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   Chapter 3 No.3

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 3537

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Population.]

This westward movement was not occasioned by the pressure of population. All the colonies, except, perhaps, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Delaware, had abundance of vacant and tillable land. The population in 1750 was about 1,370,000. It ranged from less than 5,000 in Georgia to 240,000 in Virginia. Several strains of non-English white races were included in these numbers. There were Dutch in New York, a few Swedes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Germans in New York and Pennsylvania, Scotch Irish and Scotch Highlanders in the mountains of Pennsylvania and South Carolina, a few Huguenots, especially in the South, and a few Irish and Jews. All the rest of the whites were English or the descendants of English. A slow stream of immigration poured into the colonies, chiefly from England. Convicts were no longer deported to be sold as private servants; but redemptioners-persons whose services were mortgaged for their passage- were still abundant. Many years later, Washington writes to an agent inquiring about "buying a ship-load of Germans," that is, of redemptioners. There was another important race-element,-the negroes, perhaps 220,000 in number; in South Carolina they far out-numbered the whites. A brisk trade was carried on in their importation, and probably ten thousand a year were brought into the country. This stream poured almost entirely into the Southern colonies. North of Maryland the number of blacks was not significant in proportion to the total population. A few Indians were scattered among the white settlements, but they were an alien community, and had no share in the development of the country.

[Sidenote: Settlements.]

[Sidenote: American character.]

The population of 1,370,000 people occupie

d a space which in 1890 furnished homes for more than 25,000,000. The settlements as yet rested upon, or radiated from, the sea-coast and the watercourses; eight-tenths of the American people lived within easy reach of streams navigable to the sea. Settlements had crept up the Mohawk and Susquehanna valleys, but they were still in the midst of the wilderness. Within each colony the people had a feeling of common interest and brotherhood. Distant, outlying, and rebellious counties were infrequent. The Americans of 1750 were in character very like the frontiersmen of to-day, they were accustomed to hard work, but equally accustomed to abundance of food and to a rude comfort; they were tenacious of their rights, as became offshoots of the Anglo-Saxon race. In dealing with their Indian neighbors and their slaves they were masterful and relentless. In their relations with each other they were accustomed to observe the limitations of the law. In deference to the representatives of authority, in respect for precedent and for the observances of unwritten custom, they went beyond their descendants on the frontier. Circumstances in America have greatly changed in a century and a half: the type of American character has changed less. The quieter, longer-settled communities of that day are still fairly represented by such islands of undisturbed American life as Cape Cod and Cape Charles. The industrious and thriving built good houses, raised good crops, sent their surplus abroad and bought English goods with it, went to church, and discussed politics. In education, in refinement, in literature and art, most of the colonists had made about the same advance as the present farmers of Utah. The rude, restless energy of modern America was not yet awakened.

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