Middle Colonies

Kristina Stokes

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The Four Middle Colonies Include:

  • Delaware
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • New Jersey


The Delaware Colony was founded in 1638 by Peter Minuit and New Sweden Company. It was named after the Delaware River whose name was derived from that of Sir Thomas West (Lord de la Warr) who was Virginia Company's first governor. The two main reasons for the founding of Delaware were the trade and agricultural opportunity that the state presented. The soil was fertile which was the main reason for agriculture and it had thriving forests for manufacturing and lumber. Delaware had a widely mixed economy based on the different industries it had. It had fertile land that was great for agriculture. Grain, Rice and Indigo were commonly grown and harvested amongst the colonists. Delaware was vastly covered in forests as well, which made the lumber industry a thriving one. Other industries included shipbuilding and ironwork, as well as trading for greater economic strength. The predominant religion in the colony of Delaware was Proprietary. However because the colony practiced tolerance in religion many other religions were practiced in the colony. The system of government in place at the time was Constitutional Anarchy. Delaware shared a government system with Pennsylvania, which was based on democratic rule. In the 1660s it had an estimated population of five hundred people. Before the arrival of the first European settlers, the Delaware River Valley was inhabited by a group of Native Americans called the Lenni Lenape, which means "original people."


The colony of Pennsylvania was founded in 1681 by William Penn, the land was granted to him by Britain to pay the debt owed to Williams father. The colony was founded for two reasons. Firstly the colony was founded because Britain gave the land to William Penn to repay debt owed to his father. Secondly it was founded as safe haven for Quakers. The religion was illigal in England, so quakers fled to Pennsylvania in search of refuge. The fact that the reason the colony was founded was because of Quaker refuge, it is shown that the religion in this colony was Quaker/ Proprietary. Here they could practice their beliefs without conviction. The type of government in place was a very unceonventional one for that of someone who was not in royalty. William Penn and his heirs were exempt from taxes if signed by the freemen. The colonists also had a "charter of priviledges" however the system of government was still second to England's choice. From the beginning of the colony of Pennsylvania they had the leading agricultural area and they had an extra amount to export to Brittan to add to their wealth. The major crops were wheat and corn, but they also had rye, flax, and hemp. The agriculture produced many jobs and created a good economic base. Penn want to make a colony for people that were persecuted but later on various ethnic backgrounds came to the colony such as English, Germans, Scotch-Irish, African Americans, Dutch, and others. The colony had many people of different races and religions. In the 1680s the estimated population of Pennsylvania was seven hundred people.


The colony of New York was founded in 1626, and later taken over and claimed by the English in 1664. The colony was founded by Peter Minuit, a governor from dutch, who went on to rule all the Dutch lands in America, he mad much more power than most kings had. When it was claimed by the English it was renamed New York from the original new Netherlands, and named after James, the king's brother, who was the duke of York. Another important leader was Thomas Willett who was the first mayor of New York as an English colony. It was used to settle more land as part of the New World. England used new York as a New World port. The official religion of New York was Anglican and the Church of England. However, New York constantly took the approach of religious tolerance to any form of religion being practiced in the colony by the settlers. In terms of government, New York was loosely based on a democratic government. Every free man had the right to vote for the representatives on the assembly of representatives. The assembly created a fair set of rules and called it the "charter of liberties". The government was fair and just for the people of New York. The population in the 1640s was around 1,900 people. New York made the vast majority of its money from agriculture and manufacturing. In terms of agriculture it mainly consisted of Cattle farmers, as well as grain, rice, indigo and wheat farmers. Manufacturing was all about lumber and shipbuilding as well as iron work for multiple uses all around the colony.


The colony of New Jersey was founded by Dutch explorers who colonized the area, then in 1664 a fleet of ships under the control of Colonel Richards Nicolls defeated the Dutch, thus annexing the land for England, the English then became the dominant owners and leaders of the area.In 1664 Colonel Richard Nicolls lead a fleet of English ships into the port of New Jersey, where Fort Amsterdam was, the English fleet took control of the fort and its surrounding area, giving the control of these lands to the country of England. Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury was the first man to govern the colony under its new status of a royal colony. Edwards’s inefficiency and corrupt nature lead him to be a unsuitable governor for an English colony so he was deported back to England, Judge Lewis Morris became governor in 1738 after showing his motivation for a better colony by leading the trial against the corrupt Lord Cornbury. The colony of New Jersey was founded based on the ideal of mercantilism that was popular amongst the figure heads of the world powers of that time, they sought out to expand their territory past there own borders in order to increase profits and cash flow. In order to keep areas of the New World under their control, the English sent their navy to annex Fort Amsterdam for Monarchy. The estimated population of New Jersey in the 1980s was 3,400 people. New Jersey consisted of Quakers, Catholics, Lutherans, Jewish and others. New Jersey's major industries were agricultural products and natural resourses such as cattle, grain, rice, and wheat.