The Origins of New England and Virginia

Here’s an excerpt from Jack P. Greene’s The Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture:

“Yet new research into the cultural dynamics and socioeconomic and demographic configurations of the two major centers of English settlement on the North American continent has made it clearer than ever before that during these early years of settlement the Chesapeake colonies of Virginia and Maryland differed profoundly from the principal New England colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut. Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine how any two fragments of the same metropolitan culture could have been any more different. About the only characteristics they had in common were their ethnic homogeneity, their ruralness, their primitive material conditions, their remoteness from England, and, after their first few years, an abundant local food supply. In virtually every other respect, they seem to have been diametric opposites.

Virginia, as England’s oldest American colony, occupied the crucial place in the transformation of the English conception of colonization during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Largely as a consequence of that “acquisitive and predatory drive for commodities and for profits to be made on the rich products of the outer world” that characterized European overseas expansion during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Virginia’s orientation was almost wholly commercial from the beginning …”

Virginia was settled by mainstream colonists from the south and west of England. It was a military and commercial enterprise that developed an economy based on cash crop culture. It established the Anglican Church. The bulk of the population came over as indentured servants and the elite was largely filled by the younger sons of the English country gentry. At the same time, Virginia had a permeable social structure, and men who made a fortune in tobacco could rise into the elite.

“Plymouth differed from Virginia and Maryland not only in its relative inability to generate much wealth but also in its deeply and persistent religious orientation of its separatist Puritan leaders. …

If Plymouth differed from the Chesapeake colonies in the slow pace of its economic and demographic growth and the more deeply religious orientation of its dominant leaders and family settlers, the puritan settlements begun with the founding of the new colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1629 presented an even more striking contrast. For one thing, Massachusetts was peopled largely by a short, sudden, and carefully organized burst of immigration. Between twenty and twenty-five thousand Englishmen poured into the colony and adjacent areas in just twelve short years between 1630 and 1642 …

The great migration to New England between 1630 and 1642 had an even deeper religious coloring than than had the earlier and smaller immigration to Plymouth. Indeed, as a collectivity, New England immigrants, in Perry Miller’s words, were “primarily occupied with religious ideas,” and the depth and extent of this religious impulse provided yet another striking contrast with the palpably more secular settlements that had taken shape around Chesapeake Bay. Participants in the great migration were far from being all of one mind with regard with regard to theology, church government, and other religious questions, and the congregational church polity preferred by most of them was conducive to the accommodation of a diversity of religious opinion. Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of New England settlers were dedicated puritans. “Adherence to puritan principles,” was “the common thread that stitched individual emigrants together in a larger movement,” and puritanism “remained the dominant force of New England culture” throughout the seventeenth century.

Unlike their predecessors at Plymouth, they came to America not simply to find a refuge from the religious impositions of the early Stuarts. Rather, they were moved by the vision of establishing a redemptive community of God’s chosen people in the New World. They saw themselves as a special group joining in a binding covenant with God and sent by Him into the wilderness “as instruments of a sacred historical design.” Their “peculiar mission” was to establish the true Christian commonwealth that would thenceforth serve as a model for the rest of the Christian world. In the societies they created, the church and the clergy necessarily had unusually powerful roles, the relationship between clerical and secular leaders was both intimate and mutually supportive, and full civil rights, including the franchise, were in many communities limited to church members.

The millennial vision of the New England puritan colonists had a powerful social as well as a religious dimension. They came to America not only because they were unable to realize religious aspirations in old England. They were also driven by a profound disquiet over the state of contemporary English society. In towns and rural areas alike, new social and economic forces seemed to be producing a disturbing and ever-widening gap between inherited prescriptions of social order and actual circumstances of life, and the crown and its agents were more and more intruding into many aspects of local affairs – civil as well as religious. To an important degree, the great migration to New England was “an essentially defensive, conservative, even reactionary” response to these developments, betraying a profound fear of social chaos and a deep yearning for order and control. Hence its members were determined to achieve not only perfection in the church but also to create a society that, in contrast to the increasingly anarchic and beleaguered world they were leaving behind, would conform as closely as possible to traditional English conceptions of the ideal, well-ordered commonwealth. …

But everywhere, at least in the three “orthodox colonies” of Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven, the purpose of their settlements was the same. Although they were by no means disinterested in achieving sustenance and prosperity, they put an enormous emphasis upon establishing well-ordered communities knit together by Christian love and composed only of like-minded people with a common religious ideology and a strong sense of communal responsibility. Insofar as possible, they intended to maintain order, hierarchy, and subordination; to subordinate individual interests to the public good; to shun all public disputes; to maintain tight control over economic life; including especially the unruly forces of the market; to subject the moral and social conduct of themselves and their neighbors to the closet possible social discipline; and systematically exclude the contentious and the deviant from their midst. …”

New England was settled by a small group of Puritans who found themselves at odds with mainstream British culture. It was a millenarian religious enterprise. The saints of New England had come to the New World to create their perfect Christian commonwealth which would be a model for the rest of Christendom. They were a covenant based society that strongly policed individual behavior and settled in tight knit communities around meeting houses and town squares. Most of the original settlers of New England came over as families rather than as indentured servants. Their leadership from the Old World was transplanted to New England. Their economy wasn’t based on any staple crop.

“Between 1607 and 1660, the English emigration to America had thus produced on the eastern coastline of continental North America two simplified expressions of contemporary English society. But they were extremely different from each other. Chesapeake society was highly materialistic, infinitely more secular, competitive, exploitative, and very devoted to commercial agricultural production for an export market. Its high demand for labor and high mortality rates combined to produce a population that was disproportionately male, young, single, immigrant and mobile. The process of family formation was slow. Social institutions were weak, authority was tenuous, and individualism was strong. With only a slowly developing sense of community, the Chesapeake exhibited a marked proclivity toward public discord.

If, in many of these respects, the Chesapeake was “the most dynamic and innovative society on the Atlantic seaboard” during the early seventeenth century, the puritan colonies of New England were the most self-consciously and successfully traditional. With low mortality, rapid population growth, a benign disease environment, and a far more fully and rapidly articulated Old World-style society, the intensely religious colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven, moved by powerful millennial and communal impulses, exhibited rapid community and family development. With strong patriarchal families, elaborate kinship networks, and visible and authoritative leaders, localities quickly developed vigorous social institutions, including many schools, and deeply rooted populations. Mostly involved in cereal agriculture and with no generalized source of great economic profit, the puritan colonies displayed a relatively egalitarian wealth structure and an extraordinarily low incidence of social discord and contention. It is hardly possible to conceive how any two settlements composed almost entirely of Englishmen could have been much more different.”

In New England and the Chesapeake, we don’t find John Locke.

This is hardly surprising. Virginia and New England were founded generations before John Locke wrote his Two Treatises of Government. The former was founded with the example of the Spanish conquistadors and the East India Company in mind. The latter was founded as a Puritan theocracy.

In the past, I have written here about how Jamestowne and Virginia eradicated Tsenacommacah. The English in the Chesapeake only became Virginians over the course of several generations. They developed a sense of White racial consciousness through their experience in a multiracial environment. In 1622, the Powhatan Indians attempted to exterminate the Whites and killed a fourth of the colonists. Although that incident is no longer taught to our children in our public schools, it changed the tradition of the Virginia colonists and altered the course of Southern history.

I wrote this after visiting Jamestowne:

“The most important lesson to take away from Jamestown is that “blood, sweat, and tears” – not any abstract philosophy – is what enabled “Virginia” to supplant “Tsenacommacah.” The English burned Indian villages up and down the James River. They sailed up the James and its tributaries in their boats and pacified the countryside with a mobile strike force armed with rifles and heavy armor. They burned Indian fields to reduce the Powhatans to starvation.

Ultimately, the English succeeded after they finally adopted a realistic appraisal of their military circumstances in Virginia. They built the wall across the peninsula, expelled all the Indians, and imported as many White colonists from England as possible. They forbid trading with the enemy. They thought squarely in terms of their own self interest, not wishy washy idealism. …”

Some of you are probably wondering: isn’t that a violation of liberty and equality? Isn’t that a violation of natural rights? Isn’t that racism and xenophobia? Yes, it was. It makes sense when you realize that none of these concepts existed at the time. They had nothing to do with the founding of the American colonies. There is an older tradition here that we have forgotten under liberalism.

29 Comments

  1. “They built the wall across the peninsula, expelled all the Indians, and imported as many White colonists from England as possible. They forbid trading with the enemy. They thought squarely in terms of their own self interest.”

    We desperately need such strength today.

  2. “community of God’s chosen people”

    “Rather, they were moved by the vision of establishing a redemptive community of God’s chosen people in the New World. They saw themselves as a special group joining in a binding covenant with God and sent by Him into the wilderness “as instruments of a sacred historical design.”

    What other group thinks of themselves in this way? Became coterminous with Yankee culture? Sharing similar traits and behaviours? Living in the same land?

        • Unfortunately for the original Anglo Yankees, the Jews acted and believed in the same manner as them – just much better and in an even more unified way.

          Combined with low birth rates, it didn’t take long for the Kike to emerge dominant in that region of the country.

        • It’s because the Puritans and the Hebrews are one and the same people.

          Whether you’d agree with that or not, it was the mindset and the belief of many of the original New Englanders. The “Jews” are a false tribe, with a false religion that masquerades as biblical Judaism. That much is still true. It’s called Talmudism.

  3. Some of you are probably wondering: isn’t that a violation of liberty
    and equality? Isn’t that a violation of natural rights? Isn’t that
    racism and xenophobia? Yes, it was

    Quite – the Powhatan had no conception of liberty, equality, or rights, and were racist and xenophobic toward the colonists.

    • They did conceive that the English had come to run them off the land though.

      • Not quite. Stefan Molyneux in a recent call in notes the disjoint cultures of hunter-gatherers v.s. farmers. The English wanted to farm, but the indians generally shouldn’t have cared (and IIRC there is a video on indians warring with other indians over land – including genocide – an earlier work, 500 nations, mentions what things were like before Columbus, and it was mostly nasty, brutish, and short-lived).
        See Question 4, 2:45:00 into the discussion about Europeans v.s. Native Americans
        https://soundcloud.com/stefan-molyneux/fdr-3604-arguments-not-acronyms-call-in-show-february-23rd-2017#t=2:44:57

        • The English brought the ‘umble earthworm to North America, in the ballast of their ships.

          Earthworms eat leaves and shit humus. This meant that the land was transformed and rendered useless for medium game hunts because animals adapted to warm winters in thick cushions of leaves didn’t have them after the worms came. I think the English also brought over bees. That changed the flora yet again.

          The Injuns called bees White Man’s Fly. They knew they were fucked quite soon.

          • There were (ironically) non-colonial bees – America had pollinators before the European Honey Bee. (And I so want to riff on the Africanized aggressive bees).

    • ‘Quite – the Powhatan had no conception of liberty, equality, or rights, and were racist and xenophobic toward the colonists.’

      This.

  4. “Some of you are probably wondering: isn’t that a violation of liberty
    and equality? Isn’t that a violation of natural rights? Isn’t that
    racism and xenophobia?”

    I’m not. We actually learned this. My American® History to 1820 teacher, taught us the Southern sweep of history. We learned more about Virginia, than about New England. Which she treated as a mere footnote. We learned about the Natchez Trace and the Wilderness Road, but nothing at all about the settlement of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, etc.

  5. The Siberians had both north and south america to themselves for 9000 years before the first Indo European words were spoken.

    Indo Europeans have been here for at best 1000 years.

    In other words, the Siberians could have Made America Great, but chose not to: liberty defined!

  6. As I’ve pointed out numerous times in the past, Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, codified White Supremacy in Virginia. The White Englishman would not tolerate being put on the same political level as the Indian & Negro.

    There’s a lot of modern feel good diversity propaganda today in connection with Bacon’s Rebellion, sort of like the Rainbow Confederates nonsense, but, the actual outcome of Bacon’s Rebellion is indisputable.

    • Well the Indians still lived west of the Tidewater and they were never completely wiped out. Virginia would declare a tribe extinct if the membership number dropped below I believe 100, but by 1800 or so the remnants of the Indians intermixed pretty heavily with free Negroes and poor whites.

      New England had Indians, but because of the Yankees having intact families and few convict slaves, the race-mixing issue never arose there in a large way. Many years later as these wealthy Yankee families ended up politically and financially dominating the entire North their belief about the necessity of anti-miscgenation laws seemed to be this. FAMILIES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR SONS AND DAUGHTERS NOT THE STATE and NO MAN IN HIS RIGHT MIND WOULD ALLOW HIS DAUGHTER TO MIX SO WE DONT NEED TO LEGISLATE AGAINST IT, WHAT DO WE CARE IF SOME SYPHILLITIC IRISH WHORE TAKES A BUCK FOR A LOVER?

      The Yankees completely misunderstood the Negro and do to this day. A lot of people don’t realize that Minstrel Shows and using Coons for advertising was a NORTHERN THING not a SOUTHERN THING. Southerners saw the Negro as a ravenous savage who could rise up and kill them at any moment, sure they’d laugh at him but always in the back of their mind they saw the ravenous savage. Northerners saw the Negro as Uncle Tom, Rastus Jungle Bunny or Al Jolson, A buffoon a joke, After the Jewish influence began to take over Pop culture through Hollywood and the music, it went from laughing at the Negro to uneasy acceptance to the Magic Negro and so on and so forth.

      These two world views couldn’t ever exist side by side.

        • Thomas Jefferson and his Democrats are at the end of the day to blame for 99% of it. When the Immigration Act of 1790 was passed, it merely said Free White and 21 of course White in 1790 meant anyone not Negro or not Chinese ie Three Race Theory. The law was strengthened in 1795 but after the Jay Treaty, French Revolutionaries who had fled Robespierre began rioting in Philadelphia and causing trouble.

          Troubles with French refugees led John Adams to pass the Immigration Act of 1798 which was part of the Alien and Sedition Acts which placed a 14 year waiting period on citizenship. If you screwed up, you were kicked out of the USA. Jefferson and Madison screamed about Freedom of expression and the press and after Jefferson won in 1800, he rolled back all of Adam’s restrictions. The 1802 Immigration Act left enforcement strictly up to the port cities and the 14 year waiting period was reduced to five years. Napoleon’s Police State and later Empire led hordes of revolutionaries to leave for our shores. After 1815’s Congress of Vienna skads more joined them, specifically Jewish ones. The last big surge of Revolutionaries came in 1848, but as our borders were open, we didn’t do anything to stop them.

          The UNTOLD DAMAGE Jefferson’s stupidity caused this nation is incalculable. Very likely had immigration been severely restricted, the North’s population would have grown very slowly leaving Dixie in control of the US Govt till the 1900s!

  7. The Chesapeake colony of Maryland was founded for English Catholics, was it not?

    The Puritan colonists of RI, CT and MA did fight a devastating war against the Narragansetts and Poccassetts in the King Philip’s War of 1675-1677. So those early Yankees weren’t afraid to deal with the Injuns in a ruthless manner. America’s first institution of higher learning, Harvard College, was established in 1636 in Cambridge, almost 60 years before the South opened its first college. But alas, it is also true that the first synogogue in America was opened in Newport, just before the Revolutionary War.

  8. Race-mixing was quite prevalent and problematic in Old Virginia BEFORE 1700. This was because it took decades for the Criollo’s that’s a Spanish word for Whites born in the New World, population to grew and sexually equalize enough that a White man could be guaranteed a White wife. Wealthy landowners often imported women from England, but the humid climate of Virginia and the malarial swamps often killed them. Landowners who married Criollo girls took the best of the best and left the scraps. The poorest men, convict slaves and Indentured Servants, often cohabitated with the many white prostitutes shipped from London or with Black and Native women.

    The English Common Law for years had stated Like Father Like Son. If your daddy was free so were you. Because interracial sex was legal or simply excused in some cases in early Virginia, the mulatto population surged. The Elizabeth Key case in 1656 forced England to change the Slave law from the English Common law to Partus sequitur ventrem which was a Roman law that stated your status was the status of the woman who bore you. Anti-Miscgenation laws appeared first in Maryland 1664 but it wasnt until 1691 that Virginia passed a strict anti-miscgenation statute but like any law the enforcement wasn’t 100%. My understanding of the convict slave law, was that convict slaves whether male or female were considered the same as Negroes and did intermarry with them. Indentured Servants weren’t slaves.

    By 1700 the sex ratio had balanced out enough that the mixing declined but there were records in the Virginia archives of isolated pockets of mixed peoples who were very problematic in later years. Most of them were later pushed into the mountains, other larger groups like the Lumbee in North Carolina were isolated in a set area.

    Strangely enough, because so much of the Virginia Native American population was intermixed with the Whites, especially in the more rural areas west of the Tidewater, both Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry thought that it would be a good idea for White men to take Indian Squaws for brides and Henry even proposed subsidizing this practice with land and free schooling. Thomas Jefferson even stated this to an Indian delegation that one day your blood and ours will mix and together we will live in this land to paraphrase.

    THE ENLIGHTENMENT WAS TRULY SOMETHING AWFUL

  9. Interesting piece. The part about the expulsion of the Indians by early Virginians is glossed over by modern textbooks; I was unaware of the campaign our ancestors waged to secure Virginia for their posterity.
    I would like to make one point on theology. Regarding early New England, Mr. Wallace states: “It was a millenarian religious enterprise.” That was the seed of its destruction. The Puritans were Reformed,a variant of Calvinist. Calvinists are divided as to pre, post, or amillennial in eschatology. John Calvin openly rejected the concept of a physical 1,000 year millennium at the end of days. Though differing from Calvin doctrinally, Martin Luther also wrote against the concept of a 1,000 millenium, considering that concept to be of Jewish origin.

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