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Hello! I have a question. Who were the major groups that originally colonized the North Eastern United States. Of course there were the Puritans but everyone knows that, I’m mainly wondering a about other groups there during the same time period.

Thanks for your time,


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Dear Avi,

Although Puritans initially dominated New England, the Dutch had established a tentative colony at New Hope (now Hartford, Connecticut). In 1633 dissenting voices within the Puritan own ranks began to produce a religious diversity that often led to banishment from the colony. Most notable among them was Welsh-born Roger Williams, whose differences with the Church of England led to his becoming Puritan and whose differences with the Puritans led to his becoming Baptist. Driven west with other dissenters such as William Blackstone (who preceded him), William and Anne Hutchinson, John Clarke and William Harris, Williams conceived of the idea of a colony devoted to the peaceful coexistence of all Christians—a unique idea that led to the formation of the Rhode Island colony in 1644, and to the agreement by English king Charles II, as a colonial experiment, to approve a charter in 1663 giving Rhode Island’s colonists “full liberty in religious concernments.” It was a concept rather alien to the Puritans at the time, but a principal that was significantly extended in 1750 when the Touro Synagogue, the first permanent Jewish house of worship in North America, was built in Newport. Although it was the smallest of the colonies—and states—Rhode Island’s charter laid the groundwork for the principal of universal religious tolerance, with preference to none, that became a cornerstone of the United States Constitution.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History

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