The Southern Colonies

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Why were the southern colonies superior to the New England and Middle Colonies?

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The idea of one group of colonies being better than another is entirely subjective. In other words, different people may view each group of colonies as being "better" than the others for different reasons. Ultimately, whether you place the southern colonies above the northern ones depends on what metric you're considering and what group of people you're referencing.

If we look at your question in terms of economic strength, then you might conclude that the southern colonies were stronger than their northern counterparts. The southern colonies grew cash crops like cotton, tobacco, and rice. The huge demand for these crops helped some farmers grow extremely wealthy. Plantations began to rise across the region, which helped the farmers earn even more money. In this way, the southern colonies probably were better for rich white farmers.

However, somebody had to work on those plantations. At first, the plantation owners used indentured servitude to find the workers they needed. This typically involved a plantation owner paying for a worker's trip to America in exchange for seven to ten years of free labor. There were some initial successes with this system, but indentured servants were treated poorly in a variety of ways. They eventually rose up in Bacon's Rebellion, which was the first rebellion in the history of the United States, occurring in 1676.

Bacon's Rebellion facilitated the southern colonies' shift toward using slave labor for their plantations. While the rich white plantation owners continued to earn gobs of money, they did so on the backs of slave labor. Of course, the southern colonies were definitely not better for the slaves.

Although northern colonists were at first interested in replicating the south's farming economy, they found their soil was not good enough to do so. This led to the development of trades like fishing, sailing, and merchanting, among others. The northern colonies had a larger middle class, which was better represented in the region's political processes. In this way, the northern colonies were likely a much better place to live for individuals who weren't part of the economic elite.

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The southern colonies were better for some segments of the population and not for others. For the elite white plantation owners in the south, there was, in some places, a more leisurely way of life based on the productivity of crops such as tobacco and sugar. However, these plantation owners' way of life was based on the exploitation of slave labor, and slaves did not fare better in the south than in the Middle Colonies and New England, where many African Americans were free. Many whites in the south were poor and did not have access to land, as the elite did. Their tension occasionally rose to the surface; for example, during Bacon's Rebellion of 1676 in Virginia, poor whites rose up against the white elite. As a result, the white elite turned to an increasingly harsh system of racial slavery. Therefore, while the agricultural production of some crops was better in the south (though the Middle Colonies grew wheat and other crops), the Middle Colonies and New England offered more freedom for African Americans.

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If, by chance, you are asking why the Southern colonies were "better" off financially, this was due to agriculture, as the previous educator mentioned. However, fields were tended largely by slaves, which allowed planters to reap maximum profits without paying a work force.

During the colonial period, there were slaves in the New England and Middle Colonies as well, though not as many. As was mentioned, New England soil was rocky and stubborn; additionally, both regions had colder climates. This created little demand for slave labor. 

In the southern colonies, particularly Virginia and South Carolina, numerous cash crops were harvested and sold: tobacco, cotton, and rice. With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, more Southern states focused on raising cotton, which had become a very lucrative cash crop and could more conveniently be cleaned with the help of Eli Whitney's machine. 

Virginia was the wealthiest colony and would later become the wealthiest state. 

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I assume that this question is asking why the southern colonies were better than the Middle Colonies or New England for agriculture. Agriculture is the only way in which the southern colonies were clearly better than the other two regions.

Climate and soil were the two main reasons that the southern colonies were better suited to agriculture than the other colonies. New England had a cold climate and poor soil. The Middle Colonies did have good soil and strong agricultural economies. However, their agriculture was not as productive as the southern colonies’, because their climate was not as good.

The southern colonies had very rich soil. They also had a much warmer climate than the other regions because they were farther south. Because their climate was so mild, their growing season was longer, and farms there could be more productive. This is why they were better than the other regions in terms of agriculture.

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