Colonial – AEAS精读 (Y10-12)

Although only 1 person in 20 in the Colonial period lived in a city, the cities had a disproportionate influence on the development of North America. They were at the cutting edge of social change. It was in the cities that the elements that can be associated with modern capitalism first appeared — the use of money and commercial paper in place of barter, open competition in place of social deference and hierarchy, with an attendant rise in social disorder, and the appearance of factories using coat or water power in place of independent craftspeople working with hand tools. “The cities predicted the future,” wrote historian Gary. B. Nash, “even though they were but overgrown villages compared to the great urban centers of Europe, the Middle East and China.”

Except for Boston, whose population stabilized at about 16,000 in 1760, cities grew by exponential leaps through the eighteenth century. In the fifteen years prior to the outbreak of the War for independence in 1775, more than 200,000 immigrants arrived on North American shores. This meant that a population the size of Boston was arriving every year, and most of it flowed into the port cities in the Northeast. Philadelphia’s population nearly doubted in those years, reaching about 30,000 in 1774, New York grew at almost the same rate, reaching about 25,000 by 1775.

The quality of the hinterland dictated the pace of growth of the cities. The land surrounding Boston had always been poor farm country, and by the mid-eighteenth century it was virtually stripped of its timber. The available farmland was occupied, there was little in the region beyond the city to attract immigrants. New York and Philadelphia, by contrast, served a rich and fertile hinterland laced with navigable watercourses. Scots, Irish, and Germans landed in these cities and followed the rivers inland. The regions around the cities of New York and Philadelphia became the breadbaskets of North America, sending grain not only to other colonies but also to England and southern Europe, where crippling droughts in the late 1760’s created a whole new market.

虽然在殖民时期,每20个人中只有一个人住在城市里,但城市对北美的发展有着不成比例的影响。他们处在社会变革的最前沿。是在城市与现代资本主义相关联的元素,可以首次出现——金钱和商业票据代替物物交换,公开竞争的社会尊重和层次结构,伴随着一个社交障碍,和工厂的外观使用外套或水力代替独立的工匠使用手工具。“城市预言了未来,”历史学家加里写道。纳什说,“尽管与欧洲、中东和中国的大城市中心相比,它们不过是杂草丛生的村庄。”

除了波士顿(1760年人口稳定在16000人左右),其他城市在整个18世纪都呈指数级增长。在1775年独立战争爆发前的15年里,有20多万移民来到北美海岸。这意味着每年有波士顿那么大的人口到达,其中大部分都流入了东北部的港口城市。在那些年里,费城的人口几乎受到了怀疑,1774年达到了3万人左右,而纽约的人口增长速度几乎与此相同,到1775年达到了2.5万人左右。

内地的质量决定了城市的发展速度。波士顿周围的土地一直是贫穷的农业区,到18世纪中叶,这里的木材几乎被砍伐殆尽。可用的农田被占用了,城市以外的地区几乎没有什么可以吸引移民。相比之下,纽约和费城则是富饶富饶的内陆地区,拥有可通航的水道。苏格兰人、爱尔兰人和德国人登陆这些城市,沿着河流进入内陆。纽约和费城周围的地区成为北美的粮仓,不仅将谷物运往其他殖民地,也运往英格兰和南欧,17世纪60年代晚期的严重干旱创造了一个全新的市场。