The Middle Colonies

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How were the settlers of the Middle Colonies different from the settlers in New England?

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In the seventeenth century, the New England colonies included Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, while the Middle Colonies were New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. There were several significant differences between the settlers in these areas.

First of all, the motivations for leaving Europe and settling in the New World were different. For the most part, the colonists of New England journeyed to America to escape religious persecution. The Pilgrims and Puritans were fleeing the authoritarianism of the Church of England and coming to the New World with the hope that they could establish settlements where they could worship as they chose.

The Middle Colonies, on the other hand, were mainly established for commercial reasons. They functioned as trade and distribution centers. Farmers were more prosperous in the Middle Colonies because the soil was abundant and fertile while farmers in New England had to struggle to grow crops in the rocky soil.

The population of settlers in the Middle Colonies was much more diverse than the population of New England. They represented an assortment of ethnic groups—such as English, Germans, French, Dutch, Swedes, and Irish—whereas New England was comprised mainly of settlers from England.

There was also a greater assortment of religions in the Middle Colonies. In New England, religious oversight of the Pilgrims and Puritans was harsh, whereas in the Middle Colonies the religious situation was more tolerant. The various religions there included Lutherans, Quakers, Presbyterians, Mennonites, and Dutch Calvinists.

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