Why People Came to the New World
A long, long, time ago, only Indians lived in what is now known as the United States and Canada.
At first the Europeans came to the New World to explore and visit. Other visitors to the new world were fishermen who came to fish. Later traders arrived to trade tools, blankets, and other things with the Indians. The Indians gave them furs in return.
Each time these visitors returned home, they told everyone about the wonderful things that could be found in the New World, “America”. There were lots of forests, animals, water, and rich farmland.
Soon people from other countries wanted to live in America. When a country builds a settlement beyond its borders, it is called a colony.
People from Spain were the first Europeans to build a colony in America. In 1584, England was in a race with Spain to start new colonies in the New World. Sir Walter Raleigh sent over 108 men to America. After a very hard year, these men returned to England and this colony failed. Three years later, Raleigh sent 117 men, women and children to America. John White was one of the 117 men. His daughter, Eleanor Dare, had the first English baby born in America. Her name was Virginia Dare.
John White returned to England to get supplies for the colony. Because Spain was having a war with England, there were no ships available for three years. When John White returned to the colony, the entire colony had disappeared. What happened to Virginia Dare and the other colonist remains a mystery. Their settlement is known as the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
In 1606, England's "Virginia Company of London" sold shares of ownership or stocks to the New World. By selling stocks, they were able to share the cost of starting a new colony. If the colony did well, the stockholders would make lots of money. The wealthy people were able to buy the stocks. If you were poor and wanted to go to America, you could promise to give the company part of any gold or silver you found in the New World. This colony was called Jamestown after King James 1.
In 1620, a group called Separatists came to the New World. They were avoiding religious persecution in England. Today we refer to them as Pilgrims. A pilgrim is a person who makes a journey for religious reasons. This colony was called Plymouth (it was also spelled Plimoth). Many pilgrims died during the first year. An Indian named Squanto, and other Indians helped the pilgrims to survive. To thank God and the Indians, the Pilgrims held a celebration in the fall of 1621. The Indians were invited to the feast, which was the very first Thanksgiving.
In 1629, another religious group called the Puritans came to the New World. They were also seeking religious freedom. They wanted to establish a place that would set an example of how God wanted people to live.
Many died coming to the New World. Many died while trying to survive in the New World. So why did people come to America?
One reason was that in European countries the first-born son inherited all of the fathers land. Some of the younger sons then came to America to get their land.
Another reason had to do with religion. In England people had to worship like the King ordered them to. People came to America so they could worship in their own way.
Some people were brought to the colonies against their will. Black slaves were brought from Africa to Virginia. Eventually there were black slaves in all of the thirteen colonies, but most of them lived in the South.
Some English people came to bring Christianity to the Indians. Others came because they thought America was filled with jewels and gold! Many others came for the adventure of it all and the excitement of living in a faraway land! The colonists came to America for many reasons. But they had one thing in common. They wanted the freedom to live the way they thought best.
Some colonist saw many opportunities awaiting them in the New World. They saw this as a chance for them to have lots of farmland, open new fur trading colonies, and to start a new life for their families.
Another group was sent away from England for not being able to pay their bills. They were given land in the New World. This was a place where the poor could make a new life. This colony was called Georgia.
The Middle colonies promised people land. Many saw this as their chance to get ahead. They came from many countries to the New World with dreams for a new life.
In Maryland, the Catholics established a colony in order to freely practice their religion.
The Virginia and Carolina colonies saw the New World as their chance to make money off of the rich fertile land.
Many others came for the adventure of it all!