How do the settlements of the 13 colonies differ from each other?

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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An excellent book (although it's over 700 pages) on this subject is "Albion's Seed". It describes the various social, economic and genealogical backgrounds of the colonists and the ways that they informed the structure of the United States.

Some of the differences include;

Time of Settlement: The colonies were settled over the course of more than 100 years (Virginia in 1607 and Georgia in 1733); this was partly due to the time it took to establish infrastructure, explore, and to negotiate the various political boundaries.

Point of Origin: Some colonies, for various reasons, had significantly more immigrants from a particular Old World region, which subsequently influenced that colony's culture and politics. For example, Pennsylvania is famously influenced by its initial status as a Dutch colony, which led to a significant Germanic influence.

Economy: This was an extremely influential point in the development of the colonies. New England, for example, didn't have as much useful farming land for crops like corn and grain, and instead developed greater manufacturing and trading industries.

Geography: The physical layout of the colonies also influenced their development. A variety of factors led to a greater concentration of cities and ports in the Northern colonies, while the South tended more toward a plantation-style land management.

It is difficult to make generalizations about the settlement of all 13 colonies at once; for example, it could be said that the southern colonies were more rural than the northern ones, but the western portions of the northern ones were just as, if not more wild, than their southern counterparts. Likewise, the political influences that led to the formation of each colony were rarely uniform; factors such as the nearby Spanish and French colonies, the wars in Europe, financial need, Native American alliances and threats, and slave labor all influenced the final form of each colony.

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