Although the colonies were very different from one another, they still derived a common heritage from the British Empire and continued many common customs from those beginnings.
Socially, the colonial elite of Boston, New York, Charleston, and Philadelphia saw their identity as British. Although many had never
been to Britain, they imitated British styles of dress, dance, and etiquette. This social upper echelon built its mansions in the
Georgian style, copied the furniture designs of Thomas Chippendale, and participated in the intellectual currents of Europe, such
as Enlightenment. To many of their inhabitants, the seaport cities of colonial America were truly British cities.
Another point on which the colonies found themselves more similar than different was the booming import of British goods. The British
economy had begun to grow rapidly at the end of the 17th century, and by the mid-18th century, small factories in Britain were producing
much more than the nation could consume. Finding a market for their goods in the British colonies of North America, Britain increased her
exports to that region by 360% between 1740 and 1770. Because British merchants offered generous credit to their customers, Americans
began buying staggering amounts of British goods.
By the mid eighteenth century in New England, shipbuilding was a staple. The British crown often turned to the cheap, yet strongly built
American ships. There was a shipyard at the mouth of almost every river in New England.
By 1750, a variety of artisans, shopkeepers, and merchants provided services to the growing farming population. Blacksmiths, wheelwrights,
and furniture makers set up shops in rural villages. There they built and repaired goods needed by farm families. Stores selling English
manufactures such as cloth, iron utensils, and window glass as well as West Indian products like sugar and molasses were set up by traders.
The storekeepers of these shops sold their imported goods in exchange for crops and other local products including roof shingles, potash,
and barrel staves. These local goods were shipped to towns and cities all along the Atlantic Coast. Enterprising men set up stables and
taverns along wagon roads to service this transportation system.
The Southern Colonies were mainly dominated by the wealthy slave-owning planters in Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina.
These planters owned massive estates that were worked by African slaves.
Beginning in the 1720s, after many years of hard life and starvation, the next generation of planters began to construct
large Georgian-style mansions, and hunt deer from horseback. Wealthy women in the Southern colonies shared in the British culture.
They read British magazines, wore fashionable clothing of British design, and served an elaborate afternoon tea. These efforts were
the most successful in South Carolina, where wealthy rice planters lived in townhouses in Charleston, a busy port city. Active social
seasons also existed in towns, such as Annapolis, Maryland, and on tobacco plantations along the James River in Virginia.