I. England’s Imperial Stirrings
- North America in 1600 was largely unclaimed, though the Spanish had much control in Central and South America.
- Spain had only set up Santa Fe, while France had founded Quebec and Britain had founded Jamestown.
- In the 1500s, Britain failed to effectively colonize due to internal conflicts.
- King Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church in the 1530s and launched the English Protestant Reformation.
- After Elizabeth I became queen, Britain became basically Protestant, and a rivalry with Catholic Spain intensified.
- In Ireland, the Catholics sought Spain’s help in revolting against
England, but the English crushed the uprising
with brutal atrocity, and
developed an attitude of sneering contempt for natives.
II. Elizabeth Energizes England
- After Francis Drake pirated Spanish ships for gold then circumnavigated the globe, Elizabeth I knighted
him on his ship. Obviously, this reward angered the Spanish who sought revenge.
- Meanwhile, English attempts at colonization in the New World failed embarrassingly. Notable of these failures was Sir
Walter Raleigh and the Roanoke Island Colony, better known as “The Lost Colony.”
- Seeking to get their revenge, Spain attacked Britain but lost in the Spanish Armada’s
of 1588. This opened the door for Britain to cross the Atlantic.
They swarmed to America and took over the lead in colonization
- Victory also fueled England to new heights due to…
- Strong government/popular monarch, more religious unity, a sense of nationalism
- Golden age of literature (Shakespeare)
- Beginning of British dominance at sea (which lasts until U.S. tops them, around 1900)
- Britain and Spain finally signed a peace treaty in 1604.
III. England on the Eve of the Empire
- In the 1500s, Britain’s population was mushrooming.
- New policy of enclosure (fencing in land) for farming. This meant there was less or no land for the poor.
- The woolen districts fell upon hard times economically. This meant the workers lost jobs.
- Tradition of primogeniture = 1st born son inherits
ALL father’s land. Therefore, younger sons
of rich folk (who couldn’t
inherit money) tried their luck with fortunes elsewhere, like America.
- By the 1600s, the joint-stock company was perfected (investors put money into the company with hopes
for a good return), being a forerunner of today’s corporations.
IV. England Plants the **Jamestown Seedling**
- In 1606, the Virginia Company received a charter from King James I to make a settlement in the New World.
- Such joint-stock companies usually did not exist long, as
stockholders invested hopes to form the company, turn a profit,
then quickly sell for profit a few years later.
- The charter of the Virginia Company guaranteed settlers the same rights as Englishmen in Britain.
- On May 24, 1607, about 100 English settlers disembarked from their ship and founded Jamestown.
- Forty colonists had perished during the voyage.
- Problems emerged including (a) the swampy site of Jamestown meant
poor drinking water and mosquitoes causing malaria
and yellow fever.
(b) men wasted time looking for gold rather than doing useful tasks
(digging wells, building shelter,
planting crops), (c) there were zero
women on the initial ship.
- It didn’t help that a supply ship shipwrecked in the Bahamas in 1609 either.
- Luckily, in 1608, a Captain John Smith took over control and whipped the colonists into shape.
- At one point, he was kidnapped by local Indians and forced into a mock execution by the chief Powhatan and had been “saved”
by Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas.
- The act was meant to show that Powhatan wanted peaceful relations with the colonists.
- John Smith’s main contribution was that he gave order and discipline, highlighted by his “no work, no food”
- Colonists had to eat cats, dogs, rats, even other people. One fellow wrote of eating “powdered wife.”
- Finally, in 1610, a relief party headed by Lord De La Warr arrived to alleviate the suffering.
- By 1625, out of an original overall total of 8,000 would-be settlers, only 1,200 had survived.
V. Cultural Clash in the Chesapeake
- At first, Powhatan possibly considered the new colonists potential
allies and tried to be friendly with them, but as
time passed and
colonists raided Indian food supplies, relations deteriorated and
eventually, war occurred.
- The First Anglo-Powhatan War ended in 1614 with a peace settlement sealed by the marriage of Pocahontas
to colonist John Rolfe. Rolfe & Pocahontas nurtured a favorable flavor of sweet tobacco.
- Eight years later, in 1622, the Indians struck again with a series
of attacks that left 347 settlers, including John
- The Second Anglo-Powhatan War began in 1644, ended in 1646, and effectively banished the Chesapeake Indians
from their ancestral lands.
- After the settlers began to grow their own food, the Indians were useless, and were therefore banished.
VI. Virginia: Child of Tobacco
- Jamestown’s gold is found and it is tobacco.
- Rolfe’s sweet tobacco was sought as a cash crop by Europe. Jamestown had found its gold.
- Tobacco created a greed for land, since it heavily depleted the soil and ruined the land.
- Representative self-government was born in Virginia, when in 1619,
settlers created the House of Burgesses, a committee
to work out local
issues. This set America on a self-rule pathway.
- The first African Americans to arrive in America also came in 1619. It’s unclear if they were slaves or indentured
VII. Maryland: Catholic Haven
- Religious Diversity
- Founded in 1634 by Lord Baltimore, Maryland was the second plantation colony and the fourth overall colony to be formed.
- It was founded to be a place for persecuted Catholics to find refuge, a safe haven.
- Lord Baltimore gave huge estates to his Catholic relatives, but the
poorer people who settled there where mostly Protestant,
- However, Maryland prospered with tobacco.
- It had a lot of indentured servants.
- Only in the later years of the 1600s (in Maryland and Virginia) did Black slavery begin to become popular.
- Maryland’s statute, the Act of Toleration,
guaranteed religious toleration to all Christians,
but decreed the
death penalty to Jews and atheists and others who didn’t believe in the
divinity of Jesus Christ.
VIII. The West Indies: Way Station to Mainland America
- As the British were colonizing Virginia, they were also settling into the West Indies (Spain’s declining power opened
- By mid-1600s, England had secured claim to several West Indies islands, including Jamaica in 1655.
- They grew lots of sugar on brutal plantations there.
- Thousands of African slaves were needed to operate sugar
plantations. At first, Indians were intended to be used, but
killed an estimated 90% of all Native Americans. So, Africans were
- To control so many slaves, “codes” were set up that defined the
legal status of slaves and the rights of
the masters. They were
typically strict and exacted severe punishments for offenders.
IX. Colonizing the Carolinas
- In England, King Charles I had been beheaded. Oliver Cromwell had
ruled for ten very strict years before tired Englishmen
restored Charles II to the throne in “The Restoration.” (After all the turmoil
Civil War, they just went back to a king.)
- The bloody period had interrupted colonization.
- Carolina was named after Charles II, and was formally created in 1670.
- Carolina flourished by developing close economic ties with the West Indies, due to the port of Charleston.
- Many original Carolina settlers had come from Barbados and brought in the strict “Slave Codes”
for ruling slaves.
- Interestingly, Indians as slaves in Carolina was protested, but to
no avail. Slaves were sent to the West Indies to
work, as well as New
- Rice emerged as the principle crop in Carolina.
- African slaves were hired to work on rice plantations, due to (a)
their resistance to malaria and just as importantly,
familiarity with rice.
- Despite violence with Spanish and Indians, Carolina proved to be too strong to be wiped out.
X. The Emergence of North Carolina
- Many newcomers to Carolina were “squatters,” people who owned no land, usually down from Virginia.
- North Carolinians developed a strong resistance to authority, due to geographic isolation from neighbors.
- Two “flavors” of Carolinians developed: (a) aristocratic and
wealthier down south around Charleston and
rice & indigo
plantations, and (b) strong-willed and independent-minded up north on
small tobacco farms
- In 1712, North and South Carolina were officially separated.
- In 1711, when Tuscarora Indians attacked North Carolina, the
Carolinians responded by crushing the opposition, selling
slavery and leaving the rest to wander north, eventually becoming the
Sixth Nation of the Iroquois.
XI. Late-Coming Georgia: The Buffer Colony
- Georgia was intended to be a buffer between the British colonies
and the hostile Spanish settlements in Florida (Spanish,
runaway slaves) and the enemy French in Louisiana.
- It was founded last, in 1733, by a high-minded group of philanthropists, mainly James Oglethorpe.
- Named after King George II, it was also meant to be a second chance site for wretched souls in debt.
iv. James Oglethorpe, the ablest of the founders and a dynamic soldier-statesman, repelled Spanish attacks.
* He saved
“the Charity Colony” by his energetic leadership and by using his own fortune to help with the colony.
- All Christians, except Catholics, enjoyed religious toleration, and many missionaries came to try to convert the Indians.
- John Wesley was one of them, and he later returned to England and founded Methodism.
- Georgia grew very slowly.
XII. The Plantation Colonies
- Slavery was found in all the plantation colonies.
- The growth of cities was often stunted by forests.
- The establishment of schools and churches was difficult due to people being spread out.
- In the South, the crops were tobacco and rice, and some indigo in the tidewater region of SC.
- All the plantation colonies permitted some religious toleration.
- Confrontations with Native Americans were often.
XIII. Makers of America: The Iroquois
- In what is now New York State, the Iroquois League (AKA the Iroquois Confederation)
was once a great power.
- They were made up of the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, and the Senecas.
- They vied with neighboring Indians and later French, English, and Dutch for supremacy.
- The longhouse was the building block of Iroquois society.
- Only 25 feet wide, but over 200 feet long, longhouses were
typically occupied by a few blood-related families (on the
- The Mohawks were middlemen with European traders.
- The Senecas were fur suppliers.
- The Five Nations of the Iroquois’ rivals, the neighboring Hurons, Eries, and Petuns, were vanquished.
- Throughout the 1600s and 1700s, the Iroquois allied with the British and French (whichever was more beneficial).
- When the American Revolution broke out, the question of with whom to side was split. Most sided with the British, but
- Afterwards, the Iroquois were forced to reservations, which proved to be unbearable to these proud people.
- An Iroquois named Handsome Lake arose to warn his tribe’s people to mend their ways.
- His teachings live today in the form of the longhouse religion.
The History Database