Colonial Society on the Eve of Revolution
Conquest by the Cradle
In 1775, the most populous colonies were Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North
Carolina, and Maryland.
About 90% of people lived in rural areas.
A Mingling of the Races
Colonial America was a melting pot.
Germans were 6%
of the total population in 1775. Many Germans settled in
Pennsylvania, fleeing religious persecution, economic oppression, and the ravages of war.
Scots-Irish were 7%
of the population in 1775. They were lawless individuals.
By the mid 18
century, a chain of Scots-Irish settlements lay scattered along the
which hugged the eastern Appalachian foothills from Pennsylvania to
The Scots-Irish led the armed
march of the Paxton Boys in Philadelphia in 1764
protesting the Quaker oligarchy's lenient policy toward the Indians, and a few years later,
in North Carolina, a small but nasty insurrection
against eastern domination of the colony's affairs.
About 5% of the multicolored colonial population consisted of other European groups-
French Huguenots, Welsh, Dutch, Swedes, Jews, Irish, Swiss, and Scots Highlanders.
The Structure of Colonial Society
By the mid 1700s, the richest 10% of Bostonians and Philadelphians owned 2/3
the taxable wealth in their cities.
By 1750, Boston contained a large number of homeless poor, who were compelled to
wear a large red "P" on their clothing.
In all the colonies the ranks of the lower classes were further swelled by the continuing
stream of indentured servants.
The black slaves were the lowest in society.