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Fun Facts About the Middle Colonies

The middle colonies refer to five of the original thirteen colonies established under British Rule in the seventeenth century, including New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. These five colonies were established between 1626 and 1682 for trade, profit, and religious freedom.

Fun Facts About the Middle Colonies

Facts about the Middle Colonies

Much of the land areas that would become the middle colonies was settled by the Dutch and was known as New Netherland until the British exerted control over the region. The middle colonies were populated by an influx of immigrants from Great Britain, Europe, and the southern colonies with opportunities for inexpensive land grants, religious tolerance, and increased trade.

New York

  • Peter Minuit founded New York in 1626 and called it "New Amsterdam."
  • The original colonists were of Dutch decent.
  • The city and its people came under British Control in 1664.
  • King Charles II bestowed the lands to his younger brother, the Duke of York. The colony was renamed New York in honor of the Duke.
  • From 1785 to 1790, New York was the capitol of the newly formed United States.

Maryland

  • The King of England confirmed the charter for Maryland in 1632.
  • Expeditions set out in 1633 took colonists to the newly confirmed land.
  • George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore in the Irish House of Lords, led the colonial expedition. He landed in Maryland in March, 1634.
  • Lord Calvert wanted to establish a haven for Catholics in the New World.
  • The colony was one of the few places in the British Empire where Catholics held and maintained strong political power.

Delaware

  • In 1638, Peter Minuit established the colony of Delaware to expand trade and profit for the Dutch colonies in the New World.
  • The Swedes who founded the first settlement claimed the land next.
  • Lord Baltimore would later claim the area of Delaware for his colony in Maryland.
  • It next passed from Lord Baltimore to the Duke of York when William Penn sold the land to him.
  • Contentions over Delaware continued until the Revolutionary war, when Delaware was given to the people who lived in the colony.

New Jersey

  • Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret founded two provinces, dubbed East and West Jersey, in 1660 for trade and profits.
  • The land was granted to the men by the Duke of York, who'd taken control of New Netherland (including New Amsterdam, which was renamed New York).
  • Quakers settled the area, calling them East and West Jersey. These two charters would later be unified into New Jersey in 1702.
  • The colony was the third to ratify the Constitution and the first to embrace the Bill of Rights.

Pennsylvania

  • William Penn, a Quaker, established the charter for Pennsylvania in 1682.
  • Penn was determined to establish religious freedom for his fellow Quakers in the New World.
  • William Penn negotiated to purchase the land from the Leni Lanape (a local Native American tribe) in order to establish peaceful relations.
  • He founded the city of Philadelphia (nicknamed the City of Brotherly Love) on dry land next to the shore of the Delaware River.
  • Philadelphia would become a busy port, home to shipwrights and philosophers.
  • Philadelphia became home to the Founding Fathers' (Link to Founding Fathers Fun Facts Article) debates for revolution and personal freedom.
  • Pennsylvania was the first colony to promise religious freedom and tolerance to settlers.

The Middle Colonies

Farmland was rich and fertile throughout the middle colonies, helping the area produce more food than the southern colonies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The middle colonies would also become home to the industrial revolution, establishing shipyards, and factories.