How did the Middle Colonies make Money?

How many Middle Colonies were there? What was the Middle Colonies Economic Profit Source? How did the Middle Colonies make Money? Which Colony was the Most Successful?

Business, Countries, History, Money

The history of the middle colonies has always been very fascinating. The middle colonies were a subset of the thirteen colonies of British America and were located between the New England colonies and the Southern colonies. The Middle colonies were very successful and they were known as the Breadbasket colonies. But why were they so successful? How did the middle colonies make money? Was it because of their rich agriculture and growing variety of crops? How did middle colonies have cash crops? This article would in-depth discuss the middle colonies and the mantra behind their success. Move forward in the article to get all your doubts cleared.

1. Which Colony was the Most Successful?

The thirteen colonies of British America which made up the United States of America can be divided into three geographic regions- The Middle East colonies, the New England colonies, and the Southern colonies. These colonies were made up of: 

  • The Middle East colony– New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware
  • The New England colony– New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut
  • The Southern colony- Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia

Jamestown, Virginia, the Southern colony was the first successful colony. Some industries of the Middle colonies were very successful. But the Massachusetts Bay Colony or which was renamed Massachusetts colony was part of the New England colony and was the most successful and profitable colony. (See What is the most Southern state in America?)

2. How did the Middle Colonies make Money?

In the previous question, we learned that there were some industries in the Middle colonies that were very successful. In this question let’s throw some light on what were those industries and how did the middle colonies make money. The land in the Middle colonies was much more fertile making it a perfect place to grow staple crops. The area became a major exporter of wheat and other grains. The abundance of forests made the middle colony area successful in lumber and shipbuilding industries. The Pennsylvania region was also discreetly successful in the textile and iron industry. (See What are the Southern Colonies Government?)

3. How the Middle Colonies made Money in the 1700s?

Making money during ancient times was a hefty job as it is today. In this question let’s understand how did the Middle colonies make money in the 1700s. Because the soil in the middle colonies was so rich and fertile, many of the middle colonists farmed. Rivers were used to export their crops to the cities like Philadelphia and New York. Merchants in these cities would further sell these goods to other cities.

Many farmers even built their mills where they would make flour from wheat and then ship it to England. The farmers even harvested rye and corn which earned middle colonies the name Breadbasket colony. Around this time there were some artisans, people who make products by hand, which included blacksmiths, coopers, and cobblers. The products made by them were also exported to cities which were further sold in big cities. (See How much money is in the World?)

4. Did the Middle Colonies settle for Profit?

The middle colonies were doing so well for themselves. But how did the middle colonies make money? Did the middle colonies settle for profit? Let’s find out. Three of the Middle colonies which are Delaware, New York, and New Jersey were founded as trade centers. Pennsylvania on the other hand was originally established to be home to European immigrants, Quakers. The economy of the middle colonies was the reason people moved to the Middle colonies. And to consistently keep the economy in a good position, yes, the middle colonies settle for trade and profit. (See What were some Negative Effects of the Industrial Revolution?)

5. Did the Middle Colonies have Cash Crops?

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Middle colonies have fertile land, but did middle colonies have cash crops? Are these two correlated? Yes, the rich fertile soil and the good climate made the conditions suitable to grow cash crops. So much so that people would produce more than what they could consume and hence they were able to export grains to Europe. The main cash crops grown in the Middle colonies were: wheat, rye, corn, barley, and oats. Check out Why were Plantation Owners at the Top of Virginia Society?

6. Why were the Middle Colonies successful?

Yes, the Middle colonies were successful. The primary reason the middle colonies were successful was because of the favorable environment. The long growing season and warm and damp climate were appropriate for cash crops to grow, and cash crops are the crops that are always needed. Hence, these became huge exports which kept strengthening the economy. The lumber and shipbuilding and the iron and textile industries were also a good success which gave in a good share of contribution to the overall success of the Middle colonies. (See How was Rome a Site of Encounter?)

7. What did the Middle Colonies trade?

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The middle colony had a mild climate with warm winters and mild summers. Hence, the natural resources which were traded were: good farmland, timber, furs, and coal. Iron ore is another natural resource that was heavily traded. Since the middle colonies were huge food-producing areas, grains like corn and wheat were also traded. Beef and pork are other items that used to be heavily traded. And the other industries included lumber, coal, textiles, shipbuilding, etc. Check out Why was Cottage Industry Replaced by Mills?

8. How did the Middle Colonies model a Market Economy?

Still contemplating- how did the middle colonies model a market economy? The climate conditions in the middle colonies were very favorable to grow to sustain crops and hence the crops were produced in bulk. These crops were then exported to other cities and countries for trade. This looked like a pretty stable model of a market economy and hence the middle eastern colonies stuck to this mode of conducting trade. Not just the crops, the other natural resources were traded in bulk to maintain balance. Must read How is Demand used in Economics?

9. Why did the Middle Colonies Grow Quickly?

How did the middle colonies make money? The middle colonies grow quickly because they were in a good trade location between New England colonies and Southern colonies. The soil was good and because the growing season was longer, they could produce bulks of stock and export it to the cities of both New England colonies and Southern colonies. (See Why was Carnegie Steel considered a Vertical Monopoly?)

10. How did the New England Colonies make Money?

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The soil in New England colonies was not fertile and the growing season was for a short period of time, they could not produce many crops besides corn, beans, and squash. The grain or food production was not of much help hence, they relied on other ways to make money. In the other areas, the trade was primarily done through fishing, whaling, rum-making, and ship-building. (See Who gives the Authority to Colonize in a Charter Colony?)

11. How did Southern Colonies make Money?

We learned how did the middle colonies make money. Here let’s find out how did southern colonies make money. The Southern colony was an agricultural economy. Most colonists owned large farms which produced cash crops. The production of cash crops included cotton, tobacco, rice, and indigo. 

One conclusion that can be clearly drawn from the article is that the middle colonies had a very strong trade model and a variety of social and political structures. This article majorly focused on discussing the trade means of the Middle colonies and how did the middle colonies make money. We also learned which colony out of the three was the most successful and the reason behind its success. Hope this article was helpful. (Also read How did Colonists Identify with their Neighbors?)

About the author
Alex Williams is a PhD student in urban studies and planning. He is broadly interested in the historical geographies of capital, the geopolitical economy of urbanization, environmental and imperial history, critical urban theory, and spatial dialectics.

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