Colonial America depended on the natural environment for the basic needs of the people and the colony. Available natural resources determined each region’s unique specialty. Specialized economies quickly emerged as a result of human and environmental interaction.
Colonial America had regional differences for establishment of each colony. The southern colonies were established as economic ventures, seeking natural resources to provide wealth to the mother country and themselves. In contrast, the early New England colonists were primarily religious reformers and Separatists. They were seeking a new way of life to glorify God and for the greater good of their spiritual life. The middle colonies welcomed people from diverse lifestyles. Their social-political structure included all three varieties: villages, cities and small farms.
There were also differences in the human resources. New England had craftsmen skilled in shipbuilding. The Mid-Atlantic had a workforce of farmers, fishermen, and merchants. The Southern Colonies were mostly agricultural with few cities and limited schools.
New England’s economy at first specialized in nautical equipment. Later the region developed mills and factories. The environment was ideal for water-powered machinery (mills), allowing for products such as woven cloth and metal tools. The middle colonies had rich farmland and a moderate climate, making it more suitable to grow grain and livestock. The coastal lowland and bays provided harbors, thus the middle colonies were able to provide trading opportunities where the three regions met in the market towns and cities. The southern colonies had fertile farmlands that contributed to the rise of cash crops such as rice, tobacco, and indigo. Plantations developed and slavery allowed the wealthy and large landowners to cultivate large tracts of land.
For the people of the South, life was rugged and rural, while the people of the North were connected to the church and village community.
Source: Differences Among Colonial Regions
© 1996–2013, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. CC BY-SA 3.0