Largely due to the efforts of William Penn, the Middle Colonies developed a relatively diverse society and successful economy. As a Quaker, Penn encouraged and supported religious and cultural tolerance in the Middle Colonies. As a result, the region developed a much more cosmopolitan society than elsewhere in British North America. English, Scottish, Irish, German, Danish, Polish, Dutch, and Swedish colonists all lived together in many parts of the region. They represented a number of different religious denominations, including the Mennonite, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches. This was in stark contrast to the much less religiously tolerant colonies of New England.
The economy of the Middle Colonies was as diverse as its people. A free market economy existed that allowed entrepreneurial colonists to pursue a number of different business ventures. Due to its relatively good soil and growing conditions, large farms grew food staples and grains that fed much of the colonies. Logging, papermaking, and shipbuilding was an important source of income for many. The existence of deepwater harbors and navigable rivers allowed the cities and ports in the region to become major trading centers. Goods were shipped from these colonies to England and other parts of the empire in great quantities. The cities of New York and Philadelphia became the major financial centers in the colonies.