The Restoration Colonies: The Carolinas, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze the motives and circumstances of the founding the Carolina colonies
  • Explain the colonial history of New York and New Jersey
  • Describe the founding and development of Pennsylvania

After his Stuart family was restored to power, the monarch Charles II was committed to expanding England’s overseas possessions. His policies in the 1660s through the 1680s established and supported the Restoration colonies: the Carolinas, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. All the Restoration colonies started as proprietary colonies, that is, the king gave each colony to a trusted individual, family, or group.

The Carolinas

A colonial map shows the port of Charles Towne. Labels indicate the Cooper River, the Ashley River, and other features such as “Smith’s Quay” and “Watch house.”

Figure 1. The port of colonial Charles Towne, depicted here on a 1733 map of North America, was the largest in the South and played a significant role in the Atlantic slave trade.

Charles II hoped to establish English control of the area between Virginia and Spanish Florida. To that end, he issued a royal charter in 1663 to eight trusted and loyal supporters, each of whom was to be a feudal-style Lord Proprietor of a region within the province of Carolina.

The first colonists under the new charter set out from England in 1669 for Barbados, an island in the Lesser Antilles east of the Caribbean. Barbados had been an English colony since 1624. By 1669, opportunities for those seeking land were becoming fewer, so several men from Barbados decided to try their luck in the new Carolina colony. They brought with them their experience in colony building and a belief in slavery as a solution to labor problems such as those found on plantations.

In 1670, they established Charles Town (later Charleston), named in honor of Charles II, at the junction of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. As the settlement around Charles Town grew, it began to produce livestock for export to the West Indies. In the northern part of Carolina, settlers turned sap from pine trees into turpentine used to waterproof wooden ships.

French Huguenots, or Protestants from France, began arriving in 1685, driven from their home country by religious persecution and drawn to Charleston by the promise of religious toleration. The Huguenots were born during the Protestant Reformation, persecuted early on, and then involved in a long religious war in France. The Huguenots rejected Catholicism, the mainstream religion of France, in favor of a Calvinist variety of Protestantism. John Calvin, himself a Frenchman living in Switzerland, had developed his own protestant theology separate from Luther and from the Anglican Church of England. Their religious war in France ended in 1598 when the French King Henry IV signed the Edict of Nantes, granting the Huguenots the right to practice their religion within certain guidelines and only in specified areas. In 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict and persecution of the Huguenots began again. Some stayed hoping for a change in France while others fled to more Protestant-friendly countries and colonies such as Carolina. Many of the Huguenots were artisans, not aristocrats, and so brought much-needed skills to the young colony. By 1704, the French Huguenots established the town of Bath, the first town in what would become North Carolina.

Two Colonies

Map of the Carolina colonies, showing the changing divisions between North and South.

Figure 2. As this map shows, the original Carolina charter encompassed much of the South, but later split into two before later ceding territory to Georgia.

Political disagreements between settlers in the northern and southern parts of Carolina escalated in the 1710s through the 1720s and led to the creation, in 1729, of two colonies, North and South Carolina. The southern part of Carolina continued to develop more rapidly as a center of agriculture and trade with the colony centered on Charleston, despite its vulnerability to sea attacks and threats by Indians and the Spanish. In 1718, the pirate Blackbeard blockaded Charleston’s harbor, demanding medical supplies. Unhappy with the continuing dangers and generally dissatisfied with the Lords Proprietors, the citizens of the colony moved in 1719 to become a Royal Colony with a government and protection provided by the Crown. Carolina subsequently was divided into North and South, with South Carolina becoming a Royal Colony. In 1729 North Carolina would follow by becoming a Royal Colony as well. Both North and South Carolina would remain Royal Colonies until the American Revolution.

The southern part of Carolina had been producing rice and indigo (a plant that yields a dark blue dye used by English royalty) since the 1700s, and South Carolina continued to depend on these main crops. North Carolina continued to produce items for ships, especially turpentine and tar, and its population increased as Virginians moved there to expand their tobacco holdings. Tobacco was the primary export of both Virginia and North Carolina, which also traded in deerskins and slaves from Africa.

Slavery developed quickly in the Carolinas, largely because so many of the early migrants came from Barbados, where slavery was well established and accepted as part of an expanding agricultural economy. By the end of the 1600s, a very wealthy class of rice planters who relied on enslaved labor had attained dominance in the southern part of the Carolinas, especially around Charles Town. By 1715, South Carolina had a Black majority because of the number of enslaved people in the colony. The legal basis for slavery was established in the early 1700s as the Carolinas began to pass slave laws based on the Barbados slave codes of the late 1600s. These laws reduced Africans to the status of property to be bought and sold in the same legal sense as other commodities.

Indian Relations in the Carolinas

As in other areas of English settlement, Native peoples in the Carolinas suffered tremendously from the introduction of European diseases. Despite the effects of disease, Indigenous people in the area endured and, following the pattern elsewhere in the colonies, grew dependent on European goods. Local Yamasee and Creek tribes built up a trade deficit with the English, trading deerskins and captive slaves for European guns. English settlers exacerbated tensions with local tribes, especially the Yamasee, by expanding their rice and tobacco fields into native lands. Worse still, English traders took Native women captive as payment for debts.

The Tuscarora were natives of what would be North Carolina, dwelling along the coast of the region. They were divided into upper and lower town groups. They had initially accepted the colonists and traded peacefully with them. Over time the relationship soured as the Tuscarora, like other Native peoples, fell victim to European diseases, in addition to being swindled out of their land, being victims of unfair trade, and even being enslaved. The groups of Tuscarora most affected by these conditions were the ones who lived in the southern or lower town in the area of Pamlico Sound. They were led by Chief Hancock.

In 1711, a land dispute led Chief Hancock to attack the colonists. Over a hundred colonists were killed, leading Governor Hyde to call on Indian allies and South Carolina to come to North Carolina’s aide. The war would last until 1715. Ultimately, Chief Hancock was killed, many of his people were taken as slaves to South Carolina, and Governor Hyde died of yellow fever which ravished the area in 1712. Although the war ended, the problems which caused it did not. Colonists continued to encroach on Native land and generally mistreated the Natives. Many Tuscarora fled north, going as far as New York in hopes of finding a life free from the expanding grasp of the European colonists. Others settled on a tract of land specified in the treaty that ended the war, only to see that land lost as well, piece by piece to the expanding colony. Among the Native allies of the colonists during the Tuscarora War were the Yamasee Indians of South Carolina.

The outrages committed by traders, combined with the seemingly unstoppable expansion of English settlement onto native land, led to the outbreak of the Yamasee War (1715–1718), an effort by a coalition of local tribes to drive away the European invaders. This native effort to force the newcomers back across the Atlantic nearly succeeded in annihilating the Carolina colonies. Only when the Cherokee allied themselves with the English did the coalition’s goal of eliminating the English from the region falter. The Yamasee War demonstrates the key role Native peoples played in shaping the outcome of colonial struggles and, perhaps most importantly, the disunity that existed between different native groups.

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The Middle Colonies

Map of the colonies, showing the middle colonies highlighted.

Figure 3. The Middle Colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, are highlighted here in a lighter orange color.

During the early part of the seventeenth century, the English focused on developing their colonies in New England and the Chesapeake, thereby largely neglecting the land between the two settlements. So, the Dutch and the Swedes began to settle the mid-Atlantic region along the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. After the Restoration, Charles II and James II hoped to build the power of the English monarchy by expanding their overseas empire at the expense of the Dutch. By the early 1680s, the English had turned New Netherland into several proprietary colonies, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. In the years after the English takeover, the middle colonies became the most diverse and fastest-growing region in North America.

New York and New Jersey

A watercolor shows New Amsterdam, with several ships in its surrounding waters.

Figure 4. “View of New Amsterdam” (ca. 1665), a watercolor by Johannes Vingboons, was painted during the Anglo-Dutch wars of the 1660s and 1670s. New Amsterdam was officially reincorporated as New York City in 1664, but alternated under Dutch and English rule until 1674.

The English takeover of New Netherland originated in the imperial rivalry between the Dutch and the English. During the Anglo-Dutch wars of the 1650s and 1660s, the two powers attempted to gain commercial advantages in the Atlantic World. During the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1664–1667), English forces gained control of the Dutch fur trading colony of New Netherland, and in 1664, Charles II gave this colony (including present-day New Jersey) to his brother James, Duke of York (later James II). The colony and city were renamed New York in his honor. The Dutch in New York chafed under English rule. In 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672–1674), the Dutch recaptured the colony. However, at the end of the conflict, the English had regained control. The Dutch resisted assimilation into English culture well into the eighteenth century, prompting New York Anglicans to note that the colony was “rather like a conquered foreign province.”

The Duke of York had no desire to govern locally or listen to the wishes of local colonists. It wasn’t until 1683, therefore, almost 20 years after the English took control of the colony, that colonists were able to convene a local representative legislature. The assembly’s 1683 Charter of Liberties and Privileges set out the traditional rights of Englishmen, like the right to trial by jury and the right to representative government.

The English continued the Dutch patroonship system, granting large estates to a favored few families. The largest of these estates, at 160,000 acres, was given to Robert Livingston in 1686. The Livingstons and the other manorial families who controlled the Hudson River Valley formed a powerful political and economic force. Eighteenth-century New York City, meanwhile, contained a variety of people and religions—as well as Dutch and English people, it held French Protestants (Huguenots), Jews, Puritans, Quakers, Anglicans, and a large population of slaves. As they did in other zones of colonization, Native peoples played a key role in shaping the history of colonial New York. After decades of war in the 1600s, the powerful Five Nations of the Iroquois, composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, successfully pursued a policy of neutrality with both the English and, to the north, the French in Canada during the first half of the 1700s. This native policy meant that the Iroquois continued to live in their own villages under their own government while enjoying the benefits of trade with both the French and the English.

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The Restoration colonies also included Pennsylvania, which became the geographic center of British colonial America. Pennsylvania (which means “Penn’s Woods” in Latin) was created in 1681, when Charles II bestowed the largest proprietary colony in the Americas on William Penn to settle the large debt he owed the Penn family. William Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn, had served the English crown by helping take Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. The king personally owed the Admiral money as well.

New Sweden and Future Deleware

Very old log house.

Figure 5. The C. A. Nothnagle Log House in Gibbstown, New Jersey, built in 1638. It is the oldest house in New Jersey and possibly the oldest standing wooden structure in the Western hemisphere.

Part of the land given to William Penn was actually a former Swedish colony, as Sweden had colonized the area along the Delaware River (portions of modern-day Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania). Sweden had emerged as a power following the Thirty Years’ War in Europe (1618 to 1648) and controlled the area from 1638 to 1655, before it was taken over by the Dutch. It was then taken by England alongside New York and New Jersey, and made part of William Penn’s proprietorship of Pennsylvania in 1682.

Penn established representative government and briefly combined his two possessions under one General Assembly in 1682. However, by 1704 the Province of Pennsylvania had grown so large their representatives wanted to make decisions without the assent of the Lower Counties, and the two groups of representatives began meeting on their own, one at Philadelphia, and the other at New Castle. Penn and his heirs remained proprietors of both and always appointed the same person Governor for their Province of Pennsylvania and their territory of the Lower Counties. The fact that Delaware and Pennsylvania shared the same governor was not unique. From 1703 to 1738 New York and New Jersey shared a governor. Massachusetts and New Hampshire also shared a governor for some time.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of New Sweden to the development of the New World is the traditional Finnish forest house building technique. The colonists of New Sweden brought with them the log cabin, which became such an icon of the American frontier that it is commonly thought of as an American structure. The C. A. Nothnagle Log House on Swedesboro-Paulsboro Road in Gibbstown, New Jersey is one of the oldest surviving log houses in the United States.

A portrait of William Penn is shown.

Figure 6. Charles II granted William Penn the land that eventually became the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in order to settle a debt the English crown owed to Penn’s father.

Like early settlers of the New England colonies, Pennsylvania’s first colonists migrated mostly for religious reasons. William Penn himself was a Quaker, a member of a new Protestant denomination called the Society of Friends. George Fox had founded the Society of Friends in England in the late 1640s, having grown dissatisfied with Puritanism and the idea of predestination. Rather, Fox and his followers stressed that everyone had an “inner light” inside him or her, a spark of divinity. They gained the name Quakers because they were said to quake when the inner light moved them. Quakers rejected the idea of worldly rank, believing instead in a new and radical form of social equality. Their speech reflected this belief in that they addressed all others as equals, using “thee” and “thou” rather than terms like “your lordship” or “my lady” that were customary for privileged individuals of the hereditary elite.

The English crown persecuted Quakers in England, and colonial governments were equally harsh; Massachusetts even executed several early Quakers who had gone to proselytize there. To avoid such abuse, Quakers and their families at first created a community on the sugar island of Barbados. Soon after its founding, however, Pennsylvania became the destination of choice. Quakers flocked to Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey, where they could preach and practice their religion in peace. Unlike New England, whose official religion was Puritanism, Pennsylvania did not establish an official church. Indeed, the colony allowed a degree of religious tolerance found nowhere else in English America. To help encourage immigration to his colony, Penn promised fifty acres of land to people who agreed to come to Pennsylvania and complete their term of service. Not surprisingly, those seeking a better life came in large numbers, so much so that Pennsylvania relied on indentured servants more than any other colony.

One of the primary tenets of Quakerism is pacifism, or the belief that violence and war are not justifiable under any circumstances, leading William Penn to establish friendly relationships with local Native peoples. He formed a covenant of friendship with the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) tribe, buying their land for a fair price instead of taking it by force. In 1701, he also signed a treaty with the Susquehannocks to avoid war. Unlike other colonies, Pennsylvania did not experience war on the frontier with Native peoples during its early history.

As an important port city, Philadelphia grew rapidly. Quaker merchants there established contacts throughout the Atlantic world and participated in the thriving African slave trade. Some Quakers, who were deeply troubled by the contradiction between their belief in the “inner light” and the practice of slavery, rejected the practice and engaged in efforts to abolish it altogether. Philadelphia also acted as a magnet for immigrants, who came not only from England, but from all over Europe by the hundreds of thousands. The city, and indeed all of Pennsylvania, appeared to be the best country for poor men and women, many of whom arrived as servants and dreamed of owning land. A very few, like the fortunate Benjamin Franklin, a runaway from Puritan Boston, did extraordinarily well. Other immigrant groups in the colony, most notably Germans and Scotch-Irish (families from Scotland and England who had first lived in Ireland before moving to British America), greatly improved their lot in Pennsylvania. Of course, Africans imported into the colony to labor for White masters fared far worse.

John Wilson Offers Reward for Escaped Prisoners

The American Weekly Mercury, published by William Bradford, was Philadelphia’s first newspaper. This advertisement from “John Wilson, Goaler” (jailer) offers a reward for anyone capturing several men who escaped from the jail.

BROKE out of the Common Goal of Philadelphia, the 15th of this Instant February, 1721, the following Persons:

John Palmer, also Plumly, alias Paine, Servant to Joseph Jones, run away and was lately taken up at New-York. He is fully described in the American Mercury, Novem. 23, 1721. He has a Cinnamon coloured Coat on, a middle sized fresh coloured Man. His Master will give a Pistole Reward to any who Shall Secure him, besides what is here offered.

Daniel Oughtopay, A Dutchman, aged about 24 Years, Servant to Dr. Johnston in Amboy. He is a thin Spare man, grey Drugget Waistcoat and Breeches and a light-coloured Coat on.

Ebenezor Mallary, a New-England, aged about 24 Years, is a middle-sized thin Man, having on a Snuff colour’d Coat, and ordinary Ticking Waistcoat and Breeches. He has dark brown strait Hair.

Matthew Dulany, an Irish Man, down-look’d Swarthy Complexion, and has on an Olive-coloured Cloth Coat and Waistcoat with Cloth Buttons.

John Flemming, an Irish Lad, aged about 18, belonging to Mr. Miranda, Merchant in this City. He has no Coat, a grey Drugget Waistcoat, and a narrow brim’d Hat on.

John Corbet, a Shropshire Man, a Runaway Servant from Alexander Faulkner of Maryland, broke out on the 12th Instant. He has got a double-breasted Sailor’s Jacket on lined with red Bays, pretends to be a Sailor, and once taught School at Josephs Collings’s in the Jerseys.

Whoever takes up and secures all, or any One of these Felons, shall have a Pistole Reward for each of them and reasonable Charges, paid them by John Wilson, Goaler

—Advertisement from the American Weekly Mercury, 1722

What do the descriptions of the men tell you about life in colonial Philadelphia?

To learn more, you can browse a number of issues of the American Weekly Mercury that were digitized by New Jersey’s Stockton University. Read through several to get a remarkable flavor of life in early eighteenth-century Philadelphia.

WAtch It

Watch this video to review the differences in the settlement of the major British colonies.

You can view the transcript for “The Quakers, the Dutch, and the Ladies: Crash Course US History #4” here (opens in new window).

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Review Question

What sorts of labor systems were used in the Restoration colonies?


proprietary colonies: colonies granted by the king to a trusted individual, family, or group

Restoration colonies: the colonies King Charles II established or supported during the Restoration (the Carolinas, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania)