Town and County Government in the English Colonies of North America

Town and County Government in the English Colonies of North America

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Town and County Government in the English Colonies of North America

Town and County Government in the English Colonies of North America

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Excerpt

ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.

As to the first of these historic factors we find that the physical conformation of New England, with the exception of what is now the State of Maine, necessitated szettlement on the coast, and on the banks of the two rivers which penetrated the country; and necessitated, also, the spreading thence into the interior where the colonists "made their slow and painful way, much of it through the thick underbrush, -- the husband with an axe on his shoulder, and what he can carry of household appendages in a pack on his back." Besides, neither the soil nor the climate were such as tempted men to live in scattered dwellings, or to cultivate large tracts of ground; and, in fine, the "nature and constitution of the place" were favorable to concentrated settlement for purposes of trading, fishing, and manufacturing, and not for an extended cultivation of the soil.

Turn to Virginia and we find a country cut into fragments by large navigable streams, forming harbors far in the interior, where the English ship could exchange her cargo of manufactured goods for tobacco grown in the vicinity. There, too, the climate was suited to a rural life, while a rich and almost inexhaustible soil was favorable to the growth of tobacco, the production of which, in the first years of the colony, was so profitable that it was grown in the streets of the only village which then existed; and so profitable that it was only by means of the most stringent laws, brutally enforced, that farmers could be compelled to grow enough food for themselves and their laborers. Where such conditions prevailed towns did not spring readily into being, nor could men be forced, bribed, or persuaded to live in them when founded.

To the south of Virginia somewhat similar economic conditions prevailed, especially in North Carolina; but in South Carolina, and to a greater extent in Georgia, we meet with large tracts of land difficult of access, and with a soil that . . .

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