The development of the colonial North America was a complicated process that was influenced by many factors. It is interesting to examine those elements from their influence. Since the process connected with the transportation of old social values to the new conditions that had nothing to do with the original ones, it is interesting to find out which factors influenced the shift in the system of values and led to the social changes that took place.
It is even more interesting to examine the process to find out what contributed more to the development of colonial North America: economy or religion. The reason for that curiosity is the public dedication of English people, who constituted the lion half of all immigrants, to believe. This factor had a significant influence on any Englishmen and determined its social behavior to a large extent. At the same time the realities of the new world, its dangers and challenges often have no place to the old values.
So the history of the development of the colonial North America is the history of the shift in views, values, and morale. Those changes to the considerable extent were determined by the variations in the sexual structure of immigrants and the population of colonies.
For this reason, this original structure can become the best guideline for the examination of the issue whether economic or religious factors determined the development of the colonial North America to the most significant extent.
The structure of population
The second half of the seventeenth century was commemorated by the constant emigration of English youth to the New World. It was caused by the necessity for labor in North America. The primary resource that required that a significant amount of work was tobacco. Since the first economically successful croup of tobacco grown, it became a substantial source of income. For this reason, men were the primary labor force. Attracted by the bright prospective and advertising many men moved to the new world. In the very beginning, the immigration men outnumbered women greatly. In the course of time, the ration shifted towards the more considerable amount of women but remained unbalanced.
The reasons for this misbalance in the very beginning were connected with the fieldwork. Men fitted better for working in the field and without any doubt were a more efficient economic investment, while women were less capable of the hard work. They also had to go through higher risks, but the main reason still was the economic one. However, women yet arrived at the North America, and without any doubt, the primary moving force of that immigration was the desire to get married. The adds declared bright perspective for those who would come to the New World and for this reason more and more women went to the continent to find a man with aspect and marry him.
Shift in migration
The change of immigration occurred in the late seventieth century and was connected with the broadening of households. As the plantations became larger not only the number of people who were working in the field but also the number of servants required increased. So at that stage women were brought as servants to cook and wash after men that worked. The workwoman did depend on the social status of the family she served but still, the more housework she did, the less she worked in the field.
In most of the cases, the cost of transportation was mainly compensated through four to five years contract with the owner of the plantation. As soon as the contract ended the woman became free and was able to choose any man with prospects. In most of the cases, she would become planter’s wife.
At the same time up to 20 % of women who arrived stood before the court for bearing a bastard. In case women wanted to marry a man should have paid for the rest of the time the head to work, so the process of marriage, in fact, the women were pregnant was somewhat complicated. In case the time couldn’t have been bought, she had to pay a hefty fee or be punished physically. The charge was maid to her master for “troubles” and could result in the contract extinction.
Nevertheless, the rate of marries where the wife had already been pregnant was up to two times higher than in England. Moreover, the society had nothing against that marriages, and no one seemed to care. If for some reason the marriage collapsed it wasn’t long that the woman remarried. It stands for the fact that immigrants enjoyed more considerable sexual freedom in America than in England. While the restrictions in England were created by the conventional religious believes, the reproductive freedom in the North America was the result of the original structure of the population that was the direct result of the economic factors that influenced the formation of immigrants.
The new role of women in the society could be viewed on the example of wills left by their husbands. In most of the cases, men died earlier than their wives, basically, because the average marriage age for women was lover then for men. At the same time in the majority of cases, the woman was left with small children and almost in all circumstances with children under 16. With no people living near and relatives overseas she and her children needed support to survive. For this reason, in most of the case, the entire estate was left to the woman. Even if it was stated in the will that children should get one or another of property the widow also got a part of land and personal things of her husband. In sporadic cases, the husband made a note that children should be removed from the house in case his wife remarries.
Those facts show that wives enjoyed great trust from their husbands and they believed that they would take care of children no matter what. They also show great respect to women, and it becomes evident that they enjoyed more considerable respect in the colonial North America than in England.
The facts stated above depict the processes that took place in the economic and social life of the North America in the second half of the seventeenth century. Looking at those facts, it is easy to note the financial necessities determined that majority of the factors. Even the essential element that determined the structure of population and immigration depended only on the economic needs. For this reason, while the women labor was less required there were just a few of them and when the necessity appeared the number of women increased rather drastically.
Moral values also went through changes. Again for a reason for sexual misbalance created by the economic needs.
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