Religion in the Thirteen Colonies

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How did religion influence the development of the New England colonies?

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Religion was an essential element in the foundation and development of the New England colonies. Many of the early colonists were "Dissenters," a term used to describe people in England who were not members of the Church of England. Through the mid-nineteenth century, Dissenters, including both Protestants and Roman Catholics, who "dissented" from the 39 Articles of the Church of England, were discriminated against, and could not enter Oxford and Cambridge University or hold certain political offices. Many moved to the colonies in search of religious freedom.

Many of the colonies in New England were settled by Puritans, who wanted to create devout religious communities. This led to such early excesses as the Salem Witch Trials. On the other hand, Roger Williams and the early colonies in Rhode Island advocated greater religious freedom and separation of church and state. Many of the people who moved to the United States were members of smaller or minority religious groups. This meant...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 5, 2019