What major factors contributed to the demographic changes in the English colonies during the eighteenth century?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The English colonies saw a major shift in its demographic during the eighteenth century. The fifty years spanning between 1700 and 1750 marked a dramatic increase in population size from 250,000 to one million individuals. By 1775, it is estimated that 2.5 million people were living in the colonies. On a more specific level, this looks like the following:

  • Between 1660 and 1760, there was an increase in Africans living in the colonies from 2,920 to 300,000. This number then jumped to 500,000 by 1775.
  • A shift from most immigrants arriving in the colonies being from England in the seventeenth century to being from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Germany in the eighteenth century.

The reasons behind this shift are quite simple:

First, mass immigration from various parts of Europe rather than simply England created a greater, more diverse spectrum of colonists. Individuals were attracted by the economic promise of fertile American land and the opportunity to escape religious persecution back home. 

Second, the large number of Africans living in the colonies was singularly the result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, during which Africans were captured, forced onto European ships, and sold as slaves to colonists, with ninety percent of this population living in bondage in the Southern colonies.