The Middle Colonies

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Comparison of the Middle Colonies and New England Colonies


The Middle Colonies and New England Colonies differed in terms of economy, religion, and social structure. The Middle Colonies had diverse economies based on farming, trading, and manufacturing, and were religiously pluralistic. In contrast, the New England Colonies had economies centered on small-scale farming, fishing, and shipbuilding, with a more homogeneous Puritan religious influence.

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How did the settlers of the Middle Colonies differ from those in New England?

In the seventeenth century, the New England colonies included Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, while the Middle Colonies were New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. There were several significant differences between the settlers in these areas.

First of all, the motivations for leaving Europe and settling in the New World were different. For the most part, the colonists of New England journeyed to America to escape religious persecution. The Pilgrims and Puritans were fleeing the authoritarianism of the Church of England and coming to the New World with the hope that they could establish settlements where they could worship as they chose.

The Middle Colonies, on the other hand, were mainly established for commercial reasons. They functioned as trade and distribution centers. Farmers were more prosperous in the Middle Colonies because the soil was abundant and fertile while farmers in New England had to struggle to grow crops in the rocky soil.

The population of settlers in the Middle Colonies was much more diverse than the population of New England. They represented an assortment of ethnic groups—such as English, Germans, French, Dutch, Swedes, and Irish—whereas New England was comprised mainly of settlers from England.

There was also a greater assortment of religions in the Middle Colonies. In New England, religious oversight of the Pilgrims and Puritans was harsh, whereas in the Middle Colonies the religious situation was more tolerant. The various religions there included Lutherans, Quakers, Presbyterians, Mennonites, and Dutch Calvinists.

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How did the Middle Colonies differ from the New England colonies?

One difference was their demographic makeup. While both colonies were largely English, the Middle Colonies of Pennsylvania and New York had more nationalities in them due to their religious tolerance. Pennsylvania had a substantial German population even after the Revolutionary War. The colony of New Amsterdam was as religiously tolerant as the mother country and boasted many different religions, including Judaism. New England was populated by Calvinists, who disagreed with the Church of England.

Another difference pertained to the economies of the colonies. New York was known for its trade, as the Hudson River provided one of the best ports on the continent. Pennsylvania was known as the breadbasket of the colonies thanks to its Quaker inhabitants' large farms. New England, on the other hand, had a shorter growing season and thinner soil. Farmers practiced subsistence agriculture. More people turned to trade, whaling, fishing, and timber in order to grow the economic future of the colony.

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How did the New England and Middle colonies differ politically?

The Middle Colonies and the New England Colonies had some political differences. Two of the New England Colonies were charter colonies. The people in Connecticut and Rhode Island were able to elect their legislature and the governor. In the Middle Colonies, this condition did not exist. There was more religious freedom in the Middle Colonies than in the New England Colonies. Some of the Middle Colonies were known for their religious and political tolerance. As we moved closer to the Revolutionary War, there were more loyalists in the Middle Colonies than in the New England Colonies. New York, a Middle Colony, was known as an area where many loyalists lived and therefore were more supportive of the British.  While the colonies and many colonists were supportive of each other (and eventually the war effort), there were some political differences between the Middle Colonies and the New England Colonies.

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