While Puritan zeal was fueling New England’s mercantile development and Penn’s Quaker experiment was turning the middle of colonies into America’s breadbasket, the South was turning to cash crops. Geography and motive led the development of these colonies to be distinct from those to the North.
Virginia was the first successful southern colony. Just north of Virginia was Maryland. Begun as a Catholic experiment, the colony’s economy would soon come to mirror that of Virginia, as tobacco became the most important crop. To the south, lay the Carolinas, created after the English Civil War was over. In the Deep South was Georgia, the last of the original thirteen colonies. Challenges from Spain and France led the king to desire a buffer zone between the cash crops of the Carolinas and foreign enemies. Georgia, a colony of debtors, served that purpose.
English American Southerners would not enjoy the generally good health of their New England counterparts. Outbreaks of malaria and yellow fever kept life expectancies lower. Since the northern colonies attracted religious dissenters, they tended to migrate in families. Such family connections were less prevalent in the South.
The economy of growing cash crops also required a labor force that was unknown north of Maryland. Slaves and indentured servants were present in the North, but in the south they became the backbone of the economy.
Settlers in the Southern colonies came to America to seek economic prosperity they could not find in England. America provided more space to realize a lifestyle the new arrivals could never dream to achieve in their native land.
Source: The Southern Colonies #1
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