Characteristics of the Chesapeake Colonies
All APUSH students should be able to identify and describe characteristics of the 13 British colonies. The Chesapeake – Maryland and Virginia – have many distinct characteristics. The two colonies get their name from the Chesapeake Bay.
Although Jamestown (VA) did not have much economic success in its first few years, both colonies eventually became wealthy by exporting the cash crop tobacco. Most of the settlers were young, white males that came over as indentured servants. As a result, the Chesapeake – as well as the South as a whole – tended to have more male than female settlers from England. (Side note, as a whole, England still sent more men AND women than France and Spain.)
Diseases were more common in the warm climate of the Chesapeake than they were in the New England colonies. As a result, the death rate was higher and extended families were less common.
It was not until the late 17th century, after Bacon’s Rebellion, that the major source of labor switched from indentured servants to African slavery.
Politically, the Virginia House of Burgesses was founded in 1619 in Jamestown and was unusually democratic for its time. This governing body was America’s first representative government. By 1670, voting was limited to property-owning men. As was the case in Colonial America, women were not given the right to vote.
Multiple-Choice and Short Answer:
You MUST know the characteristics of the Chesapeake. Can you describe the social, economic, and political characteristics of this region? Possible multiple-choice answers will likely focus on those characteristics. For example, it’s important to know that the Chesapeake relied on growing tobacco and originally used indentured servants.
Potential essay topics could include comparing different regions of the original 13 colonies and comparing the English colonies to other European colonies. Either of those essay topics can include detailed characteristics of the Chesapeake colonies. By the way, Comparison is one of the Historical Thinking Skills that the College Board can assess on the exam.