Chapter 2 (12th)

The Planting of English America

  1. England’s Imperial Stirrings
    1. By the year 1607, Central and South America was largely controlled by Spain or Portugal, but North America was mostly unclaimed.
      1. In North America, there were few Europeans.
        1. Spain had established Santa Fe.
        2. France had established Quebec.
        3. Britain had just established Jamestown, and it was struggling.
    2. In the 1500s, Britain had made only feeble efforts to colonize America. There was a rash of problems hinging on a mix of religion and politics…
      1. King Henry VIII had broken with the Roman Catholic Church in the 1530s, brining the Protestant Reformation to England and thus creating religious division.
      2. When Elizabeth I became queen, England moved decidedly in the Protestant direction. This also meant Catholic Spain was an immediate rival.
      3. And there was the “Irish problem.” Catholic Ireland sought Spain’s help in ousting Protestant England’s control over the “Emerald” island of Ireland.
      4. The end result of these events was a great deal of hatred between England and the Catholic nations.
  2. Elizabeth Energizes England
    1. Elizabeth I was a fiery red-headed queen with loads of ambition, gall, and the political shrewdness to get what she wanted.
    2. Francis Drake was a “sea dog” who pirated Spanish ships for gold. On one occasion, he stole the gold, circumnavigated the earth, and then was rewarded by Elizabeth I knighting him on his ship. This brazen reward by the English queen infuriated the Spanish.
    3. First attempts by the British to colonize the American coast failed miserably.
      1. Sir Humphrey Gilbert died at sea.
      2. Sir Walter Raleigh established the Roanoke Island Colony, later to become known as The Lost Colony. Raleigh returned to England and the colony vanished mysteriously.
    4. Spain plotted revenge on England and in 1588 their Spanish Armada attacked England only to get themselves defeated. The turning point in history was a large one…
      1. This stunning victory opened the door for Britain to cross the Atlantic and finally establish colonies.
      2. England’s victory also emboldened Britain and launched her golden age including…
        1. For the next 300 years, the British navy would dominate the seas. (Around 1900, the U.S. would surpass British naval power.)
        2. England enjoyed a strong government and a popular monarch
        3. There was a greater deal of unity, both religiously and through a sense of national pride and purpose.
        4. The golden age of literature ushered in thanks to William Shakespeare.
      3. Britain and Spain signed a peace treaty in 1604.
  3. England on the Eve of the Empire
    1. By the mid 1500s, Britain’s population was mushrooming.
    2. Europe was going through the process know as enclosure (fencing in the land) for farming.
      1. Enclosure meant there was less land or no land for the poor.
      2. No land or no hopes for land, in turn, meant the poor wanted to leave and go to America.
    3. The woolen districts of southern England fell upon hard times economically. This meant the workers lost jobs, and in turn, wanted to leave and go to America.
    4. A tradition of “primogeniture” existed where the firstborn son inherits ALL of the father’s land. Therefore, younger sons who were landless, in turn, wanted to leave and go to America
    5. By the 1600s, the joint-stock company was perfected. In this type of company, people invest money with hopes and expectations the company will do well. Thus the investor will make money as a share-owner.
      1. The benefit of the joint-stock company is that they can generate large amounts of start-up money to get a company going.
      2. The joint-stock company is the forerunner of today’s corporation.
  4. England Plants the Jamestown Seedling This content copyright © 2010 by
    1. In 1606, King James I gave the Virginia Company a charter to establish a colony in America.
      1. It was a joint-stock company, intended to make a quick profit during a short life span.
      2. Joint-stock companies were built for the short term. The goal was to turn a quick profit to investors who’d sell out after a year or two.
      3. The charter also guaranteed colonists the same rights as Englishmen. Ironically, it would later be this guarantee that would help fuel America’s independence movement.
    2. In May of 1607, about 100 English men established Jamestown, Virginia.
      1. Troubles for the colony came early and often…
        1. Forty would-be settlers died on the boat ride over.
        2. Problems then emerged including (a) the swampy site of Jamestown meant poor drinking water and mosquitoes causing malaria and yellow fever, (b) “gentlemen” wasted time looking for gold rather than doing useful tasks (digging wells, building shelter, planting crops), and (c) there were zero women on the initial ship.
      2. A supply ship bound for Jamestown in 1609 wrecked in the Bahamas.
    3. Their fortune began to change in 1608 when Captain John Smith took control and instituted a strong measure of much-needed discipline.
      1. According to legend, Smith was once kidnapped by local Chief Powhatan and then his life spared at the last moment thanks to his daughter Pocahontas.
      2. This act may well have been staged, but was intended by Powhatan to show good intentions between Indian and the whites.
      3. John Smith’s main contribution was that he gave order and discipline, highlighted by his “no work, no food” policy.
      4. Still, the Jamestown settlers died in droves, and resorted to eating “dogges, Catts, rats, and Myce.” One fellow wrote of eating “powdered wife.”
      5. Understandably, this was known as the “starving time” in Virginia.
      6. The colonists’ next stroke of good fortune came when Lord De La Warr intercepted a ship of settlers who were abandoning the colony. He forced them to return, brought more discipline, and brought much-needed supplies.
    4. By 1625, only 1,200 out of nearly 8,000 settlers had survived.
  5. Cultural Clash in the Chesapeake
    1. The whites and Powhatan held a Jekyll and Hyde relationship—they waffled between good relations and bad relations. They raided one another, traded with one another, and fought one another.
    2. The First Anglo-Powhatan War ended in 1614. It was sealed by the marriage of Pocahontas to colonist John Rolfe.
      1. Together, Pocahontas and Rolfe would develop a sweet tobacco. This would become the cash crop that would save Jamestown.
      2. In 1622, the Indians struck again, killing 347 whites, included Rolfe ironically.
    3. The Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1644-1646) saw the Indians defeated soundly. The results were…
      1. The Indians were effectively banished from the Chesapeake.
      2. The notion was born that Indians and whites cannot live together peaceably—the beginnings of the reservations system were brewing.
    4. The Indians fell due to the “three D’s”: disease (smallpox was the worst), disorganization (since they were not united, the whites could fight one tribe at a time), and disposability (since the whites had no use for Indians, they were simply pushed out).
  6. Virginia: Child of Tobacco
    1. Jamestown’s salvation was found in the form of tobacco.
      1. John Rolfe’s sweet tobacco was sought as a cash crop by Europe. Jamestown had finally found its gold.
      2. Tobacco also had negative effects…
        1. Its success caused settlers to scramble for more land to cultivate. It also encouraged “land butchery”—farmers would cultivate the land ‘til it gave out, then just move on.
        2. It boosted the plantation economy and created a demand for cheap labor. At first this labor was filled mostly by white indentured servants, and then as the 1600s turned into the 1700s, by black slaves.
        3. It built Virginia’s economy on a single item, tobacco. Their economy was thus susceptible to the whims of having “all their eggs in one basket.”
    2. Three major things happened in 1619…
      1. Representative self-government came to America when Virginians created the House of Burgesses, a basic legislature to work out local issues. This set America on a pathway self-rule.
      2. The first blacks were brought to America. It’s unclear if they were slaves or indentured servants at this time.
      3. A shipload of women arrived. They were young and came with the sole purpose of marrying. This brought Virginia stability and a sense of permanence.
  7. Maryland: Catholic Haven
    1. Religious freedom was the initial motivation for Maryland.
      1. Lord Baltimore founded Maryland in 1634.
      2. Maryland was founded as a haven (safe place) for Catholics to avoid persecution from Protestants in Europe or in America.
      3. Growth…
        1. Lord Baltimore awarded huge estates to his wealthy, Catholic personal friends.
        2. Others that settled were poor and usually Protestant. Tension ensued.
    2. However, the sale of tobacco still caused Maryland to flourish.
    3. Indentured servants bore most of the work load.
      1. Black slaves began to replace white indentures as the 1600s turned into the 1700s. Notably, this trend was common in the South and especially in the Chesapeake.
      2. The reasons for the switch from white-to-black…
        1. The main reason boils down to the desire for a stable work force by plantation whites.
        2. White indentures lusted for, and eventually got, land of their own to the west.
        3. Black slaves were permanent workers, not seven year workers.
        4. Due to Protestant—Catholic friction, Maryland passed the Act of Toleration, guaranteed religious toleration to all Christians, Protestant or Catholic.
      3. Still, the death penalty was deemed for anyone denying the divinity of Jesus, namely Jews and atheists.
      4. In sum, despite the fact above and Protestant—Catholic issues, Maryland was more religiously tolerant than intolerant.
  8. The West Indies: Way Station to Mainland America
    1. The West Indies (Caribbean Islands) had early-on been colonized by Spain, Portugal. France and England followed
      1. Now with the decline of Spain and Portugal, the British sought to beef up their foothold in the islands.
      2. England had several islands their, especially Jamaica by 1655.
    2. Sugar was grown on the Caribbean plantations.
      1. This was exactly what the Spanish and Portuguese had done.
      2. These sugar plantations were brutal…
        1. Sugar is a labor-intensive crop.
        2. It was very hot and humid and unhealthy work.
        3. The usual thing was to work a slave until death, then get another one.
    3. The initial plan was to use Indian labor. That plan failed when disease killed an estimated 90% of Indians. Slavery then turned to Africans.
    4. Since so many slaves were needed and brought in, the white—black ratio tilted more toward blacks than anywhere in the New World. This frightened the whites!
      1. Due to fear, whites instituted strict “slave codes” or rules designed to keep slaves in control. Notable was the Barbados slave code of 1661 which saw its ideas channel up to South Carolina.
      2. Also, punishment could be as cruel as anywhere on these plantations to keep order.
        1. Typically, Africans were first brought to the West Indies to “be seasoned.” This meant that any ideas of revolt from possible “trouble-makers” were beaten out of them.
        2. From there, slaves either stayed in the West Indies or were distributed to South or North America.
  9. Colonizing the Carolinas
    1. England in the 1600s was a political rollercoaster ride.
      1. King Charles I was beheaded. Oliver Cromwell ruled as a religious dictator for 10 years, then Charles II was placed on the throne in “The Restoration”—the kingdom was restored to England.
      2. Simply put, after all the turmoil of a Civil War to oust a king, the Brits ironically just went back to a king.
        1. Much of the chaos interrupted colonization, but with the restoration and stability again, Charles II was determined to return to the colonies with vigor.
        2. Carolina was formally begun in 1670 and named after Charles II.
    2. Carolina began to prosper due to ties to the West Indies, mainly due to the great natural harbor at Charleston.
      1. The Barbados slave codes (strict rules to regulate slaves) were imported to Carolina.
      2. The slave trade prospered as well.
        1. Africans were shipped in from the West Indies.
        2. Despite protests, Indians were shipped out to the West Indies and also to Rhode Island. For example, a Rhode Island town had 200 Indian slaves in 1730.
    3. Tobacco could not be grown in Carolina, but rice could. Rice became the main crop there.
      1. African slaves were sought to work the rice plantations, due to (a) their resistance to malaria and just as importantly, (b) their knowledge of and experience with rice.
    4. Charleston flourished and quickly took on an aristocratic air. Prosperity brought something of a pompous flavor. This is one reason that the northern section of Carolina eventually split—they were much more down-to-the-earth folks.
    5. Carolina had occasional trouble with nearby Florida. Florida was foreign land and held Indians and Spaniards—both enemies to the English. Still, Carolina held on.
  10. The Emergence of North Carolina
    1. As tobacco land in the Chesapeake (Virginia) began to run out, people just walked down into Carolina.
      1. These farmers were “squatters”—they just took up the land and started farming it.
    2. These North Carolinians began to develop their own sense of who they were…
      1. They were independent-minded. This was typical of a small farmer who scratched his own living out of the soil. This was due to…
        1. They were geographically isolated and on their own.
        2. It’s as though they asked, “Why would I want someone telling me how to run my life, I’m making my own life right out of the ground?!”
        3. They resented the more established political figures along the East coast making rules and regulations for them. This is an important trend in the vein of Bacon’s Rebellion and Shays’ Rebellion.
    3. Thus, two “flavors” of Carolinians developed: (a) the aristocratic and wealthier down south around Charleston and rice & indigo plantations, and (b) the strong-willed and independent-minded up north on small tobacco farms.
    4. So in 1712, North and South Carolina were separated officially.
    5. Indian—white troubles…
      1. The Tuscarora Indians attacked in 1711.
        1. The Carolinians successfully defended themselves.
        2. The Indians were sold into slavery.
        3. Others traveled north and eventually became the 6th nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
      2. By 1720, the Indians had been “cleared out” along the Atlantic seaboard.
        1. A sad trend was clear by this time—as the frontier moved westward, the American Indians would continually be defeated, killed by disease, and/or dislodged from their homes.
        2. The foothills and Appalachian Mountains would be the next Indian vs. white battlefield.
  11. Late-Coming Georgia: The Buffer Colony
    1. Georgia was established with the purpose that it would be a buffer zone or cushion between Spanish Florida and the British colonies along the Atlantic coast.
      1. Florida was considered a wild, unpredictable, and dangerous land with Spaniards, runaway slaves, and Indians, all hostile to the American colonies.
    2. James Oglethorpe founded Georgia in 1733 and named after King George II.
      1. As well as being a buffer zone, Georgia held the goal of being a place where debtors could get a second chance.
      2. It was also a dumping ground for English criminals.
      3. Oglethorpe fended off Spanish attacks and saved the “Charity Colony.”
    3. Any Christian, except for Catholics, were permitted in Georgia.
      1. Missionaries tried to convert the Indians to Christianity.
      2. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was the best known of these missionaries.
    4. Georgia began humbly, and grew slowly, but it did survive.
  12. The Plantation Colonies
    1. Slavery took place in all of the plantation colonies down South.
    2. Forests frequently stunted the growth of cities.
    3. Schools and churches, and even towns, were often stunted since Southerners were so spread out.
    4. Crops were grown as such:
      1. Tobacco – in the Chesapeake region (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina)
      2. Rice and indigo – in the tidewater region of South Carolina and Georgia
    5. As a general rule, the plantation South permitted a good deal of religious freedom. Southerners were more interested in making money and growing crops than worrying over church doctrine.
    6. White vs. Indian conflicts were frequent.
  13. Makers of America: The Iroquois
    1. The Iroquois consisted of five tribes: the Mohawk, Oneida, Onandaga, Cayuga, and the Seneca. The tribes united into the "Iroquois Confederation" under the legendary leader Hiawatha.
      1. The confederation was very strong and was a force when threatened by the whites.
      2. Eventually, the whites' disease, whiskey, and weapons threatened the Iroquois' survival.
    2. The Iroquois lived in "longhouses." The women held an unusually high rank—a man's prominence was linked to his mother's family.
    3. The war's of colonial America ripped the Iroquois lifestyle apart. Many fled to Canada and others went to lives on reservations.
      1. Like many Indians, reservation life was a pitiful mix of depression, alcoholism, poverty, and feuding.
      2. A prophet named Handsome Lake had a vision. He then convinced his people to change their ways. His influence still lives in the "Longhouse" religion.

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Except for the 11th edition American History pages, the content of this site is copyright © 2010 by and may not be copied or redistributed. It is protected at