Religion & Interaction in Colonial America

Religion & Interaction in Colonial America



Religion & Interaction in Colonial America

Unlike most of the territories in 16th and 17th century America, the Mid-Atlantic Region in North America gained most of its population from considerable immigration. In the late 17th century, much of the population in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey comprised a mixed populace from races ranging from American Indians and Europeans. Furthermore, a considerable number of Africans originated from the slavery eminent in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Nevertheless, the patterns of interaction among the different races in North America received alignment through the presence and spread of religion because of foreign immigrants. Notable religious movements within North America such as the Great Awakening by Calvinist, Jonathan Edwards, within most colonies in the 16th century facilitated the interaction of different races in accordance to unification in religion (Ahlstrom, 2004). Furthermore, the significant incursion of the British Quakers in the late 16th century due to William Penn’s influence further led to a shaping of the interactions among different races living within the Mid-Atlantic region.

Accordingly, the manner in which religion formed the basis for racial integration originated from the considerable influx of foreign immigrants into Colonial America. Most of these migrants searched for religious liberty since most colonies in Europe underwent religious persecution. This assertion receives insurmountable evidence from the rise of the Protestant Reformation within Colonial America in the early 16th century. The Protestant Reformation shattered the unanimity within the Western Christendom and initiated the development of several religious factions that usually underwent maltreatment by legislative authorities. In countries such as England, most individuals started questioning the organizational structure of the Church of England towards the 16th century’s culmination leading to the creation of the Puritan sect that focused on ridding the Church of its Catholic practices that according to them were not present within the Bible.

Nonetheless, concentrating on the Mid-Atlantic area in North America, religion facilitated interaction especially with the diverse population within the region. For instance, the drive to provide refuge for English Quakers who underwent persecution under Charles I led to the founding of Pennsylvania by William Penn. This also led to the incursion of numerous Quakers as well as other religious factions within the region. Religious sects such as the Baptists, Swiss and German Protestants migrated to the state of Pennsylvania based on the availability of religious liberty. Notably, religion also facilitated interaction with the native communities living within the state. This is in accordance with Penn’s Treaty that sought to initiate an accord of unison between the American Indians and the Pacifist Quakers in the late 16th century. As such, the pursuance of religious freedom facilitated an integrative relationship between the immigrants and the native communities by enabling co-existence especially with the manner in which the natives accepted the different religious denominations.

Furthermore, the states within Middle Colonies beginning with Pennsylvania facilitated the incursion of more religious denominations such as the German Reformed and Lutherans as well as other diminutive factions such as the Amish, Presbyterians, Moravians and the Mennonites. Other factions such as the Congregationalists further occupied the region especially within Long Island (Bonomi, 2003). Furthermore, the immigration of the Roman Catholics into the Mid-Atlantic region, especially in the provinces of Maryland facilitated interaction among the African slaves and other lesser races that were subject to slavery throughout the Southern colonies such as Virginia and South Carolina. As such, the significant incursion of religion in the Mid-Atlantic Region enabled unison among the different races irrespective of racial diversity.


Ahlstrom, Sydney E. A Religious History of the American People. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. Print.

Bonomi, Patricia U. Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.