The Middle Colonies

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What challenges did middle colony settlers face and how did they overcome them?

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There were several obstacles that the Middle Colonies faced. One obstacle was dealing with the Native Americans who had control of the land. In the beginning, the settlers did establish some friendly relations with some Native Americans, such as with the Iroquois. As time passed, there was a growing distrust between the Native Americans and the British settlers because the Native Americans felt the British wanted to take over their land and the lucrative fur trade. Many settlers had to accept that the threat of Native American attacks was real.

The people of the Middle Colonies also had to learn to survive in these new lands. The climate could be harsh, especially during the cold winter months. They also had to learn what crops they could grow. Fortunately, the soil was very fertile, which helped with the growing of crops such as wheat. Additionally, those who settled in New York and New Jersey were able to establish manufacturing, lumbering, and trade as main economic activities.

There were people of different religions and backgrounds who settled in the Middle Colonies. While this could have been an issue for the settlers, religious freedom was tolerated and encouraged, and people accepted the differences of each group living in the Middle Colonies.

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The settlers in the Middle colonies had to overcome problems in their relationship with the region's indigenous peoples, though in Pennsylvania the Native Americans were treated much more fairly than in other places, as the colonists were told to pay fair value for the land by the founder, William Penn. In upstate New York, the Iroquois and Huron tribes would often go to war against the colonists to prevent their spread into that region. Upstate New York saw some of the heaviest fighting of the French and Indian War. The colonists in the region also lived with the constant worry that French Canadians would come down during a time of war.

While winters could get quite cold, the Middle Colonies were known for having a good climate, and they exported food back to England. The colonies' success brought them immigrants from all over the world to the point that the English colonists developed some measure of xenophobia towards non-English speaking people. Even Benjamin Franklin wondered how German speakers in Pennsylvania would ever assimilate into mainstream colonial life.

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Settlers of the middle colonies, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, faced many challenges including Native Americans, location, weather, religious and ethnic diversity.

The settlers had to establish relationships with the Native Americans who were firmly in control of the land.

Making the best use of the climate and the land to meet their economic needs was paramount to their survival. Northern areas of the colonies had a harsh climate with a short growing season, while the colonies located further south were more temperate. The area contained fertile farmlands, accessible shipping ports, and locations suited to manufacturing and distribution. As the colonies developed, the inhabitants learned to use the land and location efficiently.

As the colonies grew, more diverse groups of people settled there bringing with them a variety of religious beliefs and customs. These diverse groups established settlements in different areas of the colonies and within the cities. The middle colonies became more tolerant of a variety of religions and ethnic backgrounds than either the northern or southern colonies. Because there were so many different groups, one group could not dominate the others so they learned to co-exist. 

The middle colonies developed and thrived through their economic and social diversity and wise use of natural resources.

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