Despite the importance of towns, commerce and industry, most of the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies farmed for a living. But this agriculture was characterized by diversity: diversity of the climate and the soil, and diversity of the plants and yields. Some farmers were rich; others less so.

Along the Appalachians, farmers lived on subsistence farming; they were poor but independent. Initially, their lands had been fertile, but were soon depleted. In the northern colonies in New England, people compensated for the soil’s lack of fertility with trade and industry.

The colonies of New York and Pennsylvania were the most productive for general farming. The soil was fertile, the season was long enough for wheat and corn, and the animals could stay outside during the winter.

From Maryland to Georgia, the heat, moisture and fertility of the coastal regions allowed for crops that required a lot of work, such as tobacco, rice and sugar. Gentlemen would acquire huge properties on which they created large plantations that were worked by slaves and servants.

Author: Léon Robichaud

See also – Traces of the past: