Our Origins Can Be Found in the History of European Oppression
We should start with the first attempts to settle America, both in Virginia and Massachusetts; the people who came were fleeing the religious persecution that pervaded 17th Century Europe. We are not going to dwell here on the brutal attempts by one nation or province to suppress the religious freedom of another nation, province or group of individuals. We can read elsewhere about the senseless slaughter that resulted from the 30 Years War in Central Europe (1618-1648) or the Swedish invasion of Poland (1655-1660). Suffice it to say that in Europe there was real danger associated with freedom of speech, thought or religious beliefs.
In today’s jargon, we would call the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock, “refugees” because they were fleeing from their home or country to seek refuge from war and political or religious persecution.