In this assignment, I will focus on the legacy of the religious movement of the colonial era. It is hard for me to say if the influence of Europeans was more negative than positive because I wasn’t born in the USA, but my personal opinion is that it was more positive. I am sure that there are a lot of Americans that wouldn’t agree with me but I think that the colonization made the Natives better and I will tell you why. Of course, there is a negative side too. A lot of Natives died because of the diseases that Europeans brought.
The other thing I want to focus is the religious refugees that came to the New World hoping they would find freedom of their beliefs. The tribes that lived in America, before the great discovery of Christopher Columbus, relied on natural sources and that is why the religions were linked with the natural world. The Natives Americans believed in many gods which were compared to crops, game, forests, rivers, and other things associated with nature. In 1492 when Genovian sailor arrived with his three ships to the coast of Bahamas, he met the first inhabitant of the New World. Columbus thought that he was in India so he called them Indians. He noticed that both of the sexes were naked. There were some exceptions. He saw a few shy and scared women that wore a leaf, small bought or an apron. In the beginning, the Natives were afraid of them even though there was no reason. They treated them with kindness, they gave them cloth and other things and they didn’t ask for anything in return.
Columbus also started bouncing around the idea to make them Christians. He chose few Indians and forced them to come with him and his crew. During their journey, they were able to understand each other by signs, gestures or words. They weren’t scared of the Europeans anymore because they thought that Columbus was God who descended from Heaven. In 1529 when King Henry VIII. of England severed with the Catholic Church because the pope didn’t let him divorce, so he appointed himself as the leader of Christian faith in England. This event is known as the English Reformation. After Henry’s death, his daughter Queen Mary who was Catholic re-established the Catholic Church and she mistreated Protestants.
After she died in 1558 her half-sister Elizabeth I. became Queen who separated England from the Catholic Church for good this time. A lot of people still weren’t satisfied with the new Church of England because they claimed for new reforms that would ‘purify’ the church. These people was known as Puritans. In 1629 Puritans left England and they founded Massachusetts Bay Colony in an undiscovered and uninhabited place. During a few decades thousands of Calvinists followed them and together they built Godly state were they behaved according to their own religious laws. The thought that held the colony together was that they believed that they were God’s chosen people. Even though Puritans separated church and state these two pillars collaborated when it came to maintaining their territory. The Bible was one of the most important elements in their religion. The Puritans played a very important role in creating American values. The popular idea that Puritans were sexual prudes was not true. They adored the family values and they were against sexual relationships outside the marriage. They were able to drink alcohol because they didn’t consider it as a sin. Roger Williams was a controversial young minister who thought that the church and state should be separated in all areas because he argued that the settlement in Massachusetts Bay would lead to corruption of the church.
He also said that the land where colonist lived is not theirs but the Natives. He and his family arrived to the New World a few months later and he got an offer from Boston church but he refused it because it would put him in a bad position with the leaders of the colony. His opinions against the organization of Massachusetts Bay were the reason why he had to leave otherwise he would be in danger of execution. After that, he settled in Narragansett where he bought a part of the land from the Narragansett Indians. He founded a town called Providence which later became Rhode Island. Rhode Island was the only colony where was complete freedom of religion.
To sum it up I really think that it has more positive impact than negative. Americans wouldn’t be so developed without the influence of colonization. I’m not saying that the legacy is only positive. Everything has some negatives and we can find a lot of things that Europeans could have done better but also even worse.