The Shaping of America

The geography, population, and natural resources had a strong impact on the development of the colonies in the new world between 1650-1750. Geographical resources such as the amount of farmland, rivers, and forests, natural resources such as fur, lumber, and waterways, as well as the religion and ethnicities that varied throughout New England, the Middle colonies, and the Southern colonies resulted in differences between how each region developed. New England had many rivers and harbors, but it was rocky any had poor farmland. Due to the rivers, its resources included fish and waterways.

Lumber was also abundant, as well as furs, seeing as the settlers were able to participate in Canadian fur trade. The New England population started with 102 puritans on Plymouth Rock, which then turned into 42 after the first winter. The second group of settlers was the puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There were 1000 of them. Other types of people in New England lived in Rhode Island or Connecticut. In Rhode Island Roger Williams instituted complete freedom of religion, so even Jews and Catholics were welcome there.

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The largely puritanical nature of New England gave New Englanders a common purpose, the moral health of the community. This created a tight knit society. Also, the formation of towns, which was possible because the farmland was not good enough to have large sprawling farms, made education more prominent. Because the population were Puritans, the government they founded was intertwined with the Church. Because of the democracy in Church, their political government was also very democratic. Also the Calvinist ideas of hard work that the settlers had helped to helped the region to prosper.

The geography of the land was also important to shaping New England. The soil was very stony; therefore large crops like tobacco did not work well there because the farms had to be small. Also there close proximity to Canada enabled them to act as the middle man and sell furs from Canada to the British. The abundance of woods were also important, seeing as lumber was a valuable natural resource. Shipbuilding was a main part of New Englands economy. The middle colonies, like New England, had many forests and rivers. However they also had fertile, non-rocky, farmland. Also, Quakers instead of Puritans founded them.

The natural resource of fur and lumber were the same. Before the Quakers came, however, there where several thousand Dutch, Swedish, English, and Welsh “squatters” living on the land. The Dutch originally resided in New York, but were seen as a threat to the English colonies, but Charles II had granted it to the Duke of York, his brother, and the unarmed Dutch surrendered the territory. The accepting nature of the Quakers attracted a large mix of different ethnicities in Philadelphia. This caused the middle colonies to grow very fast. The geography also had a big impact on how these colonies developed.

The fertile soil was helpful to food production and came to be called “the bread colonies” due to their large exports of grain. The rivers aided the fur trade and the forest gave way to shipbuilding. The southern colonies probably had the best farmland of all the colonies. The broad acred farms explain why tobacco and rice was the main base of the southern economy. Tobacco farms dominated Virginia’s economy while rice farms dominated the economy of the Carolinas. Both crops demanded slave labor, which led to a more diverse population. By 1700 blacks were 14% of Virginia’s population.

Also, the population included Catholics with Maryland being founded by Roman Catholics seeking a haven from persecution. It also relied heavily on Tobacco for its wealth, but used white indentured servants instead of black slaves. This gave way to the struggling middle class in the south. In the Carolina’s, rice farms were the main source of money. These rice farms required black slaves that were used to working in that kind of environment. Georgia was founded to be a buffer state to protect the Carolinas from the Spanish in Florida and the French in Louisiana. All of these colonies, due to the broad acreage, became plantation colonies.

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