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Beginnings People first started to migrate to North America about twenty to over forty thousand years ago When the first Europeans arrived in the fifteenth century Native Americans were living in diverse societies spread across the continent The first Europeans to visit the Americas were the explorers The first written observations of the new continent were recorded in Spanish and French by the European explorers Their enthusiastic accounts of the beauty and wealth of the Americas led to increase expeditions to what Renaissance Europeans saw as the New World Many explorers emphasized the Americas abundant resources hoping to fund further expeditions De Vaca a Spaniard explorer provided the first account of animals and plants that the Europeans had never known existed The Puritans were single-minded visionaries convinced of the rightness of their beliefs but they were also practical and businesslike In 1640 the first of the English Puritans landed on Cape Cod just before Christmas Many Puritans were persecuted for their beliefs and fled England for Holland But afraid that they would lose their English identity a small group led by William Bradford set sail in 1620 for the New World Puritan theology was an uneasy mixture of certainty most of humanity would be dammed for all eternity because of Adam and Eves sin of disobedience and doubt whether an individual was one of the elect or not Puritans believed that Jesus had been sent to earth to save particular people known as the elect It was difficult to know for certain if one was saved or dammed so the Puritans tried to behave in as exemplary a manner as possible With the Mayflower Compact outlining how they would be governed once they reached land Puritan belief in a spiritual compact between God and humanity paved the way for American constitutional democracy The Puritans emphasized education so that people could read and understand the Bible and follow religious debates Since their beliefs required them to
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