Site Loader

Early English colonists risked a lot to move to the New World, leaving all that they knew behind to move to a land where they would need to build their homes from nothing.  So what encouraged these early settlers to move to America? The promise of profit, and economic growth, and religious freedom.  A new beginning, in a land full of untapped wealth (such as America), was tempting to the entrepreneurs and had a greater inclination for this wealth than the more devout.    Europe was more religious divided in the 1500 than in any other time period, the Protestant reformation created hundreds of distinct sects within the Christian faith.  This culminated in the Thirty Years War, which devastated Europe, especially Germany.  The war did not resolve the religious tension, and persecution was rampant.The unfriendly atmosphere in Europe was a major push factor for these people, groups such as the Quakers and Puritans ran to The Thirteen Colonies, as the Colonial Powers needed people to develop the land.  That is why ports such as New Amsterdam (New York) were so culturally and religiously diverse when there is profit to be earned people tend to be more lenient.The biggest example of this religious independence was The Great Awakening, a movement in the mid-eighteenth century formed to counter the growing enlightenment movement in The Thirteen Colonies.  Preachers would give fiery sermons all around the Colonies, and they would often state the importance of self-reliance when it comes to worship. Many churches open during this time, most of them independent in their beliefs and methods of worship.  Religion in The Thirteen Colonies created a greater sense of autonomy, as if they could independently follow their God in a distinct way than the English, then this might be a sign that they could be independent.    But to build those churches, you need land and money, especially if your particular church is of a branch of Christianity that is not sponsored in England.  In my opinion, the economic pull factors created an incentive for those men of faith to come to America.  An example of this was The Headright System, which gave 50 acres to anyone who could transport themselves.  Alternatively, the Virginia company offered the land and transportation for a fee of 12.10 British pounds towards their funds.  50 acres is not only enough for subsistence farming, but the lands of America also offered valuable cash crops such as cotton and tobacco.However, a small family could not work a full 50 acres tobacco or cotton plantation plus subsistence farming.  So landowning elite would hire slaves from Africa to farm this land, furthermore contributing to the population of the colonies.    Slavery heavily bolstered the colonies population and manpower, as well as the economy, people were forcefully taken from Africa and sold in America.  This was called The Triangular trade, a system where traders could have a route where they made a profit at every stop. The traders would take slaves from Africa, then sold them in America, then in America take raw materials, to Europe then made into processed goods which they sold in Africa. The first census ever conducted in the free united states was in 1790, which recorded that slaves in the colonies numbered around 694,280.  This is without counting any free African people or any other people of African decent.  It cannot be ignored that all those people were crucial to the development of the modern United State’s culture, and to the colonies growth.The new colonies, as well as The Triangular trade, bolstered the economies of Europe, countries such as the England and Castille (modern-day Spain) had all the land and wealth concentrated with the nobility and the church.  The concept of a middle class was basically nonexistent.  But the discovery of entire landmasses that, to the Europeans where unclaimed, things changed drastically.  This created Mercantilism, an economic system that sought the accumulation of silver and gold by having the state produce everything and import as little as possible, countries use this to seek economic supremacy with its rivals.  Since gold and silver are limited resources, this meant that all the gold/silver you were producing or acquiring from a trade, was gold/silver that your rivals were losing.Needless to say, this was a huge change to the way nations acted.  Now establishing colonies that could produce resources for trade and gold/silver for use as currency was the way nations asserted dominance.  But this land was “unclaimed”, so the nations such as England needed to somehow get people to move to these uncharted lands, and have them produce things as effectively as possible.  This is where we start to see companies such as the Virginia Company working closely with the state to claim these lands and exploit its resources.  To simply put it, the colonization, growth, and exploitation were crucial to nation states in the 1500 onwards.  If these aspects failed, then your nation might be put under the sphere of influence of its rival.

Post Author: admin