In What Ways Did Georgraphy And Economics Affect Each Colonial Region's Choice Of Labor Supply – Assignment Example
America’s Population at the Height of Colonization At the end of the 1700s, populations of settlements and colonies in America were composed of people of different origins. Here, an attempt is made to determine how geography and economics affected each region in its choice of labor supply.
Settlers from England and other parts of Europe such as Germany, Portugal, Holland, and France established colonies to promote trade and to annex territories for their rulers. It was politically expedient to hold and cultivate as much land as possible: it was seen to be “ready for the taking” (Brinkley 61). The growing colonies themselves required supplies and stimulated normal needs for shelter, education, agriculture and commerce. More colonists kept coming to set up home, but lack of competition for jobs in a very different economy from Europe meant labor was expensive and white servants scarce. Cheap labor in the form of African workers greatly increased production and, since their needs were not perceived as equal to Europeans’, provided more for much less. There were often more black workers than white in the colonies. Wars with indigenous tribes of American Indians meant workers from that quarter was not a realistic expectation, even though some Indians such as the Pawnees were enslaved, but trade with Indians was brisk. In the Great Lakes, for example, bartering corn for animal skins was an important aspect of the economy.
Population mixes in the British West Indies, Chesapeake, the Lower South, the Middle Colonies and New England changed radically in the century after 1650 (Brinkley 70). Although the numbers of black people north of Maryland remained comparatively small, “slavery grew rapidly in the southern colonies” (Brinkley 71) because of labor demands by planters growing tobacco and rice. The economy in the north was different: production was for local markets and families, rather than international markets, so it was expensive to engage a large slave contingent. They were more often found in ports such as Newport, which was a point of arrival. In places like Chesapeake, buying male and female slaves provided a “reproducing labor force” (Brinkley 71), seen as a good investment. Transported English convicts were a later addition that contributed to the mix.
The origins of Africans was also important: those who came from port towns had experience of dealing with explorers and Europeans, and were able to bargain with the Dutch and English traders in their own languages, which was an advantage. Political problems arose when slavery was established in Chesapeake and planters no longer welcomed free black workers. Fear induced discrimination, and being black became synonymous with being a slave.
Europeans, Africans and native Indians developed communities that evolved more or less comfortably, depending on the politics and the fluctuating stability of the economy that dipped in times of war. Regulation, legislation, conflict, rights, obligations, rebellion and control meant that relationships between races also fluctuated between extremes.
Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation Fourth Edition McGraw-Hill Humanities, 2009