Colonial America Why did the English Come to America?

John Caboy
John Cabot

The first Englishman to come to America was John Cabot in 1497. He was looking for a way to get to the Indies by sailing west. Cabot claimed most of the east coast of North America for England.

The Golden Hinde, John Cabot's Ship

The Golden Hinde, John Cabot's Ship

The first Englishmen to come to the New Word were traders; however, the Spanish government did not like this. They wanted only Spain to trade.

Sir Francis Drake, a British sea captain, often traded with the Spanish. In 1582 his ship was sunk in a port in Spanish America. Most of Drake's men were killed in this attack. Drake gathered a new crew in England and began pirating the Spanish treasure ships. He also attacked the Spanish settlements in America.


Spanish Armada

Other British sailors joined Drake in his mission. The British government did not stop the ships from pirating because they thought the Spanish were getting too powerful in America. Spain became angry and put together a fleet of ships called the Spanish Armada to stop the pirates.

The Spanish Armada planned an attack on England. Due to a storm which blew most of the Spanish ships off course, the British defeated the Armada. This made the English colonies safe for British colonists.


While the French came to American to explore and the Spanish came looking for treasures, the English came for different reasons.

  • Some English came to America to have a chance to practice the religion of their choice.

  • Some religious people came to America to bring their Christian faith to the Native Americans.

  • British judges sent some people to America instead of placing them in British prisons.

  • Businessmen came to America to buy products such as tobacco and furs from the colonists.

  • Farmers came to America to have a chance to be land owners.


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