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What religious and social conditions in Europe encouraged many New England colonists to come to America?

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Robert McLoughlin AP History Period 3 Mrs. Jerbassi-Russo October 1, 2000 "What religious and social conditions in Europe encouraged many New England colonists to come to America?" The late 16th century and early 17th century saw political and religious chaos all across Europe. No country was spared conflict either politically or militarily. This time period saw great change happening in Europe with advancements being made in all scientific and social areas. One of the most important areas where no advancements were made was in religious toleration. This lack of toleration caused great problems for all the major religions in Europe and hundreds of thousands of people throughout Europe died because of their religion. A modern day comparison would be what the Nazis did to the Jewish people in the Second World War, or the ongoing problems in Bosnia. This completely atrocious and what the people 400 years ago had to deal with is wrong. Probably the main reason why the New England colonists came to America was because of the lack of religious toleration and because of persecution. The first settlement in New England was created by a group of people forced to leave the mother country because of political and religious differences and then left a second country because of their unhappiness with the country. ...read more.


"The Puritans who fled to America to escape the coming wrath that was about to overwhelm England and to create in America the kind of churches that god demanded" (L.E.P. 1) This was one of the ideas that gave birth to the statement of "a city upon a hill" (America as a religious refuge 1). Another group of people that immigrated to British North America were the French Huguenots (French Protestants). They fled France because they feared for their lives. The religious troubles had begun in France about 100 years before the first Huguenots settled in North America. There were various riots and killings in France of Huguenots and Catholics alike but the worst incident came on August 24 1572 in Paris when thousands of Huguenot men, women and children were tortured and killed by Roman Christian mobs. Since then the incident has become known as the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. It was because of incidents like this that an accommodation between the two sides had to be reached and the Edict of Nantes was the answer in 1598. However the privileges of the Huguenots eroded as the seventeenth century passed and were removed completely when the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685. ...read more.


In Ireland, the Catholics were fighting with the Protestants, 20,000 Lutherans were expelled from part of Austria and many froze to death in the freezing winter in the Alps although the wealthier Lutherans managed to reach America. In all of the cases above it is possible to see a group that was being persecuted for their religion, many of them wanted to go to a place where they were able to live their lives in the way they wanted. America became the perfect place for them and it just happens that the Puritans settled in New England. Religion was the main reason for all of the people leaving their mother countries and travelling to America in a hope to find a new way of living. It was the lack of religious toleration in all but one of the European countries that encouraged so many religious communities to take their lives in their hands and attempt to establish their own community in the New World. A large proportion of these people would agree in their own particular religious way, with the words of an Austrian Lutheran "We are driven into exile for the Gospel's sake; we leave our homeland and are now in God's hands" (America as a religious refuge 2). ...read more.

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