Colonies

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Life was very hard in colonial America in the 17th & 18th centuries. There were 13 colonies all with different purposes. Many colonists came to America to flee religious persecution in England or to find work in the colonies. By 1750 more than one million people were living in the thirteen colonies. It seems that the colonies were finally progressing from disease and feudal warfare with the Native Americans. The colonies also were beginning to show diverse groups of people. Many came to America due to war in their countries like Germany, or economic conditions like Ireland and Scotland. Others came in chains like the Africans to become slaves.

At mid-century just a quarter million Africans lived in the colonies. The slave numbers have increased as well as those of the whites. This was due to a combination of immigration, some forced, and natural increase. The supply of indentured servants decreased because work opportunities had improved in England. Due to this, there were more slaves imported from Africa or transshipped from the West Indies. The majority of slaves lived in the southern colonies, but there was regional variation in distribution. In some districts of the sparsely populated South Carolina colony, blacks outnumbered whites by as much as eight to one, and they were able to retain their African culture more than slaves who were taken to Virginia or Maryland.

The majority of colonists were farmers. In New England the rocky soil, short growing season, and practice of dividing farms between siblings led families to barely subsistent living. The crops they grew were barley, wheats, and oats which were grown in England too so they had little export value unlike the crops grown in southern plantations. Many New Englanders left farming to fish or produce lumber, tar, and pitch that could be exchanged for English manufactured goods. In the Middle Colonies, richer land and a better climate created a small surplus. Corn, wheat, and livestock were shipped...
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