European Colonization of North America

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Why did the British establish colonies in America?

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The British had many reasons for establishing colonies in North America. One reason was to eventually find the Northwest Passage, a waterway to China. This never did materialize. The British also desired the raw materials from the New World. Britain was a latecomer to the colonization game, as France and Spain already had colonies in the Americas. Britain was able to benefit from American timber and foodstuffs to make their country one of the most dominant in Europe.

Britain also used the American continent as a dumping ground for its unwanted people. Britain had many religious dissenters, such as Quakers, Catholics, and Puritans. It also had a substantial population of poor people. Instead of persecuting these groups, it would be a lot simpler to send them to the New World. In the New World, they would hopefully grow and prosper. In time, they would also be an additional market for English goods. Of course, Britain also realized that some of them would die due to harsh conditions in the Americas, but Britain would be rid of these potential troublemakers anyway. This logic is why Britain ultimately came to possess the continent—its greatest export during the colonial era was its people.

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