In 1607, nearly four months after the Virginia Company’s three ships left England, they reached the North American shore. The colonists selected a small, defensible peninsula and built Fort James to protect the settlement of Jamestown, named for their king.
Colonists began life in the new world with a great deal of failure. Investors demanded a quick return and the colonists hoped to find gold to satisfy them. They neglected farming and soon suffered the consequences. Disease and hunger spread throughout the colony.
John Smith held the colony together by imposing a military type of leadership and forced the colonists to farm and secure food. Smith also received help from the native Powhatan people. Without Smith’s leadership, the colony would have eventually deteriorated to the point of famine.
Tobacco was a profitable cash crop that could be grown in the new world but needed many field laborers. Many people came to America as an indentured servant. In exchange for passage to North America and food and shelter upon arrival, an indentured servant agreed to a limited term of servitude-usually 4-7 years.
The colonists’ desire for more land to accommodate their growing population and demand for more crop space led to warfare with the original inhabitants of Virginia. The English would drive away the native people after defeating them.
Puritans Create a “New England”
Puritans came to America to “purify,” or reform the church by eliminating all traces of Catholicism. Some Puritans, called Separatists (Pilgrims), wanted to separate from the English Church.
A small group of Separatists sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and found the Plymouth Colony, the second permanent colony in North America.
Puritans believed they had a special agreement with God to create a moral society that would serve as a beacon for others to follow. Puritan leader John Winthrop expressed the sense of mission that bound the Puritans together, in a sermon delivered aboard the flagship Arbella: “We shall be as a City upon a Hill; the eyes of all people are on us.”
Puritans were intolerant of people who had dissenting religious beliefs. Roger Williams, an extreme separatist, expressed two controversial views. First, the English had no right to American land unless it was purchased from the Natives. Secondly, he argued that every person should be free to worship according to his or her beliefs.
Anne Hutchinson taught that worshippers did not need the church or its ministers to interpret the Bible for them. Hutchinson was banished from the colony to New York.
King Phillip’s War: After 40 years of tension, Chief Metacom, whom the English called King Phillip, organized his tribe and several others into an alliance to wipe out the invaders. The eruption of King Phillip’s War in the spring of 1675 started the Puritans. Native Americans attacked and burned outlying settlements throughout New England. The colonists fought back and after nearly a year. Food shortages, disease, and heavy casualties wore down the Native Americans and they retreated.
Settlement of the Middle Colonies
The Dutch founded New Netherland. New Amsterdam (now New York City), became the capital of the colony. The encourage setters to come and stay, the colony opened its doors to a variety of ethnic and religious groups.
The Quakers settled Pennsylvania. King Charles II, owed a debt to a father of a young man named William Penn. As payment, Charles gave Penn a large property that was named Pennsylvania.
Penn belonged to a society of friends called the Quakers; a Protestant sect that held services without formal ministers, allowing any person to speak as the spirit moved him or her. They dressed plainly, refused to defer to persons of rank, opposed war, and refused to serve in the military. Penn wanted to establish a good and fair society by keeping the Quaker ideals of equality, cooperation, and religious toleration.
Mercantilism: According to this theory, a nation could increase its wealth and power in two ways: by obtaining as much gold and silver as possible, and by establishing a favorable balance of trade, in which it sold more goods than it bought. A nation’s ultimate goal was to become self-sufficient so that it did not have to depend on other countries for goods. The key to this process was the establishment of colonies.
Navigation Acts: England’s Parliament tightened control of colonial trade by passing these acts.
No country could trade with the colonies unless the goods were shipped in either colonial or English ships.
All vessels had to be operated by crews that were at least ¾ English or colonial.
The colonies could export certain products, including tobacco and sugar-and later rice, molasses, and furs-only to England.
Almost all goods traded between the colonies and Europe first had to pass through an English port.