What is the geography of pre-revolutionary New England and the Southern and Middle colonies? (compare and contrast)Basically to explain the geographic conditions in New England and the attraction...

What is the geography of pre-revolutionary New England and the Southern and Middle colonies? (compare and contrast)

Basically to explain the geographic conditions in New England and the attraction and good economic potential of the geography of the Middle and Southern colonies. Main point: Geography!

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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.

tspivey | Student

Historians usually divide the thirteen British colonies into three groups.  The northernmost colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) are known as the New England Colonies.  To the south of New England were the Middle Colonies (Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware).  The colonies furthest to the south (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) are known as the Southern Colonies.  Each of these areas had different economic strengths and weaknesses depending on their climate and natural resources.  Because of this, each area developed a different kind of economy.

In New England, the soil was generally rocky, the climate was cool, and the growing season was short.  This limited the ability of New England settlers to practice large-scale farming.  They did raise small crops of corn and wheat, and they raised sheep and dairy cattle, which could graze in the boulder-strewn fields.  But because the land was not well-suited to agriculture, many New Englanders turned to the sea for a living.  New England had a long coastline, numerous harbors, and great fishing areas, so the New Englanders developed flourishing fishing and whaling industries.  New England ports such as Boston, Massachusetts and Mystic, Connecticut became centers of shipbuilding, using the lumber that was readily available from the region;s forests. The New Englanders specialized in overseas trade, especially with the West Indies.  British colonies in the West Indies, such as Jamaica and Barbados, had a booming sugar industry that used many thousands of African slaves.  New England exported beef and fish to the West Indies to feed the slaves, and also exported lumber, which the West Indian settlers used to build barns and to make into barrels in which they packed their sugar.  New England traders also supplied the West Indies with slaves.  They would load a ship with a cargo of rum and sail for Africa, where they would trade the rum for slaves.  The slaves would then be taken to the West Indies and sold.  The money made from their sale would be used to buy molasses (a byproduct of the sugar industry), which would be taken back to New England to be made into rum, starting the process over again.

The Middle Colonies, unlike New England, had excellent soil and a milder climate.  The Middle Colonies produced huge crops of grain, and developed a milling industry to convert the grain into flour.  The Middle Colonies produced so much flour that they were sometimes called the "Bread Colonies."  Farmers in the Middle Colonies also raised horses, sheep, and cattle, and grew a variety of fruits and vegetables.  In addition, the Middle Colonies had the two largest cities in the colonies, New York City and Philadelphia.  These cities became shipbuilding centers and employed a number of artisans (skilled craftsmen) such as shoemakers, furniture makers, and potters.  Because of the wide variety of products it produced, the Middle Colonies had the most diversified and arguably the strongest economy of any region.

The Southern Colonies had good soil and a very warm climate that favored subtropical crops such as tobacco, rice, indigo, and cotton.  These crops were very profitable but also very labor-intensive, meaning they required a lot of work.  To provide the necessary labor, the Southern Colonies turned to African slavery.  Although slavery was originally allowed in all thirteen colonies, it only really took hold in the South, because only the South had the right climate to produce the kinds of crops that required slavery. Slavery became the basis of the economy in the South because of the labor-intensive crops the South produced.  Because the South was focused on growing these crops, cities in the South were very small, and there was little industry; the Southerners imported maunfactured goods from England rather than making their own. Because it depended on slaves and produced only a few products, the South's economy was probably the weakest of the three regions.