The Economy of the 1700s: New England, Middle and Southern Colonies

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More outposts arose from the major cities along neighboring rivers, but the Chesapeake Bay was the only outpost with no single primary port. Chesapeake Bay’s other ports included: Baltimore, Annapolis, Alexandria, and Norfolk; these of which had expanded from there, though due to the many rivers around the Bay, most Atlantic ships had sailed to separate villages and outposts for trade and business. The population began to spread through the coast, and thus brought various cultures and races to America that was due to other countries, such as Europe, decrease in death rates, which in turn impacted population growth. Along with Europe, people from other places such as India, Spain, and Germany had begun to move towards the colonies and started to work and/or trade in specific regions. There were five major regions in which people migrated to during this period: New England, The Middle Colonies, Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina, and South Caroline & Georgia.

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Beginning at around the 1710’s, local commercial systems became the majority of the trade that went on between the colonies. Boats, wagons, and trails became the strength of the economy that led to steady growth between each region and its people. Not too long after, farmers and markets had begun trade with other nations for such things as new tools, pieces of cloth, and other manufactured goods in exchange for crops grown here. Farming became something more than only being for local consumption, it became a staple in the trading market economy along with other goods. Not every region had the land to grow crops like more southern regions, so other goods were made to help colonies contribute to the trading market.

New England was one of the regions less fortunate in their crop market due to colder winters and rougher terrain that was unsuitable for farming. Instead, the people of New England began to supplement their market with goods produced from fishing, rum production from distilling sugar, and boat building. Boston, being New England’s only major port, benefited greatly from the materials brought in and traded out, as it created a thriving port economy that made it one of the best cities for international trade from Brittan to New England due to the shorter travel time between the two.

The Middle Colonies, which also had two of the few major port cities that played their role more in trading out rather than trading in, had a more diverse market than New England. With its rich land and its abundant supply of industrial power from water mills, the colony provided itself with easier access to crops such as wheat, corn, flour, meat, tobacco, and wood products that were traded out to other nations and to the other regions through the Great Wagon Road. Though the Middle Colonies had two major port cities, most of the market goods were produced on land rather than on sea compared to New England.

Being one of the largest colonies; the Chesapeake Bay had no major port cities but had been one of the major colonies that were part of the flow of goods from the Great Wagon Road and the North Caroline Piedmont region. The Chesapeake Bay had tobacco grown and picked by slaves; farmers that grew wheat, corn, hay, and raised livestock such as hogs and cows that were stationed beyond the Tidewater region. Animal trading had become one of this region’s trade market items around 1656, when they had adapted their livestock to compensate for the scarce labor and minimize altering the landscape.

North Carolina had more forests to work with than the middle colonies, producing goods such as tar, pitch, turpentine, and resin. Farmers manufactured crops such as tobacco and cotton, but with no major port cities, they resorted to sending their produce to their southern and northern colonies for export through the Piedmont region. North Carolina had also been one of the stopping points of the Great Wagon Road and had been almost the size of the Chesapeake Bay region due to its major role in trade and exports.

South Carolina and Georgia, being the furthest south of the five colonies, had primarily grown two crops: Rice and indigo. Both rice and indigo were African crops and had become the staples of the two states economies, provisions, along with resources from animals such as deer, were the other secondary market goods that were exported through the major port city, Charleston, and the Great Wagon Road. Having been a slave reliant region, Georgia had begun to permit slavery after 1750, with South Carolina joining later in the 18th century.

Through each region, there are trade routes from city to city that give easy access to trade within the colonies. Trails and roads took market goods from place to place, spreading the culture and market through each region, leaving no region isolated to the others. Travel took place on mainly roads as they provided a straightforward path to each region, the Great Wagon Road being one of the primarily used roads during this period led from the south of the middle colonies to North and South Carolina and starts near the port town of Philidelphia. The diversity of the geographical and human aspects of the land added a character of its own to the way they traveled from region to region, either on wagons or trail, both had contributed to the growth of the colonies enough that the people could have relied on international trade alone. Most of the paths they traveled were made up of mainly trails and old Indian paths, though a lot of trading had also been conducted through rivers, which had been a quicker and easier trade between regions. Places like the Chesapeake Bay was a major consumer of interstate trade, due to its ease of travel between the many active riverside trading centers such as: Hartford, Springfield, Kingston, Albany, Wilmington, Trenton, Savannah, and Augusta; which had all been on either riversides or bays. 

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