What Was the Great Puritan Migration?

The Great Puritan Migration refers to the period in American history between 1630 and 1640, during which 20,000 English Puritans emigrated to the United States. Their principal motivation for leaving England was to escape religious persecution.

These English Protestants believed the Church of England still contained too many holdovers from Catholicism. Voicing their dissatisfaction earned them brutal punishments, including lifelong prison sentences and mutilation. In America, they hoped to engage in a religious experiment to build a church free from persecution and as they saw fit. However, some Puritans engaged in similar persecution against Catholics, requiring church membership as a prerequisite for U.S. citizenship.