The British Colonies in North America
(1500 - 1783)
1.1 Conditions to settlement
II. English settlement
2.1 First attempts of settling
* Tobacco cultivation
2.4 Massachusetts Bay Company
III. Development of the colonies
3.1 Life in the colonies
3.2 Role of religion
3.3 Further development of the colonies
3.4 Native Americans
4.1 Conflict with the British parliament
4.2 War of Independence
* Declaration of Independence
1. Conditions to settlement The first English voyages of discovery were already made in the second half of the 15th century. One important man you have to know is John Cabot. His real name was Giovanni Caboto, he was born in Italy, but when he came to England he was named John Cabot. He discovered Newfoundland in 1497 and so he named it: New-found-land. He sailed along the coast and after he had come back to England Henry VIII. layed claim to the land from Labrador to Cape Hatteras. There were three main factors for the people to emigrate: the trading initiative of commercial companies, the religious intolerance in England and the poverty of the people(most of them had no own property and were nearly uneducated in those days).
II. English settlement
1. First attempts to settle The Europeans got to know the cultivated plants of North America (e.g. pumpkin, potato, pepper) and they liked them. Those could be found in European meals already in the 16th century. The early English settlements in North America failed. The settlements were situated in the furthest coastal areas at first. The pioneers of the English colonisation were Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh who were brothers. They were confidants of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1578 Gilbert got a licence for six years to take possesion of all teritories that are not reigned by a Christian monarch. Because of climate difficulties he reached Newfoundland only in 1583 and declared it to be English property. After Gilbert had got missing Raleigh received a second licence. He founded Virginia(named after the virgin Queen) on Roanoke Island. A settlement which made a good start but also failed was founded in 1587 on Roanoke Island. 91 men, 17 women and 9 children lived there at the beginning. Even the first child who was born in America from English parents was born there. It was a girl who were named Virginia Dare. Three years later the parent ship from England came to America. The settlers were all missed without any trace. People only found a tree into which was carved Croatan, the name of a nearby Indian tribe. Until today it`s not clear what had happened to the settlers.
2. Jamestown In 1606 the London Company was founded. Later it was named into Virginia Company.. It sprung from the idea of some businessmen who wanted toearn money with the settling of North America. Because of their hard life many volunteers could be found who hired for a 7-year-employment in the colony. And so three ships with 150 men left London harbour in Dec. 1606. After three months they reached Chesapeake Bay. They gave the river there the name James River to honour their King James I. At the mouth of the river they settled down and on May 5th in 1607 Jamestown, the first permanent settlement, was founded. The land was swampy and the settlers had to fight against many problems: there existed a shortage of food and drinking. water, the hostility of the nearby Indians increased, many settlers suffered from malaria and there were also disagreements between them. That made many the settlers think more and more about giving up. But John Smith saved the colony of dying out. He established discipline and protection against the Indians and made a strictly plan for work. After 1612 the colony gradually flourished and had an economicly stable basis through tobacco cultivation. *Tobacco cultivation John Rolfe introduced tobacco as profitable, agricultural product for Virginia. When tobacco cultivation was forbidden in1620 Virginia monopolized in production and export. The profit increased so extremely that food production in Virginia was in damger of being driven out. So the cultivation was limited in 1621. Something interesting is that money was rare in the colonies in the 17th century and so tobacco was used for changing goods, partly even for paying of officials, soldiers and priests. Next to potatos and tomatos tobacco became the most succesful import product from the New World in England. And still today the most important growing area in the USA is the SouthEast.
3. Plymouth Another reason for people to emigrate was their religion. English reformists(mostly Calvinistic puritans) were not allowed to found own communities and churches. Because of that many emigrated. The most important group, the so-called Pilgrim fathers left Plymouth harbour in Sep. 1620 with 101 people on board. Before that they had gone to the Netherlands where they had collected money and had chartered two ships. Because of technical defects only the Mayflower could start the journey to America. On the trip they drew up the Mayflower Compact which contained requirements about the gouvernment in the new settlement. This is often called the first constitution of America. It was the first time that a group of settlers went off on their own and organized themselves without any European intervention. After 64 days the Pilgrims reached not Virginia but Massachusetts. They found an abounded Indian village and founded Plymouth Plantation. In the first winter half of the settlers died because of starving and diseases. Only with the help of hearby Indians they could sustain life. But shortly after it turned out that the Pilgrims were as intolerant as their former oppressors. They saw the Indians as savages without any human rights.. So the tension between the colonists and their neighbours increased but that coulnd`t disturb the colony`s growing.
4. Massachusetts Bay Company That trade company was founded in 1629. The aim was to build up a trading colony. From the King it got the right of self-administration. And so in 1630 1000 men reached Salem and founded Boston as capital of Massachusetts in autumn. Soon other towns in the surrounding developed e.g. Charleston and Concord. In 1684 the licence for self-administration was taken away by the kingdom because of opposition against royal laws.
III. Development of the colonies
1. Life in the colonies