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Compare and Contrast the Regional Difference in the Colonial Economy of British North America Between 1607 and 1750

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Compare and contrast the regional difference in the colonial economy of British North America between 1607 and 1750.  

There were many intentions behind the settling of the colonies of British North America, but at the bottom of most was a desire to make money.   When the colonies were being planned and executed, the economic theory most prevalent was mercantilism.  This idea was that the country, not the individual, was the principal actor in the economy.  The goal was to increase the nation’s wealth.  The best way to do that was to have endeavors that brought money into the country.  If you could do that while minimalizing the amount of money going out of the country to support this endeavor, so much the better.  Nations saw this as a zero-sum game.  The amount of wealth was finite and for them to increase meant another country had to decrease.  

        So with this in mind, Great Britain began to develop colonies in what would later become the United States. There were different concepts in which colonies were established.  Some were Joint Stock Companies, where investors pooled their money and sent out explorers. The control of the colony was under the company.  There were also some proprietary colonies, which were used to pay debts the Crown owed to individuals.  The proprietor held control of the colony.  Great Britain also established some royal colonies, which were under the rule of the Crown.  The colonies were expected to generate income and increase the wealth, for their company, their proprietor and their kingdom.  

        The colonies were established along the Eastern seaboard, but the areas were very different geographically, in terms of religion, settled by different types of people and what was expected from their colonists.  Generally, there were three general areas identified; New England (North), Middle, and Southern.  

        New England consisted of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.  There experienced a higher level of independence from Britain during their development.  They generally established and retained local governmental control.  The geography was rocky, hilly and densely populated forests.  The growing season was short and the winters were very cold.  These factors tended to create communities of small towns and farms at the edge of the communities.  Acreage on farms was limited to 100-150 acres, which was the limits of what could be handled by the family.  The agricultural developed in the area did not create the need for indentured servants, or slaves.  There were also craftsman and tradesman, and some servants.  They tended to be insular communities, very self-sufficient.  Because of the interdependency of the community, and they were settled by religiously strict sects, community order and social structure were paramount.  Although the geography was not easy, there were many natural resources to be developed and returned to England.  Principally, these included fishing and whaling, lumbar and furs.  

        The Middle Colonies consisted of; New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.  These colonies were much more diverse in terms of culture and were generally more democratic with Pennsylvania leading the way.  There geography was more flat, with richer soil, and has easily traveled waterways.  The growing season was longer and lent itself to crops such as wheat. The longer season and the coastal plains allowed for more small communities to develop and some interdependence within these communities.  This allowed more trade and craftsman.  Their natural resources included timber, fur, and their crops.  They were also able to mine iron ore and developed industry related to iron products.  These colonies tended to be settled by religious groups more tolerant than those of the New England colonies.  Their government tended to be local to regional with much power being retained by the community.   There was a more diverse population which encouraged more intercommunity trading.  Their locale also enabled merchants to manage wholesale industries, taking raw materials and shipping back to Europe and getting European products and selling up and down the seaboard.  

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