Describe the history of the Middle Colonies.  

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martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The thirteen British colonies in North America have historically been divided into three regions, Southern Colonies, New England Colonies, and Middle Colonies.  Each had its unique qualities.  Geography played a big role in how each region developed.  The Southern colonies had rich soil, mild winters, a long growing season, and abundant rainfall.  This led the Southern colonies to turn primarily to agriculture and the creation of large plantations and reliance on slave labor. The New England colonies had harsh winters, a short growing season, and good harbors.  This led them to turn more to manufacturing and commerce, and farming on a much smaller scale than the South.  And then there were the Middle colonies.  They had fertile soil, moderate winters, rolling hills, and mineral deposits. This led the Middle colonies to have a much more diverse economy than the Southern or New England colonies.  The Middle colonies developed an economy that was based on a combination of agriculture similar to the Southern colonies and manufacturing and commerce similar to the New England colonies.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Middle Colonies - those from the American colonial period that included most of New Netherlands, colonies such as New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, became well known early on for how great the farmland was, and how much foodstuffs could be produced there.  This earned the region the nickname "Breadbasket".  What tobacco and rice were to the Southern cash crop colonies, wheat, corn and grains were to the Middle Colonies.

While the Dutch had originally settled in much of the area, the British Empire consolidated control over these lands by the mid 1660s.  The economy diversified into timber, shipbuilding, ironworks, and textiles.  The variety of jobs, farmland and opportunities coupled with some tough times in Europe brought many new immigrants to the region, and in the thirteen colonies, the Middle Colonies were the most ethnically diverse.