The Middle Colonies Of America By: cLara guyot, arvand marandi, liam palmer

Formation of the Middle Colonies:

The middle colonies were formed by joining the New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware colonies. Henry Hudson was one of the first people to visit what would later be called the middle colonies in 1609. After the discovery was made, the Dutch colonized what they called New Netherlands, later renamed New York. There was a large surge of people all joining in the middle colonies which is what I believe was so special about the area, it was a place that allowed the sharing of ideas and culture and that was not an easy thing to find at the time.

William Penn:

William Penn was born in 1644 as a Quaker. In london at the time, his religious beliefs were not widely accepted. King Charles II owed William a large sum of money. Instead of being payed back in money, William Penn was granted the Pennsylvania colonies in march of 1681. The Penn family was a very prominent and important family. None of them were Quakers except for William, so they were willing to do anything to remove him from their presence. So they sent home off to the New World. Shortly there after, in April of 1681, the first laws and government rules were written up. William Penn named them The First Frame of Government. The government system was one of the first tries at a citizen election system.

William Penn

Constitutions in the Middle Colonies:

The Delaware colony was founded by Peter Minuit in 1938. The Delaware colony was named after the Delaware river which was first explored in 1915. Like the Pennsylvania constitution, The Delaware colony believed in an election system. They were also very passionate about religious an cultural freedom. The constitution for the Delaware colonies reads,

“ART. 26. No person hereafter imported into this State from Africa ought to be held in slavery under any presence whatever; and no negro, Indian, or mulatto slave ought to be brought into this State, for sale, from any part of the world.” - Delaware Colony Constitution

There is was a similar act in each one of the colonies constitution, this common belief of Democracy and freedom brought the Middle Colonies together. This constitutional belief that slavery should and will not be permitted comes into play many times in U.S history including the Civil War. The original Middle Colonies belief that all men are created equal is seen today in the Declaration of Independence. The Colonies that form the Middle Colonies all had a section speaking about equality and prohibiting the enslavement of any man or women. These beliefs were also spoken about in the Pennsylvania Constitution:

"That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety." - Pennsylvania Colony Constitution.
The Declaration of the thirteen colonies

The thirteen colonies all based their constitution off the original beliefs that the Middle Colonies had. The Middle Colonies paved the way for a constitution that believed in the equality and freedom of every man and woman.


During the time the Middle Colonies were being established, the natives were also thriving in the area. They were living without the fear of newcomers taking their land. Rather than forcing them out, the colonists established boundaries. The colonists had come from many different places and all joined together in the middle colonies along side the natives living there at the time.

The Dutch inhabited most of the New Netherlands (New York) colonies in 1626. The New Netherlands colony was the first of the middles colonies to be established. New Jersey was the first of the Middle Colonies to be established by Quakers in specific.

Economy in the middle colonies:

The middle colonies had a large and prosperous economy. The middle colonies were mainly agricultural, as they were large producers of grains, oats, and corn due to their superfluous amount of land. Along with the largey successful agriculture of the middle colonies, their economy also relied on logging and paper making. Finished products and iron manufacturing also became an importance to the colonies. Then there came the Pennsylvania long rifle, an adaption of the German hunting rifle, and an important product to the economy of the middle colonies.

Farming in the Middle Colonies
"ART. 29. Here shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this State in preference to another;"

Along with all this, they had an efficient transportation system, which sparked numerous businesses. Trade with the Native Americans became important, making trade very important to the colony, and Philadelphia became one of the most important cities for foreign trade.

And no clergyman or preacher of the gospel, of any denomination, shall be capable of holding any civil once in this State, or of being a member of either of the branches of the legislature, while they continue in the exercise of the pastorial function." - Delaware Colony Constitution

Diversity in the Middle Colonies:

The middle colonies were a very diverse area for their time. The economy thrived and the middle colonies became one of the most successful places of the time. Europeans from countries such as England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany and the Netherlands all became united in the middle colonies. Workers had also been brought for Africa to aid in the development of the land. These areas also had an abundance of religions, including Lutherans, Quakers, Moravian, Amish, Dunkers, Presbyterians, and Catholics. What differed the middle colonies from most other places at the time, was that they were not united by a single cultural or religious belief. What gave these colonies their diversity was their combination of Northern lumbering and Southern farming. People also had the freedom to believe in what they wanted freely and without fear of persecution. This Diversity allowed the Middle Colonies to thrive and continuously bring in new citizen and expand their territory. The Colony of Pennsylvania believed in this so much, it was added into their constitution:

There shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this State in preference to another; and no clergyman or preacher of the gospel, of any denomination, shall be capable of holding any civil once in this State, or of being a member of either of the branches of the legislature, while they continue in the exercise of the function.

The New Jersey Constitution also made reference to the acceptance of religions no matter what their beliefs may be. The middle colonies not only had religious diversity, but since the religions came from all over the world, they had cultural diversity as well.

That no person shall ever, within this Colony, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner, agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor, under any presence whatever, be compelled to attend any place of worship, contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall any person, within this Colony, ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rates, for the purpose of building or repairing any other church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or has deliberately or voluntarily engaged himself to perform.
The Quakers in church

The Quakers:

The Quakers were a very prominent population in the middle colonies. They were not always well respected in the places they came from and were persecuted in England because of their belief that all men and women are created equal and deserve equal opportunity and equal treatment. The Quakers believed in complete equality, so they would not bow down to leaders which made them a target. The formation of new colonies, mainly the Pennsylvania colony, that supported the diverse religions made a great home for the Quakers to practice freely. Pennsylvania was named a haven for the Quakers, the society of friends.

A pace of worship for the Quakers
"That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding: And that no man ought or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship" - Pennsylvania Colony Constitution

As quoted above, religious freedom was a big part of what the Middle Colonies represented. Philadelphia became a hub for religious freedom. New Jersey had previously been owned by Quakers and the colonies fell under the influence of William Penns dream.

"And that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner controul, the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship." - Pennsylvania Colony Constitution.

Affects on us today:

The Middle Colonies were founded based on the idea that all should have religious freedom. Everything that happened in The Middle Colonies and even then 13 colonies afterwords was because of the idea of religious freedom. Penn had achieved religious freedom in the new colonies. William Penn started a trend that lasts still today. If he had not persued his belief, our country and the world might be a very different place.

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