Why the Puritans failed in settling in the Caribbean

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It is commonly believed that the Puritans failed in settling the Caribbean. Some scholars point to the fact that there were few Puritan settlements in the Caribbean. Certainly the Puritans did have much greater success in northern climates in the western hemisphere. While this is certainly true to some degree, the fact of the matter is that there are very specific reasons why the Puritans failed in settling the Caribbean.

The first reason the Puritans failed in settling the Caribbean is because the Caribbean was not primarily a destination for Puritans. Once the Puritans settled in Massachusetts Bay, other Puritans who came to America tended to settle in the same region. The few Puritans who did settle in the Caribbean tended to create relatively closed communities often on smaller islands set away from the rest of the European settlers.

Another important reason why the Puritans failed in settling in the Caribbean is that there were so many settlers from other countries in Europe. The Puritans of course, were entirely English. In the Caribbean, the earliest settlers and the most successful settlers tended to be French and Dutch. As such, you were much less likely to see Puritans in the Caribbean or any sort of English settlers in the Caribbean than you were to see French and Dutch and Spanish.

There is a final reason why the Puritans failed in settling the Caribbean. The Caribbean quickly became a dropping off point for the slave trade. It became a way station of sorts for Dutch and other slave traders bringing in slaves from Africa to the western hemisphere. The Puritans, by in large, did not engage in the slave trade. At the very least, they did not engage in the slave trade actively. Because the Caribbean economy was so dependent on and intertwined with the slave trade, naturally Puritans became something of the odd duck out.

Ultimately, it is difficult to say why the Puritans failed in settling the Caribbean. There is certainly some sense in which the Puritans failed in settling the Caribbean because they didn’t intend to settle in the Caribbean. Had there been a broader effort on the part of Puritan settlers to colonize in the Caribbean, the outcome may have been very different. As it stands, there really were only a handful of Puritan settlers in the Caribbean. Most Puritans chose other locations in the western hemisphere in which to settle.

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