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Lecture 1 European Exploration and Colonization of the Americas; Spain, England & France Main Ideas: • In the 1500s, Spain began building an empire in the Americas. • • In the 1500s, France established fur-trading posts in present-day Canada, and in parts of North America that would eventually become U.S. territory. As early as 1585, England began its attempt to establish colonies along the Atlantic Coast.
Each of these nations had their own perspective regarding the worth and value of the Americas, and each nation had its own approach to tapping into the perceived wealth of the Americas. Spanish Exploration In 1565, Spain established the colony of St. Augustine on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Spain wanted to spread its version of the Christian religion, Catholicism, to the native population, and to find gold and silver, in order to increase its wealth and power among its rival nations. For the most part, Spanish explorers did not find the riches that they were seeking in the northern parts of the Americas (present day United States). As the result, few Spaniards settled in the present day U.S. during the 1500s or 1600s. The Spanish government believed that Florida was a land of strategic value, so it encouraged settlement and development there. Later, through the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, Spain sold Florida to the United States. Between Spain, England, and the United States, St. Augustine is considered to be the oldest continuously settled city in the United States. ______________________________________________________________________
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English Exploration The primary motivation for English exploration to the west of Europe was to find a trade route to Asia. Major English Explorers of the Americas and their Accomplishments: • 1497 - John Cabot – The first known English explorer to cross the Atlantic. In a quest to find the “Northwest Passage” to Asia, it is believed that he reached present day Newfoundland, Canada. • • 1576 – 1578 - Sir Martin Frobisher – In search of the “Northwest Passage” explored Newfoundland and Labrador. 1609 - Henry Hudson – Made voyages for the English and the Dutch. On his third voyage, in 1609, He sailed 150 miles up the Hudson River (named after him) in present day New York. When he realized that he had not found the Northwest Passage, he turned back. 1577 – 1580 - Sir Francis Drake – Sailed around the world. Made his way into San Francisco Bay, and explored the western coast of present day Canada. Drake was later commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant, to attack Spanish ships (as Spain was a Catholic nation). The idea was to rob and sink Spanish ships. In this capacity, Drake was operating as a Privateer (sometimes called “Sea Dog”).
Privateer - An independent captain with his own ship, hired by the English government to attack, rob and sink foreign ships.
English Colonies By the late 1500s, the English government decided that there were several good reasons to try to establish colonies in America. 1. To establish a base for English privateers. 2. To establish a base to continue searching for the “Northwest Passage.” 3. English merchants believed that colonies in America could become buyers of their products. 4. The possibility of establishing American colonies was viewed as a way to put the unemployed and unfortunate to work.
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Sir Walter Raleigh – Was given a “patent” by Queen Elizabeth I to claim and colonize a huge area of land in North America (for England), that ended up being approximately 1/5 the size of the current 48 contiguous states! In 1584, he sent a small reconnaissance fleet to the Outer Banks of present day North Carolina. They returned with a positive report that included a description of “most gentle, loving and faithful Indians.” Raleigh named this new land Virginia, after Queen Elizabeth I, who was sometimes referred to as the “Virgin Queen.” 1st attempt to establish an Outer Banks Colony - In 1585, Raleigh sent Sir Richard Grenville with a small group of settlers to establish a colony in what is today, the Carolina Outer Banks. One year later, these people were starving and trying to find passage back to England. 2nd attempt to establish an Outer Banks Colony - In 1587, Raleigh sent three ships and 117 men, women, and children to establish an Outer Banks colony. This time, they settled on Roanoke, one of many small Outer Bank islands. After experiencing a shortage of supplies, John White, leader of the colony, sailed back to England to get what was needed to sustain the colony. Upon his return, in 1590, he found the word Croatoan carved into a tree, but not a trace of the settlers. To this day, no one really knows what happened to the settlers of Roanoke! Joint-Stock Companies In 1605, two English companies were formed; the Virginia Company of London, and the Plymouth Company. These companies were funded by investors who would put up money, in return for shares of stock in the company (which they hoped would increase in value). We call companies that raised money in this fashion, joint-stock companies.
The Virginia Company was granted a charter to colonize southern Virginia, while the Plymouth Company was given rights to develop in northern Virginia. Jamestown, Virgina – In December, 1606, 144 settlers, including the wealthy, as well as the poor (who would have to go over as indentured servants), boarded three ships, the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and the Goodspeed. Thirty-nine people perished on the way. Consequently, the colony of Jamestown was established with the remaining 105 settlers. Building a triangular fort at the mouth of a river that they named the James (in honor of their King James), the colony was officially established in May, 1607. Jamestown became the first successful English colony in North America. Initially, half of the Jamestown settlers died from sicknesses, including malaria. The settlers sought help from the local Native Americans, and received it. For Jamestown, the year 1609 was called “the starving time.” During this bleak time, Captain John www.mirwin.weebly.com page 3 of 5
Smith took charge of the colony, and saved many people from dying of starvation. He set down the rule that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat!” Captain Smith was able to get on friendly terms with Algonquian Indian chief, Powhatan. Through his relationship with Powhatan, he was able to get some very badly needed food, mainly corn and yams, for the settlers. After the “starving period,” the colony began farming tobacco. Tobacco plantations were established. The primary labor force for this endeavor was indentured servants. Pocahontas – Even though the nearby Indians helped the settlers of Jamestown, the relationship was somewhat strained. A war could have broken out at any time. Some historians believe that in 1613, Captain Samuel Argall kidnapped Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas, and took her to Jamestown as a hostage. If this story is true, it is believed that Pocahontas quickly learned the language and the culture of the English, and ended up marrying tobacco planter, John Rolfe, in 1614. The marriage is supposed to have resulted in eight years of peace between the Jamestown settlers and the Native Americans, which would have helped Jamestown to grow and prosper, mainly through its cultivation of tobacco. Indentured Servant – People who work for a certain period of time in exchange for passage. Historians believe that between 100,000 – 150,000 men and women came over as indentured servants to work in the fields of Virginia and Maryland during the 1600s. Most of them were between the age of 18 – 22 years old, unmarried, and poor. ______________________________________________________________________ 1676 - Bacon’s Rebellion – Very early in colonial history there are accounts of dissatisfaction between English settlers and local governors, as well as clashes between English settlers and Native Americans. Bacon’s Rebellion is a historical event that incorporates elements of both conflicts. By the 1670s, the Governor of Virginia was William Berkeley. In frontier areas of Virginia, farmers were having conflicts with Native Americans. Berkeley proposed the idea of building forts that could house soldiers, who in turn could be dispatched to protect farmers. To pay for the expense of the forts and the soldiers, Berkeley imposed a tax on the farmers. Many of the farmers were white men, just recently out of indentured servitude. They argued that they were struggling to make it, and could not afford to pay an increase in taxes. A young farmer named Nathaniel Bacon (who was actually a cousin to Berkeley), put together his own army and began fighting Native Americans on the frontier. Governor Berkeley responded by declaring Bacon a rebel.
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In September of 1676, Bacon and his men marched on Jamestown. They had a list of grievances, including the lack of frontier protection, and a perceived lack of representation in Virginia’s colonial legislature, the House of Burgess. When the demands of Bacon and his men were not met, they set fire to Jamestown, and burned it to the ground. Eventually order was restored. Approximately one month after the march on Jamestown, Bacon died of dysentery (October, 1676). Without his leadership, this farmers’ movement ended. - End of Lecture -
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