Religion as the Core Imperative for Colonies in America


The story of the colonization is one of the earliest colonization histories in the entire world. Upon discovery, the America continent was dubbed the new world and European powers immediately began to take an interest in claiming a stake of this new world. Such European powers included the Spanish and the Portuguese, the first to set base in this new world, as well as England, France and Netherlands who would later follow suit albeit in a different manner and with different intentions altogether. The difference in the methods explored by the former and latter sets of powers is that the former pursued rather uncouth and violent means while the methods explored by the latter were less violent. In this paper, the British involvement in the colonization of America is explored. The argument advanced is that religion had a central role to play in the setting up of colonies in the Americas.

Religion as the Core Imperative for Colonies in America

There are various reasons why colonies were set up in America, among them religion. One of the largest reasons for the setting up of colonies in the Americas is to secure economic gains. The newly discovered world provided plenty of opportunities for the settlers to secure economic gains through trade, acquisition of land and exploitation of minerals. In addition to the economic opportunities, within the colonies, there was a paradigm shift in terms of the dominant economic system. This shift was characterized by a change from the mercantile relationships that characterized England, to the capitalist system. This was made possible by the presence of large tracts of land which could be allocated to individuals. The effect was the abolition of social classes that were characteristic of England. Limited opportunities in England had led to the mercantilism, a notion whereby for one individual to gain, they another had to lose. The presence of resources in America however meant that prosperity of one individual was not tied down to that of another. Moreover, democratic pursuits were also another motivation for the setting up of colonies. Many of the settlers envisioned societies where they enjoyed freedom of choice over what the government did. Such characteristic changes were occasioned across all the colonies in America.

Differences in religious predilections and interpretations led to the establishment of Puritan societies in America. In Britain, King Henry VII had broken ties with the Roman Catholic Church and subsequently made himself the leader of the church in England. Consequently, religious reformers, the Puritans, saw it necessary to reform the Church of England. The effect was the establishment of Puritan colonies such as Massachusetts, with Boston as the core of Puritan society. Another such colony established due to differences in religious interpretation was Rhode Island, where Roger Williams established the Baptist church, which advocated for the separation of government form religion with no taxes. Yet another colony where religion underpinned its foundation was Connecticut where separatist of Puritanism established a colony in New Haven. This was after they broke off from the Puritan church in Massachusetts since they perceived its interpretation of the Bible and Christianity as too literal.


There are many reasons for colonization in America, but religion was at the centre of the setting up of colonies. While there were other reasons such as economic gains and government, many of the colonies set up had religious motives behind them. Such colonies include Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. While the religious powers behind their setting up differ, there were many similarities among these colonies such as the separation of church and state, and the shift from mercantilism to capitalism.

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