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What Influenced European Migration To America?

1705 words - 7 pages

16th and 17th century AmericaEver since the 16th century, America has undergone on a massive scale, a sustained process of fusion of the cultural values of peoples of different ethnic origins and of groups. America has been the land of hope and promise ever since its discovery. These promises of hope and a better brighter future have always attracted immigrants from all parts of the world to America. The early 1600s saw the beginning of a great tide of emigration from Europe to North America. Spanning more than three centuries, this movement grew from a trickle of a few hundred English colonists to a flood of millions of newcomers. Impelled by powerful and diverse motivations, they built a ...view middle of the document...

These puritans left for America on the Mayflower and landed in Cape Cod in 1626.The colonists' first glimpse of the new land was a vista of dense woods. The settlers might not have survived had it not been for the help of friendly Indians, who taught them how to grow native plants -- pumpkin, squash, beans and corn. Because of their Puritan beliefs, they had good relations with the Native Americans. Their pacifist nature led the Indians to help with their crops.Dense forests, the resistance of some Indian tribes and the formidable barrier of the Appalachian Mountains discouraged settlement beyond the coastal plain. Only trappers and traders dared to venture into the wilderness. For the first hundred years the colonists built their settlements compactly along the coast.The first English immigrants to what is now the United States crossed the Atlantic long after several Spanish colonies had been established in Mexico, the Caribbean, the West Indies and South America. Like all early travelers to the New World, they came in small, overcrowded ships. During their long voyages, they lived on meager rations. Many died of disease, their ships were often battered by storms and some were lost at sea.Political considerations influenced many people to move to America. In the 1600s, arbitrary rule by England's Charles I gave impetus to the migration to the New World. The king understood that the development of new colonies in America resulted in profits. He compensated English families in America who reproduced quickly and punished those who did not marry.The coming of colonists in the colonists to America from England was not directly sponsored by the government but by private groups of individuals whose chief motive was profit. Men and women with little active interest in a new life in America were often induced to make the move to the New World by the skillful persuasion of promoters. Judges and prison authorities offered convicts a chance to migrate to colonies like Georgia instead of serving prison sentences.But few colonists could finance the cost of passage for themselves and their families to make a start in the new land. In some cases, ships' captains received large rewards from the sale of service contracts for poor migrants, called indentured servants, and every method from extravagant promises to actual kidnapping was used to take on as many passengers as their vessels could hold.In other cases, the expenses of transportation and maintenance were paid by colonizing agencies like the Virginia or Massachusetts Bay Companies. In return, indentured servants agreed to work for the agencies as contract laborers, usually for four to seven years. Free at the end of this term, they would be given "freedom dues," sometimes including a small tract of land.It has been estimated that half the settlers living in the colonies south of New England came to America under this system. Although most of them fulfilled their obligations faithfully, some ran away from...

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