Colonial America experienced rapid growth during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Much of the foundation and growth of the American colonies can be attributed to the promise of economic opportunity. While land was plentiful and labor was in high demand, the colonist’s opportunities to succeed were plentiful. New areas of commerce and profit were available to those willing to work hard, especially to those Europeans immigrating to America.
The early settlers of America found the New World rich in natural resources. One example of this is tobacco. In the Southern colonies of America, tobacco grew wild and when Columbus first came to this land he observed the native “…Indians’ habit of ‘drinking smoke.’” Following Columbus’ voyage to the New World, the Spanish colonists and the settlers of the New World realized that tobacco would make a profitable commodity if exported back to Europe. As a result, tobacco became an expensive luxury use only by the wealthy. After a while, so much tobacco was being sent to Europe that the prices dropped and tobacco became a product that almost everyone could enjoy, thereby increasing the demand. Clearly, the profitability of tobacco proved to be a great source of income to the early settlers of America, limited only by his or her efforts to work hard.
The economic opportunities available in America did not end at the cultivation of tobacco. Other products would prove to be just as profitable to the early colonists as tobacco. New farmers in America, especially in the Carolinas, found cotton, indigo and olives to be very profitable crops. The demand for these products in Europe brought many riches for the landowners as well as providing a source of income for the workers who tilled the land. Many of the “indentured servants” that were unable to pay for the voyage to America, were able to pay off their benefactors through their labor, and when free would be able to embark on their own path towards economic...
References: Roark, James L., Johnson, Michael P., Cohen, Patricia Cline, Stage, Sarah, Lawson, Alan, Hartmann, Susan M. 2009. The American Promise, A History Of The United States, Boston, Mass.: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
“Americas Colonial Period.” Scott, Carole E. 1997-2001 Rootsweb.org. Sat. 19 Feb. 2011.
St. John De Crevecoeur, J. Hector. 1998. Letters From An American Farmer, New York,: Oxford University Press.
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