European Colonization of North America

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What were the benefits for colonists moving to America?

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There were two main benefits for European colonists moving to America. First and foremost it was a place where religious dissidents could practice their faith in peace, free from official persecution and intolerance. Increasingly, America came to be seen as a haven for the persecuted, a place where a diversity of religious belief was permitted to flourish, and in some territories actively encouraged. To a large extent, America was a place where people could escape the seemingly endless, bitter conflict between Christian denominations that tore apart the European continent right throughout the 17th century.

An additional benefit was the widespread availability of land. The acquisition of land was generally considered the gold standard of wealth at that time, yet it was restricted to only a privileged few in Europe. With thousands upon thousands of acres of prime virgin territory, America was seen as the answer to the prayers of those deprived of the opportunity to have their own plot of land. Despite the many privations of colonial life—disease, starvation, regular clashes with native tribes—the prospect of extensive land ownership tempted many Europeans to make the long and arduous journey across the Atlantic.

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