The New Jersey colony had a mild climate with warm summers and mild winters. New Jersey, along with the other Middle Colonies of New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, had less severe winters than the New England colonies and cooler summers than the Southern colonies. The climate, combined with fertile soil and the general geography, made New Jersey ideal for farming.
New Jersey was often called the breadbasket colony because it grew so many crops, including wheat, corn and rice. Colonists in New Jersey also raised livestock, built ships, and it produced iron ore, lumber, furs and textiles. The geography of the New Jersey colony varied from the lowlands of the Atlantic coastal plain to mountains in the northeast.
The Dutch established the first small settlements in New Jersey. It became an English colony in 1664 when British King Charles II included it in a land grant to his brother James. James then gave it to his friends Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, who founded the colony. The colony was named after the British island of Jersey in the English Channel. One of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey became a state on Dec. 18, 1787, after it ratified the U.S. Constitution.