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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Chesapeake and New England Settlements

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James Wadsworth, A PLAN OF THE TOWN OF NEW HAVEN WITH ALL THE BUILDINGS IN 1748 TAKEN BY THE HON. GEN. WADSWORTH OF DURHAM (1748). Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Creator Captain John Smith and an unknown author
Context Early in the seventeeth century, English colonies in North America were developing in different regions with different goals.
Audience Residents and officials of Jamestown and New Haven
Purpose To describe settlement

Historical Significance

The early colonists of the Chesapeake and New England differed in many respects. Those on the Chesapeake arrived earlier and settled in an area where the Powhatan (led by a leader of the same name) had formed a powerful nation. The English adventurers hoped to get rich quick and return to England—not cultivate the soil. They were not, by the standards of the day, particularly pious.

The Puritans who landed at Massachusetts Bay in 1630 desired to create a separate and holy commonwealth in what they called New England. They came to stay and to farm, and most of them came in families. Diseases had destroyed most of the indigenous peoples of the area, and the English settlements quickly spread. The Puritans were strict Calvinists who believed that in close-knit congregations church members could ward off sin and assist one another in daily life. Puritan leaders required people to live in families and towns so that they could build communities and attend church.

The first image is an artist's representation of the Chesapeake settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, the date of its settlement. The second is a map of a New England town (New Haven, Connecticut) in 1768.

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