Early life in the Americas consisted of great diversity as well as some similarities between colonies. During the colonial time period from about the 1600’s through the 1700’s, the thirteen original colonies were founded and divided among three major sections known as the New England colonies, the Middle colonies, and the Southern colonies. The New England colonies consisted of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The Middle colonies contained New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The Southern colonies included Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Geography was a primary influence on the colonial way of life. The New England colonies and the Southern colonies vary geographically because the New England colonies were located in the Northern region while the Southern colonies were located in the South. Their differing regions led to different lifestyles. Geography affected how the regions developed economically and socially. The New England colonies and the Southern colonies differ in a variety of economical and social ways although they share some similarities. Geography impacted the development of the thirteen original colonies.
The New England colonies had cold winters, rocky soil, mountains, forests, rivers, and natural harbors. The rocky soil made fertilization hard. The forests, rivers, and natural harbors provided the New England colonies with other ways to survive. These geographic disadvantages and advantages shaped the economy of the New England colonies. The New England colonies had a diverse economy. Their economy included small-scale farming, fishing, fur trade, shipbuilding, lumbering, trade and commerce, crafts, and industry. New England was run by manufacturing.
Trade, lumber, and fishing were the primary source of income. Although farming was the most common occupation, New England colonies became the center of colonial shipping, with major ports at Boston and Salem. While the New England colonies had a diversified economy, the Southern colonies had an agricultural economy. In the South, agriculture was very important and the Southern colonies were largely considered the plantation colonies. The highly agricultural economy included large plantations, which used indentured servants or slave labor, to produce cash crops of tobacco, rice, and indigo.
The northern region was more industrious than the southern region. Even though these two regions have many different characteristics with the economy, they had some similarities. Each region had their own economic system and they were each new colonies starting out in the New World. They both had to adapt to their surroundings and environment to survive and create their unique economy. Socially these regions differed as well. Although a majority of colonists who settled in the New England colonies and the Southern colonies were from New England, the two groups of colonies developed different socially.
The New England Colonies supported each other to create a one-class system called the middle class. They were a theocracy, which is a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler. The church controlled the government. The lifestyle in the New England colonies was very organized. A town usually had a meetinghouse surrounded by houses and a village green. There was a high literacy level and a Protestant work ethic. In the Southern colonies, their social class was different.
They had a strict three class system that included the upper class wealthy plantation owners, middle class small plantation owners, lower class poor whites and indentured servants and a population of African Americans who were not considered a class at all. The largest social group was the farmers. The Southern colonies were an oligarchy which meant that the wealthy plantation owners controlled the government. The lifestyle in the Southern colonies was a self-sufficient plantation life with few cities. These regions were different socially, although they were both though.
Each had a government and a structured social order. During the colonial period, when colonists were settling in the New World the thirteen original colonies formed into three different groups. Each group was different geographically, economically, socially, and politically. However they shared some common characteristics. The New England colonies and the Southern colonies had major differences, but they were alike in that each had a well-developed economy, government and social order. The geography of the colonies was a fundamental key to how the region developed and how the economy was characterized.