What were the economic developments of the English colonies prior to 1700?

Asked on by brendawm

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I assume you mean the English colonies in America. Economic development was a major cause of the divisions North and South which would lead to the Civil War 175 years later. Therefore in discussing economic development, it is important that one consider geographic factors.

The Southern Colonies enjoyed warm climate, deep fertile soils, but few natural harbors. As a result, their economy was primarily agricultural. Large plantations developed which grew "staple crops," primarily tobacco; but South Carolina primarily grew rice and indigo. Since a tremendous amount of labor was required, slavery became an important economic development in the South.

The Northern colonies had thin, rocky soil and good harbors. As a result, although there was some farming, a greater emphasis was placed on shipping and shipbuilding. It was for this reason that the North industrialized much more quickly than the South; and also why Slavery never gained a significant foothold in the North.

The "Middle Colonies," primarily Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York engaged in some farming, but primarily wheat and other grains. Large scale plantations as seen in the South did not develop; but neither did extensive industry.


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