Population and settled area.—By 1760 the population of the English continental colonies was probably 1,650,000; of these the New England colonies contained about a half-million, the middle group about four hundred and fifty thousand, and south of the Mason-Dixon line there were about seven hundred thousand. Nearly half of the inhabitants were in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The bulk of the population still clung to the coastal regions, but the rivers had pointed the way to the interior; many of the valleys were occupied for a considerable distance, and the Germans and Scotch-Irish had penetrated the great valleys of the central and southern Appalachians. Practically the whole of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut had been occupied; to the northward extended three narrow lines of settlement, one along the New Hampshire and Maine coast as far as the Penobscot and extending fifty miles up the Kennebec, another reaching up the Merrimac for sixty miles into central New Hampshire, and a third following the Connecticut for fifty miles above the northern Massachusetts line. Long Island was almost entirely settled, as was the Hudson Valley to a point a little above Albany, and the lower Mohawk Valley had been settled. New Jersey, except in the central part and a small section of the eastern coast, was occupied. Eastern Pennsylvania, the lower valley of the Susquehanna, and adjacent valleys were peopled, as was the western shore of Delaware Bay. Maryland and Virginia were settled up to the mountains and had overflowed into the valleys of the Blue Ridge. In North Carolina the settlements extended back for a hundred and fifty miles or more from the coast and as far south as the valley of the Cape Fear River. In the back country of North and South Carolina and Georgia the valleys were occupied and the population had flowed over onto the eastern slopes of the Appalachians. The coast lands of South Carolina and Georgia as far as the Altamaha and the lowlands along the Pedee, Santee, and Savannah Rivers were occupied for a hundred miles from the coast.
The older settled areas were below the Fall Line. There the industrial and social life was less in a state of flux than along the ever-advancing frontier. The economic tendencies in the coast country were already fixed and showed little change until machines and transportation worked an industrial revolution early in the nineteenth century. The social life was also comparatively stable and was so to remain until the Revolutionary War.
Manufacturing and mining.—During the colonial period manufacturing made little progress, due mainly to the abundance of cheap land and English restrictions. The colonists depended mainly upon England for manufactured goods. Nevertheless, manufacturing made some headway, especially in the North, where agricultural pursuits brought less profit than in the South. The coarser fabrics, linen, hats, and shoes were produced for the local markets. Mining was also beginning, iron mines having been developed in New England. Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, and at least one copper mine was worked in New Jersey. Ironworks were established in the neighborhood of the mines and supplied many of the local needs. In 1750 an act was passed by parliament which allowed colonial pig-iron to be imported into England and bar-iron to enter the port of London. The manufacture of rum was an important northern industry.
NEW ENGLAND INDUSTRY
Farming.—During the colonial period the great mass of the people were engaged in agriculture. In New England, where soil and climate were less favorable than in the South, the small farm with diversified crops was the prevailing type. The supply of labor was limited and wages relatively high. Under such conditions, the farmer, his sons, and the "hired man" worked the place, and by dint of industry made a living. The New England farmer was more nearly self-sufficient that any other class, a condition which no doubt increased his feeling of independence. The products of the farm were usually adequate for local needs but furnished practically nothing for exportation.
Lumbering and ship-building.—The New England forests continued to be a source of wealth. Lumber was produced in large quantities and ship-building was carried on extensively in the coast and river towns, the craft being of a somewhat larger type than formerly, vessels of five hundred tons burden frequently leaving the ways. The English navy and merchant marine obtained large quantities of masts and spars from New England.
The fisheries.—The importance of the fisheries increased greatly after the War of the Spanish Succession. From the Newfoundland banks were derived the chief products for foreign trade. Almost every coast town had its fishing fleet, Gloucester alone boasting nearly a hundred vessels. The cod was the most important catch, but as the century progressed whaling became a more and more important industry.
Commerce.—With the West Indies the New Englanders carried on an extensive trade, lumber, fish, and rum being exchanged for sugar, molasses, and other tropical products. Rum was also an important factor in the slave trade, which was carried on mainly by the Rhode Islanders, who exchanged the products of the distilleries for negroes on the Guinea Coast and in the West Indies. These in turn were traded to the southern colonies for tobacco, rice, indigo, and naval stores. From the profits of southern commerce and from fish, lumber, and naval stores, the New Englanders were able to purchase English textiles, hardware, glass, and other manufactured articles. The chief port was Boston which contained about twenty thousand inhabitants.
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