Why Was Shipbuilding Important in the Middle Colonies?

The rich soil and temperate climate of the middle American colonies were perfect for growing abundant crops that needed ship transportation to England and the other British colonies. Though New England built more tall ships, they could not supply enough specialized boats for the middle colonies' river navigation needs. Fortunately, deep harbors and thick forests made the industry not just feasible but lucrative in the region.

Cities such as Philadelphia and New York City sprang up around areas where deep harbors combined with navigable rivers and encouraged trade activity. In those areas, trees and lumber were brought down to shipyards that sprang up to serve the rapid growth of ocean transportation. These shipyards built small boats and flatboats to bring crops and other goods from farms and towns along the riverbanks, as well as large ships to transport accumulated goods to England.

The shipyards of the middle colonies encouraged immigration. New England, too, built excellent ships from the tall, strong trees that crowded the northern forests. However, these were Puritan-dominated colonies with cold climates and the constant threat of Indian or French attacks. The abundant shipbuilding and trade that sprang up in the middle colonies made it easy to draw merchants and tradesmen who wanted to settle in the New World but who did not want to live in New England.