Monday, March 28, 2011

What factors prompted the large-scale migration of English men and women to America?

The main factors that prompted the massive English migration to America were economical and religious factors. English peasants looked for economic security, while the puritans tried to escape religious persecution. The rapid population growth, the economic hardship culminating with the Price Revolution, and contrasting the rich new lands with plenty of gold and silver, have determined many English men and women to become settlers in the New World. The Price Revolution consisted of a huge inflation generated by the infusion of capital from the massive influx of gold and silver brought from America. And since economics has consequences on politics, the loss of wealth of the upper class determined the weakening of its influence over their house in the Parliament – the House of Lords, while the House of Commons offered a voice to rich commoners and property-owner yeomen. The Price Revolution affected also the peasants, who were kicked out by owners and dispossessed, being forced to live in poverty. On another hand, the Puritans came to America seeking religious freedom and land. They were anti-catholic and believed the English Church needed to be reformed. Many of them migrated and established churches based on their radical beliefs. The Puritans’ migration started in 1630 with a group of 900 people. Harsh weather was yet another migration cause. England’s weather cooled down around 1600, determining crops loss and prices increase. The well-known ship ‘Mayflower’ has played a significant role in the history of the English migration to America. In 1620 Mayflower was the ship that sailed from England to the rich, resourceful New England with pilgrims in search of a new and better life.

Source: Henretta, James A. and David Brody. America: A Concise History, Volume I: To 1877. 4th ed., Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2010, 26-33

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