The Middle Colonies

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How did the Middle Colonies develop in the United States?

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The Middle Colonies are defined as New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The most prosperous and famous of the Middle Colonies were New York and Pennsylvania. New York began as the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. The site of what would become New York City was a Dutch trading center. The Dutch were very tolerant of other religions, and this allowed people from other faiths to live there freely—at that time. The English took the colony of New Amsterdam from the Dutch and renamed it New York. New York would continue as a trading center and would become one of the leading cities of the American colonies.

Pennsylvania began as a proprietary colony owned by William Penn but still under English jurisdiction. The colony was supposed to be a haven for Quakers who were harassed in England, but it soon became a destination for other Protestants as well. The Quakers practiced religious tolerance. Penn also insisted on buying land from Native Americans, and while Penn was alive, Native Americans and the colonists got along fairly well. After Penn's death, however, the Native Americans in the colony lost their land, and sporadic fighting broke out along the frontier. Pennsylvania was known for its farms, and the area was considered one of the most prosperous of the Middle Colonies. Philadelphia, its largest city, would be the first to have a library and an efficient postal service thanks to its most prominent citizen, Benjamin Franklin.

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