Motivations to Settle in the American Colonies

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Motivations to Settle in the American Colonies

Sailing across the Atlantic to access all the possibilities for religious, social,

economic and political liberty, promoted by the colonies, had its risks. These risks

seemed insignificant compared to the aspirations of a more hopeful and liberal life. Even

though some colonies showed economic potential, they still used religious diversity as a

motivational tool. Besides, the New World offered a remarkably tolerant environment for

those seeking an escape route from religious persecutions and conflicts; also an avenue to

dislocate from the interference and control of the government. Therefore, religious

freedom was more an incentive to settle in the American colonies than the outlook for

economic attainment.

Lutheranism paved the way by means of the Protestant Reformation causing

much controversy among religions and instilling new aspirations in people; thus leading

to the exploration and development of colonies in the New World. This was a great

movement that had an astounding effect on the future generations of settlers to come.

Some colonies were founded solely on religion and encouraged more to do the same.

The “Pilgrim” colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts was influenced by the Separatists (so

named for separating from the Church of England), who had not found religious

contentment in Holland either and departed for the freewill atmosphere of America.

Another group of Puritans, the Massachusetts Bay Company which included many people

of substantial wealth and position, followed in their steps. On the other hand, they, under

the leadership of John Winthrop, hoped to unite together in an effort to restore the church

through their settlement being a model of undying faith and godliness. Yet another

colony established for exclusive, religiously motivated purpose was Maryland. The

Roman Catholics, under George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) had fled from religious

persecution of the Protestants in England. Later Protestants followed seeking some of the

wealth from tobacco, influencing the development of the Maryland Toleration Act to

guarantee endurance of the Catholics. In addition, the Quaker advocate William Penn

obtained the proprietorship of Pennsylvania to establish a tolerant environment with

religious freedom based on political and ethical standards. Furthermore, the colonies of

Connecticut and Rhode Island were established from other colonies as a religious refuge

for nonconformists.

In an effort to increase population for the purpose of more profits, several

colonies began using religious diversity as a lure to attract immigrants. New York and

New Jersey, and eventually Pennsylvania, utilized these tactics for this reason. North

Carolina and South Carolina also used these methods of persuasion to increase the

sugar plantations to bring in more revenue for their colonies. Moreover, Georgia was set

up for debtors and outlaws, but yet its first settlers were German Lutherans and Calvinists

escaping religious persecution in their homeland. Thus religion is still yet the motivator

in all these cases.

Although, one obvious cause for economic motivation was in the early 17th

century when the poverty level affected immense numbers of peasants; thus these people,

being poverty-stricken and discouraged, succumbed to life as indentured servants in

exchange for their independence and manual labor to make this long treacherous journey

in hopes of finding a safe haven in the New World .

Overall, religious concerns had more of an impact on enticing immigrants

to make the ultimate decision of settling in the New World. While some people were in

search for riches (such as Monarchs and joint-stock companies) to enhance the wealth of

their homeland; the majority were seeking refuge from the...
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