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This paper discusses the historical topics of Bacon’s rebellion in Chesapeake and the practice of witchcraft in New England. Both these events were caused by social, economic or religious factors that affected the colonial America. In the middle of 17th century, around 80 New England colonies were indicted with the practice of witchcraft. New England colonists were known to have strong conservative convictions, witches and demons and other supernatural instances were common in daily life. Whereas, Bacon’s Rebellion was led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676 was a popular revolt in the colonial state of Virginia. This uprising was result of low tobacco prices, high taxes and resentment against privileges given to Sir William Berkeley’s allies. In addition, failure of Berkeley in defending the frontier against Native American attacks.
Factors affecting Chesapeake and New England Colonies
The New England and Chesapeake colonies were found on distinctive reasons for colonists coming to American mainland. The colonists in New England used to be pious self-governing Puritans yeoman living in farming communities. These Puritan came to America searching for their religious freedom and were devoted to their religious family life. Puritan society used to be religious and family oriented, that relied in farming and fishing and considering themselves “far more godly than all other colonists”. These factors were cause of New England colonies having nothing like the Bacon’s rebellion and active witchcraft scares.
In contrast, the colonists of Chesapeake came to America for silver, gold and anything else they could profit selling. Chesapeake colonies started raising corn and tobacco to export them to Europe. As their economy prospered, their overall population was increased especially with arrival of black slaves who worked in the plantations, making economic factors more dominant than religious in Chesapeake colonies. These factors help understand the reason behind the Bacon’s rebellion in Chesapeake and absence of witchcraft practice.
With growth of indigo, rice and tobacco and the plantation economy the need for labour in the Southern America increased tremendously. Throughout 1600s, slaves used to exist in the English colonies and plantation owners implemented the method of indentured servitude before the 1680s. This system gave incentives to all parties to increase their working population in the Chesapeake colonies. Since, the economy of Chesapeake was focused on plantation and indentured slavery and religion was secondary there was no cause for witchcraft. In New England, indentured servants were comparatively negligible in number to the Chesapeake colonies. New England colonists worked with their families on farms to get their work completed rather than depending on indentured slaves. Since indentured slaves were negligible in New England, there was no cause for something like Bacon’s Rebellion.
The Chesapeake and New England colonies were found on distinctive reasons for colonists coming to America. In the end the reason behind practice of witch craft in New England was people living in a religious community and focused on their religious freedom for which they fled Europe. People in New England were Puritans, making them more prone to acts of self-destruction like witchcraft. In Chesapeake colonies did have the Church of England established, meaning taxpayers had to support the church even if they weren’t Anglicans. The Chesapeake colonies were based on its plantations which grew with passage of time. Since, economic factors were of critical importance to the colonists in Chesapeake increasing the possibility of a clash like Bacon’s Rebellion.
Murrin , J.M., Johnson, P.E., McPherson, J.M., Gerstle, G. Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, 88-95, Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008