Most settlers who came to America in the 17th century
were English, but there were also Dutch, Swedes and Germans in the
middle region, a few French Huguenots in South Carolina and elsewhere,
slaves from Africa, primarily in the South, and a scattering of Spaniards,
Italians and Portuguese throughout the colonies.
After 1680 England ceased to be the chief source of
immigration. Thousands of refugees fled continental Europe to escape
the path of war. Many left their homelands to avoid the poverty induced
by government oppression and absentee-landlordism.
By 1690 the American population had risen to a quarter
of a million. From then on, it doubled every 25 years until, in 1775,
it numbered more than 2.5 million.
Although a family could move from Massachusetts to
Virginia or from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, without major readjustment,
distinctions between individual colonies were marked. They were even
more so between the three regional groupings of colonies.