Middle Colonies were four of the thirteen colonies in British
America, located between the
New England Colonies
New England Colonies and the Southern
Colonies. Along with the Chesapeake Colonies, this area now roughly
makes up the
Mid-Atlantic states (though with the notable exception of
Vermont, which is reckoned with New England).
Middle Colonies were very similar to the New England colonies in
their stature[further explanation needed]. Much of the area was part
New Netherland until the Danish exerted their control over the
region. The British captured much of the area in their war with the
Dutch around 1664, and the majority of the conquered land became the
Province of New York. But The
Duke of York
Duke of York and the King of England
would later grant others ownership of the land which would become the
New Jersey and the Province of Pennsylvania. The Delaware
Colony later separated from Pennsylvania, which was founded by William
Middle Colonies had lots of fertile soil, which allowed the area
to become a major exporter of wheat and other grains. The lumber and
shipbuilding industries enjoyed success in the
Middle Colonies because
of the abundant forests, and
Pennsylvania saw moderate success in the
textile and iron industry. The
Middle Colonies were the most
ethnically and religiously diverse British colonies in North America;
they had settlers from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands,
and German states. The good farm land was much cheaper than in Europe.
With the new arrivals came various Protestant denominations, which
were protected in the
Middle Colonies by written freedom of religion
laws. This tolerance was very unusual and distinct from the situation
in other British colonies.
2 Province of New Jersey
3 Province of Pennsylvania
4 Province of New York
9.1 English colonists
10 See also
12.1 Primary sources
Middle Colonies were explored by
Henry Hudson on a journey into
Hudson River and
Delaware Bay in 1609. The Dutch soon claimed the
land. Although the Swedes and the Dutch fought over the land in the
1630s through the ultimately the Dutch claimed the land, calling it
New Netherland. In the 1660s, the English largely conquered this
land from the Dutch, renaming the area New York after the Duke of
York, James II..
Province of New Jersey
Main articles: Bergen,
New Netherland and Province of New Jersey
Map showing the borders of West
New Jersey (left) and East New Jersey
King Charles II renamed the land west of the
Hudson River New Jersey
and gave the region between New England and Maryland to his brother,
Duke of York
Duke of York (later King James II of England) as a proprietary
colony. James II later granted the land between the Hudson River
Delaware River to two friends who had been loyal to him
through the English Civil War:
Sir George Carteret
Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley
of Stratton. This land grant became the Province of New Jersey.
In 1665, the
Concession and Agreement was written in an effort to
entice settlers to New Jersey. This document provided for religious
freedom, no taxes without assembly approval, and a governor appointed
by the proprietors. The first governor appointed in this way was
Philip Carteret, who founded Elizabethtown. Colonists were required to
pay annual quit-rent taxes. On March 18, 1674, after encountering
difficulty collecting the taxes, Lord Berkeley sold his share in the
colony to Edward Byllynge, a Quaker businessman from London. This
New Jersey into
East Jersey and West Jersey; however, the
border between the two was not agreed upon until the Quintipartite
Deed in 1676. From 1701 to 1765, colonists skirmished in the New
New Jersey Line War over disputed colonial boundaries.
On April 15, 1702, Queen Anne united West and
East Jersey into one
Royal Colony, the Province of New Jersey. Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of
Clarendon became the royal colony's first governor. After Hyde was
recalled to England in 1708 over charges of graft, bribery, and
corruption, the governor of New York was charged to also preside over
New Jersey. Finally, in 1738, King George II appointed a separate
governor, Lewis Morris, to run New Jersey.
The Provincial Congress of New Jersey, made up of elected delegates,
formed in January 1776 to govern the colony. The Congress had Royal
William Franklin arrested on June 15, declaring him "an enemy
to the liberties of this country". On July 2, 1776, New Jersey
New Jersey State Constitution, soon after having empowered
delegates to the Continental Congress, on June 21, to join in a
declaration of independence. The United States Declaration of
Independence ended their colonial status.
Province of Pennsylvania
Main article: Province of Pennsylvania
Chester Courthouse in
Pennsylvania was built in 1724
King Charles II granted the land for the
Pennsylvania Colony to
William Penn on March 4, 1681 as payment for a debt the crown owed his
family. Penn wrote the Frame of Government of
departing for the colony, which called for religious tolerance towards
many groups, including the
Religious Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends and local
natives. As a proprietary colony, Penn governed Pennsylvania, yet
its citizens were still subject to the English crown and laws.
Penn's cousin William Markham served as the first colonial deputy
Demarcated by the
42nd parallel north
42nd parallel north and 39th parallel north,
Pennsylvania was bordered by the
Delaware River and the colonies of
New York, Maryland, and New Jersey. In 1704, Dutch land given to
Penn by the
Duke of York
Duke of York was separated and once again became part of
Delaware Colony. From 1692 to 1694, revolution in England
deprived Penn of the governance of his colony. The Pennsylvania
Assembly took this opportunity to request expanded power for elected
officials, led by David Lloyd. Upon visiting the colony in 1669 and
1701, Penn eventually agreed to allow their Charter of Privileges to
be added to the constitution. When the British banned western
expansion in 1764, fighting among colonists and against the natives
swelled. In 1773,
Arthur St. Clair
Arthur St. Clair ordered the arrest of a Virginian
officer who was commanding troops against armed settlers loyal to
Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanian revolutionary sentiment continued to grow,
and Philadelphia, the largest city in America, soon became the meeting
place of the Continental Congress. The publication of the Pennsylvania
Constitution of 1776 by locally elected revolutionaries concluded the
history of the Colony, and began the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Province of New York
Province of New York
Province of New York and New Netherland
The first Dutch settlements in the New York area appeared around 1613.
The English captured the
New Netherland Colony from the Dutch in 1664,
renaming it the
Province of New York
Province of New York after the King's brother, the
Duke of York
Duke of York (later King James II). The Dutch recaptured the colony
in July 1673 during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, but gave it back to the
English under the Treaty of Westminster in exchange for Suriname. The
Duke of York
Duke of York never governed the colony himself: he instead appointed
governors, councils, and other officers to run the government. Richard
Nicolls served as the first governor of New York.
In 1665, the Province of
New Jersey split from New York; however, the
New Jersey Line War continued until the final borders were
decided in 1769, and approved by the legislatures and the King in 1772
and 1773 respectively. A Colonial Assembly convened in October 1683,
making New York the last colony to have an assembly. A constitution
was drafted and passed on October 30, 1683, giving the colonists many
rights, including the rights to no taxation without representation.
However, upon learning of the constitution, James II declared it
Duke of York
Duke of York became King James II of England, New York became
a royal province. In May 1688 the province briefly became part of the
Dominion of New England. When James II was overthrown, the citizens of
New York rebelled against the Royal Governor in Leisler's
Henry Sloughter became governor in March 1691, the
rebellion was crushed and its leader,
Jacob Leisler was arrested,
tried, and executed for treason. New York's charter and constitution
were reinstated soon after. In April 1775, American patriots formed
New York Provincial Congress
New York Provincial Congress to replace the assembly. Governor
William Tryon and all royal officials were forced from the colony on
October 19, 1775. Colonial status ended for the new state with the
United States Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence in July 1776.
Delaware changed hands between the Dutch and Swedes between 1631 and
1655. The Dutch maintained control of
Delaware until 1664, when Sir
Robert Carr took
New Amstel for the Duke of York, renaming it New
Castle. A Deputy of the Duke governed
Delaware from 1664 to
William Penn received his land grant of
1681, he received the
Delaware area from the Duke of York, and dubbed
them "The Three Lower Counties on the
Delaware River". In 1701,
after he had troubles governing the ethnically diverse Delaware
territory, Penn agreed to allow them a separate colonial assembly.
The partly unglaciated
Middle Colonies enjoyed fertile soil vastly
different from the nearby New England Colonies, which contained more
rocky soil. Because of the large grain exports resulting from this
soil, the colonies came to be known as the Bread Basket Colonies.
Pennsylvania became a leading exporter of wheat, corn, rye, hemp, and
flax, making it the leading food producer in the colonies, and
later states, between the years of 1725 and 1840. Broad navigable
rivers of relaxed current like the Susquehanna River, the Delaware
River, and the
Hudson River attracted diverse business. Fur trappers
moved along these rivers, and there was enough flow to enable milling
with water wheel power.
Abundant forests attracted both the lumbering and shipbuilding
industries to the Middle Colonies. These industries, along with the
presence of deep river estuaries, led to the appearance of important
ports like New York and Philadelphia. While the
Middle Colonies had
far more industry than the Southern Colonies, it still did not rival
the industry of New England. In Pennsylvania, sawmills and gristmills
were abundant, and the textile industry grew quickly. The colony also
became a major producer of pig iron and its products, including the
Pennsylvania long rifle and the Conestoga wagon. Other important
industries included printing, publishing, and the related industry of
The Middle Colonies’ political groups began as small groups with
narrowly focused goals. These coalitions eventually grew into diverse
and large political organizations, evolving especially during the
French and Indian War.
Middle Colonies were generally run by Royal or Proprietary
Governors and elected Colonial Assemblies. Many Middle Colony
constitutions guaranteed freedom of religion and forbade taxation
without representation. Royal governors were arrested or overthrown on
more than one occasion, most notably when
New Jersey arrested its
governor and during
Leisler's Rebellion in New York. Growing unrest in
Middle Colonies eventually led the region to become the meeting
place for the Continental Congress, and a center for revolution.
However, there were numerous pockets of neutrals and Loyalists.
Middle Colonies tended to mix aspects of the New England and
Southern Colonies. Landholdings were generally farms of 40 to 160
acres (16–65 hectares), owned by the family that worked it. In New
York's Hudson Valley, however, the Dutch patroons operated very large
landed estates and rented land to tenant farmers.
Middle Colonies were more diverse than the other
British colonial regions in North America and tended to be more
socially tolerant. For example, in New York, any foreigner professing
Christianity was awarded citizenship, leading to a more diverse
populace. As a consequence, early German settlements in the Americas
concentrated in the
Middle Colonies region.
Indentured servitude was
especially common in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York in the
eighteenth century, though fewer worked in agriculture.
German immigrants favored the Middle Colonies. German immigration
greatly increased around 1717, and many immigrants began coming from
the Rhineland. They were erroneously labeled the
(the German word for German is "Deutsch"), and comprised one-third of
the population by the time of the American Revolution. The industry
and farming skills they brought with them helped solidify the Middle
Colonies' prosperity. They were noted for tight-knit religious
communities, mostly Lutheran but also including many smaller sects
such as the Moravians, Mennonites and Amish
The Scotch-Irish began immigrating to the
Middle Colonies in waves
after 1717. They primarily pushed farther into the western frontier of
the colonies, where they repeatedly confronted the Indians. Other
groups included the French Huguenots, Welsh, Dutch, Swedes, Swiss, and
When the English took direct control of the
Middle Colonies around
Rhode Island had already been pushed into the
region by Puritans, while Episcopalian businessmen settled in
Philadelphia and New York City.
Baptists and Methodists settled in the
Welsh Tract of
Pennsylvania. While some Welsh colonists like Roger Williams, left to
found Rhode Island,
Anne Hutchinson founded a seed settlement in New
Rhode Island was not initially counted as part of New England,
having been excluded from the New England Confederation, but later
joined the Dominion of New England. Thus, the definition of the Middle
Colonies sometimes changed and overlapped with Rhode Island's colonial
boundaries. After joining the Dominion of New England, however, Rhode
Island was permanently thought of as a New England colony. New York's
initial possession of parts of Maine ensured a close relationship with
other New England colonies like
Vermont and a continuing New England
influence in the colony.
William Penn and the Lords Baltimore encouraged Irish Protestant
immigration, hoping they could obtain indentured servants to work on
their estates and on colonial developments. Often areas of the
Middle Colonies displayed prevalent Irish cultural influence.
Labor was always in short supply. The most common solution was
indentured servitude of young whites. These were teenagers in Britain
or Germany whose parents arranged for them to work for families in the
colonies until age 21, in exchange for their ocean passage. The great
majority became farmers or farm wives. By the mid-eighteenth
century, African American slaves comprised 12% of the population of
New York. Most were house servants in Manhattan, or farmworkers on
Middle Colonies were the religiously diverse part of the British
Empire, with a high degree of tolerance. The Penn family were Quakers,
and the colony became a favorite destination for that group as well as
German Lutherans, German Reformed and numerous small sects such as
Amish and Moravians, not to mention Scotch Irish
Presbyterians. The Dutch Reformed were strong in upstate New York and
New Jersey, and Congregationalists were important in Long Island. The
First Great Awakening
First Great Awakening invigorated religiosity and helped stimulate the
growth of Congregational, Methodist and Baptist churches. Non-British
colonists included Dutch Calvinist, Swedish Lutherans, Palatine
Mennonites, and the Amish.
New England Colonies
Colonial United States
^ Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in
Seventeenth-Century America (2nd ed. Cornell University Press; 2009)
^ a b Turner (1948), 83.
^ a b c Kammen (1996), 71-72.
^ a b Streissguth (2001), 96.
^ a b John E. Pomfret, Colonial New Jersey: A History (1973)
^ Berkeley and Carteret (1664).
^ Gerlach (2002), 384.
^ a b Elson (1904), 148.
^ Skemp (1990), 192.
^ a b
Pennsylvania Society of Governors (1916), 180-181.
^ a b c Penn (1682).
^ a b c d e f
Pennsylvania State History.
^ Jerome R. Reich, Leisler's Rebellion: A Study of Democracy in New
York, 1664-1720 (1953)
^ a b c Faragher (1990), 106-108
^ State of
Delaware (A Brief History) (2007).
^ Ebeling (1979)
^ Edwin J. Perkins, The Economy of Colonial America (1988)
^ Greene (1997), 709.
^ Jensen (1968), 461-468.
^ a b c d Fischer (1992), 972.
^ Sung Bok Kim, "A New Look at the Great Landlords of
Eighteenth-Century New York," William and Mary Quarterly Vol. 27, No.
4 (Oct., 1970), pp. 581-614 in JSTOR
^ Westerkamp (1998), 452.
^ A. G. Roeber, Palatines, Liberty, and Property: German
British America (1998)
^ James Graham Leyburn, The Scotch-Irish: A Social History (1989)
^ Stephan Thermstrom, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic
^ Marcus Jernegan, Laboring and Dependent Classes in Colonial America,
^ Ira Berlin and Leslie Harris, Slavery in New York Some work in the
fields of plantations.(2005)
^ Patricia U. Bonomi, Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and
Politics in Colonial America (2003)
Bod, Wayne. "The Middle Colonies." in Louise A. Breen, ed., Converging
Worlds: Communities and Cultures in Colonial America (2013): 219+.
Bodle, Wayne, “The Mid-Atlantic and the American Revolution,”
Pennsylvania History 82#2 (Summer 2015), 282–99.
Channing, Edward (1908). A History of the United States: vol. 2, A
Century of Colonial History, 1660-1760. MacMillan.
Doyle, John Andrew. English Colonies in America: Volume IV The Middle
Colonies (1907) online
Ebeling, Walter (1979). The Fruited Plain: The Story of American
Agriculture. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
ISBN 978-0-520-03751-9. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
Faragher, John Mack, ed. (1990) The Encyclopedia of Colonial and
Revolutionary America. New York: Sachem Publishing Associates, Inc.
Fischer, David Hackett (1992). Albion's Seed. Oxford UP.
Greene, Jack P (1997). "Political Partisanship in the Middle American
Colonies: 1700-1776". The Journal of Interdisciplinary History.
Cambridge: MIT Press. 27 (4).
Illick, Joseph E. Colonial Pennsylvania: A History (1976)
Kammen, Michael (1996). Colonial New York: A History. Oxford
University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-510779-1.
Landsman, Ned. Crossroads of Empire: The
Middle Colonies in British
North America (Johns Hopkins University Press; 2010) 248 pages
Munroe, John A. Colonial Delaware: A History (2003)
Penn, William (February 2, 1683). "Frame of Government of
Pennsylvania". Avalon Project. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
Pennsylvania State History: The Quaker Province: 1681-1776".
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Archived from the
original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2009.
Skemp, Sheila (1990). William Franklin: son of a patriot, servant of a
king. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505745-7. Retrieved 4
Slavery: Growth in Colonial America. Detroit: UXL of the Gale Group.
Delaware (A Brief History). State of Delaware. 2007-01-21.
Streissguth, Thomas (2001). New Jersey. Lucent Books.
Tanner, Edwin Platt (1908). The Province of
New Jersey 1664-1738. New
York City: Columbia University. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
Tiedemann, Joseph S. "A Tumultuous People: The Rage for Liberty and
the Ambiance of Violence in the
Middle Colonies in the Years Preceding
the American Revolution,"
Pennsylvania History Volume 77, Number 4,
Autumn 2010, pp. 387–431 in Project MUSE
Tiedemann, Joseph S. “Interconnected Communities: The Middle
Colonies on the Eve of the American Revolution,” Pennsylvania
History, 76 (Winter 2009), 1–41.
Turner, F.C. (1948). James II. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.
"United States". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Retrieved 5 March
Westerkamp, Marilyn (1998). The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's
History. Houghton Mifflin.
Gerlach, Larry (editor) (2002). "
New Jersey in the American
Revolution, 1763-1783: A Documentary History" (PDF). New Jersey
Historical Commission. Retrieved July 13, 2017. CS1 maint: Extra
text: authors list (link)
Bodle, Wayne. "Themes and Directions in Middles Colonies
Historiography, 1980–1994", William and Mary Quarterly, July 1994,
Vol. 51 Issue 3, pp. 355–88. JSTOR 2947435.
Bodle, Wayne. "The "Myth of the Middle Colonies" Reconsidered: The
Process of Regionalization in Early America",
Pennsylvania Magazine of
History and Biography, Vol. 113, No. 4 (Oct. 1989), pp. 527–548.
Greenberg, Douglas. "The
Middle Colonies in Recent American
Historiography", William and Mary Quarterly, July 1979, Vol. 36 Issue
3, pp. 396–427. JSTOR 1943383.
Thirteen Colonies of Colonial America
New England Colonies
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Early English colonial entities