Europeans believed the world was flat until explorers and navigators in the 1400's and1500's started convince the world that it wasn't indeed. This sparked a need for exploration. In Europe the founding of new land became a race for money. Whichever country could own the most colonies and have major exports from them could dominate the world. The three main motivations for exploration were Gold, Glory, and God.
Gold would give a country trade and money. Gold inspired many expeditions. In 1513 Juan Ponce De Leon went to Florida in search for gold. Hernan Cortes also went to North America in 1519 to conquer locals and find gold. For example, Jamestown, Virginia was founded for the hopes of finding gold. Gold would also come with the finding of a Northwest Passage. Gold equaled power for these men and this led to the next big motivation, Glory.
Glory was the goal of most explorers.
People like Ferdinand Magellan and John Cabot sailed for glory. When they saw new land they mapped, and named it and believed that they would be remembered for this. When an explorer had found land he became well known in Europe, this inspired kings and queens to pay more for these explorers to sail for them.
The last motivation was God. This was perhaps the most important for many people. The smaller religions were looked down on upon in Europe. When word of newfound land had reached Europe, people of different religions packed their things and left for America. Quakers settled mainly in Pennsylvania. Pilgrims, which were Protestants, settled in Plymouth. One other major religious group that settled in America, were the Puritans. They settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Another reason to travel to the Americas for religion was to spread your religion and create new...