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The British Middle Colonies in North America had a mix of both northern and southern features, creating a unique environment of early settlement by non-English Europeans. A combination of both urban and rural lifestyles made it more cosmopolitan, religiously pluralistic, and socially tolerant within a commercial atmosphere.
See the fact file below for more information on the Middle Colonies or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Middle Colonies worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Middle Colonies consisted of the middle region of the 13 colonies of the British Empire in North America, which included Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.
- In 1664, King Charles II granted the land between New England and Virginia to his brother James, the Duke of York, and in 1680, granted William Penn 45,000 square miles of land.
- These colonies were considered to be more accepting of various ethnicities as its population grew to include a variety of backgrounds such as Native American tribes of Algonquian and Iroquois language groups as well as Italians, Germans, Dutch, French, Swedish, Norwegians, Polish, Portuguese, and a sizable percentage of African slaves during the early years.
- In comparison to the exclusive Puritan New England, the middle colonies were more tolerant and presented a diversity of religions in its populace. The presence of Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, Lutherans, Dutch Calvinists, and Presbyterians made the dominance of one faith next to impossible.
- The Middle Colonies’ central location served as an advantage as they became an important distribution point in the English mercantile system and served as the crossroads of ideas from both sides of the Atlantic during the colonial period.
- The Middle Colonies were literally a middle ground between its borders to the North and South, wherein elements of both New England towns and sprawling country estates were manifested, and religious dissidents from all regions could settle in the relatively tolerant middle zone.
Economy in the Middle Colonies
- In terms of industry, the Middle Colonies had mixed aspects of the New England and Southern Colonies. Landholdings were farms sized 40 to 160 acres, owned by the family that worked them.
- Indentured servitude was also especially common in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York during the 18th century, although a small number worked in agriculture.
- In comparison to the South where the cash crop plantation system dominated, and to New England whose rocky soil made large-scale agriculture difficult, the Middle Colonies were gifted with fertile soil and land was generally acquired more easily.
- Having richer and less rocky soil, the territory was able to produce and export wheat and other grains to its constituent colonies, becoming known as the Breadbasket Colonies.
- Pennsylvania became a prominent exporter of wheat, corn, rye, hemp, and flax, making it the leading food producer in North America from 1725 to 1840.
- The Middle Colonies also boasted of its abundant forests which attracted lumbering and shipbuilding industries. In Pennsylvania, sawmills and grist mills proliferated, and the textile industry grew quickly.
- Other significant industries also included printing, publishing, and the related industry of papermaking.
- New Netherland was founded by Henry Hudson in 1609. It’s the region located on the eastern coast of North America, which encompassed parts of the later states of New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
- Chartered in 1614, New Amsterdam was a colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, and by 1624, it became a province of the Dutch Republic.
- Dutch culture dominated the region for two centuries as their concepts of civil liberties and pluralism became pillars of American political and social life.
The English Takeover
- England’s King Charles II had his eyes set on the New Netherland, following the imperial rivalry during the Anglo-Dutch wars of the 1650s and 1660s as the two powers sought to gain economic and trade advantages in the Atlantic.
- During the Second Anglo-Dutch War from 1664 until 1667, the English army took over the Dutch fur trading colony of New Netherland and Charles II gave this colony to his brother James, Duke of York. The colony and city were then renamed in his honor.
- The Dutch were able to recapture the colony during the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1673, however the English had regained control at the end of the battle.
- James, Duke of York, never set foot in his colony and exercised little power over it. Authority was administered through governors, councils, and other officers whom he appointed.
- It was only in 1683, almost 20 years after the English took over, that colonists convened for a local representative legislature and drafted the Charter of Liberties and Privileges which set out the rights of Englishmen such as the right to trial by jury and the right to representative government.
- Soon after the English had took over New Netherland, the Duke of York granted the land between the Hudson and Delaware rivers to his two faithful friends, Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, and named it New Jersey after the English Channel Island of Jersey.
- In an endeavor to increase the colony’s citizenry, the two proprietors granted fractions of lands to settlers and by enacting a law granting religious freedom to all inhabitants of New Jersey.
- In 1674, New Jersey was separated into two distinct provinces of East and West after one of the proprietors sold part of the colony to William Penn and the Quakers.
- The division further caused political turmoil until 1702, leading to the distribution of land into large stretches that later led to real estate speculation and subdivision.
- In 1702, East and West Jersey were reunited under the same royal governor of New York, which enraged the citizens of New Jersey because of the governor’s apparent favoritism to New York. This led King George II to appoint a separate governor for New Jersey in 1738.
Pennsylvania and Delaware
- William Penn established the Province of Pennsylvania in 1681 by royal charter which he received from Charles II and brought with him Quaker dissidents from England, Wales, the Netherlands, and France.
- Its colonial government was instituted after a year by Penn’s Frame of Government which consisted of an appointed governor, the proprietor, a Provincial Council, and a larger General Assembly.
- Between 1669 and 1672, Delaware was an integrated county under the Province of Maryland. The Mason-Dixon line is said to have legally resolved vague outlines between Maryland and Pennsylvania, and awarded Delaware to Pennsylvania.
- From 1682 until 1776, the Delaware Colony was part of the Penn proprietorship and was known as the Lower Counties. In 1701, it gained a separate assembly from the three upper counties, but continued to be ruled by the same governor as the rest of Pennsylvania.
- Delaware eventually gained autonomy and was finally separated from Pennsylvania, leading to its unique pioneer status as America’s first state, tied to neither province.
Middle Colonies Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Middle Colonies across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Middle Colonies worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the British Middle Colonies in North America which had a mix of both northern and southern features, creating a unique environment of early settlement by non-English Europeans. A combination of both urban and rural lifestyles made it more cosmopolitan, religiously pluralistic, and socially tolerant within a commercial atmosphere.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Colonial Census
- Colony Search
- Middle Pop Quiz
- Postcard From a Colony
- Different But Same
- Raise Your Flags
- Colonial Time Machine
- Colonial Mapping
- 3, 2, 1…Go!
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Link will appear as Middle Colonies Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 5, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.