The first wave of immigration to America began in the 1600s. These included a number of groups of people who were seeking various freedoms. Among these men and women were the ones who traveled across the ocean to find religious freedom. People who opposed the traditional Church of England and wanted to refine and purify it were called Protestants, puritans and pilgrims. These pilgrims wanted to build an ideal community, something that they saw as a perfect “city upon a hill”.
This ideal community was supposed to be a place which would raise exceptional human being. These human beings would dedicate their life to following the pure and saint road. The puritans believed that it was the government’s duty to enforce God’s morality. Such as adultery, heretics, drinking and violations of the Sabbath were considered truly severe crimes and were punished accordingly.
Although this was meant to be a society of freedom, religious freedom was not truly gained. People had to follow the main beliefs and the only thing they could do was to move to a different part of the new world. The first large group of British Protestants who arrived in 1620 settled in Plymouth. This town soon became known as the cradle of the nation. It was founded by a group of people called the Pilgrim Fathers.
However, not everyone agreed with the strict rules of the new town. Some, including Roger Williams, left Plymouth and founded what is now known as Rhode Island. This was the first American colony in which the separation of church and state took place.
In conclusion, many people traveled to the new world in search of religious freedom. This freedom was found in different places as for everyone it means something different. Nevertheless, people had a choice and they were able to decide what suited them best.
1. Maura Christopher, Anne Cusack, Michael Cusack, Fredric A. Emmert, David Goddy, Holly Hughes, Norman Lunger, John Nickerson, Bruce Oatman, Shelley Orenstein, Richard Pawelek, Ira Peck, Jonathan Rose. “Portrait of the USA”. United States Information Agency. September 1997
2. “Immigration in the Colonial Era” http://www.history.com/topics/united-states-immigration-to-1965 Date of access: 09/22/11