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The colonies in the 17th century


Charles II king of England
Charles II king of England

Once the Puritan migration to New England stopped in 1642, the region would receive few immigrants for the next 200 years. Yet the population grew dramatically, to nearly 120,000 in 1700. Two reasons explain this. First, in sharp contrast to the unhealthy Chesapeake, Massachusetts streams provided relatively safe drinking water, and New England’s cold winters kept dangerous microbes to a minimum. Thus disease and early death were not the problems that they were farther south. Second (again in contrast to the Chesapeake) the Puritans migrated in families, and there were about two women for every three men, even in the early years. Nearly all colonists married (typically in their mid–20s for men and early 20s for women), and then produced children at two-year intervals. With both a higher birth rate and a longer life expectancy than in England, the Puritan population grew rapidly almost from the beginning.

By 1640 England had founded 6 of the 13 colonies that would become the original United States. In 1660, after the end of Puritan rule, Charles II was crowned king of England, an event known as the Restoration. Charles founded or took over six more colonies: New York (taken from the Dutch in 1664), New Jersey, Pennsylvania (including what became Delaware), and North and South Carolina. All were proprietary colonies—huge land grants to individuals or small groups who had been loyal to the king during the civil war. These colonies shared other similarities as well. None of them was well–funded; they could ill afford to import colonists from overseas. Thus they tried to attract settlers from other colonies as much as from the Old World.

These colonies made it easy to own land, and they tended to grant religious toleration to all Christians. The result (even though Pennsylvania began as a Quaker colony under the wealthy proprietor William Penn) was a more ethnically mixed and religiously pluralistic European population than had come to New England or to the Chesapeake. These new colonies were populated not only by the English, but also by the Dutch and eventually by Scots, Scots–Irish, and Germans. Their populations included Quakers and other religious dissenters. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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