Impact of the English Reformation and the Restoration on the English Colonies

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Impact of the English Reformation and the Restoration on the English Colonies

From the turmoils of establishing a stable political and religious identity in all of Europe, and England in particular, gave rise to the English Reformation and subsequently the Restoration era in the 16th and 17th centuries. While the onset of both the English Reformation and the Restoration era had a prominent impact on the colonies in the New World in regards to religious freedom, they differed in that the Restoration Colonies were embarked upon and driven by economic hunger.

In England, clashes between Catholics and Protestants, brought upon by the establishment of the Church of England in 1531 by King Henry VIII, placed many in complete disarray. The Separatist, befittingly termed, were a group of puritans sought out an escape from the institutionalize corruption and rituals practiced by both faiths. They believed solely in the authority of the Bible, and viewed unfounded rituals and means to reach salvation as corrupt. They also believed in society holistically, covenants between God and His people, hierarchy and inequality, and most of all the idea of predestination. Predestination was the idea that suggested that Salvation was already determined by God, and there is nothing one can do to alter that and the Puritans believed that they were the select few of God’s children that were chosen for salvation. Puritan beliefs were unconventional, not generally accepted and deemed illegal in some parts of England, which was attributable to the power held by the Church of England imposed upon by the English Reformation. Thus in pursuit of religious freedom, the Puritan saw the New World as prospective haven to live and prosper in their way of life. The first of the Puritans to go to the New World were the Pilgrims, who were of lower middle class to middle class status and one of the most zealous of the Puritans that wanted to set up a Utopia guided by Puritan principles and practices. With the consent of the Crown, the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower and landed on Plymouth. Many more Migrated in the decades followed, known as the Great Puritan Migration.

The drive to the migration and colonization of the New England were primarily religious based from the aftermaths of the Reformation, not for monetary benefits in the outlook of both the Crown of England and the separatist themselves. Thus, unlike Jamestown, the Puritans went there to stay and thrive. In order to do so, the majority of them migrated there in family units with equal number of men and women. The Reformation cause the most religiously enthusiastic of the puritans to come to New World, consequently, a strong linkage between religion and society was eminent. The distinction between church and state was little. Only male church members were allowed to cast votes in political venues. Religion played a role in every aspect in the lives of the Puritans in the New England colonies. The covenants were a firm belief among them in which the actions of one person reflected the actions of the entire community. Therefore, little privacy was a conventional norm that they lived by and there was little religious freedom in the New England colonies.

Distinctive from the New England colonies, the establishment of the Middle colonies and the Carolinas were predominantly inspired, during the Restoration, to gain an economic advantage for the British Empire. King Charles’ II rise to the throne gave way to the charter of the Middle colonies and Carolinas in which he contributed to his loyal collaborators. He took it as an opportunity to reestablish the connection with the English colonies and make Great Britain a true empire to be reckoned with. He enacted the Navigation Laws that entailed colonies can trade only with English ships, some items could be shipped only on English ships, all goods had to pass through England to pay taxes before being shipped to...
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