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Melanie Williams


A.P US History


The Effect Of Geography On English Colonies

The New England, Middle and Southern colonies were all English ruled, but yet very different. Among their distinctions, was the geography which played an important role in shaping these colonies. New England attracted Puritan farmers who wanted to separate from the Catholic Church. But because of the bone dry soil in the North, these colonists found they couldn't continue with their traditional ways of farming. However, with the immense amounts of water that surrounded them, they found that they could fish and trade. The Middle colonies on the other, hand had a moderate amount of everything. The fertile soil and the major seaports such as Philadelphia and New York, allowed these Middle colonists to make a living any way they saw fit. This led to the brisk development of the Middle Seaboard . Unlike the Middle and Northern colonies, the Southern colonies had large amounts of fertile land allowing for the development of large plantations. Because farming the plantations was the economic thrust for the South, towns and cities developed slowly. Thusly Geography greatly affected the lifestyles of these regions in the New World.

The characteristics that came to shape the life in New England were the rocky, barren soil, the extreme climate and the rich waters. Although there was farming in New England , colonists looked to other means of survival. They looked to the rich waters for fishing and trade. The coastline of New England was very fertile with sealife. So, fishing became a way of commerce and trade providing a steady economy to New England. Because of the rocky soil and extreme climate, the colonists were forced to plant many different crops on a small parcel of land. Although the cold climate may have prevented tremendous amount of farming, it did quell the spread of disease that flourished in the warmer climates. Therefore, because life expectancy was longer than that of the South enabling the growth of large families. Adults and children alike were expected to work, slave labor was not needed on the small farms in New England. Each family farmed enough to provide for their family. When indentured servants did come over to New England, they found that land was very dear. Those wanting to work in exchange for land found that they needed to go further south. Consequently, New England had the least ethnically mixed population of all the regions. The need for extensive travel was limited in the North. The reason for this was because the rivers were short and hard to negotiate. Therefore transportation by means of water was extremely difficult. The colonists found it proved to be more economical to settle close to one another. The northerners did make an effort to enrich their lifestyle by clearing forests for livestock .However this proved to be detrimental as the impact of cattle and other livestock over grazed the land which lead to extensive erosion and flooding. One positive aspect the resulted from the clearing of the land was the realization of the voluminous amounts of lumber that could be used for shipbuilding and exportation.

The small towns in New England were tightly built settlements that centered around the churches and schools. Strong family units were the building block of each town. Towns that housed more than fifty families were required to have an elementary school. So many did learn to read and write. Education took another positive turn when Massachusetts established Harvard University for boys in 1636. (Fifty nine years before Jamestown established their first university, William and Mary in 1693.) The seed of democracy began in the congregational church of New England which enabled men to vote and to have a say in how they're governed. Thus, the close knit towns and the small farms were precipitated by the geography and climate.

Meshed between the Northern and Southern colonies were the Middle colonies. Unlike the Northern colonies, the Middle colonies had fertile planting soil, that made it attractive to many. The lush land enabled colonists to produce large amounts of corn, wheat and other grains earning the name, "The Bread Colonies". With the plentiful land came rapid settlement and the growth of towns and cities. Charters and liberal democratic control



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