How Did Geography Affect Where Colonists Settled

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Beginning in 1607, when ambitious English colonists settled in Jamestown, and continuing until the last of the thirteen colonies was established; geography was a substantial factor in the development of colonial America. The crops that essentially saved the colonists lives, such as tobacco, rice, and indigo, wouldn’t have grown without a certain type and amount of soil to grow properly. Also, the Appalachian Mountains and the dense forests provided a barrier for the colonists, preventing them from going too far west right away, and causing the colonies to form in the arrangement they did. Finally, the population was the most dense in middle colonies, such as New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania partly because of the mild landscape and fertile soil.

Early in the 1600’s, John Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas discovered tobacco. It was soon heavily sought after in Europe, and quickly became a cash crop for Virginia. After establishing the tobacco industry in Virginia, many of the other colonies soon followed suit. Unfortunately, tobacco quickly drains the nutrients of the soil that it is planted on. Without the plentiful and fertile soil that these settlers were using, it would have been very difficult for the colonists to survive much longer. Tobacco wasn’t the only crop that the colonists discovered early on, however. In South Carolina, many rice and indigo plantations began to emerge. In order for rice to grow, it needs to be planted in a swamp, or some other sort of low-watered area. The swamps of South Carolina were a perfect place to grow rice, and was considered a rich man’s crop because of the labor it took to harvest and grow it. Without certain soil and growing conditions, it would have been very difficult for the colonists to sustain themselves in the early years of America.

The natural landscape of what is now known as the United States also was a big part of how the original thirteen colonies developed. The Appalachian Mountains stretch...
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