Comparison of Colonies

Maley Thompson

There were various reasons why the American Colonies were established. 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. Connecticut was founded by those separatists in Massachusetts who felt that the religion was too strict.

Yet another colony established for exclusive, religiously motivated purposes was Maryland. Roman Catholics, under George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, fled religious persecution in England from the Protestants. Due to the immediate wealth from tobacco harvesting, Protestants came over to the new colony seeking some of the wealth. Ironically, the Protestants began to outnumber the Catholics, therefore once again making them a minority although the Catholics had been trying to flee from the Protestants. In immediate response to the Protestant immigration, the Catholics set up the Maryland Toleration Act, which stated that all Christian religions would be tolerated. This was to ensure the survival of the Catholics in Maryland.

Pennsylvania also was founded for the sole purpose of religion, but unlike the other colonies, it began to increase toleration of religious diversity later on in the progression of its settlement. King Charles owed William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, a favor. Penn asked the King for some land in the colonies, in return the King gave Penn a piece of the woods (Sylvania) in the New World.

The Quakers, like the early Puritans, were pacifists and minimalists. They believed that God is perfect and had a strict interpretation of the Bible. Their beliefs included that mankind is evil and that every man is born a sinner. At the start of their settlement, they only accepted Christian beliefs. However, once settled in, they quickly proclaimed that all religions would be tolerated in Pennsylvania in order to populate their colony.

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 New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Pennsylvania after its change in toleration.

New York was established by Charles II's brother, the Duke of York. He announced that every Christian religion would be