During the mid-eighteenth century, the American colonies were quickly increasing in population. Between 1700 and the American Revolution, the colonial population increased from about 300,000 to over 2.5 million. This was largely the result of increasing immigration from various parts of Europe as well as high fertility rates.
At the time, most colonists were from or descendants of immigrants from the British Isles. The New England colonies were the most homogenous ethnically, with nearly all colonists of English descent. The Middle Colonies had the most ethnic diversity with a significant number of German, Dutch, and other Europeans. Germans made up about five percent of the colonial population. Many Scottish and Irish people lived on the margins of society in the Middle and Southern colonies. They tended to live in the backcountry and frontiers and maintained a self-sufficient lifestyle.
The Southern Colonies also had French and Spanish ethnic minorities. Most African slaves lived in the South and made up about twenty percent of the total colonial population at this time. About half of the non-New England population was of non-English descent. Between eighty and ninety percent of the colonial population lived in rural areas.
During the mid-eighteenth century, American society became more stratified. In the North, wealthy merchants and business owners began to dominate politics and society. As they grew more wealthy through increased trade and commerce, they gained more influence. In the South, a similar change occurred. However, instead of businessmen, a wealthy land-owning aristocracy came to power. Most of the colonial population consisted of yeoman farmers. They owned and worked small plots of land and seldom moved up in society. In cities, an increasing middle class of shop-owners, artisans, and merchants was growing.