Mr. Beat's band: http://electricneedleroom.net/
Mr. Beat on Twitter: https://twitter.com/beatmastermatt
Here's the story of how life was like in the 13 British American colonies.
Music by Electric Needle Room. All images found in the public domain or by Matt Beat.
Once upon a time, there were 13 British colonies along the east coast of North America. Today we classify these colonies into three groups: 1) The New England Colonies 2)The Middle Colonies and 3) The Southern Colonies
All the colonies had a lot of self-government and most white men could vote, as long as they had property. All of the colonies were prosperous grew quickly.
In 1625, the population of the colonies, not including Native Americans, was around 2,000. By 1775, that number had swollen to 2 and a half million, and this group in 1775 didn’t have nearly as much in common with or as much loyalty to their European ancestors. Yep, these American colonies had developed a brand new, very distinct, society, and soon they would be leaving their European ancestors behind.
The New England colonies were generally more religious, and though its settlers came to America to practice their religion freely, they, ironically, did not tolerate any other religion other than their own. Massachusetts was made up of Puritans, but some Puritans didn’t think the Puritans in Massachusetts were devout enough, so they left and started the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven. Meanwhile, Puritans like Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams, who thought the Puritans in Massachusetts were too restrictive, left (well, they were kicked out) to form the colony of Rhode Island. Rhode Island actually had the freedom of religion and a radical idea of separating church and state.
In New England towns along the coast, the colonists made their living fishing, whaling, and shipbuilding. Because farming was difficult, New England began to develop manufacturing with industries like shipbuilding to make money. Being furthest north, the New England colonies were the coldest, but because of this there was less disease than in the warmer colonies further south.
The Middle Colonies were the most diverse by far of the colonies. Different ethnic groups like the English, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, Scots-Irish and French lived closer together here than they ever did in Europe.
There were also many different religions, most Christian denominations, such as Quakers. With many religions came religious freedom, especially in Pennsylvania, the Quaker colony established by William Penn that had a constitution that protected many freedoms and would later influence the United States Constitution.
Economically, the middle colonies served as important shipping off point for valuable stuff to send back to Europe. Cities here, like New York and Philadelphia, grew quickly. Being in the middle (I know, such an original name, right?) put these colonies in the middle of everything, really. Ideas, society, culture, the economy, you name it. They also had much more fertile soil than the North. Farming The Southern Colonies, which also had very fertile soil, were all about the cash crops- mostly tobacco, but also rice, cotton, and indigo. Here, large plantations sprung up that required a large labor force. To fill this labor force, plantations often brought in both slaves and indentured servants to take care of the work. Slavery became an important part of the economy in the South. Being furthest south, the winters were more mild, but the hot and humid summers caused more diseases like malaria and yellow fever to spread easily. Life expectancy was lowest in the southern colonies.
There was also more religious tolerance in the southern colonies, even in Maryland, which was originally established for Roman Catholics.
Georgia was the southernmost colony and the last of the colonies established. James Oglethorpe had the idea to relocate thousands of prisoners from England who were there because they couldn’t pay back their debts to Georgia to start a new life, and King George II went along with it because the colony could be a buffer between Spanish Florida and the rich plantations of South Carolina. Plus, it was named after him.
Overall, the 13 colonies were extremely diverse, almost like 13 little countries. However, they all had a lot in common. They had similar political, constitutional, and legal systems, and most of them were WASPs. No, not those wasps. WASP- it stands for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Most colonial families were self reliant. Also, this might surprise you, all of colonies had legal slavery
was big. They produced lots of wheat and corn, and raised lots of livestock. Other industries here included the production of iron ore, lumber, textiles, furs and shipbuilding.