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What Type of Government Did the Middle Colonies Have?

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Quick Answer

Located in the middle of the 13 original colonies, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were propriety colonies, ruled by landowners granted the land by the rulers of England, France and the Netherlands.

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What Type of Government Did the Middle Colonies Have?
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The History of the Middle Colonies
The Middle Colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were founded in the early to late 1600s depending on the colony.

  • New York: Founded in 1626 by the Dutch and initially called New Netherlands, the colony of New York was renamed to its current name by the Duke of York, after the King of England gave it to him following the colonies acquisition by the English. The Duke of York also divided the colony up into sections and appointed governors to rule them.
  • New Jersey: In addition to dividing New York up into sections, the Duke of York also gave some of the land that made up the colony to two of his friends. While initially split into two parcels of land, eventually they would become united in 1664, becoming the colony of New Jersey. As the Duke of York before them did, the two owners of New Jersey appointed governors to rule over the colony.
  • Pennsylvania: Originally founded in 1682, the colony of Pennsylvania started out as land given to William Penn by the King of England. Pennsylvania was known as a bastion of tolerance in the New World which led to people from many countries moving there.
  • Delaware: In addition to land the King gave William Penn, which would become the colony of Pennsylvania, the Duke of York gave him land also. While initially a part of Pennsylvania, Delaware would gain its independence in1750, becoming one of the colonies. In addition, Delaware was the first colony to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787, becoming the first American state.
  • Appointment of Governors
    As the Middle Colonies of New York and New Jersey grew, their owners, who lived overseas in England, decided to appoint governors to help them rule their holdings in the new world. To help with the running of their part of the respective colony, these governors, in turn, allowed the colonist to elect representatives to help run the day-to-day affairs of the two colonies. While these representatives did contribute to the establishment of laws in their area, they did not have much power. Pennsylvania also utilized representatives elected by the colonists to help run their affairs. Unlike the colonies of New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvanians had more power, having the ability to approve or reject laws. Delaware, on the other hand, was dependent on its mother colony, Pennsylvania, and didn't have an independent government until 1776.

    The American Revolution
    One issue that really affected the colonists in the Middle Colonies was taxation. The King of England demanded that the colonists pay him taxes for being his subjects. The colonists, on the other hand, thought it was unfair to have to pay taxes without having equal representation in the colonies. As the dispute grew it led to the colonists to take up arms against the crown, leading to the Revolutionary War. It was in the Middle Colonies of Pennsylvania and New York that opposition to the crown was most vehement. It was in Pennsylvania that the founding fathers met and signed the Declaration of Independence, leading to the birth of America as a country.

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