The colonization of America by the British dates back to as early as 1607 when British founded the first colony in Jamestown, Virginia. The presence of British colonizers increased over time, as did the number of colonies, such that there were over two million people living and working in thirteen North America territories under colonial rule by 1770. Economic and religious factors are some of the factors that led to the establishment and expansion of the thirteen colonies that constituted Colonial America. The role of religion in Colonial America is discussed in detail in the following part of this essay.Religion led to the foundation and expansion of colonial territories in America.
Religious intolerance in Europe, especially in Great Britain, made some people to flee Britain to escape religious persecution. Such people settled and founded colonies in North America on the basis of their religious beliefs and convictions. For example, Plymouth was established in 1923 by Pilgrims, who wanted to disassociate themselves from the Church of England. The Puritans were Christians who did not wish to separate from the Church of England but rather to reform it. They settled and founded the Massachusetts territory in 1928 and established strict rules. Maryland colony was established in 1934 by Catholics who wanted to practice their faith freely. Other regions such as Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were founded by people who wanted religious freedom. Such territories were liberal and were inhabited by people of all religions.
Most of the laws, rules, and regulations that governed Colonial America were founded on religious bases. Religion was viewed as the moral basis of the colonies and had a significance influence on the governments that ruled over the territories. The founders of the colonies believed that religion and morality were inseparable from good government and were necessary for the success of their colonies. They, therefore, promoted religion and morality in their public policies. For example, the Puritans in Massachusetts based their 1939 constitution on their religious beliefs while the delegates who established the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut emphasized on the fact that their government would only pursue religious purposes. The colonial governments banished people who did not adhere to the laws. For example, Roger Williams was banished from Massachusetts for not adhering to the Puritan way of life. He fled the colony to establish a more liberal Rhode Island.
Religion also played a significant role during the struggle for independence in colonial America. It was used in various ways by revolution leaders to support the effort to the war. For example, religious leaders supporting the struggle for independence served as chaplains for the soldiers fighting in the battle. Others even took up arms and led troops to the battlefields. The contribution of the religious leaders to the war effort was so significant the George Washington, who commanded the Continental Army, asked the Congress to offer them generous salaries to attract more of them to the war. Washington believed in the significance of blessings in the safety and defence of his soldiers and required them to attend religious services whenever possible. Besides, it was found that religion enhanced the motivation of the soldiers and kept them from undesirable activities such as drunkenness.
As discussed in the essay, religion played three primary roles in colonial America. It led to the formation and expansion of the American colonies. Some of the thirteen colonies were formed by people who had fled religious persecution in Great Britain and other parts of Europe. It helped in the development of the rules and regulations that governed the colonies. The colonies founded standards and governments based on the religious beliefs and convictions of their inhabitants. Lastly, religion played a significant role in the struggle for independence. Some religious leaders led in the war while religion also boosted the morale of the freedom fighters.