Quest for Power eq: Why would a nation or individual want to colonize? How was economic, political, and social/ religious life in the colonies different than life in England? Enduring Understandings

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1. Explain the motives why England explored and colonized the New World.

2. Analyze how exploration benefited a country economically and led to colonization.


Part Two Using the information from pages 40 to 45 of your textbook, identify causes and effects of European exploration in the chart below.

Causes of European Exploration

Effects of European Exploration


Part Three: Read the Expert Information on the next page and highlight key information to match the Learning Target. Then complete the chart to identify the motives for colonization.

Expert Information: Reasons for Colonization – Push/Pull Motives

Once the British established claims in the New World it was necessary to attract settlers. There are four factors that pushed people out of England and pulled them to the New World. These are religious, economic, political and social factors.

Religious Motives

Although citizens in England were required to follow the state religion, the Anglican Church or the Church of England, not everyone in England agreed with the teachings and practices of the Anglican Church. The Pilgrims or Separatists disagreed with the teaching of the Church of England and wanted a totally new religion. These groups were severely persecuted by the King for their beliefs and were denied jobs, sent to prison, and not allowed to practice their religion. As a result, these groups left England to settle in the New World where they could practice their religious beliefs away from the control of the King. Other groups such as the Catholics, Puritans, and the Quakers also left for similar reasons. Catholics were persecuted for practicing their religious beliefs, Puritans felt the Anglican Church was too rigid and ceremonial and wanted to ‘purify” it and the Quakers believed in equality for everyone and were also persecuted for their beliefs. These religious motives allowed the King to rid England of religious conflict and the religious groups to freely practice their beliefs in the New World.

Economic Motives

The King also had economic interests in colonizing the new lands. During the 16th-18th centuries, England’s economy was based on the economic theory of mercantilism. According to this theory, a country’s wealth was dependent on the amount of gold or silver in the treasury. England saw the colonies as a source of profit. The colonies would sell raw materials to England cheaply and then buy England’s manufactured goods at higher prices. Mercantilism meant that the colonies were to support England’s economy and they were restricted to trade only with the Mother Country. Huge profits were made in the New World colonies and England became rich and strong as a result.

The desire to own land was the major economic factor for individuals to move to the New World and settle. There were little or no opportunities for a large portion of society to own land in England. In order to reach the colonies, some people signed a contract making themselves indentured servants (person who signed a contract to work for a certain length of time, 5-7 years, in exchange for passage to the colonies). By going to the New World many individuals could possibly be able to own land for the first time.

Political Motives

Even though England had a Parliament, many kings in England ruled as absolute monarchs. Most of the decisions were made by the king or members of the government (Parliament), who were directly under the control of the king. The decisions that they made benefited the government, not the people. The king was willing to send citizens to settle new land because it was believed that the land would be an extension of the king’s domain. The citizens would follow English law and rule of the king. Because many Englishmen had no say in government they saw the New World as a place where they could be more involved in government. Many Englishmen, guided by their religious ideas of virtue, dreamed of greater political freedom through self-government – governments established for the greater good of the people. Being so far away from the king allowed for the growth of self-government through local control of the decision making process when it came to rules and laws. This was the beginning of representative government in America.

Social Motives

In England, there was a rigid class structure and as a result a large portion of the population had few opportunities to improve their place in society. Many individuals who were middle and lower class people dreamed of making a better life for themselves in the New World. Unemployed farmers saw an opportunity to own land in America, something they would never have been able to do in England. The King saw colonization as a safety valve, a dumping ground for the excess population (which was draining England’s resources) and a place to send the debtors who were crowding the prisons. The New World became the place to start a new life, a life where no one cared about your family background, or if you had name recognition. The New World gave people opportunities to climb the social ladder based on hard work.

Motives for Colonization

  • Religious Pull

  • Economic Pull

  • Political Pull

  • Social Pull

  • Religious Push

  • Economic Push

  • Political Push

  • Social Push








Answer the following questions.

1. Explain why England explored and colonized the New World.

2. Explain the reason different groups wanted to settle the New World.

Updated 6/24/2010

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