Social Studies Study Guide

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Reasons for Immigration to the Colonies
Although economic and political values led to much of the English migration to the New World, religious tumult in England was undoubtedly the main cause for the immigration. James I, who believed in the divine right of kings, thought he was allowed to disobey Parliament because he answered to no one but God. He started a conflict with Parliament that gained momentum under Charles I's reign. This conflict finally sparked a civil war lasting seven years, during which time the government unsympathetically persecuted its citizens, driving many of them out of the country. Furthermore, England's unstable economy and inflation led to much poverty. The demand for a certain raw material like wool could put many slaves out of a job if the landowner suddenly decided it was more profitable to raise sheep; thus requiring only a small fraction of the work force. Inflation also made life hard for the poorer people, who found they could no longer pay for basic necessities. People saw that moving to the North American Colonies was a great money-making opportunity. Growing sugar on islands off the North American coast was so profitable that one man's capital may have spilled over to a relative who lived generations later. People were also quite excited about the idea of Capitalism, the economic system in which one makes even more money by investing his capital in a growing business, for example. Finally, people saw that the vast fields in the New World would yield much produce, and that moving to the Colonies was an opportunity too good to pass up. Religious conflict, however, was the main factor contributing to the English migration to New England. The Catholic Church had become too intense on individuals and their everyday life, and Protestantism seemed to be the best alternative for many people. Also, King Henry VIII had established the Anglican Church, which he strongly enforced upon the Englishmen. Protestants and Catholics in this...
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