When and how did the English first become interested in North America? Only five years after Columbus had discovered America, John Cabot — a Genoese navigator sailing in the name of Henry VIII of England — came to North America. He was, in fact, the first European to set foot upon the North American continent since the days of the Viking explorers, about A.D. 1000. In 1497 he discovered Cape Breton Island (which he — thought was the mainland of China). In 1498he sailed again, and touched Greenland. Another Englishmen, Martin Frobisher (c. 1535-94), a powerful, cantankerous Yorkshireman, sailed in 1576 in search of the Northwest passage to China (Cathay). He visited Labrador, and Frobisher Bay in Baffin Land. Frobisher was one of the first English navigators to search for a Northwest passage to India and the Orient. William Baffin (1584-1622) and numerous others attempted to find the elusive Northwest passage to China, Japan and India. But all of them failed, for there was, in fact, no Northwest passage open to anyone. Everything was frozen solid in the north!
England's First Colonial Failures
Sir Humphrey Gilbert was the first Englishman to seriously attempt colonization in North America. He spent much time, energy — and most of his fortune in several vain attempts to plant a permanent colony in what is now North Carolina. Gilbert argued at the English Court that colonization would achieve the vital end of effectively combating Spanish influence in North America. In 1578,Queen Elizabeth I gave Sir Humphrey a charter (of six-year duration) to start a colony in the New World. Finally, Sir Humphrey and his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, organized and dispatched seven ships and nearly four hundred men, to commence this colony in the New World. The fact that this colony was all male reveals that England was really seeking to establish a colony in North America which could hurry the Spaniards. This colony was planned as a base to be used against Spain. Gilbert headed first for Newfoundland and took formal possession of that land for England. But this colonial venture met with disaster when he perished in a violent storm at sea. Gilbert's death did not kill the idea of initiating a colony in North America. Sir Walter Raleigh was now determined to carryon with this idea. He obtained a royal grant similar to Gilbert's, for a six-year period, and immediately set out in 1584 to reconnoiter the North American coast. His reconnaissance indicated that Hatteras Island, called Roanoke by the Indians, might be a good place for a colony. His scouts took possession of Roanoke Island in the name of England, and then hurried back to England, taking with them two native Indians. There they presented a glowing report that the climate was very pleasant, the soil rich and fertile, the Indians friendly, and that mineral wealth was everywhere. Sir Walter Raleigh flattered Queen Elizabeth by asking permission to name the new land "Virginia" — after her, England's "Virgin Queen." Elizabeth consented. Sir Walter Raleigh, and others, argued that an English colony planted in Virginia would serve many purposes. It would: provide raw materials for English industry, promote trade, strengthen the navy, afford an outlet for the "wandering beggars of England," advance the Protestant faith, and would also help to undercut the growing power of Spain. Raleigh obtained private financing for his second expedition, and. appointed Richard Grenville to head the group. Grenville and his party landed on Roanoke in June — too late to plant crops. But real trouble soon began. The previously friendly Indians became quite unfriendly, and storms made the winter almost unbearable. The party survived a year in this untamed wilderness, though near the end, in order to survive, the men were eating the flesh of dogs steeped in sassafras leaves. In June 1586, Sir Francis Drake anchored off Roanoke. He had spent the preceding months ravaging the Spanish West Indies. Then, as he voyaged northward to check on the struggling little English colony in Roanoke Island, he completely leveled Saint Augustine. Drake offered supplies and reinforcements to the Roanoke colonists. But the devastating storms led them to decide it was best for all to return to England with Drake. Sir Walter Raleigh didn't quit. He now financed another group, and found 117 persons (including seventeen women and nine children) willing to undertake this second colonization venture. This little group of colonists landed at Roanoke Island in July 1587. One month later, John White, the leader of the group, returned to England for supplies — leaving the colony without a head. But when John White returned to England, he found no one really interested in the colony, At that moment, England was girding for a desperate struggle with Spain. After the defeat of the Armada in 1588, White finally managed to get together some supplies and return to America to replenish the colony. He arrived in Roanoke in 1591, but could not find one trace of the people he had left behind. To this very day, no one knows what happened to these settlers. Were they all killed by Indians? Did the Spaniards sail northward and take revenge on this little English colony, venging themselves for Drake's razing of St. Augustine? Or did they die of sickness, malnutrition and ultimate starvation? History has left us no record.
Lessons From Failure
Sir Walter Raleigh had spent a private fortune in his attempts to establish the first English colony in North America. Though his attempts had failed, he did learn valuable lessons. Englishmen were coming to see that the matter of planting a colony in the New World was too costly an undertaking for one person to attempt. It would need to be a joint effort, or have the official backing of the Government. The English had also learned that to start a colony in North America would not be a picnic. It would take hardy people to do this successfully in the wilderness of this new land. Any future colonists had better be prepared to support themselves by hard work. They would have to establish a thriving agricultural base. Better forget looking for "Eldorado" — the land of gold. The real gold would lie in the wealth of the land — once it was properly colonized. England could become wealthy by establishing such colonies in North America. But this would take time.
France's North American Claims
But it was the French explorers who really got the jump on the English in North America. While Pizarro was mastering the Incas, grabbing their vast treasures of gold and silver in Peru, France was busy exploring North America. The French made a bold attempt to destroy the Spanish settlements (including the one at St. Augustine) in Florida. But the Spanish retaliated, destroying the French forts, and finally drove the French out of Florida altogether. French Huguenots even tried to colonize in Florida, but were slaughtered by the Spaniards. France's first serious bid for a stake in America was in Canada. In 1535, Jacques Cartier explored the Gulf of the St. Lawrence — the gateway to Canada. He sailed up the St. Lawrence River as far as the present site of Quebec, but no colonies were then started. Another great French explorer, Samuel D. Champlain, following Cartier's route, actually established France's first permanent settlement at Quebec in 1603-4.Though Champlain visited the future site of Montreal, no actual city was established there until 164;2.From that date, Quebec and Montreal have remained the chief towns in French Canada. Champlain later penetrated as far as the Great Lakes, and defeated the Iroquois Indians in 1609 at Lake Champlain. He became the actual founder of the French colonial Empire in North America, and bequeathed to his native France the St. Lawrence region as her first permanent foothold in North America. From this toehold in Canada, France would later seek to take possession of the richest part of North America — the great Mississippi River Basin. But the French settlers seemed more interested in fur trade and in fishing than in establishing strong French colonies. France failed to inspire a mass exodus of French colonists to North America, and this later proved to be the undoing of her carefully laid plans in the highly prized continent. The second stage of French penetration into North America did not occur until the latter half of the 17th century — long after the main English colonies along the eastern seaboard of the Atlantic had been established. After advancing into the Great Lakes area, the French easily made their way down the Ohio River to the Mississippi. France's Sun King, Louis XIV, encouraged French exploration and trade in the Ohio region by authorizing the Company of the West in 1664, and granting it a forty year monopoly of trade in France's American possessions. This French company was backed by government cash and troops. Another great French explorer of this time was La Salle. It was he who had actually discovered the Ohio River in 1669. In 1681 he sailed down the Mississippi, reaching the Gulf of Mexico the following year. La Salle promptly claimed the whole Mississippi Basin for France, and he flattered the Sun King by naming it "Louisiana", — after His Majesty, Louis XIV. Other French explorers and adventurers soon began following the St. Lawrence-Ohio-Mississippi route.
First Permanent Colony
After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, England felt strong enough to establish and protect any future overseas colonies. Strong economic and religious forces were building up in England — pressures which pointed toward overseas expansion as a means of relieving those pent up pressures. It was under England's first Stuart king, James I, that English colonization of the New World was given the green light of royal authorization. Since privately backed attempts at colonization had failed, it was decided that any future colonies should be either government sponsored and backed, or else a number of wealthy individuals would need to put up enough capital to carry through successfully. Eventually, three types of colonies were planted in America: royal, proprietary and corporate. Royal colonies were under the direct control of the king. Proprietary colonies were controlled by a proprietor — a single individual — under a royal grant from the ruling king. Corporate colonies were operated as a general rule under a royal charter obtained from the king by the stockholders of a company. Trading companies had already been granted charters and they were proving successful. The Muscovy Company, founded in 1555, was organized for the purpose of trading with Russia. The Levant Company was established to trade with Venice and the ' Near East. The East India Company was granted a charter in 1600 and was authorized to manage all trade in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Other companies were established in order to trade with Bermuda, Newfoundland and along the fabled route of the Northwest Passage. Then in 1606 King James I granted charters to two companies: one, the London Company, was authorized to found colonies between the 34th and 41st latitudes, and the other, the Plymouth Company, was to colonize between the 38th and 45th latitudes.
Hardships at Jamestown
In May 1607, the first permanent settlers in North America finally reached "Earth's only paradise" and established an English colony at Jamestown. One hundred and twenty men landed on a peninsula in the James River and named their settlement Jamestown — after King James, who had granted them the permission to colonize. Deprivation, sickness and disease, even starvation — all were experienced by these courageous colonists. "We hope to plant a nation, where none before hath stood," were the words of a ballad of the day. And that is exactly what they did, but at quite a price. The region of Jamestown was swampy and unhealthful. Within a year, two thirds of the Jamestown pioneers were dead. In the year 1609, so many died that the year became known as the colony's "starving time." But this first English settlement in North America was destined to become the first permanent foothold in England's attempt to people a giant continent. The colonists learned that it was vitally important to produce their own food if they were to stave off starvation. This was far more important than looking for gold, as many of them had originally planned. During the early years of the Jamestown settlement, survival itself was the overriding issue. Many died of malarial fever. Others fell before the arrows of the savage Indians. And to make matters worse, the settlers even fought among themselves. When relief supplies arrived in January, 1608,out of a total of six leaders, one was dead from disease, another had been executed, and two others were locked up; there remained only two to help direct the colony. That same month a fire ravaged their cabins and their storage houses. During the remainder of the bitter winter many more died from exposure as they sought refuge in tents and exposed lean-to shelters. By now, Jamestown had become a real horror story. Reportedly, some of the stronger men dogged the footsteps of those who were about to die — waiting to feed on the bodies of their expired fellow colonists. It was also said that some of the corpses of slain Indians were exhumed from their graves and consumed by the starving, half-crazed colonists. Fortunately, Captain John Smith emerged as a strong, sensible leader. He cajoled and bullied the colonists into working. He said they would all have to follow the biblical injunction that "if any would not work, neither should he eat"! About 500 new settlers arrived at the decimated Jamestown in 1609 — including approximately 100women and children. By the year 1611, the year the King James translation of the Bible first appeared, some 900 had made the perilous journey to Virginia. Only 150 of them survived the ordeal. During the Great Migration of 1630-1643 approximately 65,000left England to seek a better life in North America and the West Indies. In 1611 an able soldier, Sir Thomas Dale, arrived in Virginia with three ships, in which he had brought some livestock and 300colonists to help further establish the colony. One major difficulty which these early settlers faced were brutal Indian attacks. To prevent savage Indian attacks, the colonists signed a treaty of friendship with the Indian Chief Powhatan in 1614.One of the settlers, John Rolf, married Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas. But, after Chief Powhatan's death in 1618,the Indians broke their treaty, and a savage massacre followed in 1622. In spite of all these vicissitudes, the infant colony survived. Then the London Company (later called the Virginia Company) sent a number of young women to marry the bachelors of the colony. This helped to establish strong family roots in this early colony. During the year 1619 — only twelve years after the first colony had been planted at Jamestown — a Dutch trader arrived with twenty-eight black slaves which he sold to the colonists. These early colonials were totally unable to foresee the woe and misery which this slave trade, and its long-continuing aftermath, would bring both on themselves, the slaves, and all their descendants. Only a few years after this first colony was planted, the colonists began planting tobacco. They soon had a thriving tobacco trade with the Mother Country. This "evil weed," as King James called it, was also destined to have very far-reaching consequences upon the future health of the colonists and others who smoked it.
The Plymouth Pilgrims
America's second English colony was established by the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. These Pilgrims were a group of Separatists, an offshoot of the Puritans, who had risen to prominence in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, and were finally destined to have. one of their brethren, Oliver Cromwell, become master of all England. They believed the Anglican Church, which had broken with Rome in the reign of Henry. VIII, had not gone far enough. They believed the English Church should be purified of any further "popish taints," and since the leaders of that Church were unwilling to do this, they decided to break away from the Anglican Church. The majority of the Puritans considered themselves Anglicans, but they tried to make the Anglican Church "pure" by working within that community. The Separatists (including the Pilgrim Fathers) felt that it was futile to wait any longer for reform. They thought "it best if they completely withdrew from the Church. Some of the Separatists who lived at Scrooby in Nottinghamshire left England and went to Holland where they were allowed religious freedom. But in time they became fearful that their children would eventually lose their English language, customs and heritage as they remained in Holland. They decided to sail to America. First, they went back to England, then in 1620 they set out on the Mayflower for the New World. The Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on November 11, 1620. The passengers disembarked at Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 26th. Some of the more pious Pilgrims and pioneers fell to their knees and thanked God Almighty for bringing them "over ye vast and furious ocean," when they arrived at Cape Cod. Of the 101 passengers on the Mayflower, only 51 were Pilgrims. The Pilgrim minority had fled from England, where they had been hounded and persecuted, and now at last had arrived safely in America where they planned to establish a "New Zion" for themselves and their posterity. Before landing at .Cape Cod, the Mayflower passengers made a compact or agreement that they would live together in peace and in order under .civil officers of their own .choosing. Here is a copy of the "Mayflower Compact"· (in modernized spelling):
In the Name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and the Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly. and mutually in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politic, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of . the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth and of Scotland, the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini, 1620.
After landing, they began building a town which they named Plymouth. But that first winter was their worst. Many began dying — sometimes two or three a day. At times only half a dozen were well enough to care for all the others. By the following April, 1621, over half of them were dead. But in spite of the many appalling hardships, lack of food, sickness and death which the Pilgrims suffered, they weathered the storm. New hope sprang up in the summer of 1621 with an abundant food supply. A bountiful corn harvest brought rejoicing among the members of the colony.
The First Thanksgiving
The Governor of the Plymouth colony, William Bradford, in grateful appreciation to the Great Provider of all blessings, decreed that a three-day thanksgiving feast be held. A contemporary of the time, Edward Winslow (in a letter of December 11, 1621) gives a vivid description of that first Thanksgiving Day celebration:
Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labours. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king, Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. And they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our Governor and upon the Captain and others.
The Indians brought both wild turkeys and venison. And the men of the colony provided geese, ducks and fish. It took many days to prepare this food for the coming feast. The women spent days preparing for the Thanksgiving Feast. The children also helped by turning roasts on spits on the open fires. The women of the colony served the meat and fish with journey cake, nuts and corn meal bread, and with succotash. The food was served outdoors at large tables which were built. For days the colonists and Indians feasted and engaged in entertainments. After this first Thanksgiving Day observance, other American colonies held similar thanksgiving celebrations. The custom of holding an annual Thanksgiving Day gradually spread from Plymouth to some of the other New England colonies. A massive migration of Puritans occurred during the years 1630-42. Those who took part in this "Great Migration" were unhappy with the way events were going in England. England's King, Charles I, had dissolved Parliament in 1629, and Archbishop Laud had declared war on the Puritans. The Crown gave the Massachusetts Bay Company a charter in 1629, and the Puritans quickly obtained control of it. John Winthrop, the governor of the colony, persuaded the members of the Bay Company to transport the company, their charter and a large group of colonists to Boston, Massachusetts. Other groups of colonists (mainly Puritans) immediately began to migrate to the Bay colony — with Boston as its center. Careful estimates show that by 1641, 300 ships had carried 20,000 settlers to America. This was an almost purely English migration, and included a few aristocrats and many university graduates. Religious zeal motivated most of the migrants. Religious zeal in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was so strong that a church-controlled state was actually established. In this colony, voting rights were limited to church members only. The ministers exercised powerful authority in civil as well as religious affairs. This dominance of the colony by the clergy, however, and the narrowness and harshness of this theocratic type of government, aroused a great deal of discontent. Roger Williams became an outstanding champion of greater freedom and religious tolerance. When he was banished from the colony for outspoken views, he founded the settlement of Rhode Island — where he encouraged much greater religious freedom and tolerance. Thomas Hooker and others founded colonies on the Connecticut River. John Davenport led in the establishing of a settlement at New Haven — a colony which later expanded into Long Island Sound. By 1680, all the New Englanders practically ruled themselves. Through they regarded the government of England as sovereign, they passed their own laws, raised their own defense forces, and made their own trade regulations. Sentiment, not force or duty, was their main tie with Britain. In the main, England, standing 3,000 miles away, was neither all the concerned, nor form a practical point of view, was she really able to control these colonists across the wide Atlantic. So American colonials went merrily on their own way — developing themselves in full freedom When England was rent with civil war (1642-49), the colonies of Plymouth, Connecticut, New Haven and Massachusetts Bay banded together in a confederation which lasted for a whole generation. Defense against the Indians, French, and the Dutch was the primary purpose for this four-colony defense league. Indentured Servants How could Englishmen who were too poor to afford the passage to America manage to finance their trip? Many of them indentured themselves into the service of another for a period of four to seven years. After serving this period they became totally free, and could then acquire land, enjoying thereafter the rights of free citizens. Many of the indentured servants served on the big plantations in Virginia and the Carolinas. Throughout the 1600s white indentured servants were preferred to Negroes. For a time during this colonial period, as many as 1,500 white indentured servants arrived in America annually. They were mainly English, but also included a number of Scots and Irish. Dutch Colonization In 1609 Henry Hudson, in the service of the Dutch, sailed into what is now New York and claimed much of the territory in the Hudson River area for the Netherlands. The Dutch were primarily interested in trade — fur, lumber and tobacco — rather than colonization. In 1621, Holland chartered the Dutch West India. Company, and empowered its governors to build forts, establish a government, and to colonize. In 1623, the company sent a vessel to America with thirty families of Walloons (Protestant refugees from southern Netherland) to the mouth of the Hudson River so they could make a permanent settlement on Manhattan Island. This was a favorable location for a colony, and many other colonists soon arrived. One of them, Peter Minuit, purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians in 1626 for the pittance of twenty-four dollars' worth of goods, beads and other trinkets. This island was to become the seat of the government for the Dutch colony. Fort Orange (Albany) was also established by the Dutch in 1624 as a fur-trading settlement. The Dutch living in New Netherlands soon began to thrive. New Amsterdam quickly became an important town, and attracted people from many nations, with different languages and varied religious backgrounds. But the Dutch didn't follow very wise colonial policies in administering their New Amsterdam settlements. In 1629 the Dutch West India Company granted any patron who brought out fifty families a great estate on which to let these tenants live. But the Dutch system was feudalistic — giving a few great families a disproportionate share of the wealth and power. The poor tenants got very little. This disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor in the Dutch colony caused much discontent. The Dutch governors who ruled New Netherlands were autocratic, harsh, intolerant and blundering. They ruled without popular assemblies, without giving the people a voice in the government. For these reasons, they were not very popular. Their most famous governor, Peter Stuyvesant, was considered short-sighted, headstrong and not very well attuned to the desires of the Dutch residents over which he governed. This high-handed manner was destined to backfire on the autocratic governors, and eventually turn them out of their job altogether.
England Takes Over
England's colonies now stretched along the eastern seaboard of America in an almost unbroken line — except for the Dutch settlements in New Amsterdam. The English looked upon these Dutch colonies as interlopers. They threatened their unity and their security. What could England do to get rid of this nuisance? English rulers decided they could not long permit the Dutch colony to break their line of possessions on the Atlantic seaboard. So in 1664 a rather small English naval force sailed into New Amsterdam without firing a shot. The mere threat of their presence was sufficient to cause the 7,000inhabitants of the area to surrender on British terms. Besides, the disgruntled, surly Dutch residents were unwilling to fight for their harsh, arrogant governors. They felt it would be better to let the English take charge. Who could say that the English wouldn't make better masters? Hopefully, they would give them more freedom, rule them less harshly. In the English colonies, land was usually sold very cheaply, and was sometimes even given away. This proved quite an incentive for people to leave the Mother Country and try to make a decent living in the New World where they could soon become owners of a fairly good-sized piece of land. Charles II appointed his brother, the Duke of York, to be the ruler and owner of this new English-dominated colony which was promptyly named "New York." At that time this area called New York stretched from the Delaware to the Connecticut Rivers. Their new English masters were not to disappoint them. Immediately they began running a more liberal regime. The new governor treated the Dutch generously, allowing them to keep their lands, their language and religion. Furthermore, the English immediately began encouraging more immigration. The settlements in the colony thickened. And the colony began prospering as never before.
Pennsylvania and the Quakers
William Penn is considered one of the noblest, greatest colonial figures. He was certainly one of the best to preside over what later became Pennsylvania and Delaware. William was a son of a prominent English admiral who had helped Charles II gain the throne of England. But young William had been converted to the Quaker religion, which was also known as the Society of Friends. The Quakers were pacifists, and they were not popular in England. When William Penn's father died, leaving him all his wealth, young William suggested that King Charles might payoff his considerable debt of about 80,000pounds by giving him a grant of land in America. This was something which the King was happy to do — for he appreciated what William's father had done in helping him to be established on the English throne . The king. then named this grant of land "Pennsylvania" (Penn's Woods) after William Penn's father. The Duke of York, also gave young William the territory which later became Delaware. In 1682, William Penn headed for America with a number of eager colonists — many of whom had answered his impressive, four ..language ads, extolling the merits of settling in Pennsylvania. William had wanted to establish a colony in which every race and every sect could find both religious and political freedom — with complete tolerance being granted them by all others. Also, William Penn offered the settlers a very generous, enticing offer of land in Pennsylvania. His liberal terms included: fifty acres free; larger farms at a very nominal rent; and 5,000 acres for only one hundred pounds. In 1682, Penn visited his "holy experiment" and laid down a charter of government which established a small elective council to help him govern the colony; and he also created a larger elective assembly to pass or refuse any proposed laws. In 1701 this generous governor of Pennsylvania granted a new charter to the colony which lasted until the American Revolution. William Penn was a truly big-hearted, altruistically minded man. He was especially interested to see that others like himself (members of the despised Quakers) would be able to worship in complete peace. Penn built Philadelphia ("city of brotherly love") and expressed the desire that it would always be "a green country town," with lovely gardens surrounding each home. And it did become a beautiful and prosperous city. At the time of the Revolutionary War it was the largest city in America. Because of Penn's very liberal policies, immigrants flocked to the. colony by the thousands. Not only did large numbers immigrate to Pennsylvania from England, but many thousands of persecuted Protestants fled there from Germany, due to harrassrnent by German princes. _ This German influx of immigrants was the largest non-British group of immigrants from any nation before the War of Independence. Included among them were Lutherans, Dunkards, Mennonites, and many other Protestant sects which were not welcome in their' Fatherland. These sturdy, hard-working, serious-minded Germans became known as the "Pennsylvania Deutsch." They became prosperous farmers and did much to develop Pennsylvania into one of America's wealthiest colonies.
A Catholic Refuge
The Puritans had been' persecuted in England (as had the Lutherans in parts of Germany, and the Huguenots in France), but it is also true that the Catholics had been persecuted with varying degrees of severity in England. The English Catholics longed to establish a colony in the New World where they would be in charge — so they would be free to practice Catholicism as they pleased. One of the closest friends and supporters of King James I was Sir George Calvert (Lord Baltimore). After visiting America, he asked the king to give him land just north of Virginia. The Calverts were given permission to establish a colony in Maryland and rule it so long as they did so according to the laws of England. Lord Baltimore wanted to make this colony a refuge for Catholics — especially from England. They were granted in 1632 all the district between the Potomac River and the 40th parallel. The first shipload of Catholic colonists, accompanied by two Roman Catholic priests, arrived early in 1634and established a colony in Maryland. Though this colony was meant to be a refuge for Catholics, it actually turned out that Protestants soon outnumbered Catholics, for most of the Roman Catholics preferred to remain in England. The Catholic Lord Baltimore persuaded the assembly which he had called into session to pass a religious toleration act in 1649. This would make sure that the more numerous Protestants could never persecute the less numerous Catholics. When staunchly Protestant William and Mary became King and Queen of England in 1689, the Calverts lost control of Maryland. But when Lord Baltimore (the Fourth) embraced Protestantism in 1715,the Calvert family regained its rights to this proprietary colony.
Charles II was brought back to England from France and given the English throne in 1660.He felt deep gratitude to those who assisted him in obtaining the crown. Accordingly, he granted the area south of Virginia to eight of his loyal friends. They became the joint 'proprietors of the future colony of the Carolinas. In 1670 these joint proprietors sent a group of people to start a settlement in South Carolina at the present site of Charleston. This city was named, after Charles II "Charles' Town." They granted their subjects religious freedom, and made it easy to acquire cheap land in the colony. The colony prospered with many well-to-do plantation owners, some merchants and other traders. It produced rice, indigo, furs, tar, turpentine, lumber and other commodities for export to England. To this colony came French Huguenots and Scots as well as many from England, and some from Germany and Switzerland. Eventually, Carolina became two colonies. North Carolina remained more rural and was rather poor. South Carolina was more-prosperous. Charleston became a wealthy and fashionable city, and at one time was about the "swingingist" town in all America.
Georgia — the Last Colony
The last of the original colonies to be founded was Georgia. This colony was founded by a group of well-intentioned English philanthropists. The leader of the colony, James Oglethorpe, was a rather gruff British army officer. He became interested in the lot of the prisoners in England. He knew that many of them were in prison for no real reason, or were there for the merest of "crimes" such as inability to pay small debts, petty thievery, political opposition, etc. He wanted to have a hand in helping to free these peoples, so they could become decent, law-abiding, useful citizens — earning their own keep. Oglethorpe and his fellow philanthropists obtained a grant of land between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers, where they hoped to give these poor debtors and other deserving poor people a fresh start in life. In 1733 James Oglethorpe and a hundred settlers arrived in Georgia. and established the town of Savannah. They were idealistic, and outlawed slavery, the importation of rum, brandy and other alcoholic beverages. In 1751,after a period of slow but steady growth, the proprietors allowed Georgia to be taken over by the Crown. One of the reasons for establishing this colony in the first place was so it could serve as a buffer between the Spanish — settlements in Florida and the English colonists in the Carolinas. Though this colony was never to become the most populous or the wealthiest, it did serve as a welcome refuge for English prisoners.
The Thirteen Prosper
The Thirteen Colonies had been planted in North America during a one hundred and twenty-six year period — beginning with Jamestown in 1607,and ending with the establishment of Georgia in 1733. From their inception, these colonies were independent in practice. They were able to run themselves as they saw fit. England was just. too far away to be able to effectively govern her American colonies from London. During this entire colonial period, taxes were relatively low. As the populations of Europe began to explode, Europeans needed more living space — more land. They needed more food and raw materials, and much of this had to come from the New World. With England, most of it came from her Thirteen Colonies in America. They in turn bought most of their manufactured goods from England. The colonists did, however, carryon some trade with the Spaniards to their south, and especially with the French and Spanish islands in the West Indies. Rum, sugar and other commodities were imported from that region. As a result of rapidly expanding commerce between the Thirteen Colonies and the Mother Country, the once struggling colonies began to prosper greatly. At that moment in history there was little trouble from the Spanish to the south. The Spaniards were too preoccupied with their vast possessions in Central and South America to worry about the English colonies of North America.
England Supplants France in America
Little did either Britain or France fully realize the fantastic potential wealth of North America. But as England and France began their nearly one hundred-year struggle for control of America, it was even then understood that the land was very rich in furs, fish and farmlands. Three great Anglo-French wars were to be fought between 1700and 1763. During this time, France would lose her grip on her rich possessions in North America. England would supplant her. The first of these three wars — the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) — concerned the Spanish Succession in Europe — but it spilled over into America. During this war England won Acadia (Nova Scotia) and the Hudson Bay territory. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 confirmed these wins and gave Britain a solid foothold in Canada. (This same treaty also gave England Gibraltar.) The French reply to this English threat was to build a string of forts all the way along the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers. By fortifying these forts strongly, the French hoped to be able to pen the English to the east. But the French line of defense was not sufficient to check the English advance. The French were spreading themselves too thin. In 1666 there were only approximately 3,500 people in all of New France, whereas there were over 50,000residents in British America. The French found themselves vastly outnumbered. And this English numerical superiority was destined to continue. England continued nourishing her American and Canadian colonies with a never-ending stream of settlers. The French weren't nearly as zealous in populating their colonies in North America. They were more interested in the abundant furs, fish and forests. The second Anglo-French war broke out in 1740, and the struggle for and in Canada grew fiercer. At the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, a stalemate settlement was reached. Each country simply returned its conquests to their pre-war possessors. As an example, Fort Louisburg in Cape Breton (taken by American colonial forces in 1749) was handed back to the French — much to the annoyance of the Colonists. But friction continued in the Ohio Valley. In 1749, a group of Virginians formed the Ohio Company. George Washington (a wealthy Virginian planter) had a stake in that company. These Americans planned to exploit the land in the Ohio Valley, and in 1752 the Ohio Company was granted a royal charter for the purpose of land development in the valley. This didn't 'set well with the French. They also claimed the rich Ohio Valley. So in 1754 the French built Fort Duquesne, on the present site of Pittsburgh. But Britain didn't intend to stand idly by while the French strengthened their military position. In 1755 General Braddock was ordered to take Fort Duquesne from France. A young volunteer officer named George Washington accompanied General Braddock on his military adventure. But the British hadn't yet learned how to fight a colonial war. General Braddock was so confident of easy victory that he even took his plump mistress along. He had two regiments (about 2,100 men), which was double the size of the French forces. As Braddock confidently marched along the road toward Fort Duquesne his smartly attired redcoats made easy targets for the French and their Indian allies, lying hidden in ambush. As neat columns of British infantrymen marched forward, suddenly, from the woods, a murderous cloud of musketballs hit them from all sides and they began toppling like tenpins. During the battle, General Braddock died muttering, "Better luck next time." Half of his army had been slaughtered, and the rest fled for their lives. George Washington was one of those who escaped ..It was his cool courage that helped save the lives of at least part of Braddock's army. The last of the three Anglo-French wars for control of America broke out in 1756 and ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. This war was at least partly the result of the continuing struggle over the rich Ohio Valley and was called the French and Indian War, because the French stirred up the Indians to fight against the British in the struggle. General Wolfe's English forces took Louisburg handily in 1758. But the struggle for Quebec was to be much more difficult. The French had strongly fortified it. Quebec was difficult to attack from the waterfront, and seemingly impossible to take otherwise, because it nestled atop towering cliffs which protected the city. The French didn't believe the English would try to climb these cliffs, and thus neglected to set up an adequate defense in that area. But during the night, the English forces scaled the high cliffs and, to the consternation of the French general Montcalm, were assembled on the Plains of Abraham the next morning. Montcalm was astonished beyond measure. He never expected to wake up and see red-coats! Though Montcalm was considered a brilliant general, he made the tactical blunder of letting his men fire too soon — before the English were within effective range of the French shot. General Wolfe ordered his men to wait until the French soldiers were within forty paces. Only then did his troops unleash a murderous hail of shot which quickly decimated the French forces. It wasn't long before General Wolfe's army had mastered the situation. Some 1,200 casualties were the result of this furious thirty-minute battle on the Plains of Abraham. Both sides suffered heavily. And at the end of the battle both Wolfe and Montcalm were dead. Though the final English victory over the French in Canada didn't occur until the next year — when a British army of 18,000 forced Montreal to surrender — nevertheless the fate of French Canada was decided at that decisive battle of Quebec in 1759. From that defeat onward, there was no way the French could check the British advance. France had struggled and fought bravely for nearly a century to maintain her tenuous foothold in North America. But, with only 50,000 Frenchmen trying to hold out against nearly twenty times that many Englishmen, it was just a matter of time until the tricolor would be lowered and the Union Jack raised in its place. France had fought valiantly, but now her power was completely broken in North America. France realized she had been badly beaten. The British navy now dominated the Seven Seas — including the Atlantic. New' France in, America had dissolved in the dust of a series of Anglo-French battles for the control of the world's richest continent. In 1763, France relinquished most of her territorial claims in the New World. France gave Canada to England, and also handed over all the land east of the Mississippi as far south as the Florida territory. Furthermore, France ceded the lands west of the Mississippi territory to Spain. The Treaty of Paris was also called the Peace of Paris. But in England, many were not pleased. One disappointed politician said the Peace of Paris was like the Peace of God — "it passeth all understanding." Many Englishmen were not convinced that Canada' was truly valuable. Incredibly, the new British Government actually debated whether England should take Canada as her victor's prize, or whether she should take Guadeloupe, a small island in the Caribbean rich in sugar, rum, and slaves. Of what value was Canada, they asked — barren, useless, frozen wasteland at the far end of North America? With the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Anglo-French strife in North America ended. The die had been irrevocably cast. America would be English. The English race, culture, common law — and above all else the English language — would henceforward be paramount in America. But Britain's troubles in North America were not yet over. Unknown to her at the time, a family quarrel would soon result in a new wave of problems for the Crown.