Colonies of New England

What were the New England colonies?

The New England colonies were the colonies located towards the northern area of the Atlantic coast. These colonies comprised of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts Bay and the Province of New Hampshire. All these colonies were established in the 17th century. They were a part of the original 13 colonies and later ended up becoming the US states.

Who settled the New England colonies?

The Puritans settled the New England Colonies. They wanted to create a safe haven for themselves and thus set out towards the new world. The Puritans established these colonies so that they could enjoy religious freedom here. In time, they expanded from humble settlements to huge colonies.

Economic Activity and Commerce

The earlier colonial settlements were made up of fishing villages/communities. Although the land was not very fertile, it was a treasure trove of resources. Lumber was available in large quantity. It was used to build houses and some lumber was even sent back to England. The colonists also hunted wild animals and did fur business. The New England colonies were situated along the Atlantic coast and were a great source of sea life as well.

By the 17th century, the New England colonies had established a vast trade network which connected them to the West Africa and English homeland. Colonist imported glass, linens, hardware, and machinery from Britain and Europe. Inflation was a major problem in the colonies as the economy was not very stable. During the 18th century, the shipbuilding industry under the guidance of the British Crown revived the economy.

Education in New England Colonies

In the New England, the initial settlers taught their children to read and write. This was primarily done to fulfill the Puritan belief that they should understand the Bible themselves. Later in the colonial period multiple education options became available depending on one’s financial or social status. These included homeschooling, public grammar schools, and private governesses. Students studied reading, writing, Latin and Greek among other subjects.

Government in New England Colonies

New England Colonies selected their own legislatures. The colonies were either royal or proprietary. Royal colonies were indirectly ruled by the English monarch. The charter colonies were freer and were mostly self-governed.

Church ministers in Massachusetts area were not allowed to hold government offices. This ensured that they could perform their spiritual duties efficiently. This also laid the foundations for the principle of
separation of religion and state in North America.

The right to vote varied from one colony to the other. In colonies like Plymouth, most men possessed the right to vote. In others, such as the Southern colonies, only an elite group of individuals could vote the members of the legislature.

Conflicts in the Colonies

The New England colonies went through many internal and external conflicts. The Puritans had staunch beliefs and anyone who questioned them was expelled from the colonies. Many dissidents expelled from the early colonies went on to lay the foundations of new colonies such as the colony at Rhodes Island. Externally, the colonies came into conflict with the Native Americans over land possession and other issues.