What Were Some of the Elements Underlying the Economy of Colonial Pennsylvania?

Natural resources, agriculture, manufacturing, commerce and transportation were some of the elements underlying the economy of colonial Pennsylvania. The colony, founded by William Penn in order to promote religious liberty, became an economic growth center well before the years leading to the Revolutionary War.

Agricultural production thrived from the colony's inception in 1681. By the 1750s, the southeastern section of Pennsylvania was well known as an agricultural center and exporter of grain. Wheat and corn were the primary crops, but colonists also grew rye, hemp and flax.

Natural resources included water, minerals, forests, fish and game. Settlers from England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, France and elsewhere gave the colony a cosmopolitan spirit. Their ingenuity employed natural resources in productive and creative endeavors.

Home-based industries early in the colony's development included arts and crafts and textile manufacturing. Sawmills, shipbuilding, iron manufacturing, grist mills, paper making, publishing, printing and tanning diversified the economy. Lancaster County contributed the Pennsylvania long rifle and the Conestoga wagon to the list of original colonial products.

The many rivers of the area supported trade until a system of roads was built connecting the agricultural areas with Philadelphia. Stage coach lines were also built to facilitate travel and trade. Philadelphia grew into a hub of foreign trade and commerce.