Social characteristics of the colonies
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Virginia and the other Southern colonies had a social structure based on family status and the ownership of land. Large landowners in the eastern lowlands dominated colonial government and society and maintained an allegiance to the Church of England and closer social ties to Britain than did those in the other colonies. In the mountains and valleys further inland, however, society was characterized by small subsistence farmers, hunters, and traders of Scots-Irish, German, and English descent. Maryland was established with the intent of being a haven for Catholics.
While the cultural foundations in the North American colonies were British, American Indian and African cultures influenced every aspect of colonial society.
The Great Awakening was a religious movement that swept through Europe and the colonies during the mid-1700s. It led to the rapid growth of evangelical denominations, such as the Methodist and Baptist denominations, and challenged the established religious and governmental orders. It laid one of the social foundations for the American Revolution.
New England’s colonial society was based on religious standing. The Puritans grew increasingly intolerant of dissenters who challenged their belief in the connection between religion and government. Rhode Island was founded by dissenters fleeing persecution by Puritans in Massachusetts
The middle colonies were home to multiple religious groups who generally believed in religious tolerance, including Quakers in Pennsylvania, Huguenots and Jews in New York, and Presbyterians in New Jersey. These colonies had more flexible social structures and began to develop a middle class of skilled artisans, entrepreneurs (business owners), and small farmers.