History 3.3
September 25, 2001

The Middle Colonies and a Middle Way 

I. Introduction: The Middle Colonies and the Origins of Modern America

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 conquest.

E. Tolerating division: New York diversity and the origins of party politics.

III. A Note on Pennsylvania: William Penn’s Legacy of Tolerance

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 colonies.

3. Results for Middle Colonies: An ethnic “salad bowl” of relatively prosperous farm families and growing cities. The real America?