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European Immigrants to North America in the 17th Century Essay

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Updated: Sep 11th, 2021

The population of the North American Colonies during the 17th century was heavily steeped with immigrants from Europe.

The background of the immigrants was diverse. The immigrants in Virginia and New England came from a British background. They rapidly developed tobacco cultivation with the help of workers who were either white indentured laborers from England or African slaves. By the end of the 16th century, Britain had taken over the Dutch colonies of New Netherland and New Amsterdam , and the Swedish colony of New Sweden ; the European immigrants in New York and Delaware were of Huguenot, Dutch, Walloon, Swede, and African backgrounds. Spanish immigrants established the colony of New Mexico . The French founded Acadia and Quebec , as well as New Orleans. As there were no rules governing immigration, a large number of people from all over Europe came to North America to settle in the colonies established by the Europeans. In the first 70 years of the 17th century , nearly 470,000 persons immigrated to the British colonies alone – 210,000 voluntary European immigrants, 50,000 white convicts, and 260,000 Africans. Two other significant groups that immigrated during the 17th century belonged to Scots-Irish and German backgrounds. By the year 1783, the total colonial population of North America was 2.5 million, out of which 500,000 were African American slaves, 250,000 were of Scots-Irish background and 200,000 were of German background (MSN Encarta).

The ideology of the European colonists during the 17th century had one common denomination: expansion. They were all strong militarily and economically with formidable shipbuilding and navigation technology. Spain used the knowledge and skill acquired during the Reconquista to strive for military victories, the establishment of a central government under their control, and the promotion of Christian missionary work. Northwest European nations used their mercantilism experience to strongly develop investment activities; they were not much interested in central government control. During the 17th century, the British, who arrived in North America later than other Europeans, displayed colonization motives that were inconsistent and gradual; the appropriate and sensible assessment was used to deliberate over issues such as commercial enterprise, freedom of religion, and over-population. During this period the British government had not yet stepped in to officially take over charge of the British-dominated colonies (Wikipedia.org).

The goals of the European immigrants who moved to North America in the 17th century were diverse. Continental Europeans were escaping from conditions of war, pestilence, and drought in their homelands. The Scots-Irish were escaping from the hugely negative effects of the Navigation Acts passed by Britain in their homeland (MSN Encarta). The British immigrants, particularly the Protestant Puritans, were fleeing from the restrictions imposed on them by the Church of England, intending to establish a new, pure church in the North American colonies to comprise their “redeemer nation” (Wikipedia.org). It was also the common goal of all the European immigrants to develop their own business or get profitable employment to earn considerable money that would enable them and their families to enjoy a good standard of living.

The European immigrants who colonized North America in the 17th century used different modes of settlement. British settlers in New England used the plethora of timber in the area to construct wooden houses. Settlements in the Middle Colonies involved buildings of three groups – Dutch immigrants copied their homeland technology to build houses featuring brick facades and high gables at every end; Germans and Welsh immigrants built buildings almost entirely of stone, and Scots-Irish immigrants built strong log cabins by making use of a large amount of lumber available. Settlements in the Southern Colonies consisted of huge mansions built according to the Georgian style where European immigrants lived in lavish style; the large number of slaves who toiled in the rich indigo, tobacco, and rice plantations was paid very little and was condemned to a hand-to-mouth existence (MSN Encarta).

References

” Wikipedia.org. 2007.

“Immigration.” MSN Encarta. 2007. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "European Immigrants to North America in the 17th Century." September 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/european-immigrants-to-north-america-in-the-17th-century/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'European Immigrants to North America in the 17th Century'. 11 September.

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