The New England colonies were founded by English
Puritans. While most Puritans sought to purify the Church of
England from within, and not to break away from it, a small group of Separatiststhe
Pilgrimsfounded the first small, pious Plymouth Colony in New England.
More important was the larger group of nonseparating Puritans, led by John
Winthrop, who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony as part of the great
migration of Puritans fleeing persecution in England in the 1630s.
A strong sense of common purpose among the first
settlers shaped the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Because of the close alignment
of religion and politics in the colony, those who challenged religious orthodoxy,
among them Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams, were considered guilty of sedition
and driven out of Massachusetts. The banished Williams founded Rhode Island,
by far the most religiously and politically tolerant of the colonies. Other
New England settlements, all originating in Massachusetts Bay, were established
in Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire. Although they shared a common way
of life, the New England colonies developed with a substantial degree of independence.
The middle colonies took shape quite differently.
New York, founded as New Netherland by the Dutch and later conquered by England,
was economically and ethnically diverse, socially hierarchical, and politically
quarrelsome. Pennsylvania, founded as a Quaker haven by William Penn, also
attracted an economically ambitious and politically troublesome population
of diverse ethnic groups.
With their economic variety, ethnic diversity,
and political factionalism, the middle colonies were the most typically American
of Englands thirteen Atlantic seaboard colonies.