe in God as a savior. They believe that not having a spiritual motivation helped them to ensure prosperity. The Chesapeake region of the colonies included Virginia, Maryland, the New Jerseys and Pennsylvania.
Chesapeake was founded for one main reason, and that was to mine for gold. New England had been more family oriented, whereas in the Chesapeake was mostly business type men who came over to explore the new world. These settlers had the hopes of finding gold, silver, a northwest passage to Asia, a cure for syphilis, or any other valuables they might take back to Europe and make a profit off it. When gold and other valuables weren’t being found, tobacco was found and replaced gold. With the findings of this new product tobacco, it led to an increase of economic demand throughout the world.
The increase of economic demand for tobacco had no effect on the lack of religion that shaped the development of the Chesapeake colony. Clearly, both the Chesapeake and the New England regions did differ in many ways. Some of these differences were in population, religion, and economy. But also these differences were the cause of every aspect of the society. Each colony was able to develop from one initial difference between the two. But both colonist had the same idea in mind in developing these colonies and that is the ideals held by the groups to create contrasting societies.
The fortune seeking economists and the lack spiritual motivation of the people of Chesapeake helped them to create a society based around this ideal and helped them to ensure prosperity for their entire community. The New Englanders, looking for religious freedom, were able to create a very different society centered around a very different ideal of religion and not of economic gain. It because of these motives that the Chesapeake and the New England regions of the New World were able to shape and develop.