New England and Southern Colonies: Comparison of Historical Struggles


Religion, population, and slavery are factors that define the differences in three colonial segments of America (Roark, 2008). Because of the differences of the people in each of the colonial segments, people in each of the regions were so different. The settlers from England were religious while those from other European countries did not regard religion highly hence the propagation of slavery. America was divided into three colonial regions; northern (New England), middle, and southern colonies.

Challenges faced by the New England and Southern Colonies

New England was made up of four colonies: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The population of people in New England was mainly of English origin. Africans who lived in New England were sold as slaves to other colonies. Slave trade was the main source of wealth among inhabitants of New England. There were forms of indentured servants who agreed to work for someone, for six to ten years, if they facilitated their journey to America. Religion in New England was strict.

Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, and South and North Carolina were America’s southern colonies (Ibid). The composition of the population in these colonies was largely made up of black people. The white population was diverse comprising English, Germans, Dutch and Irish. These colonies are different from the other of England’s 13 American colonies, in the sense that they are the states in which slave labor was highly exploited to support economic development. The growing of tobacco, indigo, rice, and plantation agriculture created a significant need of labor in these colonies. With the absence of farm machinery, human labor was needed for planting, cultivating, and harvesting the crops. The southern and the New England colonies both depended on agriculture for the growth of the economy

Despite these differences, the Southern and the New England colonies had similar challenges. The colonial era was marked by changing conditions. The older colonies both in the north and in the south were undergoing changes in institutions and ideas. They were struggling with the task of striking a balance between good ideals and common frailties of humanity. They had to deal with slavery and the lack of labor, shortages of food, lack of education institutions, and wider adoption of religion.

Response to Challenges

The colonies making up New England had majority of its population being Puritans (Roark, 2008). Puritans highly regarded education not only for learning the Bible but also for economic growth. Harvard University was built in 1636 in Massachusetts and later on a college was established in Virginia. Families also began to produce their own food. They planted crops in their field to feed their own families. Farming was expanded to include fish production and poultry farming. Also hunting for diverse sources of food was done in the new land. Animals such as rabbits and turkey became the new sources of food. Each member of the colonial family performed its responsibility as regards household chores.

Religion was also highly regarded in the New England due to the influence of puritans ho were dominant. Farming was also intensified in the New England colonies. Tobacco, cotton, and indigo were produced in Virginia and exported to other colonies. Rye, wheat, rice and barley became the major crops. In the north the strong religious influence, good economic base, and a healthy climate led to the development of a more coherent societies. The southern colonies were politically unstable and socially volatile due to racial and class divisions. To stabilize political and social environment, families took up responsibility of farming and participated in faming activities. Paid labor was also obtained rather than the use of slaves. They also adopted education and religion.


Roark, J. (2008). “The American Promise: A History of the United States (4th ed.)”. New York,

NY: Bedford St. Martin’s Press

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