New England Colonies Geography & Climate

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  • 0:03 Colonies in New England
  • 0:33 Climate
  • 1:03 Geography
  • 1:48 Effects on Settlements
  • 2:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

In this lesson, we'll take a look at the development of the Northern Colonies. We'll find that geography and climate actually played a large role in creating societies similar to those found back in Europe.

Colonies in New England

When many of us think of the colonies of New England, such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, we think of some of the most defining places in early American history. After all, the colony of Massachusetts was among the most rebellious in the years leading up to the American Revolution.

But what made them that way? In this lesson, we're going to take a look at the climate and geography of New England, as the first colonists would have seen it. Afterwards, we're going to see the impact that both of these elements had on the early colonists.


For many arrivals to New England, they found that the weather was fairly similar to what they had experienced in England. Many colonists wrote letters and diaries detailing the fact that they had expected to be surprised by what they found in places like Boston and New Haven, but all in all had encountered weather that was similar to parts of England. Of course, this was truer for the colonists who were originally from parts of England that encountered snow, especially the area around Yorkshire and other more northern parts of England.


Geographically, the English settlers also found an area that reminded them of home. However, there were a few differences. Obviously, there weren't nobles or aristocrats telling people where they had to live. Therefore, when a particularly religious community was fed up, which happened often, they only had to move a few miles away to find themselves in a completely different part of the country.

The countryside lacked massive mountains or impassible rivers, and with some attention, soon resembled parts of rural Sussex or Norfolk. This is part of the reason that such small colonies would exist there. Also, because the landscape did remind the colonists so much of England, they were able to recreate much of English society there. Small family farms were the norm.

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