During the sixteenth to seventeenth century, American colonies had experienced a series of vigorous development. One of the many factors for the American colonies to flourish was the growth of economy. Though other factor such as religious freedom had somewhat made progress in forming colonial societies, economic growth was the most influential factor in the development of American colonies in every aspect. It provided the material basis for the construction of the colonies, promoted a large unified market and expedite national consciousness in the American colonies.
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Above all, the growth in economy laid the material foundation for American colonial development. From 1607 to 1732, thirteen American colonies were established and governed by the British, who adopted mercantilism from the European empires. Despite the economic restrictions caused by the mercantilist, havoc was not caused in the colonists, for England did not rigidly enforce the trade laws that most hurt the economy. In reality, the colonists received considerable amount of advantages from the economic system, for having a wide built in market. This was especially the case with the New England colonies, which had become the largest industrial base in North America by the end of the seventeenth century. Owing to farming difficulty, New England turned to develop a thriving shipbuilding industry. The shipbuilding cost in New England was 30%- 40% lower than that of Europe. By 1860s, one-third of the merchant ships of the Britain and three forth of the vessels of American colonies were built in New England. The success in shipbuilding also gave benefits to many ancillary trades and industries in the area, including sail making, chandleries, rope walks and marine railways. A sprawling Atlantic trade network, which was referred to as “The Triangle Trade”, had been tapped by the colonists to connect them to the English homeland as well as the West African Slave Coast, the Caribbean’s plantation islands, and the Iberian Peninsula. After over a hundred years’ of development, three main type of economy were formed in the colonies, as manufacturing in the north, agriculture in the middle and plantations in the south. Although the sorts of economic activities and trade of each colony differed due to nature recourses and environment, each colony tended achieved a high degree of commercialization, which provided material basis for the overall development of the colonial region.
Secondly, increasing economic growth stimulated the formation of a large unified market in American colonies. In order to satisfy the demands of the growing capitalist industry and commerce, economic transactions among the colonies were becoming increasingly closer. Boston city in the New England Colonies became a great transportation center. The Boston Post Road which consisted of three routes was one of the most heavily traveled during colonial period. As there were so many well-developed roads stretching in all directions like hubs, the city of Boston was given a well-known name, “The Hub”. In addition, mail delivery had been improved a lot during the colonial period. In 1639, Richard Fairbanks’ tavern in Boston was authorized as the official repository of mail, both local and from abroad. It was the first postal system established in the colonies. Enhanced transportation networks and postal system strengthened the economic ties between the colonies, and therefore developed a unified domestic market.
Lastly, and most importantly, the flourishing colonial economy led to cultural fusion and national consciousness all over the thirteen colonies. As a result of the emerging market, English became the major language of the colonial regions. Growing demands in the manufacturing and commercial industry gave rise to the development of culture and technology fields. Institutions and libraries were founded, and a variety of publications were issued around the regions. Set up in 1635, Boston Latin School was both the first public school and oldest existing school in the United States. Higher academies were also established one after another in New England during the century. One of the most significant one was Harvard University, which was built in Massachusetts in 1636. The Boston News-Letter, which was the colonies’ first newspaper, was first published in Boston on April 24, 1704. It was regarded as the first America’s first continuously-published newspaper and encouraged the transmission of information and cultural exchange. In pace with the growth of the economy, people all over the colonial region gradually achieved a mergence of ideas, customs and culture. A sovereign American identity was formed inside the thirteen colonies, paving the way of becoming an independent nation.
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The growth of economy played a decisive role on the development of American colonies. By setting up the material foundation of the outgrowth of the colonies, expanding large unified market and stimulating the formation of American cultural identity. Though factor such as religious freedom shaped the growth of the colonial life in some extent, economy factor had made much more important, for it laid the root for the American independent movement later on, pushed forward and made significant effects in the course of human history.
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