What Factors Drew People Away From The British Isles And Towards The New World? Did The Attractions Of The New World Live Up To Their Promise?

2268 words - 9 pages

It can be shown that large numbers of people decided to venture from the British Isles in the 1600s to colonise the new settlements in Virginia, in most cases believing that they would be bettering their position in life. They used their skills to work a new land where they would eventually (if an indentured servant) be able to own their own piece of land, an amount of typically fifty acres, and if a stockholder of the Virginia Company or not an indentured servant themselves, their fifty acres and as much again for any servants that they might send or bring to the colony. It will also be shown how religious based settlements were formed in the north-east of the country, why they chose to go there and whether it was as good as they would first have hoped. It will be proved, by the use of Bristol shipping records, that the bulk of people that emigrated from Britain to the Americas' went there by means of indentured servitude. They typically went for a period of four or five years, for those over the age of eighteen years and who were at liberty to do so. It will be concluded that although a hard and perilous existence for those that went, the rewards, either financial or spiritual, would make it a profitable enterprise, for those that survived the hardships of colonising a new land.A large percentage of colonial immigrants were made up from those who travelled to the Americas under indentured servitude: it is estimated that around one-half of the total initial population entered in this way. Others who went were those sent not of their own will, such as those convicted, who were typically sent for a period of seven years, and unwanted or orphaned children, for their own 'betterment'. Again seven years was typical, but could be longer, as high as ten or twelve years, depending on the age of the child. In the early years of Jamestown, Virginia, disease and lack of food made life in the new world a less attractive proposition than it had initially seemed to promise. Furthermore, there was dissension among a large number of the colonists due to gentlemen soldiers refusing to undertake the more menial tasks of colonisation. Another problem with colonising the new world was with the indigenous population, the native Indians of the region such as the Powhatans and Pamunkeys. Although initially friendly towards the colonists, the actions of the newly arrived settlers towards the American Indians caused initially upsets and then violence between the two factions. Most of the troubles between them centred on trading disputes and increasingly, as more immigrants arrived, on land expansion issues. These issues were effectively ended when leaders such as Captain John Smith decided that what they wanted, they would take by force. He believed that treating the indigenous inhabitants in a harsh manner was the way to do things and that forcing 'the treacherous and rebellious to do all manner of drudgery, work and slavery' so that the colonists could 'live like...

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