Though the pilgrims came to America to flee persecution and be able to have religious freedom, there still was not complete freedom for everyone. In the first paragraph of this report I will introduce you to persecutors and persecuted that lived in this “free” land. In the second I will explain the superstitions and fears that led to much killing; In the third I will talk about the Negroes and how the “free” New World became a country with discrimination and slavery.
Although the Puritans, the main group of people living in the New World at the time, came for their own religious freedom they did not allow it for anyone else. They believed that if anyone else thought differently than the Puritans’ leaders they should be punished and thrown out of the colony which was thriving along the Massachusetts coast. Many dissenters and people of different religions were forced to flee the Puritan colonies and settle in colonies with religious freedom. the Rhode Island colony was formed by one of these refugees, namely roger Williams, and he offered freedom to people of all religions. Can you say that this puritan-controlled land was free?
The pilgrims and other people who came to the New World were very superstitious and fearful. But their fright of witches, “imps,” and such, is extraordinary. The Puritans were very apt to believe that they were right and that everyone else was wrong and should be corrected and punished. the Puritans believed in witches, as the whole world did back then, and thought that you could easily become the devil’s helper, become bewitched, and do many things like turning invisible or flying on a broomstick. The Puritans unfortunately thought the same thing, and every “righteous” person was expected to “keep an eye peeled” for any evil-looking events or people. If someone was acting unusual or strange they would say that person was bewitched. If that person said you were torturing them and you had a mole or wart on your face, or any other unusual blemish, people would believe you were a witch! A trial would have been held and if anyone said anyone else said anything against you, you would be killed! People back then even hired “witch finders” who would be paid for every witch they found. The saddest thing of all though is the fact that the Puritans thought they were purging the world when they hanged or drowned innocent men and women for witchery. Could you call these colonies free when people were being killed because someone who was acting strange said that being was tormenting them!?
People had been called witches because of blemishes on their face, and now they were being enslaved because of their color! The Negroes had been taken into captivity from their country and sold in other countries for many years, but now the New World had joined the slave trading business. Negroes were kidnapped from Africa and put in terrible conditions on their way to other countries where they would be sold. They were treated like animals and many died before even reaching the other side! Many rich farmers who had been growing tobacco until its price dropped extraordinarily had no extra money to hire laborers to grow more. Then the slave traders entered with these poor, kidnaped Negroes who were forced to work for nothing. What could be more perfect?! The farmers could now have more money to expand their fields because the slaves they bought were not paid; and more over the “yeoman” farmers farming their own land could not keep up with them so they joined in the cruelty also. Thus the terrible act of slavery came to America, though not as early on as the other killing and persecuting did. Could you call a country where slavery was permitted free?
So now that you have looked into the practices of this “free” land do you still think of it as free? Perhaps for a few years the Pilgrims had the freedom they dreamed of but very soon it changed and people were being killed, hurt, or enslaved because of their religion, their looks, or their color! So, no matter what it is now America has not always been a free country and many, many people died before freedom for all was obtained. Was this New World truly free?
This is a speech I am going to give pretty soon, hope you enjoyed it!