The Middle Colonies

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How were the Middle Colonies founded? How did they evolve?

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The Middle Colonies include New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. New York was initially founded by the Dutch and was called New Amsterdam or New Netherlands. The English seized New York after a war with the Netherlands and the land was granted to the Duke of York. The colony was known for religious tolerance and provided opportunities to individuals who fled Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials. The city of New York grew into a major trading hub and became one of the most diverse settlements in the colonies, welcoming various Christian and Jewish houses of worship.

Delaware was also initially founded by the Dutch, though Swedish settlers established the first settlement. Delaware, like New York, was taken by the British after a war with the Netherlands. It was incorporated into the grant to the Duke of York and was administered as part of New York until it was granted to William Penn, who wanted ocean access for Pennsylvania. Neither the Pennsylvanians nor the residents of Delaware were happy with this cession and Penn ultimately let Delaware govern itself, though it fell under the Pennsylvania colony's governor. Delaware became an independent state after the Revolution.

New Jersey was also a Dutch colony taken by the British. The Duke of York split the land in half and gave half to George Cateret and half to Lord Berkely. These two then sold land at cheap prices and allowed for political and religious tolerance. This led New Jersey to become one of the most ethnically diverse colonies in America, though New York was not substantially less tolerant. New Jersey was governed by the same office as New York for a while, but ultimately it was granted its own governor.

Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn as a place for English Quakers to escape persecution for their religious beliefs.

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