The Southern colonies were largely founded for profit. For example, Jamestown was founded to make a profit for its founders, and after a brief "starving time," the colony turned to growing tobacco and, as early as 1619, to importing slaves. Over time, other colonies, such as South Carolina, were founded by people from the Caribbean who brought with them a harsh form of slavery and developed an agricultural economy based on growing rice, indigo, cotton, tobacco, and other crops. Colonies such as Virginia developed a social hierarchy in which poor whites (including indentured servants) were co-opted into cooperating with the rich plantation owners because they were made to feel some solidarity with rich whites with the imposition of a strict color line.
The Northern colonies can be further divided into New England (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire at that time) and the Middle Colonies, further to the south. Massachusetts was founded mainly for religious purposes, as the Puritan founders sought to establish a model for the rest of the world—a "city upon a hill"—in their efforts to purify the Anglican Church of what they saw as corrupting, Catholic elements. Many of the original settlers arrived as families to establish communities based on church worship that were far more controlled than those of the south (the exception was Rhode Island, which was founded with the idea of religious tolerance). There were far fewer slaves in New England and in the Middle Colonies than in the South. The soil of New England was rocky and not suitable for large-scale crops, so the colonies in the far north turned to ship building, small farming, and small industries. The Middle Colonies, such as New York and Pennsylvania were known for greater religious tolerance (as Pennsylvania was founded by the Quakers) and for growing crops such as wheat and other grains.