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The 13 American Colonies


Part 2: Characteristics of the Colonies

Each colony had its own unique characteristics, but historians lump them into groups based on where they were, why they were founded, and what kinds of industry they had:

New England Colonies
Rhode Island
Connecticut
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
Middle Colonies
Delaware
Pennsylvania
New York
New Jersey
Southern Colonies
Maryland
Virginia
North Carolina
South Carolina
Georgia

Motivations
By and large, the people who settled in the New England Colonies wanted to keep their family unit together and practice their own religion. They were used to doing many things themselves and not depending on other people for much. Some of these people came to New England to make money, but they were not the majority.

The people who founded the Middle Colonies were looking to practice their own religion (Pennsylvania mainly) or to make money. Many of these people didn't bring their families with them from England and were the perfect workers for the hard work required in ironworks and shipyards.

The founders of the Southern Colonies were, for the most part, out to make money. They brought their families, as did the New England colonists, and they kept their families together on the plantations. But their main motivation was to make the good money that was available in the new American market.

Economy
The New England Colonies were largely farming and fishing communities. The people made their own clothes and shoes. They grew much of their own food. Crops like corn and wheat grew in large numbers, and much was shipped to England. Foods that didn't grow in America were shipped from England. Boston was the major New England port.

The Middle Colonies were part agriculture, part industrial. Wheat and other grains grew on farms in Pennsylvania and New York. Factories in Maryland produced iron, and factories in Pennsylvania produced paper and textiles. Trade with England was plentiful in these colonies as well.

The Southern Colonies were almost entirely agricultural. The main feature was the plantation, a large plot of land that contained a great many acres of farmland and buildings in which lived the people who owned the land and the people who worked the land. (A large part of the workforce was African slaves, who first arrived in 1619.)

Southern plantations grew tobacco, rice, and indigo, which they sold to buyers in England and elsewhere in America.

Next page > Beliefs and Revolution > Page 1, 2, 3

 

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