Demographic Trends in the Colonies

3 Most Important Things to Remember

1: New England

The first colonists were Separatist Puritans (Pilgrims).
They settled in New England to gain religious freedom.
The religious freedom they sought was not readily granted to others outside their faith.
Most colonists grew their own food.
The soil was too thin and rocky and the climate too harsh for the colonists to grow cash crops. They turned to fishing, lumbering, fur trading, and metal working to nourish their economy. These items were sold to other colonies and to England.
New England colonies also participated in the selling of slaves to the southern colonies.
Most luxury goods had to be bought from England.

2: Middle Colonies

The first colonists were Dutch and settled at the mouth of the Hudson River.
Their goal was to farm in order to make money.
When the English took “New Amsterdam” from the Dutch, they called it New York.
Quakers seeking religious freedom settled Pennsylvania.
Land was more fertile than in New England and promoted farming of cash crops: corn/wheat/fruit. An abundance of rivers allowed for transportation of goods between the colonies.
Mills to grind grains developed and supported local economies.
Relationships with Native Americans were better in these colonies than in the others.
This area was also the most ethnically diverse.

3: Southern Colonies

The first colonists were English and settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Their goal was to find gold in order to obtain wealth as rapidly as possible. This goal was not obtained. The Jamestown settlement was almost abandoned. John Rolfe discovered that tobacco grew well in the southern climate.

Lowest life expectancy because of

Tobacco and rice became the major cash crops of the southern colonies.
These cash crops were grown on large plantations of land that needed large numbers of workers. Indentured servants were first used. As their numbers dwindled, slaves were used.
A small number of people owned large amounts of land.
Religion and religious freedom were not large concerns for most southern colonists.
In 1619 the House of Burgesses was formed (the first example of representative government in America.)


"There is a zeal without knowledge, that is superstition. There is a zeal against knowledge, that is interest or faction; there is a zeal with knowledge, that is religion; and if you will view the countries of cruelty, you will find them superstitious rather than religious. Religion is gentle, it makes men better, more friendly, loving and patient than before." --William Penn

"May it please your Lordships,

After a dangerous voyage I landed at Charles Town, in the Province of South Carolina, and soon after my arrival, I administered the Oath to Mr. Joseph Blake, one of the Proprietors and Governor of this Province. . . .

There are but few settled Inhabitants in this Province; the Lords have taken up vast tracts of land for their own use, as in Colleton County and other places, where it is most commodious for settlement, which prevents peopling the place, and makes them less capable to preserve themselves. As to their civil Government, ’tis different from what I have met with in the other Proprieties [colonies]. Their Militia is not above 1500 Soldiers, White men, but have through the Province generally 4 Negroes to 1 White man, and not above [more than] 1100 families, English and French." --South Carolinan Colinist

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