Our earliest ancestors to arrive in the New  World were among the Puritans. No Statue of  Liberty awaited them, only privation and hardship, but a dream of freedom was the lodestone.    They came to escape harassment by ruling authorities in England, both civil and church.   Separatist groups such as Baptists, Quakers, and others, were a part of the exodus, but many more of the Puritans were"Dissenters."  
These were good Church of England people who didn't want to leave the Church, or do it any harm, but wished to reform it. High dignitaries of the Church, and the King, considered these people to be as bad as Separatists, and persecuted all of them. Dissenters were not the poor only, but included ministers, tradesmen, landed gentry, professional people, and men of standing in all occupations the middle classes of that era.

Although some decided earlier to go where they could worship God as they saw fit, the real exodus began about 1628, after King Charles ascended the throne. Harassment had been excessive before, but then persecution became intolerable for many, so bad that more than 20,000 leaders, thinkers, and enterprising Britons, men and families, came to the Colonies within ten years. Authorities regarding them as a troublesome breed, were glad to see them go.

Among the Dissenters and Separatists were several of our ancestors, who might not have come to America if they had been able to get a modicum of religious freedom without indignity, in a not so Merry Old England. We now offer a prayer of thanks for the stupidity of  King Charles, and Church of England leaders.