Each of the English colonies had different purposes and things to contribute. There were thirteen original colonies, each playing a different role from the other. Some colonies had purposes that were more different than others and over time these roles changed and varied.
The first colony to be founded in 1607, Virginia, was called a “child of tobacco”. Originally the London Company founded this colony to find gold, but Virginia’s prosperity was built on tobacco. Tobacco played a vital role in the colony of Virginia’s economic stability and foundation. In 1612 John Rolfe had perfected the methods of growing tobacco and the colony was well on its way, but just 7 years later in 1619 the colony had a new purpose. In 1619 a Dutch warship sold about 20 Africans and it is said that this transaction planted the seeds of the North American slave system.
Maryland was founded in 1634 as the fourth colony and was known as the Catholic Haven. Maryland was the second plantation colony and was founded partly for financial profits and party for a refuge for founder Lord Baltimore’s fellow Catholics. England was Protestant and did not accept Catholics. Maryland grew tobacco crops like Virginia and the colony depended on white indentured servants for much of their labor in its early years, years later in the seventeenth century black slaves were imported in vast volumes. In 1649, after the colony of Maryland had been established for about fifteen years, Lord Baltimore passed the Act of Toleration which allowed people to be not only Catholic, but any religion they wanted. All Christians were now tolerated in the colony of Maryland as opposed to the Catholic Haven it was once known as.
Carolina was the eleventh colony and was founded in 1670 after civil war erupted in England. To restart the period of colonization, the king of England granted eight of his nobles, the Lord’s Proprietors, a vast amount of land spanning across the continent to the Pacific. The founders originally planned to grow food and crops to supply the sugar plantations in Barbados and to export non-English products such as wine, olive oil, and silk. Carolina thrived off of the close economic relationship it developed with the sugar islands of the English West Indies. The strong ties that the colony of Carolina developed with Barbados brought not only trade, but also settlers. The settlers in Carolina brought with them the island’s slave system. Eventually, Carolina established a slave trade within the colony itself. Although the Lord’s Proprietors of London did not approve of slave trade in their colony, they could not stop the change of their colony. Carolina became a colony with “vigorous” slave trade.
Georgia, the thirteenth colony, was the last of the original colonies to be established in 1733. Nicknamed “The Buffer Colony”, Georgia was established by the English to protect the “more valuable” Carolinas from the Spaniards in Florida and the French in Louisiana. Other original purposes of Georgia were the production of silk and wine and to serve as a haven for “wretched souls imprisoned by debt”. Later after one of the more able founders, James Oglethorpe, who was a military leader restored the “Charity Colony”. Oglethorpe mortgaged his own personal fortune and became very interested in prison reform after the loss of a friend in debtor’s jail. After this reform, Savannah became a “melting-pot community” and all religious worshipers were accepted, except Catholics. Georgia although did not become very popular until the growth of its plantation economy.
By 1750, five colonies, the Plantation Colonies, including Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia all shared certain features. All of the southern mainland colonies benefitted substantially from the crops of tobacco and rice. The growth of tobacco although caused problems for the colonies. Tobacco caused “soil butchery” which drove settlers west. The westward settlement of the English caused ongoing confrontation with Indians. Slavery was also found in all of the plantation colonies. All five of these colonies tolerated religion to a degree. The plantation colonies made major changes from their original purposes.
The other eight colonies: Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, also had distinct purposes. Rhode Island’s original purpose was to provide religious freedom, as well as Massachusetts. New Hampshire was founded for farming. Delaware, New York, and New Jersey were all established for trade and profits trading furs and crops. Pennsylvania was established to provide both religious freedoms, mainly for the Quaker religion and beliefs, and also for trade.
The thirteen original colonies had many different purposes that varied from state to state. Different colonies played different roles and many of those roles varied over the years. The five plantation colonies began with many different purposes, but ended with many similar aspects. The other eight colonies also had similar purposes for settlement, but they also varied from colony to colony. The English colonies had many different purposes that changed from state to state and also over many years during the early settlement of the colonies.