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THE MIDDLE COLONIES. Included New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Demonstrated features that would later characterize American society as a whole. Least English of all the North American colonies. Most tolerant of religious and ethnic diversity. NEW NETHERLANDS.

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the middle colonies

Included New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware

Demonstrated features that would later characterize American society as a whole

Least English of all the North American colonies

Most tolerant of religious and ethnic diversity

new netherlands
  • Claimed by Dutch
    • Began to settle area in 1624
    • Named it “New Netherlands”
  • Collection of fortified trading posts to engage in fur trade with Indians
    • Plan never worked well
    • By 1640 the colony only held 5000 discontented settlers
      • Angry at sloppy and haphazard administration
      • Angry at having most of their profits siphoned off by merchants headquartered in New Amsterdam
    • At the same time, English settlers from New England moved into area and refused to recognize authority of Dutch administrators
english take over
  • English government recognized problems in New Netherlands and exploited situation
    • Four British warships landed soldiers at New Amsterdam in 1664 and forced Dutch governor to surrender colony
birth of new york
  • King Charles II gives entire colony to his brother, James, Duke of York
    • A “proprietary colony”
      • Owned by a single individual
    • Colony renamed New York
    • New Amsterdam renamed New York City

James, Duke of York

diversity and toleration
  • Because colony included Dutch settlers, English authorities were forced to tolerate ethnic and religious differences right from the start
  • Policy of toleration made colony somewhat attractive to dissatisfied people from other colonies and from various foreign countries in addition to England

Dutch cabin in New York

new york gentry
  • Duke of York gave huge tracts of land to friends
    • 12 friends received 2 million acres each in the 1690s
    • Created powerful aristocratic class in colony
    • Made it difficult for ordinary people to buy land and become independent small farmers
      • Had to rent land from gentry and become tenant farmers
  • This fact restricted immigration to New York despite its other attractions

Two members of New York gentry

  • Became haven for persecuted religious group in England
    • The Quakers
  • Founded in 1640s by George Fox
    • Real name was Society of Friends
  • Most democratic Protestant denomination of the time
    • No church government at all
    • Women treated as equals
    • Did not recognize superior social status
    • Refused to take oaths and were pacifists
    • Intense evangelicals
  • Suffered great deal of persecution
    • Fines for refusing to attend Church of England
    • Occasional imprisonment
william penn
  • Son a famous admiral, wealthy landowner, and friend of King Charles II
  • Wrangled an extraordinary gift from the king in 1680
    • In exchange for canceling the king’s huge debt to him, Penn was given a huge chunk of territory in the New World
      • Modern day states of Pennsylvania and Delaware
      • Planned to use this colony as a haven for persecuted Quakers from England

William Penn

Charles II

an instant success story
  • 4000 Quakers moved to the colony in 1681
    • 20 years later population was 21,000
    • By 1750, population was 120,000
  • Reasons for success
    • Rich farmland offered to settlers on generous terms
      • Any man who brought his family over received 500 acres of land
        • Only had to pay small quitrent to Penn every year
    • Complete religious freedom was guaranteed to all
      • Could belong to any denomination
pennsylvanian diversity
  • Some settlers were from other colonies or England
    • But the majority were non-English inhabitants of the British Isles
      • Scots, Welsh, and Scotch-Irish
    • And Germans
scotch irish
  • Descendants of Scottish Presbyterians who had settled in northern Ireland in the 1500s
    • Militarily beat down native Irish and took their land
      • Created religious and ethnic hatred that still plagues Ireland today
  • England did not treat them well and, following a series of harvest failures in the 1720s, thousands left for North America
    • Their favorite destination was Pennsylvania
    • Over 100,000 came over between 1720-1770
  • Most came from small states along the Rhine River
    • Some were Mennonites and Amish who suffered religious periodic persecution
    • Others came to escape heavy taxes and poor harvests
  • By 1776, over 100,000 had come to America
    • Favorite destination were Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

a mixed blessing
  • Scotch-Irish were mean and cantankerous, hated the English, had no respect for authority, and were difficult to keep in line
  • Germans also did not like the English, resisted English authorities, and clung to their own culture and language and refused to assimilate into English culture
the frontier
  • Both groups tended to settle on the frontier, in clusters of their own kind, squatting on vacant land
    • Often responded with violence when authorities challenged their claims
  • Scotch-Irish were especially hostile towards Indians
    • Caused headaches for Quaker officials in Pennsylvania
  • Immigration cannot explain all this growth
    • One historian has estimated that if immigration had been the only reason for population growth, the total population in 1776 would have been 400,000—not 2.5 million
  • Natural Increase was the most important source for the American population explosion
    • More births than deaths
larger families
  • Americans had larger families than their counterparts back home
    • Colonial women married at a younger age than European women
      • Increased potential child-bearing years of women
    • Death rate was lower
      • Probably due to low density of settlement
      • Also Americans had better and more reliable diets than Europeans
colonial drinking
  • Colonists were heavy drinkers
    • Average white male colonist over the age of 15 drank the equivalent of one quart of 80-proof whiskey a week
    • Believed alcohol was nutritious and healthy
      • Even Puritans drank
    • Most popular drinks were fermented cider in the north and rum in the south
drunkeness and temperance
  • Most alcohol consumed in small amounts over the entire day
    • Usually with food
  • Actual drunkenness was relatively rare
    • But did become more common in the 1700s
    • Caused some to view it as serious problem
      • Some doctors argued it was a poison
      • Quakers and Methodists objected on religious grounds
  • Temperance movement had little impact on drinking habits of Americans until the 1850s
hector st jean de cr vecoeur
  • “American society is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess everything, and of a herd of people who had nothing. A pleasing uniformity of decent competence appears throughout their habitations. They have no princes for whom they toil, starve, and bleed. They have the most perfect society now existing in the world.”
american society i
  • Although Crèvecoeur exaggerated, the American colonies were a different society from Europe
    • Vast majority of colonists were independent farmers, working land that they owned
      • Not tenant peasants
american society ii
  • Some historians argue that American colonies were becoming more like Europe as time went on
  • A wealthy elite did develop, but that did not necessarily mean that opportunities were closing down for ordinary people
planter elite of the south
  • Owners of the great plantations were among the richest and most powerful men in the colonies
    • Elegant estates like Mount Vernon and Monticello rivaled the mansions of the English aristocracy
  • As time went on, it became increasing difficult for ordinary men to break into this privileged circle
    • Planter elite therefore became more narrow and exclusive and took on many characteristics of an aristocracy

Mount Vernon

northern society
  • Wealthy class also developed in the north
    • Mainly merchants involved in international trade
  • But it was less wealthy than southern planter elite
  • It was also easier to enter
    • Hardworking craftsman or shopkeeper could do it with a little luck, the right contacts, and a lot of drive and nerve

Boston merchant

the frontier25
  • Although heavily forested, claimed by Indians, and far from protection of colonial governments, it provided the chance to many to become an independent farmer
  • Major reason why the colonies did not become carbon copies of European society
    • Provided a “critical safety valve” for the discontented and dissastified
    • Created American tradition of moving in order to find better opportunities