PrologueNew England, USA
Colonists came from European kingdoms that had highly developed military, naval, governmental, and entrepreneurial capabilities. The Spanish and Portuguese centuries-old experience of conquest and colonization during the Reconquista, coupled with new oceanic ship navigation skills, provided the tools, ability, and desire to colonize the New World. England, France, and the Netherlands had also started colonies in the West Indies and North America. They had the ability to build ocean-worthy ships but did not have as strong a history of colonization in foreign lands as did Portugal and Spain. However, English entrepreneurs gave their colonies a foundation of merchant-based investment that seemed to need much less government support.
The prospect of religious persecution by authorities of the crown and the Church of England prompted a significant number of colonization efforts. The Pilgrims were separatist Puritans who fled persecution in England, first to the Netherlands and ultimately to Plymouth Plantation in 1620. Over the following 20 years, people fleeing persecution from King Charles I settled most of New England. Similarly, the Province of Maryland was founded in part to be a haven for Roman Catholics.