The three most important themes of English colonization of America were religion, economics, and government. The most important reasons for colonization were to seek refuge, religious freedom, and economic opportunity. To a lesser degree, the colonists sought to establish a stable and progressive government.
Many colonies were founded for religious purposes. While religion was involved with all of the colonies, Massachusetts, New Haven, Maryland, and Pennsylvania were established exclusively for religious purposes.
Massachusetts’s inhabitants were Puritans who believed in predestination and the ideal that God is perfect. Many Puritans in England were persecuted for their nihilist beliefs in England because they felt that the Church of England, led by the Kind, did not enforce a literal enough interpretation of the Bible. Persecution punishment included jail and even execution. To seek refuge, they separated to go to Holland because of its proximity, lower cost, and safer passage. However, their lives in Holland were much different than that of England. The Separatists did not rebel against but rather preferred the English culture. They did not want their children to be raised Dutch. Also, they felt that Holland was too liberal. Although they enjoyed the freedom of religion, they decided to leave for America. Pilgrims, or sojourners, left for America on The Mayflower and landed in Cape Cod in 1626. They had missed their destination, Jamestown. Although the climate was extremely rocky, they did not want to move south because of their Puritan beliefs. They thought that everything was predestined, and that they must have landed on this rocky place for a reason. They moved slightly north to Plymouth Rock in order to survive more comfortably. Also, because of their Puritan beliefs, they had good relations with the Native Americans. Their pacifist nature led the Indians to help with their crops. In thanks, the Pilgrims celebrated the first thanksgiving in 1621. A second group of Puritans in England, the Massachusetts Bay Company, came to Massachusetts for more economically motivated purposes due to their non-minimalist beliefs.
New Haven and Connecticut were two other colonies founded exclusively for Religious purposes. Many of the Separatists in Massachusetts felt that the religion was too liberal inside of the colony. They felt that the beliefs were not being enforced enough and that the people were not living through literal interpretations of the Bible. These Separatists further separated themselves from Massachusetts and formed a new colony, New Haven.
Many colonies were founded upon diverse religions because their primary focus and purpose was to make money or to populate the country. These economically motivated colonies include Carolinas and Pennsylvania after its change in toleration.
The people in the Carolinas made a large profit off of sugar from Barbados, which attracted many settlers from all different cultures and increased the population. Migration and immigration between other colonies and the Carolinas was common because of the economic success of sugar. Puritans from Massachusetts and Catholics from Maryland came to share in the wealth of the Carolinas. Unlike any colony so far, the Carolinas was the only one that accepted all religious faiths, not just Christian faiths.
Pennsylvania, as said before, started out exclusively as a religious refuge.
However, to ensure the economic survival of the colony, all faiths were accepted in Pennsylvania. The Quakers were open-minded pacifists and almost immediately, Quakers came from all over (not just from England). The main cultures that inhabited Pennsylvania were French, English, Dutch, and German.
Government was also important in the founding of English colonies in the New World. With each colony, the government and idea of democracy progressed. With a weak and unpredictable government first established in Virginia, the American colonists gradually advanced to a more democratic government. However, even the most democratic government was a far cry from the pure democracy we enjoy today. Their gradual learning experience and progression led to many more instances of attempted improvement, thus leading to more voice from the common people.
The government in Massachusetts began with the Mayflower Compact, an agreement signed by the Pilgrims pledging that they would set up a theocracy, a political system headed by the clergy. In the compact, they also pledged loyalty to support and follow England. Seven years later, the Massachusetts Bay Company, under John Winthrope, coming for economic and religious reasons, set up a general court. This type of government started with 18 electe5/13/2002d freemen, or white, male, wealthy, land-owning puritans. This government had many problems. The fact that only 18 people were representing the mass of colonists in Massachusetts caused misrepresentation of the majority of the colony. The elected freemen made decisions that looked to their own interests rather than to the good of the colony. Also, this general court only met four times a year, which is far too little to get any important, every day decisions made.
There are clearly many similarities and differences in overall religious, economical, and governmental origins in American colonies. Many colonies were founded for exclusive religious diversity. However, many came to be motivated in origin by economy. Also, the American colonies evolved from non-representative and elitist governments into a more democratic system, which is closer to the pure democracy of today.
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