American Settlement vs. Virginia Settlement





American Settlement vs. Virginia Settlement

One of the main reasons for the diversity of the American society arises from the early settlements during the colonial era. During the 17th and 18th centuries, various foreign communities began settling in America for various reasons. For some, the slave trade proved to be the main reason for their migration. For instance, most of the Southern colonies comprised African American settlements especially after the advent of the slave trade specifically in the 17th century. Additionally, the settlements in the Northern colonies mainly comprised English settlers pursuing religious freedom. This is in accordance to the intolerance of religious practices throughout Europe. Settlements such as New England, Plymouth, Jamestown and Massachusetts Bay Colony comprised mainly English settlers pursuing religious liberty. Thus, a comparison of the English settlement in Massachusetts from the settlements in Virginia will consider factors such as religious influence, economics and relations with Native Americans.

Religious Influence

Religious influence was a similar factor in both settlements. In the English settlements within Massachusetts, most of the English settlers in the area pursued religious freedom. At that time, there was widespread religious persecution in Europe. In Britain, church organization such as the Church of England as well as the Crown’s authorities persecuted the Puritans. The Puritans usually questioned the structure of the Church of England thus leading to their discrimination. This motivated many people to flee England as well as Europe to flee and inhabit countries that would facilitate the practice of their religions. This was also similar for English settlements in Virginia (Carnes & Garraty 35). For instance, the Pilgrims settled in Virginia based on its religious tolerance. The Pilgrims comprised a group of Protestants situated in Netherlands and England. They also faced religious persecution similarly as the Puritans due to their religious views. There was also a contrast between English settlements in Massachusetts and Virginian Settlements.

The English settlers of Virginia upheld different religious beliefs from the English settlers in Massachusetts. For instance, in Jamestown colony, most of the settlers were members of the Church of England. However, in Massachusetts, most of the English settlers were from the Puritan and Pilgrim sects. Their settlement in Massachusetts Bay Colony influenced the origination of more colonies of New England (Carnes & Garraty 43). Additionally, the Puritans were deeply conservative. This is evident based on the persecution and murder of individuals who did not express Puritan perspectives. Furthermore, the Puritans, just like the Pilgrims, were dissenters of the Church of England. They despised the organization’s hierarchical structure and sought to establish their own church. Their settlement in the New England colonies saw them establish the Congregational or Puritan Church.


Economic motivations were however dissimilar for both settlements. For Virginia, the English settlers were profit-oriented and possessed large plantations. These plantations mostly grew tobacco, which enabled Virginia to possess a thriving export economy at that time. However, the English settlers in Massachusetts had different economic incentives from the settlers in Virginia. This is according to the different practices they upheld to ensure economic survival. Most of the settlers in Massachusetts, due to the Puritan influence, practiced subsistence farming (Carnes & Garraty 44). Most of the crops that the Puritan and Pilgrim settlers grew were provisions for the families settling within the area. Nonetheless, the settlements in Massachusetts possessed greater economic standings than those in Virginia. For instance, the Massachusetts Bay Colony possessed greater economic stability than most New England colonies. This was due to the consistent increase of a prosperous merchant class as well as an increase in suitable harbor facilities within the settlements. Additionally, the practice of logging and fishing other than agriculture in the Massachusetts area led to considerable economic prosperity in these settlements.

Relations with Native Americans

The settlers in Virginia settled in territories that possessed a considerable amount of Indians. Areas such as Jamestown possessed a sturdy Indian empire. Thus, the relations between the English settlers and the Powhatan Indians at that time achieved futile results. The significant disparities especially in viewpoints, culture as well the desire to dominate native tribes by the English were difficult to overcome. Furthermore, the relations between the Virginia settlers and the Native Americans further destabilized based on the 1622 Indian revolt. The revolution began as an attempt by the English settlers to Christianize the native tribes within the area. However, relations with Native Americans were stable in Massachusetts (Carnes & Garraty 53).

The influx of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts and their settlement in Plymouth allowed them to have friendly associations with the native tribes. Their relations were extremely fair to the point that the natives actually assisted the settlers by providing them with food and medicine. However, the Puritan settlement did not possess any good relations with the natives since they could not accept any religious views that were different from theirs. By 1636, the relations between the natives and the settlers ended when the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay Colony instigated war against the Pequot Tribe forcing Plymouth to intervene (Carnes & Garraty 56).

In conclusion, various reasons facilitated the settlement of the English in colonial America. During the 17th and 18th centuries, most English settlers came to the New World for religious freedom. Sects such as the Pilgrims and Puritans dissented from the Church of England due to continued persecution. The settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts also possessed implications on relations with the Native Americans as well as America’s economic prosperity.

















Works Cited

Carnes, C. Mark and John A. Garraty. American Destiny: Narrative of a Nation, vol. I, To 1877. New York: Longman/Penguin Academics, 2011. Print.


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