The Middle colonies, the middle region of the 13 colonies, were the states of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Because of their prime locations along the Eastern coast, the Middle colonies were important distribution centers for English merchants. The Middle colonies were also a “middle region” between the North and South.
According to the History Channel, in 1664 King Charles II gave his brother, the Duke of York, the territory located between New England and Virginia. This area was mainly occupied by the Dutch, but the English quickly moved into the area and renamed it New York. Because this area was also occupied by the Scandinavians, French Huguenots, Germans, and Belgian Flemings and Walloons, New York became one of the most diverse colonies.
Iroquois and Algonquian Native American tribes also represented a sizable population of the Middle colonies. In addition, a variety of religions such as the Presbyterians, Quakers, Mennonites, Dutch Calvinists and Lutherans were also prominent in the region.
Later, in 1680 the king gave William Penn, a Quaker and large landowner in Ireland, 45,000 square miles of land west of the Delaware area. Penn named the area “Penn’s Woods,” which later became known as Pennsylvania. Because of his Quaker background, Penn promised religious tolerance to people in Europe seeking religious asylum. Soon, Penn had lured many emigrants to Pennsylvania, which quickly became known as a prosperous egalitarian colony.