The Thirteen English Colonies

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The Thirteen English Colonies

English exploration of North America began with the voyages of the Italian-born navigator John Cabot (c. 1450–c. 1499), who, in 1497, reached the region that is present-day New England. By 1502 fishermen were sending cod (a type of whitefish) from Labrador and New England to the port of Bristol, England. As early as 1508 or 1509 Cabot's son Sebastian had explored the Atlantic coast, but the English did not establish a permanent presence on the continent for another one hundred years. Although English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold (d. 1607) briefly attempted to colonize New England in 1602, the settlers were not prepared for life in the New World (a European term for North and South America). Nevertheless, published reports of Gosnold's venture described North America as "the goodliest continent that ever we saw, promising more by farre [far] than we any way did expect." Eager investors formed colonizing companies in hopes of exploiting the New World's bountiful resources.

First English settlement?

In the meantime, other Englishmen were trying to find a Northwest Passage, a natural waterway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean that would provide more direct access to Asia. In 1576 Martin Frobisher (c. 1535–1594) undertook a series of voyages to Greenland to search for a water route, but each time ice stopped his ships in the Canadian Arctic. In 1578 Queen Elizabeth I (1533–1603) gave English navigator Humphrey Gilbert (c. 1539–1583) a patent (a contract granting specific rights) to explore and colonize North America. On his second expedition, in 1585, he reached Newfoundland and claimed the region for England. Discovering some fishermen living on the site of present-day Saint John's, Gilbert appointed himself governor of the settlement. According to some scholars, Gilbert established the first English colony in the New World, although most historians give that distinction to Jamestown, Virginia.

During the return trip to England, Gilbert was lost at sea. The patent was then transferred to his half brother, explorer Walter Raleigh (1554–1618), who secured the support of influential noblemen and navigators for a colonizing effort. In 1584 Raleigh appointed Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to head an expedition to explore the mid-Atlantic coast of North America. Reaching the outer banks of present-day North Carolina, the party came in contact with the Roanokes, Native Americans who inhabited Roanoke Island and the surrounding region. After a brief stay, the Englishmen took two Native Americans, named Manteo and Wanchese, back to England. Amadas and Barlowe gave enthusiastic reports about Roanoke, claiming the island offered favorable trading prospects and an excellent location for a military fort. Impressed by the success of the mission, Elizabeth I knighted Raleigh (gave him a special military rank) and named the region Virginia in honor of herself (she was called the "Virgin Queen" because she refused to marry).

Raleigh organizes Roanoke venture

Raleigh immediately organized a venture to establish a permanent colony at Roanoke. He assembled five ships and two boats, which he placed under the command of English navigator Richard Grenville (1542–1591). Among the party of 108 men—mainly soldiers and servants—was Thomas Harriot (1560–1621), a mathematician and Raleigh's tutor, who was given the task of surveying Virginia. (Surveying is a branch of mathematics that involves taking measurements of the Earth's surface.) Manteo and Wanchese were to serve as interpreters, and artist John White (d. 1593) was to make drawings of animal and plant life. Upon arriving at Roanoke in July 1585, the expedition got off to a bad start. First, Grenville determined that the island was not suitable for a permanent military base. When he learned a silver cup was missing, he ordered his men to burn a Native American village because he thought a Native American had stolen the cup.

Later the next month Grenville departed for the Caribbean. Before leaving he placed colonist Ralph Lane (1530–1603) in charge of one hundred men, with orders that they find a better site for the settlement and then construct a fort and other buildings. In spite of Grenville's earlier aggression toward the Native Americans, the Englishmen established friendly relations with the Roanoke (also called Wiroan) tribe and their chief, Wingina. Lane explored the area, White sketched plants and animals, and Harriot conducted a detailed survey of the land. Harriot also recorded his observations of Native American life, language, and customs. As spring approached, the colonists began to run out of food, so Lane took the drastic step of demanding corn from Wingina. Although the chief offered some land and seeds, Lane overlooked his generosity and concluded that the Native Americans were planning an attack. Lane therefore decided to strike first, and in the conflict Wingina and several of his people were killed.

Colony deserted

The murder of Wingina and other Roanokes only contributed to the food shortage at Roanoke settlement by causing neighboring groups to withdraw from contact with the Europeans. The struggling colony was in a desperate situation by June 1586, when English seaman Francis Drake (c. 1540–1596) paid a surprise visit on his way back from the Caribbean, where he had attacked Spanish ships. Along the way he had also made an assault on the Spanish fort at Saint Augustine in Florida. Anxious to go home, all but three of the Roanoke settlers boarded Drake's ship and set sail for England. Soon after the colonists' departure, Grenville returned to Roanoke with a new load of supplies and six hundred additional men. He found the colony deserted—no one knows what happened to the three men who had remained on the island. Eventually Grenville decided to return to England and recruit more settlers. He left fifteen men at Roanoke to plant crops and build dwellings in preparation for the new colonists. By that time, however, Raleigh had lost interest in colonizing Virginia. John White therefore took over the project and acquired the backing of several investors for another expedition.

White's plan was to start a new colony called the City of Raleigh, which would be located north of Roanoke in the Chesapeake Bay area. White would be the governor. Since this settlement would be devoted to families and farming instead of military defense, the party included seventeen women, nine children, and ninety-four men. When the ships reached North America in late 1587, the captain refused to go any farther than Roanoke. Forced to remain at the old settlement, the colonists discovered that the fifteen men left by Grenville were gone, possibly driven out by unfriendly Native Americans. Consequently there were no crops or suitable housing. The only solution was for White to go back to England for more supplies and additional men. Before departing he told the colonists to move to another location if they had any problems and to leave a message telling him where to find them.

"The lost colony"

In the meantime, war had been brewing between England and Spain. When the conflict erupted in 1588—as White was about to sail back to North America—contact between England and Roanoke was cut off. In 1591, after Drake led the English in defeating the Spanish Armada (a fleet of mighty warships), White was finally able to return to Roanoke. By that time the settlers had all vanished without a trace—among them White's daughter, son-inlaw, and granddaughter, Virginia Dare. White found only two clues to their whereabouts: the word "Croatan" carved on a fence post and the letters "Cro" etched into a tree trunk. The English suspected that the colonists' disappearance was somehow linked with the Croatoans, a friendly Native American tribe that lived on Croatoan Island about 50 miles south of Roanoke.

The Roanoke settlers were never found, and the fate of the "lost colony" remains a mystery. Numerous theories about their disappearance have evolved over the centuries. They could have died as the result of a natural disaster, such as disease, starvation, hurricane, flood, or tornado. They could have tried to return to England and become lost at sea. More outlandish explanations include pirates kidnaping all the inhabitants. The most reassuring conclusion is that the colonists joined a nearby Native American tribe, with whom they intermarried and prospered.

After the failure of the Roanoke Colony, the English made no other attempts to colonize North America for nearly twenty years, realizing they had neither the skills nor the money required to establish permanent settlements in a strange and hostile land. One modern historian has noted that venturing into the wilderness of North America in the sixteenth century was similar to landing on the moon in the twentieth century. Moreover, the English, like the Spanish, were primarily interested in conquering Native American empires that would yield instant wealth. But by the late 1590s Europeans had seized all of the available riches in the New World.

Virginia charter granted

England again turned its attention to North America in 1604, after signing a peace treaty with Spain. Freed from the burden of waging a war, the government now had funds that could be used for colonization and trade. Since the failure of the Roanoke settlement, English investors had come to realize that North America offered more than gold, silver, and other precious metals. As the Spanish had proved in the Caribbean, sizable profits could be made from plantations that produced cotton, sugar, tobacco, and coffee. Fishing could also be a source of potential wealth. Speculating on new opportunities overseas, several investors received a charter for the "Virginia Company of London and of Plymouth" in 1606. The charter gave them the right to land along the Atlantic coast from the Cape Fear River in North Carolina to present-day Bangor, Maine. This vast territory was divided into two colonies: the northern colony, named Plymouth, was granted to the Plymouth Company, and the southern, called Virginia, was given to the London Company. Each was to be governed by a council in America that took its orders from a royal council in England. The charter further provided that all colonists and their descendants would enjoy the full rights of Englishmen.

The London Company was the first to organize an expedition. The plan was to build the capital of the Virginia colony on a site that would provide access for sea trade yet protect against Spanish attack. Under the temporary leadership of Christopher Newport (c. 1565–1617), three vessels carrying 105 settlers—all of them men—embarked from England in December 1606. The expedition immediately ran into the first of numerous problems that would nearly doom the venture: winds prevented the ships from making any progress, and for a full six weeks they stayed within sight of England. Finally arriving on the shore of Virginia more than four months later, in April 1607, Newport led the party 50 miles inland along the present-day James River. He spotted an apparently suitable location for a fort and town—a small peninsula surrounded by a marsh—and claimed the land for King James I, naming the new settlement Jamestown.

Jamestown: First English settlement

For a time the situation seemed ideal as the settlers industriously cleared the land and built their town. They erected a fort and a palisade (high fence), constructed one- and two-room cottages inside the fence, and prepared nearby fields for crops. They also made friends with the Powhatans, the local Native Americans, who were initially hostile. But within a few days Chief Powhatan (d. 1618), the principal leader in the region, had given the settlers food and other assistance. Many of the Englishmen were also exploring the surrounding countryside in search of gold. Although the Virginia project was devoted principally to agriculture and trade, the English government and private investors were still hoping to find instant wealth in the New World. Therefore many settlers had joined the Jamestown venture not to become farmers but to get rich.

Before the settlers departed from England, the London Company had appointed a seven-member council to govern the colony. The names of the councilmen were to be kept secret, however, until the ships reached their destination. By the time the colonists came ashore, the seven men on the council despised and feared one another. The ablest member of the group was John Smith (1580–1631), but he was already under arrest for having a conflict with Newport over an unspecified issue. No doubt unaware that Smith was one of the councilmen, Newport had imprisoned him for the majority of the voyage.

Smith takes control By late summer the colonists discovered they had chosen an unhealthy location for Jamestown: men were falling ill and dying as a result of living beside a swamp. The English had unknowingly brought typhoid (a bacterial disease marked by fever, diarrhea, headache, and intestinal inflammation) and dysentery (severe diarrhea caused by infection) with them. Now, because of their own poor hygiene (cleanliness), the river had become an open sewer and a breeding ground for the diseases. In addition, many were suffering from salt poisoning—the force of the water coming down the river from the mountains was not enough to get past the tide rolling up from the Chesapeake Bay, so the settlers were drinking water that contained trapped sea salt.

By September 1608 three of the seven council members had returned to England and three others had died. Smith was the only councilor remaining in Virginia, so he automatically became the leader of the colony. He was confronted with the impossible task of organizing unruly, inexperienced settlers into some sort of workforce. The ships had carried 105 men, but 49 of them were noblemen who had never earned a living with their hands. Only 24 were laborers. The settlers had not planted and harvested enough food—partly because too many men had wasted their time searching for gold. Already 46 settlers had died of disease and lack of food. Smith also had to contend with the well-organized Powhatans, who had again become suspicious of the Europeans. Although Smith was eager to negotiate peaceful relations, he was also willing to force the Powhatans to provide the settlers with grain. Reportedly Powhatan agreed to trade meat and corn at the urging of his daughter Pocahontas (see Chapters 8 and 10). By most accounts, the Jamestown settlers would have perished had it not been for Powhatan and Pocahontas's assistance.

Under Smith's leadership the inexperienced settlers built houses, completed a church, fortified Jamestown, and learned how to farm and fish. While Smith managed to keep the struggling colony from dissolving, however, he did so at the expense of his own popularity. He imposed strict rules and forced the colonists to obey. As a result, he caused much resentment and bitterness. In 1609 another group of settlers arrived from England. Along with them came several of Smith's old enemies, who plotted against him. The colonists were also still having problems with the Powhatans. Smith might have weathered these difficulties if he had not been severely wounded when a stray spark from a fire lit his gunpowder bag as he lay napping. The explosion and subsequent flames burned him so badly that his life was threatened. The following October he sailed back to England.

From "starving time" to tobacco boom Although Smith survived his wounds, he never returned to Jamestown. During his stay in North America he had conducted extensive explorations, and he later wrote several books that provide modern historians with information about life in early Virginia (see Chapter 14). In his absence, the colony quickly fell apart, and the winter of 1609 to 1610 became known as the "starving time." The suffering was caused not only by a shortage of food but also by the settlers themselves. Many stole and sold their meager supplies; as a result, some men were fed while others died. Of the 490 settlers remaining in Virginia when Smith left, only 60 survived the winter. Soon the council in Virginia became unworkable, and in 1609 the London Company rewrote the charter, putting one man in charge. The royal council was also eliminated when the company took over the colony and reorganized to keep from going bankrupt. The former London Company was now the Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the First Colony in Virginia (usually called the Virginia Company).

In 1610 a new governor, Thomas West (Baron De La Warr; 1577–1618), arrived in Jamestown. The settlement was under a form of martial law (law administered by military force), which Smith had initiated, and the men were being forced to work. Yet the colony's survival was still far from certain. In 1614 John Rolfe (1585–1622), one of the original settlers, took two important steps. First, he married Pocahontas, Powhatan's daughter, thus bringing about a truce between the Powhatans and the colonists. Second, Rolfe experimented with a West Indian species of tobacco and found that he could produce a crop of high enough quality to fetch good prices in England. Soon Virginia was in the midst of a tobacco boom, and the colony moved toward a plantation economy that continued to thrive throughout the colonial period.

James Fort Excavated

In 1994 the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological project began excavating the ruins at the Jamestown site, and by 1998 12 percent of the fort had been recovered. In 1996 archaeologists discovered the well-preserved skeleton of a white male who had been buried in a wooden coffin near the fort. After extensive investigation and testing, they concluded that the man was probably one of the "gentlemen" mentioned by Smith in his Jamestown account—the skeleton indicates that the man was not accustomed to manual labor. Scientists have further determined that the man, who is known as JR102C (a record number assigned by archaeologists), was nineteen to twenty-two years of age, stood around 5 feet, 5 inches in height, and died of a massive, untreated gunshot wound to the leg.

First royal colony Yet further problems undermined these efforts. Once tobacco was found to be a profitable crop, laborers sent to work for the company were hired instead by local officials to work on private plantations. By 1616 there were no profits for the original investors. Three years later the Virginia Company reorganized again, this time promising a less rigid government and dividing the colony into four large settlements. At that time the company also authorized the formation of a general assembly, the House of Burgesses, which was the first elected representative body in America (see "Rise of the colonial assembly" in Chapter 6). Although a steady stream of settlers continued to flow into the colony, high death rates considerably reduced their numbers. Then, in 1622, Powhatan's son Opechancanough led the Powhatans in the massacre of 350 settlers—about one-third of the community. In 1624 James I dissolved the bankrupt Virginia Company, and Virginia became the first royal colony in America.

The Thirteen Colonies: A Brief History

The first permanent English colony was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607 after King James I approved a charter for the Virginia Colony. The same charter included the Plymouth Colony, which was started in 1620 in Massachusetts. Plymouth was later absorbed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was granted a charter by King Charles I and settled in 1629. Massachusetts colonists then formed Connecticut (1639), Rhode Island (1644), and New Hampshire (1679). In 1632 Charles I awarded George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore, a tract of land on the Chesapeake Bay, which was later named Maryland. In 1663 King Charles II granted the region south of Virginia and north of Spanish territory (present-day Florida) to eight proprietors, who called it Carolina. The colony was divided into North Carolina and South Carolina in 1713. The following year the English took over New Netherland, which the Dutch had founded in 1624. Renaming the colony New York, Charles II awarded it to his brother James, Duke of York (later King James II). New Netherland also included Delaware and New Jersey, parts of which were settled as New Sweden in 1638. Delaware became an English colony in 1674. Two years later New Jersey was divided into East Jersey and West Jersey; it became an independent colony in 1738. William Penn received a proprietary charter in 1681 from Charles II for the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania, a year later annexing Delaware. In 1732 Parliament (the lawmaking branch of the government) granted a charter to James Oglethorpe and others, who established Georgia north of Florida as a penal colony and a buffer against Spanish invasion. Georgia was the last of the original thirteen colonies.

Maine winter defeats settlers

In 1607, a year after the London Company colonists embarked for Jamestown, the Plymouth Company outfitted an expedition to Maine. This was the place that Bartholomew Gosnold had so glowingly praised in the reports of his venture. Gosnold's party had seen the region only in the summertime, however, and the Plymouth group was planning to stay permanently. They were completely unprepared for the long and extremely cold Maine winter. Although most of the settlers managed to survive the harsh climate, one of the leaders died and another was called back to England. Finally the settlement broke up, and the English did not return to the area for another thirteen years.

New England

Colonization of present-day New England came about as a result of the Puritan movement. Puritanism (a Protestant faith that stressed strictness in matters of religion and conduct; see Chapter 11), in turn, was an outgrowth of Protestantism. (Protestantism was founded in 1517 by German theologian Martin Luther [1483–1546] who accused Roman Catholic Church leaders of corruption and misuse of power; see Chapter 11.)

The rise of Puritanism

The Protestant movement began in England in 1531, when King Henry VIII (1491–1547) decided to annul (legally invalidate or void) his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. A staunch Roman Catholic, Henry wanted to marry again because Catherine had not borne him a son and he was determined to father a male heir to the throne. Yet Henry encountered strong resistance from the pope, who had the final authority to nullify marriages. Since Catherine was a Spanish princess and the Catholic Church depended on Spain to fight Protestantism in Europe, the pope (leader of the Roman Catholic Church) could not afford to alienate the Spanish by granting the annulment. Henry therefore broke with the Catholic Church and declared himself head of the Church of England.

Henry's quarrel with Roman Catholicism was political, not religious. Although he closed monasteries (houses for monks, or men who took religious vows) and seized Catholic lands, he did not want to change the church. Therefore he maintained most of the rituals, especially the elaborate ceremonies and fancy vestments (robes) worn by bishops and priests. Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I, also loved the grand processions and dramatic services, so she continued her father's policies. Her successor, James I (1566–1625), was similarly unwilling to make any changes. But by this time, many English Protestants were rebelling against the heavy emphasis on Catholic ritual in the Church of England. They wanted a simpler church, which placed less emphasis on displays of wealth.

Nonconformists go to Netherlands During the reign of James I, ministers and congregations (groups who worship together) increasingly refused to organize their worship services according to the requirements of the Church of England. Some critics, who became known as Puritans, felt that purifying the national church would solve the problems. At the same time others were contending that the church was too corrupt to be saved; they wanted total separation. Since the king was head of both the church and the government, separation was considered a crime against the state. Nevertheless a congregation in Scrooby, England, declared themselves to be Nonconformists, or separatists. When the Scrooby leaders were persecuted (punished or discriminated against because of their beliefs) in 1607, the congregation resolved to leave England and go to Leyden in the Netherlands (Holland), the most tolerant of the European societies.

Life was pleasant in Leyden, and the Nonconformists were free to practice their religion. Nevertheless they were uneasy because their children were becoming more Dutch than English. Economic opportunities were also limited, and there were rumors that war would soon break out between Spain and the Netherlands. Many members of the group wanted to relocate to another country where they could speak English and bring up their children in a familiar Christian environment. Calling themselves Pilgrims, they decided to settle at the northernmost end of the land granted to the Virginia Company.

Mayflower caught in storm In 1619 the Pilgrims secured financing through Thomas Weston and Associates, an investment company, and the following year they left the Netherlands for the New World. Stopping first in England, they found that only one of their ships, the Mayflower, was seaworthy. The party consisted of 102 men, women, and children, but they were not all Pilgrims. Several men called "merchant adventurers" represented the Weston company and did not share the Nonconformists' beliefs. Although no minister had joined the party, one of the members of the Leyden group, William Bradford (1590–1657), became a leader of the venture. On September 5, 1620, they set sail on the Mayflower.

Along the way the Mayflower encountered stormy weather, and the Pilgrims never arrived in Virginia. Instead they anchored the ship in Cape Cod harbor (off the coast of present-day Massachusetts), which was far north of their original destination. Since they were not on the land that had been legally granted to them, Bradford and forty other free adult males (those with voting rights) drafted and signed a new contract, the Mayflower Compact, in November 1620. The contract, which was based on Nonconformist church covenants (God's promises to man), would allow the Pilgrims to establish a government with binding laws. They had to face the problem that they were only 40 percent of the people aboard the ship. The rest, including men such as Myles Standish (1584–1656), were outsiders whom the Pilgrims called "strangers." The Mayflower Compact was intended to prevent conflict, provide for a government, and form a new religious society. It is considered the first democracy (a government where people elect representatives) established by Europeans in North America.

The Mayflower Compact

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 Advancement of the Christian Faith and 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 of 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 to 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 hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domino 1620.

Source: Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647. Samuel Eliot Morison, ed. New York: Knopf, 1966, pp. 75–76.

Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock While the Mayflower was anchored in Cape Cod harbor, Standish led an expedition inland. Leaving the ship in a small boat, they set out for the Hudson River, but bad weather forced then to return to the harbor at Cape Cod. Calling it Plymouth Harbor, they anchored near a rock that is now known as Plymouth Rock. The Pilgrims began settling their new colony on December 25, 1620, and elected John Carver (1576–1621) as their first governor. Although they faced the hazards of winter in the northeast, several factors worked in their favor. Unlike many ships that brought settlers to North America, the Mayflower remained at Plymouth and furnished housing until the colonists could build shelters. The colonists' first dwellings were small, one-room houses made of boards (not logs). The careful selection of a settlement site also gave them an advantage: rather than facing a "howling wilderness," they were nestled into a hillside that had once been inhabited by Native Americans. Fresh water was nearby, and they had access to corn Native Americans had put away for the winter.

Squanto saves Pilgrims Even so, nearly half of the party died, just as the earliest colonists at Jamestown did. Although the Pilgrims and local Native Americans were aware of one another, they did not make contact during that difficult winter. The dying settlers maintained their distance from their neighbors, even though the Native Americans could have helped them. In turn, the Wampanoag, who had had mixed experiences with Europeans, watched the newcomers warily. In the spring the surviving colonists were helped by Squanto (d. 1622), a member of the neighboring Pawtuxet tribe, who had been sent by Chief Massasoit (c. 1590–1661). Years earlier Squanto had been kidnaped and taken to England. During his captivity he had learned to speak English, and as a result, he could communicate with the settlers. Squanto helped them plant corn and other crops, and the next fall there was a plentiful harvest. The colonists invited Massasoit, Squanto, and other warriors to a celebration feast, which has become known as the first Thanksgiving in America (thanksgivings were common in England).

Colonists encounter problems When Carver died in April 1621, Bradford was chosen to take his place as governor. (He would be reelected thirty times between 1621 and 1656.) After solving the initial problems of food and shelter, the Plymouth settlers realized they did not know how to run businesses such as fur trading, which was thriving in other colonies. The colony proved to be a disappointment to Weston and other investors, who were making no profits from Plymouth. In 1622 Weston gave up on the colony. One reason was that Pilgrim leaders paid attention to immediate needs rather than long-term plans. For instance, despite extreme food shortages, they invited other Nonconformists to move to Plymouth from Leyden.

As the colony grew, the Pilgrims benefitted from their alliance with Massasoit. The result was peaceful trading relationships and an increased food supply in Plymouth. Nevertheless this harmony was disturbed when the colonists found themselves in the middle of battles between the Narraganset and the Mohegan. Tensions continued to mount, and in the Pequot War (1637) the New England colonies united with the Narraganset to attack a Pequot fort at Mystic, Connecticut. Four hundred Pequots were killed as they were sleeping. Native Americans were not the only unpredictable elements at Plymouth. The colonists also had to contend with the merchant adventurers, many of whom committed crimes. In 1627 Bradford and seven other Pilgrims bought out the merchant adventurers and divided their property evenly among the colonists.

Pilgrims show intolerance Although the Pilgrims had emigrated (moved from one country to another) to America to practice religious freedom, they did not extend the same rights to others. They often had conflicts with members of different religious groups. The most famous incident occurred in 1627 when Bradford led a small party of Puritans into the town of Merry Mount in the neighboring Massachusetts Colony and disrupted a May Day celebration. (May Day was observed in England on May 1, in the tradition of spring fertility rites in Egypt and India. The Puritans had passed strict laws banning "pagan" holidays.) Another problem was that Plymouth did not have a formal government. In 1630 Bradford tried to forge relations with the more prosperous Massachusetts Bay Colony, but he met resistance from Massachusetts residents. Plymouth finally adopted a formal constitution (plan of government) in 1636. The population grew steadily, reaching seven thousand by the time Plymouth became part of Massachusetts in 1691, thirty-four years after Bradford's death.

The "great migration"

The survival of the Plymouth Colony spurred others to think about settling in the same area. One of the early promoters of emigration to North America was Robert Cushman, who had gone to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower but then returned to England as the colony's business agent. He published a pamphlet outlining the reasons English people, "here born and bred, and hath lived some years, may remove [themselves] into another country." After assuring would-be settlers that God was not opposed to such a move, he went on to say, "[A] man must not respect only to live and do good to himself, but he should see where he can live to do most good to others." Cushman listed several ways English settlers could do good to others. Not only would they bring Christianity to the Native Americans, but they would also make use of the vast, empty land. Moreover, now was the time to leave England: the country was overpopulated—young tradesmen could not find jobs, beggars filled the streets—and religious strife was pitting neighbor against neighbor. With times so hard, there was no hope of leaving a legacy to one's children. Yet in the New World things could be different.

Families Settle New England

Like the Plymouth colonists, the Puritans who came to New England in the great migration intended to settle permanently in America. This meant they often came as families, or, if single, they were placed in family groups. For example, in 1635 forty-year-old Joseph Hull sailed from Weymouth, England, for New England with his wife, Agnes, and his two sons, five daughters, two male servants, and one female servant. Although most passengers on the ship were under the age of fourteen, Richard and Elizabeth Wade were in their sixties, the oldest people onboard. Members of the wealthiest and poorest classes generally did not leave England, but there were some exceptions, such as wealthy landowner John Winthrop. These people established towns that filled quickly; later waves of settlers fanned out into the wilderness. Forming corporations, the new colonists bought land from Native Americans, petitioned the legislature for the right to build a town, then moved in and set up housekeeping.

People became enthralled with the promise of a new life in the colonies, and they started making plans to leave their worries behind. Thus began the "great migration" of more than ten thousand English men, women, and children to New England between 1630 and 1640. The movement began slowly. In 1622 Thomas Weston, the backer of the Pilgrims' expedition, financed a group that settled at Wessagusset on present-day Boston Harbor. The next year the Dorchester Adventurers, investors who wanted to start a cod-fishing industry, founded a small settlement called Naumkeag. In 1628 the New England Company for a Plantation in Massachusetts-Bay received a grant that included some of the lands that had been awarded to another company. In June 1628 John Endecott(1588–1665) led fifty Puritan colonists to Naumkeag, which would become Salem, Massachusetts. They were preparing the way for seven hundred settlers, the first wave of the great migration.

Massachusetts Bay: An "ideal community" The first wave was led by John Winthrop (1588–1649), a wealthy lawyer and prominent Puritan. In 1629 Winthrop joined the New England Company, a group of investors who planned to start a settlement near the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. King Charles I (1600–1649) had granted the company a portion of land between the Charles and Merrimack Rivers in Massachusetts, which was owned by the Council for New England (a private organization that promoted trade and settlement in New England). Winthrop and his associates received a royal charter (the right to found a colony that would be ruled by the king) under the new name of "Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England."

Although the settlers had initially planned to concentrate on trade, their emphasis soon shifted to religion. Like the Pilgrims at Plymouth, they were fleeing persecution in England. At that time the Puritans and Parliament were engaged in a struggle against the king and the Church of England. The Massachusetts Bay Puritans saw their venture as an opportunity to enjoy religious freedom and to establish an "ideal community" that would serve as a model for Puritans in England. In the ideal community, inhabitants would form separate congregations devoted to strict adherence to Puritan doctrines (see "Puritanism" in Chapter 11). Guided by ministers and members of the "elect" (certain people who had been chosen by God for salvation, or forgiveness of sins), they would live in harmony and glorify God.

Winthrop's first step was to organize the signing of the Cambridge Agreement. It stated that, once the Puritans reached North America, they would buy out the company, take over the charter, and govern the colony independently. Thus the Massachusetts Bay Company was the only colonizing venture that was not controlled by governors in England—a situation that would lead to serious problems within a few years. In 1629 Winthrop, as a member of the "elect," was chosen to head the company, and he began assembling the fleet of eleven ships that would take the settlers to America. To help meet expenses he sold his family estate. After arranging for his wife and children to join him in 1631, he set out with the first Massachusetts Bay settlers on the lead ship Arbella.

Colonists challenge Winthrop The Puritans arrived at Salem in 1630. As head of the Massachusetts Bay Company, Winthrop took the position of governor from Endecott, who had been serving temporarily. The Puritans organized their settlement on the basis of separate religious congregations that chose their own ministers. This decision set the stage for later unwanted religious diversity. Winthrop also established a government, keeping power in his own hands with the aid of a few assistants. He gave some authority to freemen (men with the full rights of citizens; women had no rights), who served on a general assembly (lawmaking body). After Winthrop had been governor for four years, the freemen challenged him to show them the company's charter. Upon discovering they were entitled to more power than he had allowed them, the freemen formed a new assembly. They elected members from each town and voted Winthrop out of office in 1635. He was replaced by colonist John Haynes.

Winthrop's political fortunes over the next several years reflected the chaos in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although he was continually voted in and out of office, he kept his seat on the council and continued to be a powerful force. Along with Endecott and others, Winthrop supported a strict theocracy (control of the government by the church) and bitterly opposed the activities of religious dissidents (those who disagree with church practices). The separate congregations had opened the way for religious diversity, and many colonists were now refusing to conform to Puritan doctrines (established opinions). Puritan leaders would not tolerate any views but their own, and they were greatly disturbed by the protests of such dissidents as the Anabaptists (those who oppose the baptism of infants), Presbyterians (those who advocate a centralized church organization), and Quakers (those who believe in direct communication with God).

Conflicts in the "ideal community" In 1636 the Massachusetts Bay Colony was facing yet another crisis: Native American resistance to English settlement. As a result of the vast influx of settlers, the New England population was rising rapidly (it was four thousand in 1634 and would reach eleven thousand in 1638). The Puritans had begun moving west onto land controlled by the Pequots, a neighboring Native American tribe. This led to the Pequot War, in which the tribe was nearly annihilated.

Making matters even worse was the fact that the English government was trying to gain control of the colony. Ferdinando Gorges (c. 1566–1647), head of the Council for New England, had belatedly realized Charles I had permitted the colonists to settle on land that was still in the possession of the council. Gorges did not approve of their independent charter, and he wanted them to abide by the New England Council's plan of government. In 1634 William Laud (1573–1645), the archbishop of Canterbury (the highest official in the Church of England), was appointed head of a committee to investigate the charter. Laud had been instrumental in removing Puritans from positions of power in England, so he was interested in keeping American congregations under the control of the English church. All Puritans, except the Nonconformists in the Plymouth Colony, had remained members of the Anglican Church (another name for the Church of England), which ordained (officially appointed) Puritan ministers. (The Puritans were certain they could reform the church from within.)

When the committee discovered that the charter was not tied to any governing body in England, they began proceedings to terminate the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1637 Charles I announced that he would rule Massachusetts through a royal governor and council, and that Gorges would be his deputy (representative). The new royal government was never put in place, however, since England was also in turmoil at the time. Charles I had dismissed Parliament to prevent Puritans from holding office and was unsuccessfully trying to manage his empire alone. Gorges was instead granted wilderness territory in Maine, north of Massachusetts Bay.

Dissidents banished In the meantime, traditional Puritan leaders had been struggling to maintain harmony in Massachusetts Bay. They thought they might solve some of their problems by getting rid of religious dissidents. Their strategy involved trying to guide the rebels toward accepting traditional Puritan doctrine. If that method failed, they banished the troublemakers (forced them to leave) from the colony. For instance, in 1635 Haynes banished Roger Williams (c. 1603-1683), an advocate of the separation of church and state, who later founded the Rhode Island colony. In 1636 Massachusetts officials confronted Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643), a prominent figure in the community who was challenging basic Puritan teachings (see "Religious dissent: The Anne Hutchinson trial" in Chapter 5). Some of Hutchinson's supporters were anxious for political as well as religious change. Among them were merchants who opposed the tax and trade policies of the council. They scored a victory in the election of 1636, replacing Haynes with a new governor, Henry Vane (1613–1662), who was a member of Hutchinson's congregation.

Winthrop was returned to office as governor in 1637, and he immediately convened the Massachusetts General Court (the Massachusetts government) to review dissident cases. When the court ruled in favor of the traditional Puritans, government leaders put Hutchinson and others on trial for sedition (resistance to lawful authority). Winthrop was actively involved in the trials.

Winthrop was elected governor for the final time in 1646, and he was still in office when he died three years later. Challenges to Puritan control of New England then gained momentum. By 1660 more people were settling on isolated farms, away from churches and the guardians of strict morality. Merchants and wage workers were putting their individual needs above the welfare of the community. Non-Puritans arrived in greater numbers, seeking economic opportunity rather than religious freedom. Church membership was declining rapidly, and soon there were few people who could claim to be saved (having been forgiven their sins). In desperation, some Puritan churches adopted the Half-Way Covenant, whereby the children of any baptized person could be admitted to the church regardless of whether their parents were members. Others took the Presbyterian position that anyone who led a moral life could join the church (see "Presbyterianism" in Chapter 11).

Charter withdrawn Puritan officials were still fighting English threats to place them under royal control. Finally, in 1686, King James II united Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York into the Dominion of New England. He appointed Edmund Andros (1637–1714), an Anglican, as the royal governor. Andros, however, was an unpopular leader who suppressed colonists' rights. After James II was overthrown in 1688, Protestant monarchs William III and Mary II took the throne in a transition called the Glorious Revolution. Now that Andros had no backing in England, the colonists sent him and other officials to England as prisoners. Although the Dominion of New England had been dissolved, William and Mary did not restore the colonies' original charters. Instead, in 1691, Massachusetts Bay was placed under a royal charter with Plymouth, forming the single colony of Massachusetts. The following year Massachusetts was involved in the Salem witch trials, one of the most infamous events in American history (see "The Salem Witch Trials" in Chapter 5).

During the eighteenth century the population of Massachusetts did not grow substantially. In fact, migration to New England slowed to a virtual halt after the end of the English Civil War (1642–48; a conflict that pitted Parliament and the Puritans against Charles I and the Church of England). Once Puritans controlled England under the Commonwealth and Protectorate headed by Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), they felt no need to leave the country. Massachusetts soil was relatively poor and its growing season short, so there was no incentive for families to start farms in America. Most of the population growth was due to high birth and low death rates. The colony remained almost totally English, although a small number of African slaves worked in cities and on farms. At the time of the American Revolution (1775–83), 330,000 whites and about 5,200 Africans lived in Massachusetts (which then included Maine).

New Hampshire

Many settlers left Massachusetts to find more fertile land or to start their own Puritan congregations. In 1629 New Hampshire was established between the Merrimac and Kennebec Rivers in Maine territory. A year later farmers and fishermen founded the town of Portsmouth. In 1641 and 1643 Massachusetts claimed the southern part of New Hampshire, initiating a boundary dispute that lasted until the American Revolution. Although New Hampshire became a royal colony in 1679, England appointed a single governor to oversee both New Hampshire and Massachusetts until 1741. That year Benning Wentworth (1696–1770) was named governor of New Hampshire alone, and he expanded the colony's territory to an area east of the Hudson River. This provoked conflicts over land rights with New York. Struggles between frontier settlers and Native Americans allied with the French during the French and Indian Wars (see Chapter 3) prevented expansion onto this land until the late eighteenth century.


In 1634 and 1635 settlers from Massachusetts moved into the Connecticut River valley and founded the towns of Wethersfield, Windsor, and Hartford. Puritan minister Thomas Hooker (1586–1647) brought members of his congregation to the area in 1636. Three years later the towns were united as the colony of Connecticut, adopting the Fundamental Orders "to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel [the word of Jesus of Nazareth]." Disputes between the English settlers and the local Pequot tribe led to the Pequot War. As a result, the Native Americans were nearly annihilated and the land was free for colonization. In 1638 minister John Davenport (1597–1670) and merchant Theophilus Eaton (1590–1658), acquired land from Native Americans along the coast. They founded a colony called New Haven. They felt the Puritans in Massachusetts were not strict enough, so they adopted a government based on Mosaic law (the ancient law of the Hebrews originated by the prophet Moses and contained in the first five books of the Old Testament, called the Pentateuch).

Connecticut and New Haven remained on fairly friendly terms until 1665, when the English government granted a charter that allowed Connecticut to incorporate New Haven against its will. Without a major harbor, Connecticut did not grow as rapidly as Massachusetts. Most colonists relied on farming and raising livestock for their living. Called "the land of steady habits," Connecticut had neither the wealth nor the poverty of its neighbor. Most settlers came from Massachusetts and so shared its English orientation. An exception were the few African slaves who helped work the farms of wealthy colonists. In 1774 the Connecticut population numbered 191,000 whites and 6,450 nonwhites (including Native Americans).

Rhode Island

Like Connecticut, Rhode Island began as a number of small settlements. Unlike Connecticut or any of the other New England colonies, however, Rhode Island served as a refuge for religious and political dissidents. The Dutch called it the "latrina [sewer] of New England," while Puritans labeled it "Rogues Island." The most famous of Rhode Island's founders were Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. Williams was a young minister who arrived in Massachusetts in 1631. He was admired by the Puritans, including John Winthrop, but Williams soon began expressing unacceptable ideas. He accused Massachusetts leaders of unlawfully taking land from Native Americans. As a separatist Williams also believed that Puritans should make a complete break from the Church of England. He further argued that church and state in Massachusetts should be separate because the state would corrupt the church. He maintained that since it was unclear who among the Puritans was actually saved—he said he could be sure only of himself and his wife—the church should be open to everyone. In 1635, Winthrop informed him that he was about to be arrested, so Williams fled Massachusetts and lived with the Narraganset tribe. He bought land from the Narraganset and was joined by some of his followers in founding the town of Providence.

Hutchinson's beliefs were different from Williams's but just as dangerous to Massachusetts. She held that some Puritan ministers were preaching Arminianism, a covenant of works that held that people could influence God's will about their salvation through good behavior (see "Puritanism" in Chapter 11). She also felt that those who were saints (a term the Puritan "elect" used to describe themselves) should not obey laws that were made by those who might not be saints. Her final heresy (violation of church teachings) came out in a lengthy trial when she claimed to know through direct revelation from God who was saved. Puritans were greatly threatened by Hutchinson's views because she was challenging the basis of their government. Hutchinson and her followers were banished on November 7, 1637, and founded the town of Portsmouth soon afterward. Hutchinson did not stay long in Portsmouth because religious squabbles plagued the community. Controversy centered on William Coddington (1601–1678), a political leader and former Hutchinson advocate, and Samuel Gorton (1592–1677), who were not welcome in Plymouth and Massachusetts. Gorton believed in the divinity of all human beings and rejected both a church restricted to saints and any form of social hierarchy (class system). His views proved too much for Coddington, who left in 1639 to found Newport. Gorton finally left in 1641 and established the town of Warwick, the last of the original Rhode Island towns, in 1643.

Charter granted Meanwhile, Williams had traveled to England to secure a charter for this group of quarrelsome settlements. A skillful politician, he succeeded with both the Puritan Parliament in 1644 and the newly restored Charles II in 1663. (The monarchy was restored in 1660 after the collapse of the Commonwealth and Protectorate that Oliver Cromwell established at the end of the English Civil War.) The charter gave Rhode Island more independence than other colonies and was the most tolerant in New England. Quakers found acceptance there, and a small Jewish community emerged. Although Rhode Island never had a large ethnic population, it was the most diverse colony in the region. Newport was a port town with Scots, French, Dutch, Germans, Portuguese, and Italians. Rhode Island also had the largest percentage of nonwhites in New England. Nevertheless, the numbers of people involved were small since Rhode Island contained only 1,214 square miles, about one-eighth the size of Massachusetts. In 1755 there were thirty-six thousand whites and forty-seven hundred Africans and Native Americans living in the colony.

The middle colonies

Although a part of the original thirteen English colonies, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey are also known as the middle colonies.

Dutch start New Netherland

While the English were establishing colonies along the Atlantic coast and in New England, the Dutch (people from the Netherlands) had been settling New Netherland, the region that is now New York State. Following other European nations to North America in search of a Northwest Passage, the Dutch sent English navigator Henry Hudson (d. 1611) to the region that John Cabot had explored for the English. In 1609 Hudson led an expedition to New York Bay and up the river that now bears his name. Instead of finding the Northwest Passage, Hudson and his men discovered an equally profitable resource: native peoples who had an abundance of animal skins and furs. Thus the Dutch, in competition with the French, started a thriving fur trade with the Iroquois (see Chapter 3). Over the next decade the trading business was conducted by independent trappers who roamed the wilderness, lived among the Native Americans in the winter, and then sold their furs to Dutch merchants in the spring. Trading procedures became more commercialized in 1621 with the formation of the Dutch West India Company, which was also granted a charter for the colony of New Netherland.

At first the company set up trading posts, which also served as forts for protection of trade routes. The posts at Fort Orange (present-day Albany, New York) and on "the Manhates" (Manhattan Island) soon grew into small settlements surrounded by farms. Beavers were the most important fur-bearing animals, and since they were less plentiful around Manhattan, Albany became the center of Dutch trade. During the spring furtrading season, merchants swarmed to the trading post to await the arrival of traders bringing pelts (animal skins). Albany was a booming place, and even local settlers tried to buy and sell furs—they needed an income to support themselves through the winter, when the trading post was virtually deserted.

Colony supports fur trade Actual colonization of New Netherland began in 1624, when the Dutch West India Company paid thirty Walloon families (people from southern and southeastern Belgium and adjacent parts of France) to emigrate to the New World. They settled on farms around Manhattan and Fort Orange and in the Connecticut River valley, where the company had built another fort. The settlement on Manhattan, which was named New Amsterdam in 1626, became the center of Dutch control for New Netherland. Within forty years the population of New Amsterdam had reached nearly two thousand. Fort Orange, however, remained a struggling outpost until the 1630s, when the Dutch West India Company authorized one of its directors, Kiliaen van Rensselaer (1595–1644), to bring settlers from the Netherlands. Called a patroon (proprietor), van Rensselaer founded Rensselaerswyck, a patroonship (vast private estate) that surrounded Albany and extended along both sides of the Hudson River. In the 1640s and 1650s the Dutch started villages that became the present-day New York cities of Schenectady and Kingston. They also expanded onto Long Island and into New Jersey (the Dutch town of Pavonia is now Jersey City), which were also part of New Netherland. Finally, the Dutch took over New Sweden, which immigrants from Sweden and Finland had settled in 1638 on the Delaware River near present-day New Castle, Delaware.

Problems plague New Netherland By the early 1660s New Netherland was having serious economic and political problems. The main reason was that the Dutch West India Company had appointed the director general (governor) and his council primarily to oversee the fur trade. Governing was therefore only a secondary role. Their main responsibility was to rent company lands to farmers and give settlers approval to start towns. They also established contacts with Native American fur traders, which almost immediately entangled the company in a conflict between the Mahican (an Algonquian tribe) and the Mohawk (one of the Five Nations of the Iroquois) over control of trade. At first the Dutch tried to remain neutral, but they finally aligned themselves with the Mahican in 1642. An even greater issue was farmland: New Netherland officials initially insisted on acquiring land through treaties with the Native Americans. But peaceful relations broke down when, between 1643 and 1645, the Dutch killed more than one thousand Native Americans over alleged treaty violations.

Another explosive situation was created by the diversity of European settlers in the area: half of the inhabitants of New Netherland and adjoining New Sweden were Germans, Swedes, Finns, Norwegians, French, English, Jews, and Africans. With the exception of African slaves, all had been attracted to the area by the promise of religious freedom. They therefore presented a threat to the Dutch, who were accustomed to the Dutch Reformed Church being the official state religion (see "Dutch Reformed Church" in Chapter 11). Also the New Netherland government had no better success in controlling the Dutch settlers, who could bypass the council and take their grievances directly to the Dutch West India Company. Another problem was that the company was losing money. In 1629 ownership of land had been opened to patroons like van Rensselaer, and ten years later merchants with no connection to the company were allowed to participate in the fur trade. This new system failed to attract immigrants and increase profits.

Stuyvesant put in charge The Dutch West India Company attempted to control the situation by appointing Peter Stuyvesant (1610–1672), a Dutch military leader, as governor of New Nether land. Stuyvesant took his post in 1647, and during the next seventeen years he caused considerable unrest by imposing heavy taxes and passing laws that prohibited religious freedom. For instance, Stuyvesant outlawed meetings and gatherings of people who were not members of the Dutch Reformed Church, making it nearly impossible for other religious groups to assemble and worship. When the directors at the Dutch West India Company headquarters in Amsterdam asked Stuyvesant to be more lenient, their plea landed on deaf ears. The ordinance stayed in place throughout the Dutch regime in New Netherland.

New Netherland becomes New York

Stuyvesant also made progress in the colony, improving relations with nearby English settlements and promoting commerce. Nevertheless, in 1649 the irate citizens of New Amsterdam forced him to declare the city a municipality (a self-governing political unit). Stuyvesant's mismanagement and harsh rule eventually led to New Netherland's downfall. In 1664, after the English victory over the Netherlands in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, England asserted its rights to New Netherland (which was part of the territory claimed by Cabot in 1497). The Dutch quickly surrendered, and King Charles II awarded the colony to his brother James, Duke of York (later King James II). New Netherland was renamed New York, and New Amsterdam became New York City.

The English guaranteed that New Netherland inhabitants, whatever their nationality or religion, could remain in the colony. But this open-minded policy only resulted in the continuation of political and religious strife in New York. In the late 1600s the British attempted to unite New York, New Jersey, and New England under the rule of royal governor Edmund Andros, but the colonists turned against him. Nevertheless, Andros succeeded in negotiating the Covenant Chain (1677), an alliance between the English and the Iroquois. The Covenant Chain protected New England against the French—who had always been a threat to both the Dutch and the English—during the French and Indian Wars (1689–1763). Spanning into the latter half of the eighteenth century, the wars hindered settlement of the western part of the colony, while the more populous areas of New York continued to attract various ethnic and religious groups. Religious tensions came to a head during Leisler's Rebellion of 1689 (see "Leisler's Rebellion" in Chapter 5).

Despite being a multicultural society that was headed by the English, New York was dominated by the Dutch. They still held most of the property and wealth, and real change did not take place until the early 1750s, when the Dutch and English had intermingled to form a new aristocracy (small privileged class) and political power structure. Thus the language and social customs of the English began to replace Dutch culture.


After the English colonized the mid-Atlantic coast and New England, they expanded westward with the founding of Pennsylvania. In 1681 King Charles II gave a tract of land, which he called "Pennsylvania" (Penn's Woods) to English admiral William Penn (1621–1670) to repay a debt. Charles granted the land under a proprietary contract, which gave Penn the right to establish and govern a colony with almost complete independence from England. Penn decided to give Pennsylvania to his son William Penn Jr. (1644–1718), who was a close friend of the king. By that time the younger Penn had become a member of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, a religious sect that was greatly feared in England.

The Society of Friends had been founded in the early 1650s by George Fox (1624–1691), an English cobbler (shoemaker) and shepherd. Fox believed he had been awakened to the "Inner Light," or truth, which enabled him to communicate directly with God. He was convinced that everyone possessed an Inner Light. Fox and his followers became evangelicals (those who emphasize salvation by faith, the authority of the scripture, and the importance of preaching), spreading word of their beliefs and calling on other Protestants to renounce the Church of England. Like the Puritans and Nonconformists, the Friends felt the national church relied too heavily on priests and worship services. The Friends were given the nickname "Quakers" by critics who ridiculed their beliefs, but they eventually adopted the name themselves.

Penn founds colony for Quakers The English considered the Quakers a threat to both church and state. Quakerism was soon outlawed, and many Friends, including William Penn Jr., spent time in jail. Penn and other wealthy Quakers began to look for a place that would permit them to worship freely and make a decent living for their families. At first they considered West New Jersey, part of the holdings of the Duke of York, where some Quakers had already settled. Since Penn had been granted land in America, however, he decided to start a new colony where they would have greater freedom.

Penn began making plans for Pennsylvania. In April 1681 he sent his cousin, William Markham, to America to form a governing council. Markham also met with Native Americans and Europeans who lived in the territory to inform them of Penn's authority over the land. The following October, Penn dispatched a group of commissioners to choose a site for a port city, which would be called Philadelphia (a Greek word for "brotherly love"). Since Penn could not fund the entire venture himself, he organized the Free Society of Traders, a group of wealthy Quaker investors. Each investor purchased 10,000 acres and assumed a seat on the governing council. Between 1682 and 1683 they sent fifty ships to America, thus guaranteeing rapid settlement of the colony. Penn's next step was to advertise Pennsylvania among Quakers in England, Wales, Holland, and Germany. He also welcomed non-Quakers. When Penn went to Pennsylvania to take his post as governor in 1682, farms had been established, the city was being built, and new settlers were arriving from Ireland and Wales. The population had already reached four thousand.

The Pennsylvania plan The most important features of the Pennsylvania plan were the frame of government and charter of liberties. Penn envisioned a generous, free society in which taxes were low, no limit was placed on landholdings, and Native Americans were treated as equals with Europeans. Moreover, he promoted complete religious tolerance, and he gave freedman (citizens with voting rights) status to any male who owned fifty acres of farmland or paid taxes. The colony would be administered by the governor and the general council, which proposed and passed laws. All citizens, including servants, would have certain rights and privileges, and there would be no established church.

Penn insisted on buying land from Native Americans, rather than simply seizing it or using the "whiskey treaty" trick. (Colonists routinely got Native Americans drunk on whiskey and then had them sign treaties that gave away vast amounts of land.) In 1682 the Native Americans and Quakers signed a treaty at a council meeting, in which they agreed to "live in love as long as the sun gave light," thus forming one of the longest-lasting peace treaties between Native Americans and European settlers. Penn stayed in Pennsylvania for only two years. During that time conflict broke out among various religious groups in the colony, disturbing the spirit of harmony and tolerance. Political squabbles also arose between poor landowners and the more privileged members of the Free Society of Traders. In 1684 Penn returned to England to fight the persecution of Quakers and to settle a dispute over the southern boundary of his colony, which bordered Maryland. In the meantime, Protestant monarchs William III and Queen Mary II had ascended the throne, so Penn no longer had a personal relationship with the monarchy. During his absence, he lost his authority in Pennsylvania as well.

Penn financially ruined In 1692 the English government withdrew Penn's proprietorship because the colony was poorly managed during his absence. William III appointed a new governor, Benjamin Fletcher, who immediately faced problems of his own. For example, the pacifist (people who do not believe in war to settle disputes) Quakers were opposed to using Pennsylvania funds for military purposes. In hopes of compromising with the Quakers, the king finally restored the charter to Penn, but this did not settle the problem. Many colonists wanted a royal charter because disagreements between the governing council and the assembly (elected representatives) were causing political chaos and people were losing their rights.

Penn went back to Pennsylvania in 1699, only to face growing opposition from settlers who wanted the English government to take over the colony. Staying for another two years, he helped draft the Charter of Privileges (1701), legal reforms that increased the power of the elected assembly. Affairs in England called Penn home later that year, and he never again saw his colony. Although Pennsylvania was a success, the colony yielded very little profit for Penn. When renters and landowners did not pay their bills, Penn himself became responsible for the debts. He was also swindled by one of his agents. Crushed by the financial burden, he went to debtor's prison in 1707. Five years later he began negotiating with the English government to sell Pennsylvania. During these discussions he suffered a series of disabling strokes. Upon his death in 1718, the proprietorship passed to his son Thomas.

After 1718 Scots-Irish settlers began expanding westward into the Cumberland Valley, pushing the frontier of Pennsylvania into Native American territory. These new colonists resisted the authority of the government, however, and they showed no interest in preserving the spirit of cooperation with Native Americans that was stated in the Pennsylvania plan. At this time the French and Indian Wars had been going on for nearly thirty years. Settlers on the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania were having regular conflicts with Native Americans, who had allied with France in preserving French claims to land and fur-trading routes to the west along the Mississippi River. This situation continued until 1754, when colonial officials formed the Albany Congress in Albany, New York. Although Pennsylvania signed a treaty with the Iroquois to purchase more land, Native Americans in Pennsylvania were resentful and sided with the French against the British. Soon the British began attacking French forts on the Pennsylvania and New York frontiers and in Canada (then New France), igniting the French and Indian War (1754–63).

Diverse society in eighteenth century Pennsylvania continued to thrive in spite of its internal problems. The Quaker philosophy of tolerance attracted increasing numbers of European ethnic and religious groups. During the eighteenth century Pennsylvania was the fastest-growing colony in America, and Philadelphia was one of the most ethnically diverse cities in colonial America. Ethnic diversity created the audience and the market for a German-language press. Pennsylvania was also home to many African slaves. Although Quakers became increasingly uncomfortable with slavery from the 1750s onward, they remained slave owners until the American Revolution in 1776. Estimates from the 1770s and data from the first federal census indicate that three hundred thousand whites and ten thousand African Americans lived in Pennsylvania.

"a very mixed company"

In 1744 Maryland physician Alexander Hamilton stopped in Philadelphia as he was traveling north. Later he reported that he "dined att [at] a tavern with a very mixed company of different nations and religions. There were Scots, English, Dutch, Germans, and Irish; there were Roman Catholicks, Church men [Church of England], Presbyterians, Quakers, Newlightmen [evangelicals], Methodists, Seventh day [Adventist] men, Moravians, Anabaptists, and one Jew. The whole company consisted of 25 planted round an oblong table in a great hall."


Delaware became an English colony with the takeover of New Netherland in 1664. The Dutch recaptured Delaware in 1673, creating three district courts that were converted into three counties when the English took the colony back within a year. The Duke of York then annexed Delaware to New York before transferring his claim to William Penn in 1682. This agreement gave Pennsylvania a water route to the Atlantic Ocean for trading vessels. Delaware was then called the Three Lower Counties (or Territory) of Pennsylvania, and the counties were named New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. The proprietors of the Maryland Colony immediately contested Penn's rights to the land, and the dispute was not settled until 1750. At first Delaware colonists were unhappy about joining Pennsylvania because they considered the Quakers "radicals." They came to terms with their status, however, when the Penn charter of 1701 gave the Lower Three Counties a separate assembly (representative government), which convened for the first time in 1704.

New Jersey

After the English took over New Netherland, the Dutch challenged claims to lands between the Hudson River and the northern point of the Delaware River. The region was divided between English noblemen John Berkeley and George Carteret and then split into East Jersey and West Jersey in the Quintipartite Deed of 1676. Carteret owned East Jersey. In 1681 the Quaker founders of Pennsylvania bought East Jersey from Carteret's widow, unleashing disputes over land rights in both Jerseys. Finally the proprietors surrendered their governing powers to England in 1702. In 1738 the two Jerseys became the colony of New Jersey. Yet problems did not end there: squabbles over land and resentment of royal governors led to riots in the 1740s. Tensions were ongoing until the end of the colonial period. East Jersey was dominated by Scots-Irish immigrants and New Englanders who were strict Calvinists (followers of French Protestant reformer John Calvin; [1509–1564]), while Quakers in West Jersey became increasingly prosperous and politically powerful.

The southern colonies

The southern colonies consisted of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas (later known as North and South Carolina), and Georgia.


The emergence of tobacco as a cash crop changed the destiny of Virginia. Whereas in 1616 the colony exported 2,300 pounds of tobacco, in 1626 planters sent 260,000 pounds of tobacco to England. (Tobacco was dried and cured and then exported for use in pipe smoking. The practice had long been popular among Native Americans.) The "stinking weed" that James I had once threatened to outlaw now produced such high tax revenues that the king quickly came to rely upon the Virginia tobacco industry. The economic boom also dramatically changed the labor situation in Virginia (see Chapter 7). The Virginia Company had already been sending over indentured servants, who usually worked four to seven years in exchange for free passage to Virginia, room, board, and perhaps a plot of land at the end of their service. Tobacco's success intensified the need for indentured servants.

Tobacco growers also required more land for plantations, so settlers fanned out along the James River. Many of the plantations were crude, and life was harsh and often short. Indentured male servants aged fourteen to forty labored on meager rations with little or no protection against dreadful working conditions and Native American raids. For the first fifty years or so, Virginia plantation owners used indentured workers almost exclusively. Beginning in the 1660s, however, African slaves and servants largely replaced white servants, although a few slaves had been working in Virginia since 1619. Conditions for slaves were even worse than those for servants (see Chapters 7 and 8). There were many reasons for this shift. As time went on, Virginia gained a reputation as a death trap and attracted fewer indentured servants. Many Englishmen were finding better job prospects in their own country, and recently founded colonies in America competed with Virginia for workers. Another factor was the increasing availability and decreasing cost of slaves.

By this time, however, the huge number of servants had created wide class divisions and social instability in Virginia. An imbalance between men and women produced an underclass of males who married late and had little family life (see Chapters 7 and 8). Problems with Native Americans also increased. As indentured servants gained their freedom, they acquired land on the frontier, where they lived in isolated areas that were vulnerable to Native American attacks. Tensions soon arose between English government officials and unsophisticated property owners who were gaining seats in the House of Burgesses. The situation spilled over into a crisis with Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, when Nathaniel Bacon organized a militia (citizens' army) and confronted the royal government of William Berkeley (see "Bacon's Rebellion" in Chapter 5).

Little diversity, high mortality Virginia did not attract many nationalities other than the English until after the 1740s, when the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania brought in Scots-Irish and Germans (see "Commercial and private transportation" in Chapter 7). For the tidewater region (area near the coast) the chief diversity was racial. Close ties to England forged by the tobacco industry also affected the religious diversity of the colony. Most were members of the Church of England, although Quakers were tolerated. In the eighteenth century Presbyterians and Baptists moved into the back-country.

The history of colonial Virginia was most profoundly shaped by high mortality rates. Far more people died than came into the colony, and few children were born to offset the losses. In Middlesex County, for instance, of 239 children born between 1655 and 1724, only 44 reached either marriage or age 21 with both parents alive. In some cases the parents had died, and in others the children had died. Grandparents rarely survived long enough to know their grandchildren. Men and women married several times as spouses died, leaving them with young children. As a result, Virginia's population grew relatively slowly. In 1625 the total population was 1,300, and by 1699 it had reached only 62,800. These figures included Africans, but their number is hard to determine. One estimate suggests that by 1699 there were between 6,000 and 10,000 Africans living in Virginia. The number increased more than tenfold during the eighteenth century, to 116,000 in 1754—only about 50,000 fewer than the 168,000 whites.


As the Jamestown settlers struggled to survive, English nobleman George Calvert (1580–1632) was making plans for his own colony. Calvert was a favorite of James I, who had knighted him and appointed him secretary of state. He had bought stock in the Virginia Company in 1609, and in 1620 he invested in a venture group planning to settle Newfoundland (an island off the coast of Canada). Calvert changed his mind when he made a trip to the island and found the climate too harsh, so in 1629 he petitioned the king for a land grant in Virginia. Five years earlier Calvert had converted to Roman Catholicism, a move that had cost him his royal positions and prevented him from being given any other official duty. But as a gesture of friendship, James I had granted Calvert the Irish title of Lord Baltimore. Against the protests of many in England and Virginia, the king also approved Calvert's request for land in the region that was called northern Virginia (later named Mary's Land, after Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles II).

Calvert did not live long enough to see his new project materialize. The charter was signed a month after his death. The grant was transferred to his son and heir, Cecilius, second Baron of Baltimore. The Lords Baltimore thus received the first proprietary grant (a contract giving an individual or group the right to organize and govern a colony) issued by England for lands in North America. They undoubtedly hoped to make money from their new estate. They also hoped to provide a place where Roman Catholics could freely practice their religion and enjoy other political and legal freedoms (see "Roman Catholicism" in Chapter 11).

Colony joins tobacco trade In 1634, 150 settlers embarked from England on the Ark and the Dove, the first ships headed to the new colony of Maryland. A few women, "mades which wee brought along," were among them. Unlike immigrants to the other English colonies, however, the passengers included a few Catholic laymen and two Jesuit priests (members of a Catholic religious order, the Society of Jesus). They arrived at Saint Clement's Island in the Potomac River on March 25 and celebrated Mass (the Catholic Eucharist, or holy communion service). They built their first settlement at Saint Marys, on the northern bank of the Potomac. They found that the land was suitable for growing tobacco, and Maryland soon joined the neighboring Virginia colony in the tobacco trade. (The economies of Maryland and Virginia were so closely related that the colonies are often referred to as the Chesapeake region.) Investors with money or connections acquired large landholdings, usually along one of the many rivers that flow into Chesapeake Bay. Like Virginia planters, Maryland tobacco growers used indentured servants, most of them young men, as laborers. Yet by 1648 the population of Maryland was only three hundred. The English Civil War had reduced migration, and many settlers had died from diseases. The population eventually increased, reaching 162,000 by 1760. Most people lived in scattered settlements or villages, and the only town of any size was Annapolis (which became the capital in 1694). By 1760 a port was developing at the site of present-day Baltimore, now the largest city in Maryland.

Diversity encouraged Maryland's earliest settlers were English, but by the 1730s Irish, German, and Welsh colonists were granted lands along the southern border of Pennsylvania, which the Lords Baltimore claimed over protests from the Penn family. (The formation of the Mason-Dixon line in 1767 settled the dispute, establishing an official boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania.) Scottish merchants lived along the coast, and they began to dominate the tobacco trade in the 1750s. Prior to the American Revolution, Maryland was attracting the majority of immigrants to the colonies. The most significant change in Maryland's population patterns took place around 1700, when African American laborers began replacing white indentured servants, especially on the larger tobacco plantations. By 1760 46 percent of planters owned slaves. By the 1750s approximately forty-five thousand black slaves were living in Maryland.

Maryland's proprietors also welcomed various religious groups. The Calverts had founded the colony as a haven for Catholics, but Catholics were never a majority, even on the Ark and the Dove. Cecilius Calvert had tried to protect his fellow Catholics with a tolerance act (1649), which stated that no Christian would be "troubled [or] molested." (Jews and other non-Christians were excluded.) Catholic immigration to Maryland was meager, but other religious groups took advantage of the colony's tolerance. In the 1650s the Quakers settled in Maryland, and Presbyterians, Baptists, and the Church of England were all represented by the 1670s. The tolerance act was repealed, however, when the Puritans gained control of the government in 1655 and Catholics lost the right to vote. After Protestant monarchs William III and Mary II took the English throne in 1688, Maryland became a royal colony (directly ruled by the English Crown). The Calverts regained control in 1715, but by this time they had converted to Anglicanism (see "Church of England" in Chapter 11).

Claiborne Rebellion

From 1645 to 1647 Protestants staged Ingle's Rebellion, a protest against the Catholic government of Maryland. Around the same time Maryland colonists also endured the Claiborne Rebellion. This uprising was led by William Claiborne, who had emigrated to Virginia from England in 1621. Claiborne was a Protestant, and he did not want his settlement to come under the rule of the Roman Catholic Calvert family, the founders of Maryland. He established a settlement with a fort on Kent Island in Chesapeake Bay. Problems arose when he opposed the granting of Maryland to Cecilius Calvert, second Baron of Baltimore. Claiborne was arrested and sent to England in 1637, where he argued his case, but the issue was eventually decided in favor of Calvert. Nevertheless Claiborne returned to Virginia, and in 1642 he was elected treasurer of the colony. For several years he continued to invade Maryland. After driving out Governor Leonard Calvert, Claiborne briefly gained control of Maryland. Although Calvert returned in 1646 and put down the uprising, he died the following year. Claiborne controlled Maryland for several years and served on the governing commission of the colony.

The Carolinas

The Spanish and French made the earliest attempts to settle the region that became the English colony of Carolina. Although Spaniards had reached the area between 1520 and 1521, they did not actually settle there, content instead to attack local Native Americans. They captured seventy people, taking them back to Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic; see "Christopher Columbus," Chapter 2), where they were freed. In 1540 the explorer Hernando de Soto (see Chapter 2) landed in Florida and proceeded on foot into the interior. He reached the Native American town of Cofitachequi (modern-day Camden, South Carolina), moving into territory that is now North Carolina. He was searching unsuccessfully for an emergency haven on the Carolina coast for Spanish treasure ships, which sailed from Mexico to Spain through the Bahama Channel—a narrow, fast-flowing passage east of Florida that was plagued by hurricanes and European raiders.

In 1562 French commander Jean Ribault and a small group of Huguenots (French Protestants) arrived in Port Royal Sound. They built Charlesfort, a small fort, on what is now the Parris Island Marine Station golf course (see Chapter 3), but they eventually deserted the site. In 1566 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the founder of Saint Augustine (see Chapter 2), built a fort called San Felipe on the ruins of Charlesfort. Supporting the fort was the town of Santa Elena, which included a mission, farming community, and such industries as a pottery kiln (oven used for baking clay pottery). But the Spanish were extremely vulnerable to hostile Native Americans and raiders such as English privateer (a pirate licensed by the government) Francis Drake (c. 1543–1596). They abandoned Santa Elena in 1587, retreating to Saint Augustine, the only surviving Spanish settlement on the East Coast.

English pursue colonization English attempts at colonization in the Carolinas began in 1585 when Walter Raleigh organized failed expeditions to Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina, which ended with the "lost colony" of Roanoke. In 1629 King Charles I granted Robert Heath a tract of land located between Virginia and Florida that extended west to the Pacific Ocean. Heath named the tract Carolina in honor of the king, but he was unable to find settlers or financial backing for a colony. A few years later he assigned his grant to Henry, Lord Maltravers, who also ran into problems; eventually the grant expired. In 1642 the English Civil War broke out, and no efforts were made to settle the area for the next eighteen years. The monarchy was overthrown in 1648, and Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell ruled until the monarchy was restored in 1660. The new king, Charles II, was indebted to supporters who had stood by him during that time. One way he showed his gratitude was by granting them land in America. He gave New York and New Jersey to his brother the Duke of York, and he gave Pennsylvania to William Penn Sr.

In 1665 Charles II granted Carolina to eight friends called Lords Proprietors. They were mainly politicians, so they were not seeking religious freedom or trying to help people build new lives. Like the Virginia Company

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investors or Thomas Weston, they hoped to make money from their new venture. A group of settlers landed on the banks of the Cape Fear River in what is now North Carolina in 1665. They were mostly Barbadians (people from the island of Barbados in the West Indies) and a few New Englanders. They immediately started quarreling and then abandoned the site when they heard about easier ocean access farther south in Port Royal Sound.

Successful venture organized The first permanent settlement in Carolina was organized in 1669 by Anthony Ashley Cooper (1621–1683; later Earl of Shaftesbury), one of the Lords Proprietors. He was assisted by his secretary, the great political theorist John Locke (1632–1704). They proposed the "Fundamental Constitutions," a unique document meant to lure settlers by proposing a hereditary nobility (upper-class status through birth), religious tolerance, and the right to own private property, including slaves. Cooper also persuaded the other proprietors to contribute money. In August 1669 three ships left England to sail via Barbados to the new colony of Carolina. The ninety-three passengers included four gentlemen and nineteen women as well as servants, surveyors, carpenters, blacksmiths, masons, and surgeons. An "ignorant preacher" was also onboard. The ships first stopped in Ireland, vainly hoping to attract more colonists, then sailed across the Atlantic to Barbados. Rough weather scattered the ships and destroyed one of them. After stopping in Bermuda to pick up more settlers, the remaining two ships finally reached Carolina in April 1670.

Charles Town founded Friendly Native Americans urged the colonists to consider a site up a river that the English named Ashley. On a high hill with the river on one side and marshes on the other, the settlers chose a site for the capital, Charles Town (later Charleston). The first buildings were crude and haphazard—the average house measured fifteen feet by twenty feet, or the size of a modern American living room. The colonists used their energies building a palisade (a fence of stakes for defense), not growing crops. Therefore early Charles Town, like Jamestown, relied on imported foodstuffs for survival. In 1670 and 1671 more settlers arrived, and in 1672 the Charles Town inhabitants included 268 men, 69 women, and 59 children from a variety of ethnic groups—English, Barbadian, Irish, Dutch, and African.

By the 1670s the Carolina colony had yet to make money. They had failed to remain friendly with local Native Americans and to monopolize the fur trade, as the colonists provoked war and encouraged Native American slave trade. Conflicts with the Spanish and the French were also a continuing problem. The proprietors' interests often clashed with those of the most aggressive settlers, making Carolina hard to govern. Moreover, many colonists were unwilling to pay even minimal rents. In 1680 Charles Town was moved to the peninsula formed by the junction of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. In surveying the new town, the settlers used a grid pattern, following the "grand model" sent from England. They also made rules concerning house size and height. Thirty wooden houses and guns from the old settlement made the new one comfortable and seemingly safe. Within a few years French Huguenots, Presbyterians, and Baptists were drawn to Charles Town by the promise of religious tolerance. While many left for the countryside, some stayed in the city, making Charles Town the largest urban settlement south of Philadelphia in the 1700s.

Conflicts with Native Americans in the early part of the eighteenth century created security problems and debts that the proprietors were unable to pay. For instance, from 1715 to 1716 the Yamasee tribe attacked the colonists; the natives resented their exploitation by Carolina fur traders. The bloody conflict resulted in many deaths and much property destruction. Protesting their lack of protection from the proprietors, the colonists rebelled, and in 1719 the English government appointed a provisional (temporary) governor. In 1729 England bought out the remaining proprietors. Nevertheless Charles Town continued to grow, and by the mid-eighteenth century, highly skilled artisans (craftspeople) and artists could find patrons of taste and discernment. At the end of the colonial period Charles Town was a city of elegance and culture, with theater, music, libraries, and a social season that allowed the elite to view and be viewed by one another. It might well have been the wealthiest city in British North America.

Charles Town was also home to at least two hundred Jews. When Carolina was founded it became the first of the English colonies to provide religious tolerance for Jews. Four Jewish shopkeepers were granted citizenship between 1697 and 1698. Sephardic Jews from London, England, and the West Indies arrived in the city during the late 1730s. They were joined in 1740 by Jews fleeing Savannah, Georgia, who had heard rumors of a Spanish invasion. In 1749 the Jewish community organized a Sephardic-rite synagogue (Jewish house of worship), Beth Elohim.

South Carolina By the 1680s large plantations were developing in the lower, tidewater region of Carolina—which became South Carolina in 1713—where land was better suited for growing tobacco, rice, and other crops. In the 1740s indigo (a plant used for making dye) became a staple crop and bolstered a thriving economy (see "Eliza Pinckney" in Chapter 7). This area also had better access to water routes for ocean trade. Plantation owners used white indentured servants and Native American and African slaves. The first recorded slave in South Carolina, a "lusty negro man," arrived from Virginia within months of the first settlement on the Ashley River in 1670. The first slave family arrived from Bermuda a month later. Trade with the Caribbean Islands included slaves. In March 1671 John Yeamans arrived from Barbados with eight blacks. These bound laborers worked on his wooded lands, defending against Native American and Spanish raiders when the whites were called back to defend Charles Town. When Yeamans died in 1674, he owned at least twenty-six slaves. By 1708 more than half of the non-Native American population were slaves, making Carolina the only colony with a black majority. In some low-country areas the ratio of blacks to whites was as high as four to one—much like the West Indies. In 1769 South Carolina lieutenant governor William Bull estimated that South Carolina had some forty-five thousand whites and eighty thousand blacks.

North Carolina In 1713 Carolina was divided into the two colonies of North Carolina and South Carolina; they became royal colonies in 1729. Geography inhibited North Carolina's growth: the colony had no large port, and the long coastline was marked by barrier islands, shifting sandbars, and treacherous currents. In an age when any major travel and all commercial trade relied on ships, the lack of harbors was an almost insurmountable liability (see "Commercial and private transportation" in Chapter 7). In the 1650s, before the Charles Town settlement was established, the first settlers moved into northern Carolina from Virginia. At that time boundaries were indistinct, and the Virginia-Carolina border was not officially determined until 1728. The population of North Carolina grew slowly. Isolated by the lack of harbors and major waterways, the settlers lived on small farms, raising corn, tobacco, and livestock. They conducted trade mainly with Virginia. In 1672 Quakers arrived and became a powerful political force. A few French Huguenot families from Virginia settled near the Pamlico River between 1690 and 1691 and were followed in 1707 by a much larger group. In 1710 German settlers founded New Bern, but they abandoned the town when they were attacked by Tuscarora warriors the next year; it was rebuilt in 1723. By the 1720s problems with Native Americans had decreased, and more immigrants found their way to North Carolina. Among them were Germans, Scots-Irish, Welsh, and Swiss. In the 1750s the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia opened up the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia as well as North and South Carolina. Slavery also flourished in North Carolina, although not in nearly the same numbers as the plantations of South Carolina. Estimates of the population of North Carolina in the 1760s suggest some eighty thousand whites and around twenty-six thousand Africans were living in the colony.

Barbadians Settle Carolina

Most of the earliest American settlements drew their populations from England. The Carolina colony was unique in that it attracted colonists from the English-held West Indian islands, mainly Barbados. Many congregated on Goose Creek, above Charleston, earning themselves the designation "Goose Creek men." Of some 680 settlers who came to the Carolinas between 1670 and 1680 and whose origins can be identified, more than half were from the West Indies. By 1680 Barbados was a small but wealthy sugar island whose rich families had no land to give their younger sons. Therefore they turned to the Carolinas, where the semitropical climate was ideal for agriculture and slavery. They did well: seven of the Carolinas' twenty-three governors between 1669 and 1737 had Barbadian backgrounds. Less wealthy Barbadians also looked to the Carolinas for economic opportunity. Among the early settlers were small planters, artisans, and indentured servants. Barbados and other West Indian islands also provided a market for the beef, corn, and lumber produced in the Carolinas.


Georgia was founded by English social reformer James Edward Oglethorpe (1696–1785) in 1732. As a member of Parliament, Oglethorpe was chairman of a committee that was investigating debtors' prisons. Oglethorpe and his committee discovered extensive corruption among prison officials, who also committed horrible brutalities against inmates. These revelations led Oglethorpe to promote reforms of the treatment of paupers (poor people). At the time the traditional remedy was to send social misfits to a colony. Oglethorpe therefore gathered twenty like-minded partners and applied for a charter to settle Georgia (named in honor of King George II [1683–1760]), a debtors' colony in America. In 1732 they were granted a tract of land located between the Savannah and Alatamaha Rivers along the south Atlantic seaboard.

Blackbeard the Pirate

Blackbeard was an English pirate whose real name was probably Edward Teach. He was hired as a privateer during the War of Spanish Succession (1701–14); after the war he turned pirate and became notoriously cruel. He had headquarters in the Bahamas and the Carolinas. Between 1716 and 1718 Blackbeard plundered ships and coastal settlements in the West Indies and along the eastern coast of North America. He acquired some protection by sharing his treasure with the governor of North Carolina. However, in 1718 he was killed by a British force from Virginia.

At the same time Oglethorpe anonymously published an essay in which he solicited funds for the Georgia project. His primary purpose was to justify transporting many of England's poor, who had been imprisoned, to form their own community in a strange land. Oglethorpe carefully explained that he had anticipated the serious problems that could arise among this group. His first step, he wrote, would be to place all of the settlers under his personal supervision. Oglethorpe was a seasoned army officer, so there was little question that he would be able to maintain discipline. He also pointed out that poverty would not be the sole requirement for participation in the venture, and that he would control the selection of settlers.

Buffer zone needed The colony had another purpose: in addition to serving as a refuge for paupers, Georgia would provide a barrier against Spain, which had been mounting raids on British settlements along the Atlantic coast. At the time the southernmost English colony was South Carolina. To the south was the heavily fortified Spanish seaport settlement of Saint Augustine (see Chapter 2). Lying between the British and the Spanish was a wild frontier. The British proposed to establish Georgia on the frontier and build forts that would protect the northern colonies from the Spanish.

Oglethorpe and his trustees received generous funding for the Georgia colony—sizable private contributions were supplemented by 10,000 pounds (British currency) from Parliament. In November 1732, Oglethorpe and 120 settlers sailed for America aboard the ship Anne. Oglethorpe immediately located a site for the settlement and started building the town of Savannah. (Savannah is now considered one of the most beautiful historic American cities.) His next act was to establish friendly relations with the Yamacraws, the local Native American tribe, from whom he acquired more land. The colonists and the Yamacraws maintained a spirit of goodwill throughout Oglethorpe's stay in Georgia. Within two years Oglethorpe had opened the colony to settlers who weren't convicts, the two main groups being Germans and Scots. Georgia settlements had expanded westward, and about 60 miles south of Savannah the town of Frederica was built on an island at the mouth of the Alatamaha River.

Georgia experiment fails In 1734 Oglethorpe went back to England, accompanied by several Native American chiefs. Before he left he appointed a prominent shopkeeper as a temporary supervisor of the colony. The choice was a disaster, revealing Oglethorpe's poor judgment and exposing the settlers' lack of motivation and inability to think for themselves. Some historians have observed that Georgia, a small colony, was organized on a community plan that functioned only if all of the inhabitants did their jobs and followed the rules. Moreover, Oglethorpe was a firm ruler who attended to even the smallest details. The shopkeeper turned out to be dishonest and brutal, and he was unable to keep order. When Oglethorpe returned from England he found chaos.

Most of the problems resulted from Oglethorpe's vision for Georgia. He and the trustees wanted a community of sober, industrious, small landholders. To this end they prohibited strong liquors, landholdings of more than 500 acres, and slavery. These restrictions not only angered many settlers but also made Georgia unappealing to potential investors. South Carolinians especially eyed the rivers and marshes along the Georgia coast, and a few even went so far as to establish illegal slave-based plantations. The rum trade was never completely suppressed because colonists Robert and Mary Musgrove sold liquor less than a mile from Savannah.

Religious leaders add to problems Unrest was also caused by the English founders of Methodism (a Protestant religious group), John Wesley (1703–1791) and Charles Wesley (1707–1788), whom Oglethorpe had invited to Georgia. The Wesleys had arrived in 1736, Charles as Oglethorpe's private secretary and John as head of missionary activities. Charles and Oglethorpe soon had a disagreement, and Charles returned to England after only a brief stay. John Wesley remained in the colony, but his presence was a source of turmoil and discontent. While Oglethorpe was preparing a defense against Spain, Wesley quarreled with other officials. Then Oglethorpe decided to replace Wesley with the wildly popular English preacher George Whitefield (1714–1770), who arrived in 1739. Whitefield improved the situation somewhat by starting an orphanage, which he called Bethesda, on 500 acres of land granted to him by the Georgia trustees. He was so oppressive and overbearing, however, that he alienated the guardians of the orphans. Finally, after a five-month stay, Whitefield left to continue his preaching tour, which sparked the religious revival called the Great Awakening (see "Great Awakening" in Chapter 11).

Oglethorpe a military hero Although Oglethorpe was losing control of his colony, he took command on the military front. War between Spain and Britain was ready to break out at any time, and Oglethorpe knew that Georgia would become the field of battle. He received word that Saint Augustine residents were being evacuated to accommodate a Spanish troop buildup. In September 1738, Ogle-thorpe raised a volunteer army of six hundred men, among them troops from South Carolina. In the summer of 1739 he led his regiment through the wilderness toward Saint Augustine. Along the way he formed an alliance with several Native American groups, accumulating a force of two thousand. By fall Britain had declared war on Spain, and the following spring Oglethorpe mounted an attack on Saint Augustine. Although he succeeded in capturing three smaller Spanish forts, he was not able to seize Saint Augustine itself. In the heat of battle many Native American warriors withdrew because Oglethorpe had restrained them from using their usual battle techniques. Sickness also broke out, and the Carolina soldiers deserted. In June 1740 Oglethorpe withdrew his troops. Nevertheless his efforts had been effective—the Spanish did not venture into Georgia for two more years.

In 1742 the Spanish bombarded British defenses around Georgia. During his defense of the colony, Oglethorpe achieved the victory for which he is remembered. Although his troops were unprepared for the attack, Oglethorpe led them into battle and brilliantly fought off the Spanish invaders. At one point he even captured two Spanish soldiers single-handedly. Soon English ships sailed to the colonists' rescue, and Georgia remained intact. Yet Oglethorpe's difficulties were not over. The British government would not give him enough funds for military defense, so over the next year he had to rely on Native American allies to conduct raids into Spanish territory. Finally, Oglethorpe began using his own money to buy supplies and other necessities for the militia. Internal conflict was still brewing, however, and colonists complained about his rigid policies. Oglethorpe was recalled to England and charged with mismanagement.

Georgia now a royal colony In an attempt to sort out his financial situation, Oglethorpe submitted a bill for expenses to the British government. Although the charges against him were eventually dropped, officials did not refund his money, saying the expenses had not been authorized. Oglethorpe intended to return to Georgia, but he never saw his colony again.

In 1750 the Georgia trustees legalized the slave trade and removed the 500-acre landholding restriction. Four years later they turned the colony over to the English government.

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The Thirteen English Colonies

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