From: Chris McAtee
Time: 3:25:40 AM
Remote Name: 22.214.171.124
Chris McAtee Prof. William Cutler History 67 Tue. & Thu. 8:40am – 10:00am
Week Three: Text Assignment
“What role did diversity play in the Middle Colonies? In New England?”
The social makeup of 17th century New England was comprised of many different people, but the rich nobility and the very poor were few in number during this time. In their native England, people who attained great wealth and position in life were assumed to be natural rulers, chosen by God to exercise political authority over others. Although some were rich, most of the early New England leaders never could have attained similar positions of authority in England. The majority of the settlers in New England were independent farmers working their own land. The opportunity to own and be responsible for one’s own piece of land was very appealing to some colonists who were used to dealing with landlords and other authorities. Adolescent children from both rich and poor families were often contracted into several years of servitude. This form of servitude however was not exploitive in any way; it was more of a training program for the young people of the community to learn skills, trades, and labor. A much wider variety of inhabitants are to be found in the societies of the Chesapeake Bay colonies. Here is in the north, wealth and riches came for few residents. The wealthiest tobacco farmers in the area were the ones that could acquire the most workers: white indentured servants, Native Americans, and African slaves. The greater majority of the people in this society were known as “freemen”; young men from England who agreed to work for a number of years in the New World in exchange for passage on a ship. Although they lived better here than they likely would have at home in England, most of the freemen were terribly poor in contrast to the rich gentry of the time. The life of the indentured servant was much more difficult in the Chesapeake area in contrast to life in the New England colonies. The geography of the land, the stress of work, and uncaring plantation owners made the lives of many indentured servants short and painful. At some point late in the 17th century, demographic shifts moved the rich English out of power and brought in Creoles who knew only the Chesapeake as their native land. A few testaments to the will of the Creole people were their increased use of slaves to further agricultural industries, the founding of William and Mary College, and the founding of the capital, Williamsburg.