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U.S. History/Early American History - Impact of Religion


did not see any expertise in this area listed, so chose a generalist.  Besides the Puritans (who wanted to completely separate from the church) who else wanted to get rid of the catholic church principals and beliefs (but did see value in it's functional structure and hierarchy) in early American social development.  How and why did the catholic church become such a target of these splinter groups?

Hi Jim,

Almost all British colonists coming to America were Protestants since Britain had essentially outlawed Catholicism several generations earlier.  Europe had been raging over religious wars for several centuries.  The concern for many was that if Catholics settled in the colonies in great numbers, those religious wars would continue in America.  

In addition, the two major world powers that were competing with Britain for control of North America (Spain and France) were strong Catholic countries.  Many questioned whether Catholic colonists would remain loyal to Britain or whether they would support Spanish or French takeover of colonies if an opportunity presented itself.  Therefore there was a widespread hostility to Catholic colonists persisted among most British colonists.

Despite these concerns, the Catholic minority that settled in the British colonies seemed to fit in rather well.  Rather than recreating the religious wars of Europe, the various Catholics and various Protestant groups largely coexisted.  Part of this might have been because Catholics remained a small minorities and posed no serious challenge to the dominant Protestant majority.  But combined with the diversity of Protestant sects, colonists largely eventually turned to toleration, religious freedom, and eventually separation of Church and State to govern the people.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

U.S. History

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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