Society in the middle colonies was far more varied,
cosmopolitan and tolerant than in New England. In many ways, Pennsylvania
and Delaware owed their initial success to William Penn.
Under his guidance, Pennsylvania functioned smoothly
and grew rapidly. By 1685 its population was almost 9,000. The heart
of the colony was Philadelphia, a city soon to be known for its broad,
tree-shaded streets, substantial brick and stone houses, and busy
docks. By the end of the colonial period, nearly a century later,
30,000 people lived there, representing many languages, creeds and
trades. Their talent for successful business enterprise made the city
one of the thriving centers of colonial America.
Though the Quakers dominated in Philadelphia, elsewhere
in Pennsylvania others were well represented. Germans became the colony's
most skillful farmers. Important, too, were cottage industries such
as weaving, shoemaking, cabinetmaking and other crafts.
Pennsylvania was also the principal gateway into the
New World for the Scots-Irish, who moved into the colony in the early
18th century. "Bold and indigent strangers," as one Pennsylvania official
called them, they hated the English and were suspicious of all government.
The Scots-Irish tended to settle in the back country, where they cleared
land and lived by hunting and subsistence farming.
As mixed as the people were in Pennsylvania, New York
best illustrated the polyglot nature of America. By 1646 the population
along the Hudson River included Dutch, French, Danes, Norwegians,
Swedes, English, Scots, Irish, Germans, Poles, Bohemians, Portuguese
and Italians -- the forerunners of millions to come.
The Dutch continued to exercise an important social
and economic influence on the New York region long after the fall
of New Netherland and their integration into the British colonial
system. Their sharp-stepped, gable roofs became a permanent part of
the city's architecture, and their merchants gave Manhattan much of
its original bustling, commercial atmosphere.