William Penn, the man who founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1682, attracted a people
with his ideas of religious liberty and freehold ownership.
"Freehold" meant that farmers owned their land free and clear of leases.
Ways of life
Rural Quakers preferred plain simple designs in furniture such as tables, chairs, chests. The city of Philadelphia became a major center of furniture-making
German artisans created intricate carved designs on their chests and other
furniture with painted scenes of flowers and birds. German potters also crafted
a large array of jugs, pots, and plates.
Unlike English colonial wives, German and Dutch wives owned their own clothes
and other items and were also could write wills to dispose of the
property brought into the marriage.
Before 1720, most colonists in the mid-Atlantic region traded the West Indies
with corn and flour. In New York, a fur-pelt trade to Europe did very well and added additional wealth to the region.
Shopkeepers, artisans, shipwrights, butchers, coopers, seamstresses, cobblers, bakers, carpenters, masons, and many other specialized professions, made up the middle class of seaport society. Wives and husbands often worked as a team and taught their children their crafts to pass it on through the family.
In 1750, blacks made up about 10 percent of the population of New York and Philadelphia. Hundreds of seamen, some who were African American, worked as sailors on merchant ships.