American History: The English Colonies


Figure 1.--

The first permanent English colony was Jamestown in Viginia (1609). The second was Plymouth in Masschusetts (1620). The two were very different. Jamestown was set up to exploit the natural resources much as the Spanish had done in South America. Only after gold was not found did the colony shift to agriculture, especially tobacco. The colony developed on a rather aristocratic basis and the established Anglican church of England prevailed. The agricultural system shifted in the 17th century from endentured English workers to African slaves working large plantations. The Plymouth Colony was established by the Pigrims, puritanical religious desenters entent on separation from the established Church of England and the agriculural developed on the basis of small family plots. Other colonies followed and the colonies became more diverse. The two original colonies were the two basic poles around which the northern and southern colonies developed. Several colonies broke off from Plymouth Colony which becae known as Mssacusetts. The Dutch and Swedish colonies were captued and reinstituted as English colonies. New Amsterdam became New York. Charles II gave it as a fiedom to his brother the Duke of York--the future James II. In true Stuart fashion, he tried to admnister it without a representative assembly. James awarded the land that became New Jersey to two staunch Stuart supporters. A Quaker ho had intersts in New Jersey, Willim Penn, received a charter for Pennsylvania because Charles II owed his father a debt. Charles also gave the land that became the Carolinas to courtiers who supported him during his exile. North and South Carolin developed along very different lines. Georgia whch became a buffer against Spain's colony in Florida was settled by trustees headed by humanitarian James Oglethorpe. The charter was granted by George II, the only royal charter not granted by a Stuart monarch.

Virginia (1607)

The first English attempted at colonization in the New World began at Roanoke Island (1587). The colony collapsed under nysterioys circunstances. All is known is that the cilonists were gone with ships returned from England. The first permanent English colony was Jamestown in Viginia (1607). It can be said that the Bitish Empire began here. It was finaced by the Virginia Company of London, named in honor of Queen Elizabeth. The Virginia Compny was a joint stock company. John Smith played a key role in the colony's survival. Jamestown like Ronaoke Island nearly collapsed as well. The second was Plymouth in Masschusetts (1620). The two were very different. Jamestown was set up to exploit the natural resources much as the Spanish had done in South America. Only after gold was not found did the colony shift to agriculture, especially tobacco. As part of this process, the Virginia Company failed. The Crown revoked the Charter (1624) and Virginia becane a royal or crown colony. The colony developed on a rather aristocratic basis and the established Anglican church of England prevailed. The agricultural system shifted in the 17th century from endentured English workers to African slaves working large plantations.

Plymouth Bay Colony/Massachusetts (1620)

The Plymouth Colony situated in the Cape Cod region was established by the Pigrims (Puritans), puritanical religious desenters intent on separation from the established Church of England. King James may have prevented them from estblishing a colony, but the sailed before he acted. The Mayflower Compact was their founding charter--one of the key documents in American history. Agriculural developed in Cape Cod area on the basis of small family plots. Other colonies followed and the colonies became more diverse. The two original colonies were the two basic poles around which the northern and southern colonies developed. Several colonies broke off from Plymouth Colony which became known as Mssacusetts. Here the Puritans attempt to become an established church wa a major factor. The Puritans were decenters, butv they did not beliece in descent and religious freedom. They wanted to be the established CHyrch. They banished Roger Williams, but insteas of returning to Englnd, founded Providence Planttion (Rhode Ixland) which becme a have for relugious discenters. Plymouth Colony was not the first colony or the site of the most productive agricultural region, but it was here that the first important population growth in Englosh North America occurred. New settlements sprung out from Plymouth, not all of them sucessful. Thomas Morton shocked the Pilgrims with Merry Mount where the settlers drank a good deal and danced around a large maypole in the center of the settlement. Native Americans preferred to trade at Merry Mount which further antagnized thePlgrims in Plymouth. A fishing settlenment at Cape Ann failed (1623). A settlent at Salem was more successful. Reverend John White helped form the New England Company (1628). He was a Puritan. They were less doctrinare than the Pilgrims because they wanted to purify the Church of England and not put an end to it. The sent John Endecott as director to Salem. Endecott quickly ordered Miles Standish to cut down the maypoll at Merry Mount. The New England Company was rechartered as the Massachusetts Bay Company (1629). Puritan squire John Winthrop played a key role in the development of the colony and in fact English North America. He promoted emigration and he firmly believed that the colony should not be governed by a council in England. When he crossed the Atlantic himself, he was elected governor and governing bodies developed in the colony. Only small numbers of settlers arrived from England. The year 1630 was especially important. It was called the year of the great migration. Charles I was becoming increasingly arbitrary and attempted to rule without Parliament. The result was expanded migration. Soon Plymouth was not only the largest colony, but bosted over half of the English population in North America (1640s). Sunsequently the colonies were left alone to develop their governing institutiins and laws. Tus is not because the Crown was pleased with what was occuring, especially in the Bay Colony. But because the Crown was preoccupied with growing descent at home, little attention was given to the colonies. Discent eventually led to the English Civil War (1642-51) followed by the Commonwealth, Restoration, and Glorious Revolution. This mean that for most of the 17th century, the colonies were allowed to develop on their own. By the time tht England returned to normal, the institutions and self government of the colonies were too etablished for the Crown to easily change.

New Amsterdam/New York (1626)

Henry Hudson explored the coast of North America, sailing up the Hudson River. The settlement of New Amsterdam followed the explorations of and the subsequent purchase by Peter Minuit of Manhattan Island (1626).New Amsterdam was owned and operated by the West India Company. The company hired soldiers to protect the colony. The company also hired farmers and tradesmen. The Dutch were primarily interested in a commercially rewarding eterprise. As a result, the relative religious toleration of Amsterdam was recreated in New Ammsterdam. Religious toleration and open trade (essentially proto-capitalism) were established. And the colony was not reserved to the Dutch. Settlers included French speaking Walloons and French Huguenots as well as English. The English had a curious relsationship with the Dutch. They supported the Dutch in the wars of independence with the Spanish and French while at the same time waging naval wars for maritime dominance. The English as pat of that marritime competition, seized New Amsterdam (1664). New Amsterdam became New York. Charles II gave it as a fiedom to his brother the Duke of York--the future James II. In true Stuart fashion, he tried to admnister it without a representative assembly. The grnt was not jut the Dutch colony, but encompaed what i now Ney York, New Jersey, and Vermont. When James rose to the throne, New York was converted to a crown colony. The colony became the Province of Neew York. There was a provincial governor and legislature rlected by free land holding residents.

Connecticut (1630s)

Connecticut was located between the English Massachusetts Bay colony to yjr north and Dutch New Amsterdam to the West. The Dutch began setting up trading posts (1620s). Settlers from the Bay area began to move west into the fertile Connecticut Valley (1630s). This was the beginning of the American westward movement. Land claims led to violences with the Pequots. The struggle with the Pequots which followed set the pattern for the English settlers relations with Native Americans (1634-38). The settlers insisted that actual cultivation establish ownership and claim that did not impress the Pequots. The settlers responded to raids with an attack on the Pequot village. More than 500 Pequots wre killed, either burned alice in their village or shot when they attempted to flee. The survivors were enslaved, many shipped to the West Indies. Thomas Hooker played a key role in the settlent of Connecticut, leading some 100 settlers from the Bay Colony to what is now Harford (1638). The Connecticut settlements centered on Hartford united to produce the founding charter--the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639). The document was notable for the political safeguards and the principle of local control. King Charles II granted a royal charter soon after the Resoration (1662).

Maryland (1632)

Capt. John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay (1608). He would chose Jamestown as the first colony which developed as Virginia. King Charles I granted a royal charter for Maryland, basically the land around the Cheaapeale Bay to Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore (1632). The Royal Charter specified a name for the new colony. It was to be called Maryland in honor of Charles’ wife Queen Henrietta Maria (Queen Mary). Lord Baltimore was a Catholic convert. Charles was the head of the Anglicam Church of England which adopted many Protestant reforms, but sympsthetic to Catholics who faced many legal resrictions in England. Thus the Crown did not oppose Lord Baltimore's effort to establish Mary lanbd as afor oppressed English Catholics. Lord Baltimpre had another goal, his new colony became a for provir venture. An he set up Maryland as aesr=tate. Settlers swore aligenance to him personally and not the King. The first settlers, including many Roman Catholics, landed on St. Clement's (now Blakistone) Island (1634). An Assembly was set up to govern the colony. The Assembly passed the Toleration Act which granted all Christians religious freedom (1649). This was in sharp contrast to English law which at the time included many limitations and restictions on Catholics. This was nott just aelgious matter, but the core of political ntters. Europe at the time was emersed in dreadful relgious wars. The germ of radical Protestantum was planted in MAssachusetts an only a few years later you had the princiole of toleration for Catholics. These were rights Catholics did not have in England or the other American colonies. The Act was rescinded by a Puritan revolt (1654–58). Puritans and Catholcs in Europe were not unclinded toward toleration. Neither were they in America, but resistance to the Anglican establihment would eventually evolved into religious freedom in America.

Rhode Island/Providence Plantation (1635)

Roger Williams was an English Protestant theologian. He and Ann Hutchinson played a major role in founding Rhode Island. Williams was a gadfly, a social critic more intune with the 18th than the 17th century. Roger Williams is one of the heroes of the long history of freedom. The Puritans (Pilgrams) that descented from the Church of England and founded Plymouth Bay Colony were descenters, but that did not mean that they believed in the right of descent. They believed that they were building the City of God and that their church should be the established church. They denied the right of descent to others. Williams believed that the church in Massachusetts was too tied to the Church of England and he objected to it interfereing in politics. he also objected to taxes going to support the church as well as compulsory church attendance. Officials tiring of his complaints, banished him (1635). He and his followers established a new settlement at Providence south of Plymouth. There he was joined by Hutchinon and other exiles who founded a settlement at Portsmouth. Williams went to London and managed to get a royal charter legitimizing the new colony, much to the displeasure of Bay Colony official. The new colony championed the principle of religious freedom andseparation of church and state--still movel concepts. Providence Plantation proved to be a refuge for religious minorities, both from Plymouth and from England. Williams also founded the Baptist Church in the Ammerican colonies, but did not require the people of Providence Plntation to adhere to his new church. He also admired the Native american people and became a student of their languages. He advocated their fair treatment. Williams was the first advocate of abolition. He made the first attempt ovidence. He was a student of Native American languages and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans. Williams was also arguably the first abolitionist and attempted to prohibit slavery.

New Sweden/Deleware (1631-37)

Deleware began as a joint commercial venture by Dutch, Swedish and Swiss investors. The Dutch landed first (1631) followed by the Dweses (1637). The Dutch gained control when the larger New Amsterdam colony was founded (1655). The Dutch are today seen as a tiny European state. They were in the 17th century an importat European power with a powerful fleet. New Sweden was established in what is now modern Delaware and soutern New Jersey. The Dutch West India Company managed to interest King Gustav II Adolph, of Sweden, in New World colomization. And once the colony was founded the Swedes bought out the Dutch interests. Sweden was also a major power at the time, made up of not only Sweden, but parts of Norway, Finland, the Baltics and Russia. The colony became New Sweden. Many of the settlers were actually Finns. It was these settlers from the heavily forrested regions of northern Europe that introiduced the log cabin to America. New Sweden expanded up the Delaware River, as well as along the modern Deleware Bay from Cape May to Trenton on the New Jersey side. It also grew from Cape Henlopen to beyond the Schuylkill River on the other side. Conflict developed with the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to the north. Governor Stuyvesant ammassed a force which seized New Sweden (1654). The English in turn seized New Amsterdam (1664). The English never granted Deleware a royal charter. Rather it was governed as part of Pennsylvania, although Maryland claimed areas of Delaware. As the Colonies moved toward a break withbBritain, Deleware declared independence and sent delegated to the Continenal Congress, despite having a sibstantial Loyalist population. .

Maine

Maine was not one of the original 13 colonies, but rather aart of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first settlers were from the Bay area. The difficulties encountered and the ties of settlers to the Bay Area meant that the settlements failed as a separate colony. The Bay Colony took control (1658). Maine remained a part of the Bay colony for nearky two centuries. Maine finally became a state, entering the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise (1820).

Vermont

The Abenaki tribe dominated much of what is now Vermont at the time that Europeans arrived. French explorer Samuel de Champlain was the first European to reach Vermont (1609). French trappers and some settlers moved south from Canada. Many Vermont plsce names are French (Montpelier, Calais, and Lake Champlain). The French established some military settlements, but hey did not prove permanent. Trade developed between French and Native American settlements to the north and English settlements to the south. The first important European setlemet was Fort St. Anne, on Isle La Motte, in the middle of Lake Champlain. As the English colonies along the coast developed larger populaions than the French in Canada, the demographic trend was the English pushing north. Gradually the English settlers overweealmed the small number of French settlers. Fort Dummer, near modern Brattleboro, was founded by Massachusetts colonists (1724). This proved to be the first permanent European settlement in Vermont. Gradually settlers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York settled Vermont. This cretedca complicated political situation as the settlers wanted to retain their ties. New Hampshire and New York in particulsr claimed Vermont. Land grants and titles overlapped creating a volitile situation. Rebellions flred up in Vermont before the Revolution, not against the British Crown, but the colony of New York.

New Hampshire (1679)

New Hampshire was also founded by settlers from the Bay area (1623). The colony began as a collection of several Royal land grants, but wutin the jurisdiction of the By Colony. The difficulties encountered and the ties of settlers to the Bay Area meeant that the settlements failed as a separate colony. The Bay Colony took control (1644). New Hampshire settlers finally established their separate status (1679). It became the Pronince of New Hampsire and a royl colony (1691).

New Jersey

New Jersey may have had the most conyuluted history of all the 13 colonies. It began as the southern part of Butch New Amsterdam. The English seized New Amsterdam from the Dutch (1664). King Charles II awarded the land to his brother Prince James, Duke of York. the future James II. James awarded the land that became New Jersey to two staunch Stuart supporters. J Much of what is now New Jersey was granted to Sir George Carteret to settle a debt. Queen Anne granted New Jersey a royal charter (1702). Much of the Revolutionary War would be fought in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania

A Quaker aristicrat who had intersts in New Jersey, Willim Penn, received a charter for Pennsylvania because Charles II owed his father a debt (1681). Thus Peensylvania began proprietary colony and Penn hels gubebtorial authority. Penn personally drafted the colony's Frame of Government. It was a document of huge importance. Penn created a democratic system of government , freedom of religion, an independent judiciary, elected represehtatives, and separiin of powers. It was in many ways the foundation document, more than any other colonial charter, for the future U.S. Constitution.

North Carolina

North Carolina was originally etablished as Carolina. Charles II gave the land that became the Carolinas to courtiers who supported him during his exile. North and South Carolin developed along very different lines. Noerh Carolina orif=ginally ncompassed both South Caolina and Georgia. The Colony developed two power centers, Wilington and Charleston. As friction developed between the two ports the decision was taken to split the colony (1710). North Carolina became a crown colony (1729).

South Carolina

The souther part of the Carolina colony develooed around the port of Charleston and differences with the colonists in the north led to the division of the colony. Charleston became the economic hub of the colony. The Colony was oruginally established as the estates of eight Lords Proprietor. They decided to sell their holdings back to the Crown (1729). King George II decided to convert the colony to a crown colony.

Georgia (1732)

Georgia was the last of the 13 colonies estanlished by England along the Atlantic coast of North America. It became a buffer against Spain's colony in Florida was settled by trustees headed by humanitarian James Oglethorpe. George II granted the charter (1732). It was a corporate charter and would be the only royal charter not granted by a Stuart monarch. It began as a poenal colony for the poor seving tije in devtor's prisons. The Council of Trustees had trouble mnaging the Colonyand filed a deed of reconveyance to the Crown (1755).






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Created: 5:06 AM 11/17/2008
Last updated: 1:09 AM 5/21/2015