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Throughout the colonial period, economic concerns had more to do with the settling of...

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t521863 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted September 12, 2012 at 9:19 PM via web

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Throughout the colonial period, economic concerns had more to do with the settling of Bristish North America than did religious concerns.  Is this an accurate statement?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 12, 2012 at 9:44 PM (Answer #1)

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There is evidence for both sides of this question and it is impossible to objectively quantify the evidence and claim that one set of concerns was clearly more important.

Some colonies were clearly settled more for one reason than the other.  For example, Massachusetts was clearly settled more for religious reasons than for economic reasons.  Virginia was clearly settled mainly for economic reasons.  But then there are colonies like Pennsylvania that was settled for a mixture of religious reasons and economic ones, with some people coming for religious freedom, others for economic reasons, and still others for a mixture of both.  Later, there were colonies like Georgia, which was settled as penal colony, that were not really settled for either of these reasons.

It is never easy to determine what human motives are most important in any given instance.  With the colonization of the British colonies in North America, there were many different groups of people coming for many different combinations of reasons.  Therefore, it is very difficult to argue that either religion or economic concerns was the most important factor.

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