Historical Curiosities


Although such issues as population statistics of 1750 are probably more accessible now than they were in 1750, none of these estimates would have seemed in any way remarkable to Thomas Dordrecht’s contemporaries.  Like population facts today, they are roughly “understood,” and seldom worthy of mention.



Rough population estimates for 1750

Distilled from many different sources


England (not “Britain”)




Native Americans in northeastern North America

< 750,000

British North America


French North America


Colony of New York (white)


Colony of New York (black)


City of New York (white)


City of New York (black)


Kings County, New York (white)


Kings County, New York (black)




I couldn’t find figures for Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, but there’s reason to doubt the British grand total would have come to 10 million.  Used as we have become in our lifetimes to assuming the populations of Britain and France to be roughly equal, finding the French population so incommensurate in Europe is surprising.  Conversely, the relative populations for British and French North America are also a surprise, because anti-Quebec forces in the English colonies kept up a steady drumbeat of fretting about the “threat” of France throughout the 18th Century.  This despite their outnumbering the French (in North America) by 16 to 1!


Another surprise is how great a percentage of the English-speaking world was already on the west side of the Atlantic in 1750:  10 - 17% (assuming most Welsh, Scots, and Irish would at the time have regarded English as a second language, were they able to use it at all)! 


However, the population odds in the interiors, on the frontiers of North America, were different yet again.  Virtually all of the 1.2 million Anglophone colonial population lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic seaboard.  In the backcountry, neither English nor French held sway, and the Native Americans were still truly a force with which to be reckoned.  Although the entire population of the Iroquois confederation was estimated at only 12,000 (in 1768, after this seven-year blood-bath and the immediately following Pontiac’s Rebellion [1763-65]), Native Americans were probably as numerous as any other humans in upstate New York, western Pennsylvania, and the foothills of the Appalachians generally. 


The vast majority, but not 100%, of the black population in New York colony would have been enslaved.  A small, but not insignificant proportion of the white population in New York would have been indentured servants.  Slavery was common but declining in 1750 in the northern colonies; the large plantation system sustained it in the southern continental colonies; the thriving sugar business was absolutely dependent on slavery in the Caribbean colonies. 



Other Curiosities


It’s very hard for 21st Century folks to grasp how completely topography ruled life in North America (and the rest of the world too, of course) in the 18th Century.  Mountains were not merely troublesome, they were to all normal extents and purposes impassable.  Rivers and lakes were the only highways of commerce – and they froze over for months every winter, bringing long-distance transactions to a complete halt.  Contemplate this the next time you’re frustrated that a blizzard has closed a road or an airport for six hours! 


The Hudson and Mohawk Valleys, in addition to providing invaluable highways through the mountains, possessed the most agriculturally desirable farmland east of Ohio, and at the time produced most of the continent’s basic foodstuffs. 


You may have missed several polities in Die Fasting.  That’s because they did not yet exist in 1758: 

·      Troy, New York

·      Utica, New York

·      Rome, New York

·      Syracuse, New York

·      The Bronx, New York

·      Nassau County, New York

·      Vermont

·      Ontario


Several sites are set in areas that have since changed names: 

·      Kings County and “Brooklyn” are today one and the same, and since 1898 a part of Greater New York City.  In 1758, Brooklyn was but one of many small towns, albeit the Kings County seat. 

·      Forts Stanwix and Bull are now in the city limits of Rome, New York

·      Fort Frontenac is now part of downtown Kingston, Ontario

·      The town of the Onondagas’ long-houses, then known as “Onondaga,” is now known as Syracuse, New York

·      Rattlesnake Hill (just south of Fort Ticonderoga) was also called the Sugar Loaf, and has since been renamed Mount Defiance; Mount Independence is opposite Ticonderoga, on the lake’s eastern (Vermont) shore






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