Saturday, November 26, 2011

Characteristics of the Chesapeake

Each part of the New World was unique and each of what would later be the Thirteen English Colonies had their own characteristics.

1) Periodically, the Chesapeake was really violent, with many revolts and battles between the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan.

2) Because of the overproduction of tobacco, there were freqent boom/bust cycles.

3) Because more men came over to the New World seeking economic freedom and glory, the Chesapeake was extremely unequal when it came to the sexes.

4) There was an extreme wealth gap--the wealthy planters known as the Gentry were early arrivals who survived to transmit their wealth to the next generation. They were able to get the few English women and start families, they were able to buy laborers, they were able to get into politics, they lived on the favorable land near the coast, they were able to diversify into Indian trade, and they were able to make policies that benefitted the Gentry class. The poor got the crappy land in the backcountry, had no wife and no kids, and had no money to buy labor.

5) There were huge plantations on the coast and tiny hard-scrabble farms upriver because everyone needed water access to move good around.

6) There was very little to no "natural increase"--adult men died quickly in the 17th and 18th centuries. The women lived longer and would marry multiple times, amassing comfortable fortunes.

7) Immigration is how the population builds.

8) The settlers were not at all religious--there were no missionaries and very few churches.

9) Racial inequality grows between the 1640s-1670s due to indentured servitude and the start of African slavery.

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