Importance of Specialization in the Colonies

Color Map - 13 Colonies
From The Interactive History Company

Specialization in colonies was very crucial to their development, just as much as it was to modern society. Nearly no family lives purely from what they produce, they produce or excel in one thing and sell their labour in that field or the fruit of the labour from that field in order to buy things that they cannot produce. That is largely how it was in the colonies, with the colonies trading with each other for goods that the citizens wanted. The specialization of these colonies was mostly determined by the land they were settled. A inshore colony would definitely not work in fishing, because that would be very difficult, if not impossible.

The following is a list of colonies, with their primary production.

Connecticut – Farming, Fishing
Delaware – Fishing, Farming
Georgia – Rice and Wheat
Maryland – Tobacco and Wheat
Massachusetts Bay – Agriculture, manufacturing
New Hampshire – Farming and Fishing
New Jersey – Wheat
New York – Agriculture
North Carolina – Tobacco, Cotton, Rice
Pennsylvania – Corn, Wheat
Rhode Island – Fish, Timber, Fur
South Carolina – Tobacco, Cotton, Rice
Virginia – Tobacco , Cotton, Rice

As you can see, most colonies produced some sort of food. That is obviously because everybody needs food to live, and it would be hard to import fresh things. An interesting trend is that the southern colonies are more for profitable or luxurious things, because they were founded for raw materials, than the Northern Colonies, which were mostly founded to avoid religious persecution.

Hannah Robinson, DIfferences Among Colonial Regions

Trade in the Colonies


3 thoughts on “Importance of Specialization in the Colonies

  1. Great post! I really like how you emphasized the uniqueness of each individual colony as a contributing factor to the economic and cultural success of that colony. Also, I found it intriguing that the food a colony produced was entirely dependent on the region that the colony was founded.

  2. I really like your post because seeing what all of the colonies produced in one placed helped me understand how they functioned a bit more clearly. Unlike the US today, which would probably collapse if the transportation sector collapsed, these colonies seem to be self-sufficient. If something went terribly wrong, or if a colony simply didn’t want to be a part of a union of colonies, they had the means to support themselves. I think that this further proves that the colonies were a lot like separate nation-states.

  3. This helps paint a clearer picture of the culture of each colony, and I think each colony’s unique food production probably helped contribute to each one’s later development as a culture. I also think it’s strange how we progressed from this self-sufficiency in the 17th and 18th centuries to our current spider’s web of food transportation, but I suppose back then they were all separate colonies, not one united country.

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