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American Colonies Essay

Everybody remembers Jamestown, Capt. John Smith, Pocahontas and all the rest. But do you remember Roanoke? In 1585, after a small scouting expedition had returned from North America with two Native Americans and many astonishing stories, Sir Walter Raleigh tried to establish a colony called Roanoke in the land which the British named “Virginia”, in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. The site was actually an island on North America’s eastern seaboard protected by the outer banks of what is now North Carolina’s coast.

Sir Richard Grenville led the fleet that brought them to the New World, the Governor of the colony was Master Ralph Lane and among the colonists was Walter Raleigh’s confidant Thomas Harriot, author of “A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia”, a chronicle of their adventure. Sir Francis Drake, who was seeking Spanish conquests in the New World, rescued this group just as they were losing control of their situation. Another colony was left at Roanoke in 1587 but by 1590, when a long delayed supply ship finally arrived, they had disappeared without a trace.

This was the so-called “Lost Colony”. A baby was born in Roanoke at this time. Little Virginia Dare, was the granddaughter of John White, the appointed Governor of the “Lost Colony”, and was probably the first English baby born in the New World. Sir Walter Raleigh sent ships to America to search for the colonists but they were unsuccessful. By the time the next English settlers arrived in North America to colonize Jamestown it was nearly twenty years later and, although several attempts were made to find out what happened to them, the fate of the “Lost Colony” was never fully explained.

Virginia [Homepage , Constitution] ( Roots-L Database , Instructions for the Virginia Colony (1606) , The First Virginia Charter (April 10, 1606) , Statehouse History , Jamestown History , Jamestown Rediscovery Project , History of Jamestown , First English Settlement , The Real Pocahontas , Jamestown,Va. , Jamestowne Society , Colonial Williamsburg Home Page , Virtual Jamestown ) Based on George Weymouth’s accounts of voyages to the New England area in 1606, two private companies were formed to seek a patent for colonization on the Atlantic Coast.

One of these companies was called the London Company and it was given the southern Virginia territory. The other company was called the Plymouth Company and its patent was for northern Virginia. Both companies quickly sought to exercise their patents but the London Company was the first to actually place colonists on the shore. In 1607, 105 London Company sponsored settlers arrived from England to begin the story that we all remember from our school days. Since they were there representing England and its King, James I, they settled in an encampment they called Jamestown on a river they named the James River.

The first year was devastating for the colonists, with only 32 colonists surviving the winter and only then because Native Americans living in the area came to their aid with food. After a supply ship arrived the next year they had additional provisions but many more colonists to feed as well. Once again, over the winter, most of the colonists died of starvation and from hostile encounters with their neighbors. As winter came to a close, ships arrived, and most of them were ready to leave.

But as they were leaving, Lord Thomas de la Warr (Delaware is named after him) arrived from England with new supplies and more settlers. He refused to let the survivors return to England. Slowly, as they reached agreements with the local Native American tribes and they learned how to grow some of their own crops, the colony began to prosper. Most of those original Jamestown settlers were after profit, mainly riches in the form of gold and other precious metals. They had not given enough thought to the perils that they would face in this unknown land.

One of the settlers, however, was familiar with hardship and was committed to Jamestown’s survival. Capt. John Smith was a soldier and adventurer. He had fought in France and Hungary, been captured and escaped. Although his personality caused him some initial problems with the other colonists (he arrived in Jamestown in chains after alienating the leaders of the expedition) he eventually made contact with the local Native American chieftain Powhatan, who provided the colonists with much of their food in that first year.

Capt. Smith was eventually even appointed leader of the colony. One of Powhatan’s children, a daughter called Pocahontas, visited the colonists in the early years and even brought food and other provisions to them. Several years later in an attempt to obtain bargaining advantage over Powhatan the colonists kidnapped Pocahontas and she stayed with them in Jamestown. A colonist, John Rolfe (who incidentally was the first of the colonists to cultivate commercial quality tobacco and start the Colony on its way towards profitability) eventually married her and took her to England.

She died as they were preparing to return to Virginia. In 1619 a group of 20 African slaves arrived in Jamestown on a Dutch ship. Grouped with the Southern Colonies, Virginia started out as a Corporate colony (granted by Royal charter to a Company of investors who have governing rights) but in 1624 became a Royal colony (subject to the governing authority of the granting Royalty).

In 1676 the village of Jamestown was nearly destroyed during “Bacon’s Rebellion. ” In 1788 Virginia was the tenth state to ratify the Constitution and recommended the Bill of Rights be added. 620) Massachusetts [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database , The Mayflower Compact , The Plymouth Colony Archive Project , The 1629 Charter Of Massachusetts Bay , Commonwealth of Massachusetts – History , Mayflower Homepage , Boston History , America’s Homepage!! Plymouth,MA , Plimoth-on-Web. (Library) , Salem @ nationalgeographic. com The Pilgrims were the first to come to the Massachusetts area. They came on the Mayflower in 1620, under a patent granted to the Plymouth Company, and settled in Plymouth Colony.

The Pilgrims were guided by the “Mayflower Compact” which was signed on board the Mayflower prior to disembarking. Not long after (1628) came the Puritans to settle Naumkeag (later called Salem). John Winthrop, carrying the Massachusetts Bay Charter, arrived in 1630 and founded Boston. Maine was annexed to Massachusetts in 1652 and later the Plymouth Colony was too.

One of the New England Colonies, Massachusetts started out as a Corporate colony but eventually became a Royal colony In 1788 Massachusetts was the sixth state to ratify the Constitution. 626) New York (originally New Amsterdam) [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database , Charter of the Dutch West India Company : 1621 , New York History Net , New Netherland Project , Drums Along The Mohawk: The American Revolution on the New York Frontier) Although the Dutch West India Co. explored and began to settle the New York area as early as 1614, this is the story we all remember from our early history lessons. Peter Minuit settled on Manhattan Island with other Dutch settlers and bought the island from the local Indians for 60 gilders ($24. worth of goods. He named the island New Amsterdam. The Dutch holdings in the area were collectively called New Netherlands.

New Amsterdam was granted self government by the Dutch in 1652. In 1664 Peter Stuyvesant surrendered to English forces and New Amsterdam was renamed New York. One of the Middle Colonies, New York originally started out as a Proprietary colony (granted by Royalty to one or more proprietors who had full governing rights) but eventually became a Royal colony In 1788 New York became the eleventh state to ratify the Constitution. 1633) Maryland [Homepage, Constitution] Roots-L Database, Maryland State Archives , Maryland Chronology, Maryland Historical Chronology) In 1632 Charles I granted a Maryland Charter to Lord Baltimore (George Calvert, Baron of Baltimore).

Lord Baltimore wanted very much to see the Colony become a reality and his son Cecil saw to it that the new Colony was settled. In 1633 the first group of settlers set sail for Maryland to establish a colony of freemen led by Leonard Calvert, Cecil Calvert’s younger brother. One of the Southern Colonies, Maryland was a Proprietary colony Maryland was the seventh state to ratify the Constitution in 1788. 636) Rhode Island [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database, Rhode Island History – Early History), Rhode Island History Roger Williams was driven from Boston for espousing religious and political freedom.

After spending the winter with the Indians he finally bought land from them in what is now called Providence. The new colony became a haven for those seeking religious freedom. One of the New England Colonies, Rhode Island was a Corporate colony Rhode Island was the last of the 13 colonies to ratify the Federal Constitution and became a State in 1790. 1636) Connecticut [Homepage, Constitution] Roots-L Database , The Fundamental Orders of 1639 , Connecticut Colony Charter (1662) , About Connecticut) Clergyman Thomas Hooker and his followers arrived in Hartford and declared freedom from all save Divine Authority.

In 1639 the “Fundamental Orders” were enacted to govern the colony. In 1662 Connecticut finally obtained a Royal Charter under John Winthrop Jr. One of the New England Colonies, Connecticut was a Corporate colony In 1788 Connecticut was the fifth state to ratify the Constitution. 1638) Delaware (originally New Sweden) [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database, Delaware – A Brief History)

In 1631, the first settlement was attempted in Delaware by Dutch traders led by Captain David Pietersen de Vries. By 1632 the party had been killed by the local natives. In 1638, Peter Minuet, now in the service of the Swedish, led a group of Swedish settlers to the Delaware River area under a grant from the New Sweden Company. The Dutch gained control of the land in 1655 from the Swedish. In 1664 the English obtained Delaware after defeating the Dutch.

In 1682 Delaware was awarded to William Penn but his control didn’t last and Delaware became independent in 1701. One of the Middle Colonies, Delaware was a Proprietary colony Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution and become a State in 1787. (1638) New Hampshire [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database, A New Hampshire Almanac) John Wheelwright, banished from Boston, founded the colony of New Hampshire. In 1639 the settlers signed the “Exeter Compact” patterned after the “Mayflower Compact”.

One of the New England Colonies, New Hampshire started out as a Proprietary colony but eventually became a Royal colony In 1788 New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify the Constitution after which it was officially adopted. 1653) North Carolina [Homepage, Constitution] ( Roots-L Database, North Carolina History, North Carolina Encyclopedia, North Carolina History, North Carolina Archaeology, North Carolina’s Historic Sites ) Virginia colonists began to settle the North Carolina region in 1653 to provide a buffer for the southern frontier.

In 1691 Albermarle, the northern Carolina region, was officially recognized by the English crown. This is the first time the “North Carolina” designation was used. One of the Southern Colonies, North Carolina started out as a Proprietary colony but eventually became a Royal colony After agreeing to the first 12 amendments, in 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the new Constitution. (1663) South Carolina [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database, A Brief History of South Carolina) South Carolina was the site of the first European settlement in North America.

In 1526 San Miguel de Guadalupe was established by settlers from Hispanolia. The party returned to Hispanolia after suffering many deaths due to fever the first year. In 1663 King Charles II created the colony of Carolina by granting the territory to supporters. This colonial charter was challenged by many. Charleston was founded in 1670. One of the Southern Colonies, South Carolina started out as a Proprietary colony but eventually became a Royal colony In 1788 South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the Constitution. 1664)

New Jersey [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database, NJ Travel – Special Sections-History, New Jersey in the Revolution) The Duke of York made a proprietary grant, to Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley, of the land between the Hudson and the Delaware River. These men intended to profit from real estate sales. The new grant was named New Jersey for Carteret, who was governor of the Isle of Jersey. One of the Middle Colonies, New Jersey started out as a Proprietary colony but eventually became a Royal colony New Jersey, in 1787, was the third state to ratify the Constitution. 1682)

Pennsylvania [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database, Pennsylvania History, THE QUAKER PROVINCE: 1681-1776, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Mother Bedford, William Penn’s Charter, Spotlight on Pennsyvania History) In 1681 what is now, roughly, the state of Pennsylvania was granted to William Penn, a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers), to offset a debt owed to Penn’s father. In 1682 the city plan for Philadelphia was laid out. In 1682 the “Frame of Government” for Pennsylvania was put into effect.

In 1683 the first German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania and formed Germantown near Philadelphia. One of the Middle Colonies, Pennsylvania was a Proprietary colony In 1763, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, two young British astronomers commissioned to establish a borderline between Maryland and Pennsylvania, worked for more than four years to settle a century-old boundary dispute between the Calverts of Maryland and the Penns of Pennsylvania by establishing the Mason-Dixon Line.

In 1787 Pennsylvania was the second state to ratify the Constitution. (1732) Georgia [Homepage, Constitution] (Roots-L Database, Georgia Before Oglethorpe, JEO Tercentenary Home Page, Georgia History, North Georgia History, Georgia in the American Revolution, Rare Map Collection – Revolutionary Georgia) There were a few Spanish settlements along the coast, north of Florida, in the 16th and early 17th century but what is now Georgia was originally just the southern portion of the Carolina grant.

Hoping to provide a second chance for adventurous members of the English under class, King George II, in 1732, granted Georgia to James Edward Oglethorpe, an English general. In addition to its lofty social goals the new Colony was also intended to provide additional protection for its northern colonial partners. Prior to Oglethorpe and his party settling the area in 1733, Fort King George was the only English occupation in the area. The Fort, which was established in 1721, was the Southern-most post in the Colonies and was situated to provide a buffer against Spanish and French intrusion from the South.

In 1738, General Oglethorpe brought a large military contingent to Georgia and the following year his troops provided a strong showing against the Spanish in King George’s War ( the War of Austrian Succession in Europe). General Oglethorpe led his men into St. Augustine and although they were not able to obtain a victory there, when the Spanish sailed into Georgia seeking retaliation two years later, he and his soldiers were able to drive the Spanish back to Florida for, what turned out to be, the last time.

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