New England Colonies

Map of New England Colonies


During the Ice Age, large glaciers scraped away all the fertile soil, and moved it south to the Middle Colonies. This left a rocky landscape that made farming difficult. In addition, there was a short growing season, meant that farmers usually only grew enough crops to feel their own family. However, there were a numerous other natural resources such as lumber and cod. The forest could provide lumber for New England, which led to a large shipbuilding industry. The Atlantic Ocean had lots of cod, so the fishing industry also grew to be very important. Lumber and cod were also major exports.


In the early 1600s, the Puritans created the Massachusetts Bay Colony for more religious freedom.  It was made of present day Massachusetts and present day Maine, and a little bit of present day Canada. Religion affected the government severely. An example of this is that only male church members could vote or serve the government. Puritans also had self-government. This meant that they made laws and rules for themselves.

Rhode Island
Some people in Massachusetts disliked Puritan leaders’ beliefs. Therefore, those people either moved out of Massachusetts by themselves or were banished. This type of person was called a dissenter. Among these few people was Roger Williams. He wanted more religious freedom. In 1636, Williams founded Rhode Island, a settlement where every person could worship freely.  Another person, Anne Hutchinson, was banished because she taught men about religion. Puritan leaders believed that only men could teach about religion, women couldn’t. She moved out of Massachusetts and joined Williams in Rhode Island.

A minister named Thomas Hooker longed for a place where all men could vote. He led about 100 colonists to the Connecticut River, where Hartford was founded. This later grew to be the state of Connecticut.

New Hampshire
Other people that were following Hooker’s group moved north and founded present-day Hartford. Another important person, John Mason, followed by two groups of English settlers, arrived in the new area that was named New Hampshire. It took up present day New Hampshire and present day Vermont. It was named after John Mason’s hometown of Hampshire.

Life in the New England Colonies

The people of New England were almost completely depended on their natural resources. They had many small farms although many people had other occupations. This was because of the poor soil that made farming difficult. Instead of farming, many people made businesses from the environment. From the water, they got fish. Using the forest, they built homes and ships. Boston was one of the most significant cities for shipbuilding. 

Ship BuildingThere was much trade between New England and other countries such as England. New England sent useful resources such as fish and lumber to Africa, England, and the West Indies. In return, they received the hardworking slaves from Africa. Many people got their income from slaves working in shops in this way.
Colonists’ homes were very plain. They had a fireplace, a simple couch, and they had a table where they ate. Many families slept near the fireplace to keep warm in the winter. A few wealthy families had two story homes. Men and boys farmed and did work that required physical power, while women and girls did most of the mental work, which included cooking food, making rice, washing clothes, and planting and harvesting.

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