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America's History in the Making

Colonial Designs

Theme 3

The later colonial period, from the 1680s through the 1760s, saw the increasing economic power of England's colonies.

England and its North American colonies became more prosperous and powerful after the late 1600s. Spain continued its long decline, and the Dutch pulled out of their American colonial ventures. France largely withdrew from the North American continent in 1763 after being defeated by the British in the French and Indian War. Britain had become the most powerful nation in the world.

Although Britain’s North American colonies flourished, their successes ultimately made them less dependent on—and more likely to challenge—the mother country. The colonies’ populations increased and diversified in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, driven by both birth rate and immigration. Their economies were changing, too. Agricultural production increased in the southern and middle colonies, and trade expanded in the growing market towns. All along the Atlantic coast, seaports emerged that more and more resembled English port towns.

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