“That Strange Mixture of Blood”
These words by Jean de Crevecoeur described the peoples of the thirteen colonies at the time of the American Revolution. The population of more than two million represented several dozen regional and religious cultures derived from northwestern Europe and Africa. One quarter of these people were non-English Europeans, and another one quarter were Africans and African Americans.
While the New England Colonies were generally homogenous, mostly English Anglicans, Puritans, Baptists or Quakers, the Middle Colonies supported a wider variety of cultural groups because of a greater degree of religious and social tolerance. These colonies contributed one quarter of the total population and contained Philadelphia, America’s largest city.
America’s largest population lived in the Upper South – Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina. One-fifth of the population lived in Virginia alone, and almost half of all enslaved Africans and African-Americans lived on Virginia’s tobacco plantations. By contrast, the Lower South contained less than 10 percent of the total population.
Curiously, while New England played a major role in the revolutionary movement, it contained fewer people than in the mid-Atlantic. It was this mid-Atlantic region – the contiguous colonies of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina – that supported more than half of America’s total population and more than 70 percent of its Africans and African-Americans.