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Unit Overview

By the end of the 1500s Spain had already begun to establish settlements throughout the New World. With competition between European nations at its height, countries like France, Holland, England and Sweden looked for their share of land and riches. While France would concentrate on settling along the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers, England and others would begin settling along the eastern coast of North America. It would be the English Queen Elizabeth I who would grant the first charter (or royal permission to begin a colony) to Sir Walter Raleigh.

Oftentimes when we look back at the founding of the American colonies we tend to look to the Pilgrims and their motivations for coming to America. The idea that a people, the Puritans, who were being shunned because of their religious beliefs in England would go through all the trouble associated with a trans-Atlantic voyage just so they could gain freedom of religion is just too good a story to pass up. It should be remembered, however, that the Puritans came to America for their own religious freedom and not to establish it for others; indeed, the Puritans of Massachusetts were eager persecutors of dissidents and members of other denominations. Also, it should be kept in mind that America was founded as a series of companies, all of which were in the business of making money for their investors. Without money flowing back to their investors, the English colonies would be doomed to failure. With little or no gold to be found along the eastern shores of North America, it would be cash crops that would have to sustain the colonies. A Virginia settler named John Rolfe, who would later wed Pocahontas, would discover just the crop to make the Virginia Company profitable: tobacco.

First Settlements

By the time Captain John Smith landed at Jamestown on June 14, 1607, Spain, France, and England had already attempted to place fourteen colonies in North America. Most of these enterprises ended in disaster, with the exception of two Spanish colonies that managed to survive. Thus, Jamestown was the first successful English settlement, but only the third successful European colony in North America.

Colonizing North America was a risky business. Most of the early expeditions consisted of soldiers who fought with the natives and did not know how to farm. Lured by the promise of new land and possible treasure, however, European adventurers never stopped trying.

By the 1530s, Spanish conquistadors had conquered Mexico, Central America, the islands of the Caribbean, and the northwestern coast of South America.  In the 1530s and 1540s, Spain organized these territories into the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru and hundreds of thousands of Spaniards immigrated to the New World.  With these conquests, Spain amassed great wealth.  Lured by the possibility of additional gold and silver, Spanish explorers pushed into North America.   

Little is known of Spain’s first colony in 1526 at St. Miguel de Guadalupe except that it was somewhere on the South Carolina or Georgia coast. Disease and starvation killed four hundred fifty people before the survivors returned to Cuba. These Spaniards probably brought the first African slaves to North America. In 1528, Spanish soldiers landed near Tampa Bay, Florida.  However, only four men out of six hundred of these adventurers lived to return to Mexico.

By the early 1540s, two expensive expeditions led by Ponce de Leon and Hernando de Soto failed to strike gold in Florida. The Spanish monarchy was beginning to lose interest in establishing North American colonies, an endeavor that seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.  In 1564, French settlers built Fort Caroline near Jacksonville.  At the same time, French pirates had been raiding Spanish ships sailing through the Gulf of Mexico. When word reached Spain that the pirates may have been using the French fort as a base, Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles was sent to Florida to expel the French and establish settlements to help protect the northern borders of the Spanish Empire.

Aviles founded St. Augustine on September 8, 1565. The city received its name because it was first spotted on August 28, the Catholic feast day of Augustine Hippo. A little more than a year later Martin de Arguelles was born in St. Augustine. He was the first European known to have been born in North America. Today, St. Augustine is in the state of Florida and is the oldest continuously populated city in the country.

Success at St. Augustine did not help colonies elsewhere. American Indian attacks destroyed Spanish colonies in North Carolina (1567) and Virginia (1570). The Spanish failed again at Pensacola, Florida, when a hurricane destroyed the colony in 1599. In 1598 Spain finally established a second, successful colony, far inland near Espanola, New Mexico.  Then, a Franciscan monk, Junipero Serra, founded San Diego in 1769 for Spain.

Trappers had spent winters in Canada for years before France sent four hundred settlers to Cap-Rouge in 1541. Conflicts with American Indians and disease ended this effort in a year. The French also encountered problems with Indians at Parris Island, South Carolina, in 1562. Nevertheless, they built Fort Caroline near Jacksonville, Florida, in 1564.  However, Spanish soldiers quickly attacked and destroyed Fort Caroline as described above. The French also failed in Nova Scotia (1598), and Quebec (1599).

Saint Croix Island was an early French settlement located in present-day Maine on an island near the mouth of the St. Croix River. The native people called the island, Muttoneguis. Pierre Dugua de Monts (Sieur de Monts) and Samuel de Champlain founded the French colony of Saint Croix on the island in June 1605. By the following spring half the French settlers had died from what is believed to have been scurvy, and the remaining colonists left for a new settlement at Port-Royal.  The colonists who founded Port-Royal would move on to another settlement, which became the city of Quebec.

Despite establishing modestly successful settlements in Canada and along the Mississippi River, the French presence in North America never reached the numbers of their British counterparts. French fur traders set up forts in Canada, but were not interested in acquiring large tracts of tribal land for farming.  Thus, the relationship between French fur traders and American Indians was commercial and, at times, mutually beneficial.  American Indian women often lived among the French, serving as interpreters and guides.  Some fur traders married American Indian women.  French missionaries also traveled and lived among American Indians in the hopes of winning converts.

The most famous of these failed colonies is the “lost colony” of Roanoke.  Queen Elizabeth I granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter to establish a colony in North America. According to the charter, Raleigh had to establish the colony within ten years or he would lose all rights to the land. In 1584 Raleigh sent an advance party along the Atlantic coast near the Chesapeake Bay. Raleigh named the territory Virginia in honor of “the virgin queen,” Elizabeth I. He chose Roanoke, a small island off North Carolina, as the site of the first English settlement.  Between 1585 and 1587, at least three different groups of people tried to establish a colony.  Unfortunately, the colonists quarreled with the Indians; and supplies for the struggling colony were erratic. Because of poor funding, poor preparation, poor leadership, and poor luck, all three settlements on Roanoke failed.

In 1587, the last group of more than one hundred people landed on the island of Roanoke.  Virginia Dare was born on August 18, 1587. She was the first English child born in the New World.  After sending for supplies from England, three relief ships were caught in the attack of the Spanish Armada; and this delayed their return to the colony. When the supply ships finally arrived in 1590, there was no trace of the colonists. Since their houses were dismantled, suggesting that the settles were neither in a hurry nor forced to leave the colony.  One report claims that a post was marked with the word, CROATOAN, the name of the local Indians and a nearby island. No one knows the fate of the Roanoke settlers.  It is believed that surviving colonists, facing starvation, may have joined local tribes.

In 1606, King James I granted the First Charter of Virginia, which created the London and Plymouth Companies, known collectively as the Virginia Company.  The charter also granted the Virginia Company permission to establish settlements along the Atlantic coast. According to the charter, London Company settlements could be established between the 34th and 41st Parallels, while Plymouth Company settlements could be established between the 38th and 45th Parallels.  The combined territory stretched approximately from the northern border of present-day North Carolina to the northern border of present-day Maine. In 1607, the London Company established Jamestown in the Chesapeake Bay area while the Plymouth Company founded the colony of Popham in present-day Maine.

The Popham colony survived barely a year and was abandoned in the fall of 1608. A change in leadership was blamed for Popham’s decline.  The Plymouth Company was defunct after the settlement’s failure. Popham was the birthplace of the first ship the English built in the New World, a pinnace-style ship, Virginia of Sagadahoc. This vessel crossed the Atlantic successfully in 1609 as part of Sir Christopher Newport’s supply mission to Jamestown.  Like Popham, colonists at Jamestown suffered many hardships, some of which they arguably brought on themselves.  However, Jamestown would eventually endure, becoming the first successful English settlement in the New World.

The Virginia Company

On December 20, 1606, three ships carrying a group consisting of just over one hundred men set sail from England. The group had two instructions: one was to settle the land of Virginia, and the other was to find a route to the Orient.  The ships were the Susan Constant, Discovery and the Godspeed. The Susan Constant was the largest of the three with Captain Christopher Newport at her controls.

They reached the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in spring of 1607. Newport and these ships approached the river that they named James in honor of the king. They traveled north until they reached a small peninsula. The Virginia Company advised the settlers to build inland so they would be free of attack from Spanish war ships. They finally ended their journey thirty-five miles up the river. The Virginia colony of Jamestown, also named for the king, was established on May 14, 1607.

It had been determined who the leaders of the settlement would be before the men left England. A box that contained the names of the appointed leaders was opened when the men arrived in the new land.  The Virginia Company of London had appointed John Smith leader of the Jamestown colony. According to the accounts of those on the ship, Smith was a troublemaker on the voyage. The leader of the expedition, Christopher Newport, wanted to execute Smith as soon as they came ashore. When these orders were opened after their arrival, Smith’s position in the colony shifted from a prisoner condemned to be hanged to the leader of the colony.

More than half of the men on the ships were gentlemen, who were not prepared for arduous work.  The colonists lived with their dreams in a constant search of treasures and what they failed to do was prepare themselves for the upcoming winter months with stores of food and supplies. Instead of growing crops and hunting meats, they spent too much time looking to fulfill desires of gold. The settlers hoped the local natives would be able to provide food for them in the coming months, but because of severe droughts and short supplies, the Indians had little to share. And by the end of 1607, more than sixty men had died due to starvation and disease as well as being killed by Indians.

One survivor came to the rescue of the settlement. Captain John Smith took command of Jamestown and applied strict rules for the men to follow. In the past, he noticed some men struggled to gather food and supplies, while others relaxed or went on foolish quests for gold. Smith required each man to put in an equal day’s work. John Smith had a simple rule for all: no work no food. The men were to dig wells and plant crops and build sturdy shelters. While they did this, Smith visited the local Indian villages and traded beans and iron knives for supplies like meat, fish and corn. This revived the Jamestown settlement.

However, in 1609 Smith was injured in an accidental gunpowder explosion and needed to return to England, and from that moment on Jamestown took another turn for the worse. The winter that followed was to be the darkest hour of Jamestown’s history. The winter of 1609 and 1610 was known as the starving time.

The settlers decided it was time to abandon Jamestown and return to the mother country. The sudden arrival of British ships and a governor named Lord de la Warr prevented them from leaving the settlement. The new arrivals brought fresh foods, supplies and new clothing.

Returning to the methods of Captain John Smith, the settlers began to work hard and raise their own crops and gather their own food. What resulted was their first cash crop that would make the Virginia Colony extremely prosperous.

In 1612 another settler by the name of John Rolfe began to grow tobacco in the rich Virginia soil. As his crops grew plentiful, other settlers followed Rolfe and raised tobacco, too. Virginia soon became known as the tobacco colony.

In 1619 the Virginia Company gave the settlers stake in their own government; thus the first form of representative democracy was formed in the New World. With over 1,000 colonists living in settlements along the James River, each settlement was allowed to elect two men to represent them in the new government. They called themselves Burgesses. The Burgesses traveled to Jamestown to meet with the colonial governor to help make laws for the colony. The House of Burgesses was the governing body of the colony of Virginia.

The Virginia Company also sent the first ships full of women to join the male settlers of the Virginia Colony. This decision was instrumental in having settlers marry and raise families in the New World. Around the same time, the Virginia Company realized that the settlers would be more successful if they gave each man their own piece of land to farm. Under the headright system, wealthy entrepreneurs would receive fifty acres of land by simply paying their own passage to Virginia.  The Virginia Company was beginning to make a great deal of money raising and selling tobacco. However, because of the shortage of laborers to plant and harvest the crop, settlers were often unable to meet the European demand for tobacco.  Company agents advertised a new life in America in exchange for a few years of bonded laborPlantation owners imported indentured servants from Europe. Poor people signed contracts, or indentures, that paid for their passage across the Atlantic Ocean in exchange for seven years of work in America. Masters had to provide food, clothes, and living quarters for indentured servants.  

People of all ages and races came to America as indentured servants. However, most were young men between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. Some of the first indentured servants in Jamestown arrived about 1619 on a Dutch ship carrying African slaves captured from a Portuguese ship. While some of the Africans were sold as slaves, about half were sold as indentured servants. It is estimated that during the 1600s more than 300,000 settlers arrived in the colonies as indentured servants. In fact, seventy-five percent of the settlers in Virginia during the seventeenth century had come as servants.

An indentured servant contract was simple. The servant would agree to a term of service (usually four years for skilled workers and seven years for unskilled workers) in exchange for passage to America, food, shelter, and clothing. At the end of the contractual period, the servant was entitled to freedom dues. The freedom dues usually consisted of clothing, two hoes, three barrels of corn, and sometimes a parcel of land. To unemployed and hopeless Europeans, the opportunity to own land and learn a skill was irresistible.

However, indentured servitude did not guarantee financial success.  Many servants died before their contracts ended.  As the amount of arable land began to dwindle, fewer masters offered land as part of the freedom dues.  Those servants that did receive land often found that the land was difficult to farm.  In addition, this land was located ever farther west, which meant that the cost of transporting crops to the market would reduce profits.  Westward expansion also meant that more land was taken from American Indians.  Many tribes became increasing hostile and settlers lived under a nearly constant threat of attack.  Other newly freed servants were too poor to buy equipment for farming. Many were forced to enter into subsequent contracts or work as tenant farmers once they became freedmen.  When tobacco prices dropped dramatically in the 1660s, combined with restrictive Navigation Acts, social conflict erupted into political turmoil.

A growing number of disillusioned and impoverished freedmen were infuriated by the policies enacted under Governor William Berkeley.   Many of Berkeley’s policies seemed to favor the elite plantations owner-merchants.  Land grants were doled out to councilmen and legislators, who, in turn, appointed their cronies as judges, tax collectors, appraisers, and sheriffs.  High taxes paid for many of the bribes.  Tensions escalated when a change in the election process denied landless Virginians the right to vote. 

In addition, government policy toward American Indians was viewed as excessively friendly.  Always desperate for more land, western planters often demanded government sponsored expulsion or wholesale extermination of Native tribes.  Berkeley refused, partly because he did not want to ignite a full scale Indian war and partly because he profited from the fur trade.  In 1675, when a series of Indian attacks targeted western towns, frontiersmen again demanded military support and Berkeley again refused. An angry mob of vigilante militiamen led by a planter named Nathaniel Bacon retaliated by murdering dozens of American Indians, including five chiefs who were sent to negotiate a peace. 

Bacon came from a wealthy British Family.  When he arrived in Jamestown in 1673, he purchased two large estates along the James River.  Governor Berkeley’s wife, Frances Culpeper was Bacon’s cousin.  Because of his family connections, Bacon was appointed to the governor’s council and given considerable land grants.  Despite his seat on the council and his access to the governor, Bacon encountered many of the same problems that incited discontent among his neighbors in the backcountry.

In the summer of 1676, Bacon issued a Declaration in the Name of the People.    Among the eight crimes enumerated, Bacon accused the government of raising “unjust taxes upon the commonalty for the advancement of private favorites and other sinister ends.”   The declaration also stated that the government “protected, favored, and emboldened the Indians against his Majesty’s loyal subjects.”  The Declaration named twenty-three men that are referred to as Berkeley’s “his wicked and pernicious councilors, confederates, aiders, and assisters against the commonalty” and demands that they “be forthwith delivered up or surrender themselves.”   

The rebels then descended upon Jamestown in September of 1676.  Berkeley fled as the angry mob set the town ablaze.  Bacon’s sudden death a month later brought an end to what had become known as “Bacon’s Rebellion.”  Governor Berkeley returned to Jamestown and several rebels were executed.  The legislature did lower taxes, enact reforms that limited the power of the governor, reinstated the voting rights of the freemen regardless of land ownership, and began actively supporting westward expansion, to the peril of American Indians living there.  However, the power structure remained largely unchanged.  What would change dramatically over the next few decades was the demographic of the labor force.  Fearing subsequent rebellions, demand for indentured servants dropped and large plantation owners increasingly relied on African slave labor.  At the same time, colonists as well as legislators were becoming more cognizant of race.

In the early 1600s, Africans were sold as indentured servants as well as slaves.  During the seventeenth century in Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia, slaves and indentured servants often worked side-by-side in the fields and lived in common quarters.  Like indentured servants, many enslaved Africans eventually were able to win their freedom.  However, by the middle of the 1600s, colonial governments began to treat white servants differently than servants of African descent. 

When three runaway indentured servants were caught in Maryland and returned to Jamestown, the General Court sentenced all three men to thirty lashes.  Two of the men also received four additional years of indentured servitude.  The third man, who was the only African of the three, was sentenced to “serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural Life here or elsewhere.”   This1640 case was the first to suggest that only Africans could be held in slavery for life.  In a similar case, Anthony Johnson sued his neighbor, Robert Parker, in 1655 for possession of a servant of African descent named John Casor.  What makes this case especially intriguing is the fact that Johnson was himself a former servant of African descent who, after winning his freedom, had amassed a great deal of wealth.  Casor claimed he was an indentured servant and attempted to transfer the remainder of his contract to Parker.  However, Johnson argued that Casor was not an indentured servant and therefore there was no contract to transfer.  The court ruled in favor of Johnson and ordered Parker to return Casor “unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson.” 

In 1691 a law was passed in Virginia (and later in other colonies) that stated a child born to a black woman automatically became the property of her master. This would come to be known as generational slavery. Laws also were passed that forbid intermarriage between races, prohibited free Africans from joining militias or owning guns, and allowed for much harsher treatment of black servants.  It was becoming more apparent that race now carried with it a legal and social status. 

While the practice of indentured servitude would continue well into the nineteenth century, slavery was beginning to replace it by the end of the 1600s. Bacon’s Rebellion was one factor that led to the demise of indentured servitude. A second uprising in Maryland a year later would mark a sharp decline in the number of indentured servants brought from Europe. Instead, Southern planters and merchants in the North turned to the African slave trade as a source of cheap, lifelong labor.

Plymouth Colony (1620)

Since the early days of the colonization, people came to America in order to worship freely. This tradition can be traced back to the Separatists or “Pilgrims,” as they later came to be known. The Separatists were a radical group within the Puritan movement. Both Puritans and Separatists believed that the Church of England was too much like the Roman Catholic Church.  However, Puritans believed the church could be reformed or “purified” of its Catholic ritual.  Separatists, on the other hand, believed reform was impossible, so they established their own churches. Since the British monarch was also the head of the Church of England, religious dissent was akin to treason and Separatists were subjected to persecution.  To escape religious persecution, the Separatists fled first to Holland, and then to North America where they would establish a successful colony under the leadership of William Bradford.

At the age of 12, William Bradford went to the nearby town of Scrooby where he attended a Separatist church service.  Bradford was astounded by the service’s lack of rituals. He returned to the town many times. By the time Bradford was seventeen, he was a committed member of the church and shared its radical idea of separating from the official Church of England.

In 1608, Bradford and one hundred twenty-five Scrooby Separatists fled to the Netherlands. Although they objected to England’s state-supported church, the Pilgrims wanted their children raised as English. After living among the Dutch, however, the Pilgrims’ children became more Dutch than English. Hoping to retain their cultural identity, Bradford’s church leader, John Robinson, encouraged church members to relocate overseas.  The church members believed they would land just north of the Virginia Colony. They could be loyal subjects of King James, but be far enough away to worship freely.

Bradford began the complicated process of planning the journey. He was thirty years old and responsible for many of the administrative duties connected to the journey. Bradford’s responsibilities included securing government permission for the voyage, communicating with financial backers, hiring the ship’s crew, and making sure there were enough supplies for the long journey. Bradford kept careful notes of all these intricate details. Later Bradford would publish this journal under the title Of Plymouth Plantation.

Those who made this journey to America became known as Pilgrims. They journeyed on the Mayflower in 1620. The voyagers faced harsh weather. Many of the passengers were terribly seasick. Weather forced them off course, and they made landfall in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, nearly 400 miles farther north than they planned. The Mayflower went to Cape Cod because the captain knew the area.  British fishermen and trading vessels had visited Cape Cod frequently. The captain knew they could find safe harbor there and have a chance to decide their next move.  However, the ship was in poor condition, and winter was approaching. Because of difficult seas, they could not travel farther south; so they decided to stay in Massachusetts. The journey had been extremely difficult, and Bradford’s wife had fallen overboard and drowned. On November 11, the Mayflower was scheduled to disembark her passengers.  Before going ashore, the men elected John Carver as governor and signed a compact (or contract) that established a government. This document was the Mayflower Compact.

The Mayflower Compact was the first political document composed in America and would influence the eventual form of the United States government. The Mayflower Compact is a short, but remarkable document. It contains the essence of a free government. The signers agreed to an open, publicly declared contract to form a political body to benefit all (“our better ordering and preservation”). To do this, they agreed to establish “just and equal laws” for “the general good” and promised “submission and obedience” to those laws.

Upon their arrival, the Pilgrims found the soil on Cape Cod, their first landing, too sandy to support farming.  They spent the next several weeks exploring the surrounding areas to find a better location for settlement. During one of these expeditions, a small band of local American Indians attacked.  The aggressors, most likely members of the Wompanoag Confederacy, promptly retreated when colonists fired their muskets.  A few days before the attack, the exploration party had stolen food buried near Indian dwellings.  In addition, several Indians were abducted and sold into slavery a few years before by European explorers.  Though the local tribes would later prove to be peaceful, these factors may explain the natives’ initial lack of trust.  After the attack, the colonists left the site, which they dubbed “First Encounter Beach.”  The Mayflower reached its final destination at Plymouth Harbor in late December. The site they had chosen for settlement was an abandoned Indian village, which already had cleared farmland. 

The colonists convinced the captain of the Mayflower to stay through the winter.  The ship was used for shelter until housing was built.  Their first winter in Plymouth proved extremely difficult as a “Great Sickness” killed nearly half of the colonists and Mayflower crew.  Nevertheless, healthy settlers worked together, weather permitting, to construct homes and a “common house” which would serve as the village church, meeting house, and storage facility. 

Following their “First Encounter,” the Wampanoag watched the Pilgrims from afar.  In his journal, William Bradford reported that the Indians had stolen some tools from the colonists, but did not make contact again until the spring of 1621, when an English-speaking American Indian by the name of Samoset approached the villagers.  Samoset was not Wampanoag but had traveled throughout the region, working as an interpreter and guide for English traders and fisherman.  Though he was not a native of the area, Samoset had become well acquainted with the Wampanoag and their chief, Massasoit.  He also told the colonists about a Patuxet Indian named Squanto who had once lived in the very place where the Pilgrims had begun building their village.  Samoset explained that Squanto spoke better English than he.  Samoset left the colonists, but promised to return with Squanto.

Samoset returned with Squanto, Chief Massasoit, and about sixty Wampanoag men.  They brought with them animal skins, dried fish, and the tools that they had stolen from the villagers earlier.  The Chief and his men waited while a small group that included Samoset and Squanto informed the colonists that the Chief was on his way and hoped to negotiate a peace.  The chief brought Squanto to serve as both the interpreter and negotiator of a peace treaty. The treaty declared the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags would be friendly and would defend one another if attacked.  The peace brokered that spring lasted just over half a century, spanning the lifetime of both Massasoit and the original Plymouth settlers.

Once the treaty was signed, Squanto lived with the Pilgrims, working as their guide and interpreter.  Squanto taught the Pilgrims where and how to fish and to use fertilizer for their crops. Squanto taught the pilgrims to grow corn, pumpkins, squash and beans, as well as to preserve their crops so they would have food through the harsh winter. With the help of Squanto, the settlers learned to utilize the land, which helped them to survive. It also is believed he was one of the guests at the first Thanksgiving in 1621. The population gradually increased, and by 1623 there were one hundred eighty residents.

Squanto’s assistance proved invaluable to the Pilgrims and to the tribal communities. Squanto became aware of his importance and began to use it to his advantage. He tried to mislead the Pilgrims by telling them the other tribes, including the Wampanoags, opposed them. Squanto also tried to mislead other tribal members. He claimed to be powerful, and told them that they should obey him, not their chiefs. Both sides discovered Squanto’s plan to power. Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe wanted to execute Squanto, but the Pilgrims protected him. Because of his actions, Squanto was alienated from the Wampanoag tribe and lived the rest of his life with the Pilgrims.

After Chief Massasoit died in 1661, his eldest son Wamsutta became chief of the Wampanoag Nation. Wamsutta, along with his younger brother Metacom, attended the school the colonists ran. They were taught about the colonists’ culture and to speak English. The colonists gave Metacom the English name Philip, and Wamsutta was named Alexander.

In 1662, Chief Wamsutta sold land to new settlers, without consulting the Plymouth government officials. This angered the officials, who wanted to control land ownership. They ordered Wamsutta’s arrest. The colonists also demanded he pay a yearly tribute to them, and then set him free. On his return home Wamsutta became ill and died. Though he may have died from disease, Metacom and his tribe believed the colonists’ had poisoned Wamsutta.

Metacom, who was now the chief of the Wampanoag Nation, was becoming increasingly concerned about the relationship between the tribes and the colonists. By the late 1660s colonists outnumbered American Indians. Land sales to colonists became a problem for the tribes due to the differing ways in which American Indians viewed land and ownership. From the Indian perspective, Colonists’ payments to tribal chiefs were considered gifts offered in exchange for use of the land. The colonists believed they owned the land for which they had paid – a concept that was virtually unknown among American Indians. In addition, the Indians confiscated or killed colonists’ livestock that wandered onto tribal land. Because of these differing viewpoints, land disputes erupted between colonists and the tribes.

In 1667 the Plymouth colony violated an agreement with Metacom and sold a portion of his land for the town of Swansea. In 1671 after tribal war parties appeared near Swansea, the leaders of the Plymouth colony requested a meeting with Metacom. At gunpoint they forced him to sign a treaty that left the Wampanoag with no rights to land. In addition, the colonists attempted to control the tribal governments. Metacom, and the chiefs of the other tribal nations, felt the colonists’ actions were dishonorable. Under these circumstances Metacom found it difficult to maintain peace between the parties. Metacom planned an attack on the colonists. However, an American Indian, John Sassamon informed the colonists of Metacom’s plan. Sassamon was killed, and the colonists blamed the Wampanoag tribe for his death. The colonists convicted three Wampanoag men of the crime, and they were hanged.

In July 1675, a war between the colonists and several tribal groups began. This war would become known as King Philip’s War. The fighting began in the town of Swansea and spread through ninety settlements from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Twelve colonial towns and many American Indian villages were destroyed. Though several tribes sided with Metacom, including the Nipmucks and Narragansetts, not all American Indians fought on the side of the Wampanoag. Some tribes fought alongside the English, including the Mohawk tribe.

By 1676 Metacom was running out of warriors, food, and ammunition. His wife and son were captured and sold as slaves. Metacom retreated to his home in Mount Hope. Alderman, an Indian fighting with the colonists, killed and beheaded Metacom during the final battle. Many Indians fighting with Metacom were captured and sold as slaves in the West Indies.  The defeat of Metacom and his tribal forces forever changed the way of life for American Indians in this region. Although some Indian communities survived for a while, Metacom’s death marked the end of native independence in southern New England: at the same time, the colonists’ victory secured their power. Eventually, the Indian population in the area became insignificant.  King Philip’s War was also one of the most costly, in both lives lost and property damage, in our nation’s history.

New Amsterdam (1626)

The Dutch originally settled in New Amsterdam in 1624. Peter Minuit, governor of the Dutch purchased Manhattan Island from local American Indians for sixty gilders in 1626. The settlement and the fort became known as New Amsterdam. The New Netherland headquarters was moved to Manhattan. With the completion of a fort, warehouse, and mill, Minuit’s New Amsterdam became a center for Dutch settlements in the colony. In 1653 the Dutch government granted New Amsterdam self-government under the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant.

Charles II of Britain decided to reclaim the land between New England and Virginia in 1664.  He gave his brother James, the Duke of York, a large tract of land that included New Netherland. Captain Richard Nicholls took possession of the harbor with four ships. On August 30, 1664, Sir George Cartwright brought Stuyvesant a summons promising life, estate, and liberty to those who surrendered to the English king’s authority. Stuyvesant tore up the letter, sent a defiant answer to Nicholls, and prepared the troops for an attack. However, he yielded to a citizens’ petition not to shed innocent blood; and on September 9, 1664, he signed a treaty at his Bouwerie house. Nicholls was declared governor, and New Amsterdam became New York. 

Massachusetts Bay (1630)

Ten years after the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth, the Puritans settled in Boston and Naumkeag, present-day Salem. John Winthrop arrived with the Massachusetts Bay Charter, which allowed the colony more self-government. Winthrop came from a wealthy, landowning family in East Anglia, England. Once he became an attorney, Winthrop often traveled to the kingdom’s capital where he found the cosmopolitan nature of an international city disturbing. Winthrop viewed the metropolis as reeking with immorality and debauchery. Along with men of similar sensibilities, Winthrop authored “Common Grievances Groaning for Reformation.” Unlike the Pilgrim Separatists, these men believed they could “purify” the Anglican Church of England from within according to the teachings of John Calvin and “cleanse” English society. They would be known as the “Puritans.”

During the 1620s King Charles I worked to solidify his power as king by oppressing any group that rejected the Church of England. Certain parliamentarians, such as Sir Edward Coke, voiced strong objections to Charles’ consolidation of power. Many Puritans also expressed deep concern. Charles, in response, continued to oppress Protestant sects (along with Roman Catholics). He even repressed Puritans who only wanted to reform the Anglican Church. In this political climate, the last thing the king wanted was a religious squabble between three rival sects. He wanted one church, that all Englishmen belonged to, that would put its stamp of approval on the king and legitimize his rule among all the members of that religion.

Convinced that God’s wrath was sure to descend on England, John Winthrop was certain his fellow believers needed a safe haven far from England. Many Puritans began to look to the American colonies to escape Charles’ dictates. Puritans formed the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 and began to settle in North America by 1630. Winthrop joined the company and was named the company’s governor.

When the Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Company sailed for America aboard the Arbella on March 22, 1630, Winthrop and his fellow travelers left behind considerable family holdings and financial security for an uncertain, daring experiment in the American wilderness. The Puritans controlled considerable wealth in England and risked financial ruin with the expedition, unlike the poorer Separatists (Pilgrims) who had come to Massachusetts ten years earlier.  Puritans came to America to preserve their version of Christianity and to shield their children from the “corruption” they believed permeated England. The colonists entered into a covenant, promising to obey the commandments of God they found in the Scripture. They believed God would bless them in their new land if they continued to follow Him faithfully.

Most of the Puritans reasoned they would establish a “holy colony” that would serve as an example for England and the entire world. John Winthrop expressed this view in his “City upon a Hill” sermon. Drawing on the words and imagery in the Gospel of Matthew 5:14, Winthrop warned the colonists they had to succeed as a Christian community, lest they bring the world’s scorn upon Christianity and upon their God.

This Puritan notion that America was the “New Israel” and the “Promised Land” given by God to his new chosen people had a lasting effect on Americans of all Christian denominations and of all regions. It became the core of what was to be called “American Exceptionalism,” the idea that the United States is distinct from and superior to other countries. While this belief has motivated Americans to accomplish great deeds (freeing the world from the scourges of fascism and communism for example), it has also sometimes caused Americans to act self-righteously and even brutally (as in the case of the extermination of many Native Americans and the invasion of Mexico)

The Puritans of Massachusetts also hoped that the English would see their model of “Reformed” Christianity and change the Church of England. The colonists viewed the English Civil War (1642-1648) as proof that their experiment had worked. Puritan revolutionaries overthrew King Charles I and beheaded him for “treason.” In the colonists’ minds, England wished to establish a Christian Commonwealth as they had in New England. However, the rule of the Puritans and their leader, Oliver Cromwell, only lasted until 1660, when a counter-revolution restored the monarchy under King Charles II and the Church of England.

Unlike many earlier colonies, the Puritans transported the charter from England to the colony, thereby establishing the governmental authority in New England. By admitting the colonists as “freemen,” they transformed the charter from a private trading company into a self-governing community. Governmental power was maintained with the General Court made up of freemen. While an advance of popular government, the qualification for becoming a freeman was religious. Although they were still under the sovereignty of the English king, their distance and the use of the General Court allowed the Puritans to retain control of the colony both politically and religiously.

During the formative years of the colony, Winthrop governed twelve terms, and was considered a respectable leader. His History of New England was published posthumously in 1649. Although his utopian society was tarnished because of its persecution of dissenters and it eventually grew beyond Puritan control, John Winthrop’s ideal of a “city upon a hill” remains his legacy.

The new form of government caused some dissent. Roger Williams, a young clergyman, opposed the marriage of church and state. He placed emphasis on an individual’s freedom of conscience and asserted that the civil government should not punish religious infractions. He also challenged Winthrop and the General Court when he asserted that the original land grant was void since the land truly belonged to the local Indians. His transgressions challenged the rigid orthodoxy of the Puritans. He and his followers were banished from the colony. Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island.

Anne Hutchinson mounted another religious challenge. Upon her arrival with her family, she held religious meetings in her home to discuss the sermons of the pastor, Reverend John Cotton. As her popularity grew, Hutchinson’s study meetings evolved into open dialogues illuminating her religious viewpoints. Her philosophy that the Holy Spirit could direct an individual, not obedience to religious or civil leaders, was a challenge to the ministers’ authority. Winthrop and other followers saw her as a threat, and a general court was convened. Hutchinson’s religious arguments during the trial sealed her fate.  In the eyes of the court, Hutchinson could not produce sufficient evidence from the Bible to support her claims and she was banished from the colony for heresy.

Unlike their Pilgrim predecessors, this new wave of colonists had an extremely tenuous relationship with local American Indians.  The Puritans viewed American Indians as lazy heathens, content with living in the wild rather than working to control nature.  Nevertheless, the Puritans were actively involved in a lucrative fur trade with several local tribes.  In 1636, the Puritans provoked a war against the Pequot Indians, whom they accused of murdering an English trader.  Allied with Narragansetts and Mohegans, colonists crushed the Pequot nation.  The few surviving Pequot, having lost all of their land, were forced to live with other tribes.   

Massachusetts Bay often used its status as a corporate colony to defy British law.  Annoyed with their rebelliousness, King Charles II of England revoked the Massachusetts Bay charter in 1684.  Charles’ successor, King James II united New Hampshire, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and East and West Jersey into a single colony known as the Dominion of New England and appointed Sir Edmund Andros governor.  This union, however, was short-lived.

In 1688, England underwent the “Glorious Revolution,” in which James II abdicated his throne.  Parliament invited William and Mary to rule under the condition that they rule in partnership with Parliament and accept laws limiting their power.  As news of these events reached the colonists, leaders in Massachusetts staged an uprising by arresting governor Andros and his council.  Uprisings in Maryland and New York soon followed.  Parliament responded by restoring the Massachusetts Bay charter in 1691, but with some revisions:  The king would retain the power to appoint a governor and the colonial assembly was required to increase non-Puritan representation.  

In 1692, a mass panic in Salem Village resulted in the Salem Witch Trials. In January many of the young girls in the community began to act strangely. They were getting headaches and screaming for no apparent reason. Doctors, who did not know how to treat the girls, thought it was the work of the devil. The girls said people in the village were making them behave strangely. As the interest in the girls grew, they began to accuse villagers of witchcraft.

If a person were accused of witchcraft and the accusation seemed legitimate in the eyes of village leaders, the person would be arrested immediately. The accused would be asked questions in a public examination. In many instances, so much pressure was put on the accused person that he or she would give in and claim to be a witch. If the accused repented, he or she usually would be released. Those who denied the charges, however, would be sent to the Court of Oyer and Teminer, the superior court, for trial and sentencing. The grand jury would decide if the person were guilty or not. If the accused were found guilty, he or she usually would be sentenced to death. Death sentences included being hanged or stoned to death.

The trials continued until the governor’s wife was accused, and the governor disbanded the proceedings. During the hysteria at least nineteen people were executed, and five of the more than one hundred people jailed died in prison. It was the last, and probably the least deadly, of a string of witch hunts that had swept Western Europe and America for hundreds of years.

Maryland (1634)

Named for Queen Henrietta Maria of England, wife of Charles I, Maryland became a chartered colony in 1632. The colony’s founder, Lord Baltimore, had hoped to create a safe haven for Roman Catholics at a time when England was persecuting any group that rejected the Anglican Church.  The first settlers (seventeen men, their wives, and about two hundred others) left England on November 22, 1633, with two small ships, the Ark and the Dove. They landed on March 25, 1634; and the state commemorates that date as “Maryland Day” each year.

Catholics were in the minority when the time the first colonists arrived in Maryland. Though Catholics held political power in the first half of the seventeenth century, the Colonial Assembly passed the Toleration Act in 1649, allowing freedom of worship for all Christians in Maryland. This act is often regarded as the first legal document guaranteeing religious tolerance in the New World. The Act was temporarily repealed in 1654, reinstated in 1658, and permanently repealed following the Glorious Revolution, when Protestants seized political power in Maryland and began persecuting Catholics.  By 1702, the Church of England was the official church of Maryland.  By 1718, Catholics were prohibited from voting.  Religious tolerance would not return as an ideal in Maryland until the American Revolution.

Rhode Island (1636) and Connecticut (1662)

In 1636 Roger Williams established the first permanent settlement in Rhode Island after he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony because he wanted religious freedom. Williams bought land from the Narragansett Indians and settled in an area near present-day Providence. Rhode Island was a corporate colony, and in 1663 it received a royal “Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”

The Netherlands’ Adriaen Block explored present-day Connecticut. By 1614 Dutch fur traders were sailing up the Connecticut River and building a fort near present-day Hartford. Unlike other colonies, Connecticut existed because of a merging of three other territories: Hartford, Old Saybrook, and New Haven. The British crown did not approve the establishment of the Connecticut Colony; in fact, it was viewed as an extension of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1662 John Winthrop petitioned for a charter to unite the Connecticut and Quinnipiac colonies. The charter passed, and a seat of government was established soon after.

The Carolinas (1663)

British and Spanish settlers established colonies in present-day North and South Carolina in the late 1500s.  These early colonies, however, were not successful.  Then, in 1653 Virginia colonists began to settle in the area now known today as North Carolina. Most of the settlers were poor tobacco farmers, making plantation agriculture the main source of industry. King Charles II granted the colony a charter in 1663. The king recognized the northern Carolina region, Albemarle, in 1691. This was officially the first time “North Carolina” was used. In 1670 Charleston was established and named after the king. In 1710 North and South Carolina could not agree on a common government, so they separated. Officially, North and South Carolina became two separate colonies in 1729.

New Jersey (1664) and New Hampshire (1664)

Peter Minuit reached the Delaware Bay in March 1638 with two ships of Swedish and Finnish colonists. He purchased land along the right bank of the Delaware River from the Indians, declaring it New Sweden. By 1643, Swedish settlements were peppered along both sides of the Delaware River in present-day Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.  In 1655, the Dutch seized the territory and New Sweden became part of New Netherland.  

Englishman, Richard Nicolls seized New Netherland from the Dutch in 1664. The English falsely claimed John Cabot discovered the land, well before the Dutch. The British gave that area to James, the Duke of York. James gave Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley the area between the Hudson and Delaware rivers. That area was named after the Island of Jersey. In an effort to attract settlers, the two proprietors offered cheap land and religious freedom.  In 1674, Lord Berkeley sold his share of New Jersey to Quakers Edward Byllynge and John Fenwick. The New Jersey colony was officially split into two, separately governed provinces, East Jersey and West Jersey. When Carteret died in 1680, East Jersey was sold to William Penn. East and West Jersey was united in 1702, however, New Jersey shared its governor with New York.  It was not until 1738 that a united New Jersey became a distinct royal colony with its own governor.

Originally, the Massachusetts Bay Colony owned the area that became the colony of New Hampshire. There were four, original settlements in the area: Little Harbor, Dover, Portsmouth, and Exeter. In 1638 John Wheelwright established Exeter when he was sent away from Boston for supporting his sister-in-law, Anne Hutchinson. In 1680 New Hampshire separated from Massachusetts Bay Colony, only to reunite in 1688. New Hampshire officially separated in 1691 to become the royal Province of New Hampshire. In 1719 Scots-Irish settlers were sent to New Hampshire to establish a “Scottish” town. They named it Londonderry, after a town in Ireland.

Pennsylvania (1681)

Swedish, Dutch and English settlers arrived in the Pennsylvania area around 1647. William Penn received the land in 1681 as payment to settle a debt owed to his father. Pennsylvania was named after Penn’s father and given the Latin root word sylvania meaning “forest.” The plan for the city of Philadelphia was laid out in 1682, and the Frame of Government began that same year. The next year German settlers arrived and established Germantown. The major industries in Pennsylvania were agriculture and manufacturing.

William Penn was a Quaker and a friend of King Charles II. Charles, however, could not let Penn’s Quakers worship freely. Anglicans believed God worked through their king. The Quakers, on the other hand, believed they each could communicate with God directly through their “Inner Light.” They rejected ritual and ministers, and they rejected Charles as head of the Church of England.

The Church of England had no room for Christian sects, like the Quakers, that rejected all earthly spiritual authority. Anglicans looked to their king and bishops for spiritual leadership. Quakers, however, relied on God’s direct connection to their “Inner Light.” The Quakers, thus, could not stay in England and had to find another place to practice their religion.

Charles owed William Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn, Sr. a debt of gratitude for support during hard times. To pay the debt and to show his appreciation, Charles gave the younger Penn all the land known as Pennsylvania, or “Penn’s Woods,” named after William’s father. William Penn already had established small Quaker colonies in Ireland and in West New Jersey. Now, Pennsylvania would give him the opportunity to create a colony he would call his “Holy Experiment.”

Once Penn had established Pennsylvania as a colony, he wanted to invite other people who had been persecuted because of their religion. Many people from all over Europe came to live in Pennsylvania. Even though Penn owned the colony and his Quaker friends governed the colony, Penn gave the non-Quaker settlers many privileges. He allowed anyone who believed in one God to come to Pennsylvania and to have equal rights as citizens. He permitted all Christians, including Roman Catholics, to run for political office. Penn enabled the freely elected legislature to propose bills and to make laws. He guaranteed the people a trial by jury, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and he protected their property rights. Through Penn’s effort, Pennsylvania became the most tolerant colony in America.

Delaware (1682) and Georgia (1732)

Dutch traders unsuccessfully tried to settle Delaware in the early 1630s, but local natives killed these early settlers. In 1638 Peter Minuit, with a grant from the New Sweden Company, led Swedish settlers to the Delaware River. The Dutch gained control of the area from the Swedish in 1655. Sir Robert Carr of England went to the Delaware River, claimed the area from the Dutch, and renamed it New Castle. The Dutch shortly gained control of Delaware in 1673, but the British resumed control a year later. Delaware was named after former Virginia Governor, Thomas West, Lord De La Warr.

Georgia was the last of the original thirteen colonies the British settled. Georgia was founded in 1733. James Oglethorpe convinced the established Yamacraw Indians to leave the area and settled the land as a safe haven for debtors. The original British charter stated the colony would extend westward from the Savannah River to the Altamaha Rivers and would last for twenty-one years. There was a plea for slave labor to help the development of the colony. The British Parliament finally allowed Georgia to become a slave colony; but strict laws for the humane treatment of slaves were enforced at first. On January 7, 1755, Georgia officially became a colony of the royal crown.

Colonial Diversity

Before they were considered Americans, colonists were English, Scottish, Irish, French, Dutch, German, and Swedish. (There were also thousands of enslaved Africans in America, who were transported to the colonies against their wills). Motivated for a variety of reasons, many came to America for asylum, either to escape religious persecution, political oppression, or poverty. They had left a country that was not a country to them at all: no bread, no way to cultivate the soil, no means by which to gain wealth, forced to follow severe laws and punishments, and no land to call their own. Some, including many Gaelic Irish, had been captured by English soldiers and shipped over as indentured servants. Others from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland had entered into indenture contracts to pay for the voyage across the Atlantic, just to get a chance to start anew in America. Once they had served their term, however, they eventually would become free and independent.

One of the motivating factors for many immigrants was the freedom to practice their religions. Having been persecuted in their own country, they came to America in hopes of being able to worship without restrictions or fear of punishment. Most found what they were seeking. Settlers discovered they were able to worship with fellow believers according to their own ideas without being disturbed. In some colonies Methodists settled next to Lutherans, who lived next to Baptists, accepting one another regardless of religious beliefs. In fact, Americans became as blended spiritually as they were becoming blended nationally, developing one of the most identifiable characteristics of Americans: religious tolerance.

Two exceptions to this outlook on religion would be with the Moravians and the Quakers. The Moravians banded together in community groups, which prevented them from blending with other religious sects. Their colonies held fast to their own forms of worship, rules, and decency. Quakers were affluent enough to purchase what they needed to create settlements; and like the Moravians, they were not spread out and separated from one another. Ironically, however, the Quakers’ commitment to religious freedom soon caused them to be a minority in the colony they founded, Pennsylvania. People of other religions flocked there. Also, Jews and Catholics, though they did not necessarily settle in tight-knit communities like the Quakers and Moravians, often experienced prejudice and discrimination from their neighbors and restrictions on their religious freedom in many colonies.

The German settlers were not afraid to work. Wealthy landowners employed them, and they made sure to learn all they could in their trade. They were motivated, persistent, and worked to have the same advantages as their employers. Never forgetting the poverty from which they came in Germany, they developed great mechanical knowledge and patience; they helped Pennsylvania prosper, with the creation of wonderful mills and other manufacturing sites.

Most people, including most Germans, lived in what can be considered middle settlements. They were great cultivators and were greatly influenced by government, religion, and life as a freeholder.  Overall, due to their lifestyle, they were characterized by industry, good living, selfishness, litigiousness, country politics, the pride of freemen, and religious indifference.

The background and demeanor of the original Irish colonists differed from that of the Germans. Having worked and toiled on land that was not their own in Ireland, they had a similar experience to the Germans, but with an important difference. Most Irish who came to the early colonies, called “Scots-Irish,” came from Ulster in the North of Ireland. They traced their roots to the Scottish lowlands, and they practiced Presbyterianism. Like the Catholics of Ireland, the English ruled them, they practices a religion opposed to the Church of England, and they were unhappy under British rule. The British had recruited them to be colonists in Ireland to force the Irish off their land. Finding their prospects not much better in British-controlled Ireland, many of the Scots-Irish immigrated to the American colonies. The Ulster Irish often settled on the frontier and many became famous as “Indian fighters.” Irish Catholics also traveled to America as “captured” indentures, and many came as household servants for Quakers who had first tried to colonize on English estates in Ireland.

Many of the Ulster Irish, who lived farthest from civilization, were the hunters and woodsmen. They lived beyond the reach of government, making them more self-reliant than other settlers. Their independence was tempered with a lack of law that sometimes equated justice with violence. Their life was a never-ending cycle: hunting to sustain themselves due to the nature of the land, with farming as a necessary but secondary activity. They were the frontiersmen, and they served to clear the earth for future settlers. Some found peace and prosperity, while others receded farther into the wilderness, leaving room for less adventurous others to settle in their places. Soon, thanks to the labors of those first woodsmen, more organized communities would form.

The Scottish immigrants, directly from Scotland, were, like the Germans, industrious and frugal, and readily took to farming in the American colonies.

For others, traveling to America was a punishment from the English government. With a growing population of unemployed in British cities and a growing crime rate, the British began to see banishment to the colonies as a good alternative. For many of these convicts, this punishment could actually be a second chance and a big improvement over hanging. Many of these felons were more successful when they could live outside the oppressions that drove them to violate the law in the first place. Moreover, it must be remembered that at that time, a “felon” might be someone who was deep in debt or was caught stealing food. They were not all murderers and cutthroats.

Once settled, those who lived near the sea tended to be enterprising and to have more access to the outside world. Land closest to the coast would usually be more valuable and the more affluent groups of settlers would own this land. The English tended to settle closer to the sea. The free population of New England was nearly all English during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as was the southern tidewater region. Proximity to the sea gave them employment options not available to those living inland. This freedom to interact with others through trading and transportation provided them resources and insights that few others could claim.

In general, regardless of where the settlers came from or where they resided in America, many generalizations can be made concerning the early colonists. Despite their differences, in America:

  • Laws were respected because they were mostly locally produced.
  • Industry flourished because many worked for themselves and trade flourished.
  • There was not as huge a gap between the rich and the poor as there was in Europe.
  • Settlers derived land, food, and protection from the country, which had abundant natural resources.
  • There was a mixture of cultures found nowhere else in the world, creating a new culture in many ways.
  • New ideas, new principles, and new opinions flourished.
  • Individual land ownership was more widespread than in most areas of Europe.
  • They were independent, loyal to their local governments, and had more direct input into their own laws than most Europeans.
  • There was opportunity for wealth in the form of good homes, clothes, cattle, and land for a wider segment of the people than was true in Europe at that time.

America knew no strangers, for the variety that existed offered something for every foreigner who came to live on American soil. They may have recognized a familiar language, name, or mannerism from the home country. In America, colonists experienced the world as they were exposed to the grains of Egypt, the rice of China, the maize and other local foods of the Indians, or the mannerisms of the Dutch. It was a culture in transition.

Outlooks and old ideas changed, making room for the possibilities that came with the nature of the country. The American colonies welcomed, or at least tolerated most foreigners, offering the potential of bountiful resources, industrial and agricultural possibilities, less oppressive government, ample land, and relative freedom.

Colonial Economy

When the early colonists did not find gold, they quickly turned to other ways of making money. A colonist, John Rolfe (Pocahontas’ husband), made a profit selling his tobacco to people in Europe. Tobacco was difficult to grow in the same fields year after year. However, with the abundance of land in the New World, this was less of a problem.

In colonial times the selection of colors for clothing was not impressive. Early colonists found the southern part of North America was an ideal location for growing indigo, a plant from India used as a clothing dye. Common people could use this easily cultivated plant to make dye for their clothing. Prior to the mass cultivation of indigo, common people could never afford colored clothing.

Colonists discovered that the climate in the South was very good for growing cotton. Colonists were forbidden from using the cotton for manufactured goods and were forced to ship it to England’s textile mills. Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793 sparked the “cotton boom.” Before the cotton gin, it took so long to hand-gin the cotton (separate the seeds from the fiber) that cotton cultivation was not very profitable.

The large number of pine trees growing in the South, made it an ideal location for the production of pitch (or tar). This pitch was important for wooden ships sailing the Atlantic Ocean. These ships would spring leaks, and pitch was used for water-proofing the ships. Freshly cut pine trees were burned, and a channel was created to separate the pitch. The pitch was collected in buckets to be used on ships.

Early colonists imported manufactured goods from England because, until the 1700s, even the largest North American towns did not produce such items. In the North, these products entered the colonies through Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. While some items would be sold in the city or the nearby countryside, much of the cargo would be transferred to smaller vessels that moved up the coast or along navigable rivers. These traders resold the goods in towns such as Plymouth, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island; or Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; they then returned with farm products to be sold in the cities.

This trade connected each large city to a group of smaller towns; and more than glass, lead, or paper passed among them. The coastal traders carried news and passengers; merchants and farmers who lived hundreds of miles apart became trading partners. These exchanges encouraged colonists from different areas to get to know each other and to understand how their lives depended on each other. Most colonists received their news from Boston, New York, or Philadelphia, not directly from London.

In the South, ships carrying rice or tobacco usually docked at plantation wharves and exchanged their goods directly, which made it difficult for cities to grow in the Southern colonies. Between Maryland and Georgia, only Charleston, South Carolina, had a population greater than 10,000 people in 1776; and Southern colonists seemed to be tied more closely to England than to their neighboring colonies.  Nevertheless, Southern planters also imported food from the North to feed their slaves, while colonists in Pennsylvania, New York, and New England bought tobacco and rice. This trade depended on other small ships traveling up and down the Atlantic Coast among the colonies. News and ideas followed the trade, and people established friendships among different colonies.

Because the trade between colonies was not taxed, British government officials never actually saw it. Once the Revolution started, the speed with which people from the thirteen colonies united as Americans shocked the British. An almost invisible trading network had helped to create the new nation.

Triangle Trade and the Middle Passage

The age of colonial America was one of growth and exploration. One of the ways the colonies grew was through a trading system, the Triangle Trade. America, the West Indies, and West Africa entered into a trading system in which each one benefited. The system received its name because of the shape of the routes, a triangle between the American colonies, the West Indies, and Africa.

The Middle Passage involved the forced transportation of Africans from Africa to the New World. The Africans were bought from African slave-traders as part of the Atlantic slave trade. The Middle Passage was also one of the main components of the triangular trade voyage. Triangular trade was a three-way trade between West Africa, Europe, the West Indies, and the northern colonies of British North America. The Middle Passage was the sea lane that went to the western side of Africa. The ships for the Middle Passage left from Europe to go to the African markets. Here, they would either trade or sell their goods to the inhabitants of the region. In exchange, they got prisoners or people who had been kidnapped in Africa. After this exchange, the ships proceeded to North America, South America, and the Caribbean. Here the prisoners and kidnapped victims would be traded or sold in exchange for goods that would be very useful in the European markets. After this, the ships made their way back to Europe. The main countries involved in this process included Spain, Portugal, England, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Brandenburg, the North American colonies, and Brazil.

The Middle Passage journey was extremely rough. It would take approximately one to six months depending on the weather conditions. African kings, warlords, or people hired to kidnap Africans would sell the prisoners to Europeans who came to African coast for trade. The Africans were forced to march to the coast, sold, and packed tightly on board the slave ships. In some cases hundreds of Africans were packed into tiny rooms below the ship’s surface. The men would be chained together to fit as many people as possible. The women and children were given just a little room to move on board. The Africans were given a small meal with water once a day. The meals consisted of yams, rice, corn, and palm oil. The slave ship’s crew received food first, leaving the Africans to eat what was left.

Somewhere between 9.4 million and 12 million Africans were transported to the New World. Many Africans died on the ships due disease and starvation. In particular, dysentery and scurvy caused the majority of deaths. Other diseases were measles, malaria, and smallpox. The potential for African deaths increased when weather was bad, and ships were delayed. With the time of the passage extended, food and water ran low, causing mass starvation and increasing malnutrition. The emotional well-being of the Africans also was affected. They became depressed about separation from their families and their impending enslavement in a new world. They lost their freedom, were treated badly, and physically abused. Those who could not endure the hardships committed suicide. Some jumped overboard and drowned.

The First Great Awakening

The First Great Awakening was a period of religious revivalism that promoted a new spirit of social egalitarianism in the American colonies. It began in 1730 in England and spread to the English colonies in North America. One of the most influential leaders of the First Great Awakening was Jonathan Edwards, a Congregationalist minister from Massachusetts. Edwards’ sermons attracted great attention, his famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” illustrating his power to instill in his listeners a deep fear of God and his punishments.  The itinerant minister George Whitefield was another major figure in the movement. Whitefield used an emotional preaching style that became a main feature of the Awakening’s religious revivals.

The new emotional style of the Awakening’s preachers was coupled with a new spirit of religious egalitarianism. All men were equal in God’s eyes, these preachers taught, and these so-called called “New Light” ministers by implication challenged the power of the “Old Lights,” the leaders of established churches. The Great Awakening spurred the growth of the hitherto small denominations of Baptists and Methodists in the South, and Presbyterians in the North and Congregationalists in New England. The structure of many of these Great Awakening churches was more de-centralized than the hierarchical Church of England. They tended to be independent congregations that often hired their own ministers.

Egalitarianism in the religious sphere spilled over into the political and social spheres. In the decades before the American Revolution, many colonists came to reconsider traditional notions of political and social deference to established authority. Preachers during the First Great Awakening also reinforced the idea that God had a special plan for America, one that perhaps necessitated a break with the corruption of England and the Old World.

The Seven Years’ War

The conflict known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe and the French and Indian War in America developed over a long period. It had roots in a struggle between Britain and France that had been going on for nearly two hundred years. The struggle stemmed from each nation’s pursuit of mercantilism, global expansion, and its position in European power politics. The Anglo-French rivalry often erupted into military conflicts because of France’s desire to dominate Europe and Britain’s goal of keeping French ambitions at bay while maintaining its own power.

The French and Indian War took place during a time of great upheaval. The war was truly global, with fighting in Europe, North America, India, and on the high seas. Primarily, it was a conflict between the British Empire and its allies and the French Empire and its allies. When William Pitt the Elder became British Prime Minister, he perceived that Britain’s interest lay in the overseas colonies, not on the European continent. He took troops from the European theater and sent them to North America. He financed the Prussian Army to fight the French in Europe and concentrated the British Army’s focus on Canada and the Ohio Valley. From that time on, the French began to suffer their first defeats during the war in America. Consequently, Pitt’s foresight helped Britain create the largest and most powerful empire in history.

While the struggle between Britain and France and their European allies can explain much of the Seven Years War, the fact remains that a large part of the fighting actually took place in North America. The war even started about two years earlier in North America than it did in Europe. The fighting started in the Ohio River Valley in 1754. It did not spread to Europe until 1756.

Perhaps equally important to the understanding of this war is an adequate knowledge of the interactions between the English and French colonists and the indigenous tribes in America. The English, in particular, had a long, bloody relationship with many tribes, marked by the particularly brutal practices endemic to the inter-tribal warfare that had taken place on the American continents for centuries and the harsh tactics the British employed in response. After a short period of friendship following initial British settlements in Massachusetts and Virginia, tensions soon became strained between the tribes and the British colonists, usually due to conflicts over land. British colonists were numerous; they established permanent settlements, cleared the land, and built larger farms, towns, and cities. This tended to come into conflict with tribal land-use patterns, and the tribes soon realized the British settlers’ plans involved eventually moving them out, one way or another. 

Most of the tribes on the borders between the French and English colonies, however, had a long commercial relationship with the French settlers. The French settlers were much fewer in number than the British. There were about 60,000 French settlers in North America in 1754. By contrast, there were more than a million British colonists in North America by 1750. Therefore, the French left a much smaller footprint on the land than their British counterparts. The French were more interested in doing business with the Indians than pushing them out of the area. They built far fewer towns and farms. They especially were interested in the fur trade, with American Indians providing the raw materials. French Catholic missionaries, particularly Jesuits, had also gone to live among the Algonquin and Huron tribes and converted many people to Catholicism. 

The exception to this pattern was the Iroquois Confederation, a group of tribes that were collectively the most powerful American Indian group in eastern North America. The Iroquois were formidable warriors but were also politically sophisticated and utilized innovative farming techniques permitting them to produce three different crops on the same field simultaneously. Smaller tribes had perceived the Iroquois as a threat long before the British and French arrived. Sporadic fighting and warfare among the Iroquois and other tribes were common occurrences. Clashes with early French explorers and the French willingness to defend their trading partners in the smaller tribes earned the French the enmity of the Iroquois Confederation. The Iroquois tribes also had commercial relations with the British and sided with the British during the war. They proved to be a powerful ally.

In the colonies, the conflict began as a result of French and British colonists competing for their share of the beaver fur trade in the Ohio River Valley. At the time, a person could make a huge sum of money trading beaver furs, which were all the rage back in Europe. While the French had claimed this territory since Robert La Salle claimed the Mississippi River Valley for France in 1682, British colonists were determined to claim their share of the fur trade.

In 1749, a group of land speculators and London merchants were given a royal grant of 200,000 acres of land in the Ohio River Valley.  With support from Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie, the group formed the Ohio Company.  The goal of the company was to attract Virginian settlers and establish trade with local Indian tribes.  The Iroquois were enraged.  One Iroquois spokesman lamented, “We don't know what you Christians, English and French together, intend; we are so hemmed-in by both, that we have hardly a hunting place left.”

Eager to smooth the situation over, delegates from the colonies met with leaders of the Iroquois Confederacy at Albany New York in June, 1754.  The goal of the meeting, known as the Albany Congress, was to assure the Iroquois that the colonies had no intention of encroaching on their land and to convince Iroquois leaders to join the colonies in an effort to curb France’s domination of the fur trade west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Since the Ohio River Valley was a contested region, the French had long supplied their local American Indian allies with weapons to deter British settlement.  Like the Iroquois, the French were on high alert when they learned about the 200,000 acre land grant.  They began attacking British forts and constructed a string of military outposts along the border of present-day western Pennsylvania. 

Fort Necessity/Great Meadows (July 3, 1754)

Angered by French military actions, Governor Dinwiddie sent a small military force led by George Washington, a 22-year-old Virginia militia officer, to drive out the French. Washington led his men to Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). The Virginians retreated when they realized the French greatly outnumbered them. Unable to attack the well-armed fort, Washington constructed Fort Necessity, a small, wooden-fenced camp. After an overwhelming French and Indian assault, Washington was forced to surrender.

Many historians point to Washington’s actions as the beginning of the French and Indian War. Shortly after Washington’s men constructed the camp at Great Meadows, a Seneca chief, Tanaghrisson, whom Washington had met on an earlier surveying expedition to the area, told Washington of the approaching French troops.   Tanaghrisson persuaded the young Washington to ambush the French, which he did on the morning of May 28, 1754.   Jumonville was wounded.  The French called for a ceasefire, but Tanaghrisson ended any chance for a peaceful solution by killing Jumonville brutally with a tomahawk.  His plan was probably to put the British in a position where they would have to maintain their alliance with the Iroquois and drive out the French and other non-Iroquois tribes from the area, which the Iroquois wanted for themselves.  

Realizing that more French troops would soon arrive, Washington’s men constructed the aptly named Ft. Necessity.  When a larger French force surrounded and captured Washington at Fort Necessity days later, Washington was forced to sign a letter of surrender written in French. Washington, who did not speak or read French, signed the document taking responsibility for the murder of Jumonville.

Because American Indians along with French and British colonists who had little military experience were the primary combatants in the war, many of the established rules of war were not followed. American Indians preferred to use guerrilla tactics, “the skulking (sneaking) way of war.” Colonists on both sides of the conflict who allied themselves with Indians learned the best locations to ambush troops and used hit-and-run tactics to frustrate their enemy. American colonists would employ these same tactics against the British during the American Revolution.

Monongahela (July 9, 1755)

In the summer of 1755, British Major General Edward Braddock led a force of 1,500 British troops and Virginia militia (under George Washington’s command) to push the French out of Fort Duquesne and the Ohio Country. Before Braddock’s column could reach the French fort, a force of three hundred Indians and a small number of French militia ambushed them. The Indians and French used guerrilla-style tactics. They lay in wait to ambush Braddock’s troops. Braddock would not allow his men to break ranks and go into the woods to pursue their attackers. Braddock’s force was defeated, and Braddock was mortally wounded in the battle. Washington was forced to lead the weary group back to British-held territory.

Before Braddock’s death at Monongahela, he had promised to make George Washington an officer in the British army after they returned from the campaign. To Washington’s surprise, he was blamed for the defeat and denied a commission in the British army.

Fort William Henry (August 1757)

Although it had little strategic significance, the Siege of Fort William Henry is probably the French and Indian War’s most well-known battle. Its aftermath is depicted in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans. A combined French and Indian force besieged the British-held Fort William Henry. After enduring a heavy barrage for days on end, the British surrendered the fort to the French and were allowed to withdraw peaceably. This action enraged France’s Indian allies, and they attacked the retreating British soldiers and civilians, taking several hostages and killing about forty others. Seeing the attack, the French did ride out to end the attack. The action would become known as the “Fort William Henry Massacre.”

Battle of Ticonderoga (July 8, 1758)

This battle took place on the southern shore of Lake Champlain near the borders of present-day Vermont and New York. The British had a powerful combined force of 15,000 regulars and militia against the much smaller French force of 3,500 that controlled Fort Carillon (later renamed Ticonderoga, an Iroquois name meaning the junction of two waterways). The British force attacked the fort on July 8, 1758, and were met with stiff French resistance. After losing nearly 2,000 men, the British commander, Abercromby, already timid, panicked and withdrew his forces. The defeat eventually lead to his removal. General Amherst replaced him.

Battle of Louisburg (July 27, 1758)

At the beginning of their summer offensive in 1758, the British sought to secure the entrance of the St. Lawrence River to cut French aid to their army and colonists in Canada. The French had a garrison of about 6,000 men guarding Louisburg. The British force of more than 11,000 attacked the fortress from multiple sides; and by the night of July 29, the French troops were forced to surrender.

Battle of Quebec (September 13, 1759)

To end the French and Indian War, the British had to capture the French stronghold of Quebec, strategically located on a steep cliff above the St. Lawrence River. With their naval artillery unable to traverse (raise) high enough to hit the city, the British were forced to undertake a daring raid in smaller boats, which they used to sail past the city, disembark their troops, and have them scale the less steep southern cliffs.. At the top of the cliff were the Plains of Abraham, which would be the site of the decisive battle between the evenly matched forces. Each army numbered about 5,000. Both the British commander General Wolfe and French General Montcalm were killed in the battle, and the British were victorious.

Battle of Thousand Islands (Aug. 16–24, 1760)

This battle took place in the upper St. Lawrence and around a French fort, Fort Levis. The defenders of Fort Levis knew they were the only obstacle between the British and the French city of Montreal to the west. The French held the larger British force at bay for more than a week, sinking several ships. The battle was primarily a series of naval engagements around the many islands in the area. The battle culminated with a British naval bombardment of Fort Levis and the French surrender of the fort on the August 24.

Battle of Signal Hill (September 15, 1762)

This was the last major battle of the war in North America. The French had assembled many of their remaining forces in Newfoundland to establish new defensive positions at St. John’s. General Amherst led the British forces that landed north of the city and began their march. French commanders positioned troops atop a steep hill that overlooked the entire area in an attempt to stop the British advance. Remarkably, the British surprised the French forces on the hill and quickly defeated them.

Consequences of the Seven Years’ War

The French defeat at the Battle of Quebec put an end to French dominance in North America. The war determined that English culture and common law would dominate the portion of North America that would become the United States and Canada, rather than French culture and the Justinian legal code of the late Roman Empire.

Though it took a few more years of fighting, the French were forced to cede their land on the continent in exchange for peace. The Treaty of Paris was signed on February 10, 1763. The treaty gave the French territory of Canada to the British, and Spain ceded its territory of Florida to the British as well. In exchange, the Spanish took control of New Orleans and the Louisiana Territory (the Louisiana Territory had already been promised to Spain under an earlier treaty). The Ohio Country, which had been the cause of the war in North America, also fell under British control. However, after Indians who had allied with the French learned they were to lose their territory, they began launching attacks against the British and their American colonists. This became known as Pontiac’s Rebellion.

The Seven Years’ War produced consequences that directly led to the American Revolution. The war nearly bankrupted the British treasury. While the war was fought in Europe and India as well as in North America, many in the British government believed that the time had come for the American colonists to pay their fair share for their own protection. In the coming years, Parliament would levy new taxes, such as the Stamp Act, that would raise the ire of the colonists, who were accustomed to decades of salutary neglect. In addition, Parliament tried to ensure that the colonists did not trigger another costly war by expanding too far into the interior of the country and thus passed the Proclamation of 1763, which restricted colonial settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. Americans, seeing these measures as intrusive and tyrannical, greeted each successive act with increased resistance and eventually armed revolt.

  • a government where the power rests in the hands of officials who are elected from time to time by the people
  • the idea that the United States is different from (and perhaps better than) other countries
  • the American name for the northern theater of the Seven Years War when the British colonies fought aginst the French and their Native allies
  • a proclamation made by Britain’s King George III after the French and Indian War that stated settlers were prohibited from settling on Indian land west of the Appalachians in order to stabilize the relationship with Native Americans
  • the right to practice any religion without the interference of the government that was guarenteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution
  • War between American colonists and Great Britain in which the colonists gained their independence.
  • a person who is bound by a contract to work for another for a specified amount of time especially in return for payment of travel expenses
  • charter colony; a colony establish by a company that received a charter from the mother country in order to set up a new government
  • a British policy which avoided strict enforcement of parliamentary laws which was believed to cause the colonies to flourish while keeping them obedient to the crown
  • the trade routes along which merchants crisscrossed the Atlantic Ocean, carrying slaves and other goods between England, Africa, the Caribbean islands, and the colonies in North America
  • the name given to the people who lived in the Americas before the explorers arrived
  • The period of intense religious revival in the American colonies.
  • the act of treating of some people worse than others because they are different in some way
  • the longest part of the journey for slaves traveling to the New World from Africa which often represented extreme hardship
  • the country from which a person was born; the country where settlers or colonists originated
  • the elected head of a parliamentary democracy; the most senior position of a cabinet in a parliamentary system
  • the process of allowing citizens to shape the planning of legislation and government policies through the election of local representatives
  • Naval fleet of Spanish warships that dominated the western seas of Europe during the late sixteenth century.
  • a union of political units for a common purpose that is normally established to deal with critical issues
  • a state of being united; bringing two or more things together
  • having to do with the affairs, cultures or citizens of two or more nations
  • the ability to perceive or feel; to be aware
  • Spanish conquerors of Mexico, Central America, and Peru during the sixteenth century.
  • a crop that is grown to be sold which yields a large profit
  • an independent community founded for the common good
  • common to the whole world; familiar with many countries; worldwide influence
  • freedom from the control, influence, or support of another person or group
  • a political economy that prevailed in Europe after the decline of feudalism which called for the government control of foreign trade in order to establish security at home through trade surpluses
  • an official public announcement; official declaration
  • a colony governed by the crown through an appointed governor or council
  • An empire established by Augustus in 27 BC and divided in AD 395 into the Western Roman Empire and the eastern or Byzantine Empire that at its peak ruled lands in Europe,Africa and Asia.
  • rights that promote the equality of all individuals within society
  • a contest between businesses to win the most customers or earn the most money
  • the eleven states that left the United States and formed a new country in 1861
  • a portion of the population; a statistic used to determine population density
  • officially elected body of people who hold the power to make laws for a state or nation
  • a region in the northeastern United States where the first English settlers lived in the 17th century
  • The investigation of unknown regions.
  • objects that explodes (such as grenades) or that can be fired from a gun
  • impairment of moral principal by unlawful means
  • a machine that removes the seeds from cotton quickly and easily
  • unrestrained, self-indulgent behavior
  • the system which governs or exercises influence over a state or community
  • a jury with more jurors than a trial jury which examines the crimes of an individual and determines if the evidence put forth warrants criminal indictment
  • growing naturally in or originating from a particular region; native
  • having to do with factories, the goods made in factories, or factory workers
  • method of charting and steering an object
  • the group of people who propose and pass the laws in many countries, including Britain, Russia, France, and Canada
  • the pursuite of knowledge through rational argument; the beliefs held by a person
  • a large area in which crops are grown or cultivated usually by resident workers
  • a member of one of the Christian groups that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century
  • the careful management of present resources or affairs in preparation for some future event or need; the care, guidance, and protection believed to come from God or some other omnipotent force
  • a sudden and drastic change; the often violent attempt to end the rule of one government and replace it with a completely new government
  • something, such as a trait or circumstance, that helps someone achieve a goal, especially over another person who does not have the benefit of that trait or circumstance.
  • large caliber weapons that operate by a projection of munitions
  • a war between the northern United States (known as the Union) and southern slave states (known as the Confederate States of America) over the issue of slavery which was fought from 1861 - 1865
  • a system in which goods and the means of production are owned in common in order to create a classless society
  • a unified body of individuals that share common interests
  • any of the Earth's seven largest bodies of land
  • a government run by the majority where the people hold the power and have equal rights and privlidges
  • the presence of people from a variety of ethnic, cultural, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds within one group, society, or institution
  • the act of forcing someone or something out
  • dealing with matters of money, capital, or credit
  • a useful device, method, or improvement that did not exist before which is usually developed after study and experimentation
  • the first permanent English settlement in the New World
  • the ship that transported 102 English Pilgrims to the New World in 1620
  • the Americas; term that represented the Western Hemisphere after European discovery during the 16th century
  • Europe, Asia and Africa; term that developed after the discovery of the Americas or New World
  • open defiance of or resistance to authority; a violent uprising against the government
  • the materials available that can be drawn upon when needed; supply
  • a British law passed in 1765 that placed a tax on most printed items that were produced and sold throughout the American colonies
  • to agree to stop fighting or hiding because it has become clear that you can not win or succeed
  • all of the land and waters that belong to or are controlled by a particular country; an area of land claimed by the United States, but not officially recognized as a state 
  • acceptance of people whose religion, opinions, race, or culture is different from your own
  • a belief or practice that has been passed down through a family, tribe, or society for a very long time
  • an ordinary citizen who tries to catch and punish people who break the law
  • two or more people, parties, or nations that agree to help one another achieve a common goal
  • a group of people gathered together for a formal meeting on legislation, worship or entertainment
  • to claim faraway land for your country and build villages or towns there
  • a disagreement; opposition
  • the main lawmaking body in the United States that consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives
  • an agreement between two or more people to engage in or refrain from a specific action
  • to find or gain knowledge of something for the first time
  • to rule over or control; to be much stronger or more skilled than your opponent; to be the most important part of something
  • an imaginary line that separates an area of land settled by a group of people from either an unsettled area or an area settled by another group of people
  • a governing official who exercises influence over an organized body; a person who governs
  • the production and sale of goods, in general; a group of businesses that make a particular good or provide a particular service (the automobile industry, the tourist industry)
  • a state of concern or attention; curiosity
  • an organization of several Native American tribes or nations
  • the greater quantity; more than half the total number
  • the violent and cruel murder of a number of people who are usually helpless and have done nothing to provoke the attack
  • the lesser quantity; less than half the total quantity
  • a state ruled by a single monarch who holds absolute power
  • a document, signed by many people, asking someone in a position of power to do something for them or to grant something to them
  • producing favorable effects; beneficial
  • avoiding duty or work by pretending to be incapaditated
  • to go or travel across or over
  • a settler of a colony
  • A light, multipurpose ax that could be wielded or thrown.
  • the city that serves as the official seat of government in a state or nation
  • a period of one hundred years
  • a narrow passage that connects two bodies of water or; a groove in the bed of a river that allows for navigation
  • written permission given to a person or group to begin a new company, university, or settlement
  • the general weather conditions of a specific area over a long period of time
  • a culmination of knowledge, beliefs, and values developed through an individual's experiences in the world
  • the way people use what they have in order to get what they need or want
  • a government where the authority rests in the hands of a dictator who rules through oppression and terror and puts the nation or race above the indiviual; authoritarian nationalism
  • a judge; to bring in accordance with the law
  • freedom from the control, coercion, interference, or restriction of others; independence
  • a person who journeys to a holy place
  • extremely different; straying from the usual or traditional
  • the legal ownership of one person by another; the condition of a person who is legally owned by another
  • a Native American who helped the Pilgrims learn agricultural techniques in Massachusetts
  • the organization and maneuvering of military or naval forces in a battle
  • cloth or fabric that is woven or knit; the material used to weave or knit fabric such as cotton fiber, yarn, etc.
  • the crime of committing any act considered to be a betrayal of one's country such as an attempt to overthrow the government or giving valuable information to an enemy nation
  • all of the nations that united (including Great Britain, France, and Russia) to defeat the Central Powers during World War I; all of the nations that united (including Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States) to defeat the Axis Powers during World War II
  • to say that something belongs to you; to ask for something you believe you deserve
  • a place that is ruled by a far away country; a group of people sent by their country to build settlements in such a place
  • a change, event, or condition that is produced by a cause; a result
  • one very large area or many separate areas under the control of one person or government
  • relating to or affecting the entire world
  • part of a larger body of water, deep enough for ships to anchor, that provides protection from wind, waves and water currents
  • a plant from the pea family which was cultivated as a form of dark blue dye
  • land with water on all sides that is too small to be a continent
  • something handed down from the past, such as an heirloom or inheritance; anything for which a person, group, or event from the past is remembered
  • to improve; to change, especially for the better; to modify
  • a large continuous and usually indefinite part of the Earth's surface
  • (general) an act or a series of acts that are always carried out in the same way and in specific situations
  • a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C which is characterized by bleeding gums and weakness and was common among sailors due to a lack of fruits and vegetables for extended periods of time
  • an original document that provides information for research
  • a labor strategy in which employees, as a group, refuse to work until the employer agrees to meet their demands or negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to both parties 
  • a formal agreement between two or more nations, usually regarding trade, peace, or alliance
  • a name that refers to all of the states that did not secede from the United States during the American Civil War
  • the area of low land between hills or mountains
  • a long journey, especially by sea
  • the amount of a good or service that is available for purchase
  • the amount of a particular good or service that people want and have the ability to buy
  • a principle of entitlement; fundamental rules
  • people who aided slaves along the Underground Railroad to freedom
  • the goods carried on a ship, airplane, or vehicle; freight
  • the thing or person responsible for a specific change or result
  • the person with the highest rank or most power in a group
  • a high, very steep face of rock
  • land along a sea or ocean
  • to officially make into law
  • to give permission
  • a male monarch who inherits his position by right of birth
  • physical or mental effort; work; a task
  • a yellow to yellow-orange corn introduced to Europeans by the Native Americans
  • a factory used for the manufacturing of certain products such as textiles, food or steel
  • command; authoritative instruction
  • a particular space with definite or indefinite boundaries that has a specific name
  • a system used for standardized measurment
  • a person held in servidtude who is the property of another
  • a legal proceeding that takes place in a court of law in which evidence is presented to a judge or some other competent tribunal who then hands down a decision
  • a group of people made up of several families that share the same beliefs, language, traditions, and ancestors
  • in the United States and England, a unit of land measurement that is equal to 43,560 square feet
  • a point of land that extends into a body of water
  • something that is greater in excellence (better) or higher in quality; favorable
  • part of a larger body of water that extends into land
  • a group of people sworn to determin a verdict in a legal case based on evidence submitted to them in court
  • a large body of water surrounded by land
  • a rule established by custom or authority
  • to charge or impose by law, such as a tax or a fine
  • an often customary method of achieving an end
  • the point on a compass that is directly opposite from east; the direction of sunset
  • James Farmer established the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942 to improve race relations and to end racial discrimination.
  • a law
  • the amount of time a person has been alive; or a period of time usually named for a particular characteristic or condition shared by those who lived during that period; an era
  • a small body of water that is enclosed by land on three sides, but opens out into a larger body of water.