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By the mid-1600s more than 15,000 Puritans had left England for America, seeking religious and economic opportunities. The Puritans worked with merchants in England, who supplied them with credit to buy supplies. In return, they produced dried fish, cattle, and corn. When English support faded in 1637 because of political troubles, the settlers became more self-sufficient. They began a shipbuilding industry and sold products such as salted beef and dried fish to the West Indies, using the money to buy supplies in England.

The idea of tolerating other systems of belief was radical. Of all New England’s founders, only Roger Williams, Lord Baltimore, and William Penn publicly called for religious tolerance. Later in the 18th century, there were so many different churches that tolerance began to be more accepted. The New World was a place where many different cultures competed and clashed with one another. Settlement attempts sometimes succeeded and often failed. As early settlers moved on and more European immigrants arrived, the country’s growth advanced steadily in one direction, westward toward the setting sun.

They agreed to abide by any just and equal laws their government might pass and to have the right to choose their own leaders. 34 They sailed a bit further, and on December 21 they landed at a spot that Captain John Smith had named Plymouth, on the coast of present-day Massachusetts. During the first winter they lost nearly half of their party to exposure and disease, but they decided to stay. The Wampanoag Native Americans were helpful and taught the settlers to grow maize, or corn. By the following year, the Pilgrims had a good crop of corn and had harvested furs and lumber to sell.

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America's First Settlements by Linda Thompson


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