Albion’s Seed is a very long book by the historian David Hackett Fischer. It explains how four regional cultures from England were transferred to different parts of colonial America.
For example, the fact that English aristocrats controlled the settlement of Virginia but had little role in the settlement of Massachusetts explains important differences between the history of the South and New England, even up to the present day.
“As early as 1642, the Massachusetts Bay Colony required that all children should be trained to read by their parents or masters”. Partly out of fear that Satan (the Old Deluder) was always trying to cloud people’s minds, “the Old Deluder Law compelled every town of fifty families to hire a schoolmaster and every town of one hundred families to keep a grammar school which offered instruction in Latin and Greek”.
Contrast this attitude toward literacy and education with that expressed by Governor William Berkeley of Virginia in 1671:
“I thank God there are no free schools nor printing (in Virginia), and I hope we shall not have these for one hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from both!”
In fact, the aristocrats who ran Virginia believed in education for their offspring. It was the lower classes, including slaves, who were supposed to remain ignorant: “the penalty for a slave who tried to learn how to write was to have a finger amputated”.