Thirteen British colonies were developing and maturing rapidly in mid-eighteenth-century America. Their European and African populations were multiplying at a pace far quicker than in the Old World — though at the expense of the indigenous population. Their economy was expanding, and increasingly included highly profitable engagement in overseas trade. This rapid growth was a product of human enterprise, coming from the colonists’ ability to exploit the potential of a rich and extensive natural environment. It set the context for the Revolution, created a platform from which it could launch, and did much to shape its development.
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