Farming in the Middle Colonies
Slavery existed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, just north of the Maryland line, but it was spotty and restricted to a small number of families. The relatively few slaves put a cap on Pennsylvania’s wealth. There were no vast estates like the great southern plantations and wealth per capita was much less. But Pennsylvania was more prosperous than New England. Wealth per capita was substantially higher. It stood in the middle between the South and New England. Wheat with its thriving markets in the West Indies and Europe buoyed all aspects of the Pennsylvania economy. There were far more shops and tradesmen in Lancaster borough, for example, than in comparable towns in New England like Springfield, Massachusetts, or Hartford, Connecticut. It was a prosperous society but rent with conflict. The most telling division in Pennsylvania society was not between rich and poor but between frontier farmers exposed to Indian attacks and more protected areas. Stories of atrocities formed a distinctive mentality. Frontier towns were outraged by the failure of the government to protect them and took affairs into their own hands by slaughtering the Indians. Crèvecouer, who observed both the prosperity of Pennsylvania and its bitter conflicts, marveled that a society with so much promise endured so many miseries.
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