Life in the Thirteen Colonies

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Comparing the similarities and differences among the Thirteen Colonies

Summary:

The Thirteen Colonies were similar in their pursuit of religious freedom, economic opportunities, and self-governance. However, they differed significantly in their economic structures: the New England Colonies focused on shipbuilding and trade, the Middle Colonies on farming and commerce, and the Southern Colonies on plantation agriculture. Additionally, they varied in religious practices and social hierarchies, reflecting diverse cultural influences.

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What similarities existed among the Thirteen Colonies?

The thirteen colonies were all established by a royal charter or grant, making them all possessions of the crown. Legislation passed by the Parliament applied to all thirteen colonies and legislation passed by colonial legislatures was subject to a veto by the colonial governor, the English Parliament, or the King. The vast majority of initial settlers in most of the colonies consisted of English or Irish immigrants, though some of the Middle Colonies also had relatively high numbers of other groups. Christianity was the dominant religion in the all thirteen colonies, though the denomination differed (Congregationalists/Puritans in New England, Quakers and other Protestants in the Middle Colonies, Catholics in Maryland, and Anglicans in the Southern Colonies). Finally, the purpose of all thirteen colonies was to provide profit and resources to England.

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How were the thirteen colonies different from each other?

The thirteen colonies differed with respect to when, how, and why they were founded as well as their natural resources. The Middle Colonies were some of the most productive of crops like grain, which earned them the nickname of the "breadbasket" of the colonies, and they were also home to many Quakers. The natural resources in these Middle Colonies included lumber, wheat, and corn.

The New England Colonies, which were the northernmost colonies, were founded by Puritan separatists known as Pilgrims. Their natural resources included fish and rum. The New England colonies produced few cash crops, as the growing season was very short in the comparatively cold climate, and the soil was rocky for farming.

The Southern Colonies (Maryland, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia) comprised many Anglicans and Catholics as well as Protestants. As a group, they were diverse, owing to the size of their land (which is why North and South Carolina were eventually divided). Farming was essential to this region, which had many plantations equipped with indentured servants and eventually slaves, and cotton was the major crop.

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