If you have ever taken an American history class, you are probably quite familiar with the thirteen original colonies that were created in New England in the early 1600s. When those who fled England to avoid religious persecution stepped off the Mayflower and onto the rocky ground at Plymouth Rock in modern-day Massachusetts, they took refuge in the New World and secured themselves a place in history books until the end of time. Although the content of most elementary, junior high and high school history courses delves deep into the lifestyles of these famous immigrants, the vast majority of students never gain a full understanding of what life was like in those communities that were coined “the middle colonies.” If you are intrigued by the people, places and events that shaped the United States of America, you will want to find the answer to the question, “Why were the middle colonies founded?”
What the Middle Colonies?
The thirteen original English colonies that comprised some of the very first settlements in North America included North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Of these settlements in Colonial America, a handful were considered vastly different from those that surrounded them. According to U.S.History.org, the chunk of colonies that were geographically situated in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware—were considered some of the most diverse portions of the New World in terms of both religion and ethnicity. Containing a mixture of Swedes, Dutch, Scots, French, Irish and English, who practiced a wide array of religions and lived peacefully alongside Native American members of the Algonquian and Iroquois tribes, the settlers who resided within the middle colonies represented a rich diversity unlike any other in America at the time.
Why were the Middle Colonies founded?
The primary reason the middle colonies were founded was to take full advantage of the natural resources that existed in abundance throughout the geographic regions that are now known as New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Unlike their colonial counterparts to the north—which were characterized by rocky cliffs and rugged terrain—and those located further south, which consisted of better land for farming and agriculture but were already consumed by a dominant plantation system full of cash crops, the middle colonies were located on extremely fertile ground that was conducive for growing an assortment of crops that promised to provide a profit.
The immigrants who settled with in the co-called middle colonies farmed the land to produce such crops and developed a series of distribution centers that allowed them to trade and sell their products to people residing in the northern and southern colonies. Their farmland quickly became known for its agricultural success and suitability, and the colonists quickly earned the respect of their neighbors whom they were able to help feed by growing crops that ranged from wheat to corn. The self-sufficiency of the middle colonies and the ability of the northern and southern colonists to depend on them for food during the trying times that took place after these brave immigrants fled their English homeland for the great unknown played an integral role in the ability of the colonists, as a whole, to survive—and ultimately thrive—in the New World.