September 25, 2001
The Middle Colonies and a Middle Way
I. Introduction: The Middle Colonies and the Origins of Modern
II. New York and the Dutch Legacy
A. Henry Hudson and the Dutch "Discovery" of
Present-Day New York, 1609. Geographic advantages.
B. The Dutch Seaborne Commercial Empire
1. The United Provinces: Europe’s only republic, a wealthy,
entrepreneurial, secular and diverse society. A place people moved to, not from.
2. Dutch colonial strategy: dominate shipping, do business with
anybody, or else.
C. Dutch Colonialism on the North American Mainland
1. Commercial nature of colony: controlled by Dutch West India
Company, governor known as “Director General.”
2. The failure of New Netherland at everything but the fur trade
with Iroquois, cause of the “Beaver Wars.” Map of New Amsterdam
3. “Patroon” system of landed states largely failed but did
bring small Dutch farming population to Hudson Valley.
4. New Netherland culture: secular, diverse, not very Dutch.
5. More success under DG Peter Stuyvesant.
D. Beginnings of New York: Continuity after the English
E. Tolerating division: New York diversity and the origins of
III. A Note on Pennsylvania: William Penn’s Legacy of
A. Quaker qualities: non-Calvinist, egalitarian (no clergy!),
emphasis on “inner light” of each person; opposition to state control of
religion, pacifist, commercially-oriented, anti-slavery.
B. William Penn’s “Frame
of Government” (1681)
C. Pennsylvania politics: Battles between Philadelphia
commercial interests and rural ethnics, Quakers and the Penn descendants.
IV. The Middle Colonies and the18th-Century Population Explosion
A. Incredible population increases during 18th Century
B. Causes: Health and immigration.
1. Most important cause: natural increase of all races in all
regions. Fewer cities = better health, abundant land = better diet.
2. Migration of German, Scottish, and Scots-Irish to Middle
Colonies & interior South (plus Africans to plantation South.)
a) Due to European wars, religious and ethnic oppressions.
b) Recruitment by proprietors, manor lords, and speculators.
c) Attractive M.C. social conditions: “The best poor man’s country” in the
3. Results for Middle Colonies: An ethnic “salad bowl” of
relatively prosperous farm families and growing cities. The real America?