PinkMonkey Study Guide - American History
2. 1 Colonies in America
In 1513, Jhan Ponce do Leon, a Spanish explorer
led an expedition to the southeastern part of United States. He
named this region: Florida, which means full of flowers in
Spanish. Besides the Spanish, several other European rulers sent
expeditions to the New World. In 1564, the French established a
colony near what is now called Jacksonville. The colony was
called fort Carolina and set up by Protestants known as Huguenots.
This colony remained till the Spanish for religious reasons killed
its inhabitants. The following year, the Spanish established the
first permanent settlement called St. Augustine.
During the 1540s, two Spanish bands of explorers
under De Soto and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
respectively, explored parts of what is the U.S. today, in search
of gold. De Soto led his men from Florida into N. Carolina and reached
Memphis. After Soto’s death, his men returned to Mexico by the Mississippi
River. Meanwhile, Coronado and his men went northwards from Mexico
and explored regions as far as Kansas. Their visit convinced them
that there was no gold to be found in these areas.
By 1550, several regions in America were under
Spanish control. From centers like Florida and St. Augustine, Spain
converted the local Indians to Catholicism. The Spanish control
over these new regions lasted for more than two and a half centuries.
The Spanish power declined when the British set up colonies in the
north (America). Yet, the Spanish left their legacy in the New World,
where, a large number of Spanish speaking population exists today.
The French after being thrown out by the Spaniards
went towards Canada. A French trading company owned by the De
Monts employed Samuel de Champlain, who visited the new
continent. His men explored the St. Lawrence Basin and set up a
settlement called Quebec. In later times, Quebec became the
main military, political and religious center for the French. The
company mainly traded in furs with the local Indians.
From Quebec, the French quickly moved towards the
west. In the next 50 years, French explorers had reached almost
till the Rocky Mountains. And by the 1770, the French had occupied
the Gulf of Mexico and the region from the mouth of the Mississippi
to the mouth of St. Lawrence rivers.
England was among the last to establish
colonies in the New World. When the Spanish and French were exploring
the New World, the English were preoccupied with their internal,
political and religious problems. Then she was engaged in a long
war with Spain. The only initial contact that England had with the
New World was through trade with the Spaniards there. But in early
1660, there were several advocates like Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir
Humphery Gilbert colonizing the New World.
The motive behind the demand for colonies ranged
from the need for raw materials for manufacturers at home, the quest
for gold and the need to shift England’s excess population through
colonies abroad. Promoters of colonization also believed that it
was the duty of Christians to do missionary work among the Indians.
The year 1600 saw a large number of English migrating
to North America and West Indies. Some went there in search of wealth,
while many went there due to the religious conflicts (Catholics
v/s Protestants) at home. According to the noted historian McDonald,
the British Crown encouraged migration to the New World for varied
reasons. "King James I (1603 - 1625) actively promoted resettlement
to maintain political and religious order at home. England had suffered
a long period of poor harvest and was thought to be over populated.
Sending Englishmen abroad was a way of averting the dangers inherent
in that combination. But James also believed in colonization as
a means of pacifying, Christianizing and civilizing native populations.
(He chartered colonies on the Scottish island of Lewis and in Northern
Ireland as well as in America). Charles I (1625 - 1646), seeking
to establish religious uniformity both persecuted dissenters and
encouraged them to emigrate. Charles II (1660 - 1685) dispensed
colonial charters as a means of paying his political and monetary
debts." (An American Portrait: A history of the United States
Vol. 1, 2nd edition).
Apart from these political and religious reasons,
most of the migration after 1689 took place because of poverty at
home. A majority of them went to the New World by selling themselves
into indentured servitude for a period of four to seven years. Many
others, like the blacks from Africa were forcibly transported to
America as slave labor.
According to Philip D. Curtin: "The
Atlantic slave trade lay at the heart of a wide net of commerce
and production that touched every shore of the Atlantic basin"
known as the South Atlantic System. This complex had its origins
in the Mediterranean areas of Europe in the wake of the crusades
when Europeans were used as slaves to produce the system’s first
and most important crop: sugar. It was largely Portuguese seamen
who achieved revolutionary improvements in the quality of navigation
and sailing ships. Nature’s gift of the trade winds made it possible
to draw laborers from West Africa. This was then extended to the
Azores in the Atlantic, and finally across the ocean to Brazil and
elsewhere during the 1500s and later. Thus, a new kind of plantation
arose in the New World, stretching from Brazil through what is now
the Southern U.S., employing a new type of organization of labor
hitherto unknown in either Europe or Africa. Labor became dehumanized,
it became a commodity unit oriented to the export market: this is
the essential difference between slavery between wherever it developed
in the New World and slavery in Africa or the ancient world of Greece
For every export crop - sugar, tobacco, coffee,
cotton or rice - there was an accompanying large-scale demand for
slaves. This demand led to a highly organized trade in Africa that
was supplied by peaceful means or outright warfare and raids. Sufficient
European merchandise was imported into Africa to support the slaving,
and it was brought from ships or supply depots often by caravans
or in large canoes. Once back on the coast, the purchased or captured
slaves, always in coffles and yokes, were placed in forts that served
temporarily as prisons until the slave ship, waiting ashore, could
receive its quota. For instance, Fort Elumina on the
West African coast, which had been used in the spice and
gold trade, became a slave dungeon. As a fort, Elumina was
well suited for the purposes of holding slaves until they were ready
for the Atlantic voyage. The fort was accessible to slave - carrying
ships; there were quarters upstairs for merchants and traders. For
the slaves, there were tiny, dingy rooms below. Also, there was
a courtyard where slaves were branded.
Slave ships packed like this sailed from
to the United States in the early 1800’s
The slaves were brought to the New World in specially
built ships, which could carry large cargo. Ships were packed with
slave cargo, so much so that there was no standing space on them.
Only the tops decks had some space, where the slaves, in chains,
were exercised once every day and washed with cold seawater. Below
this deck, there was only place for the slaves to crawl. Considering
the time taken to cross the Atlantic, and the inhuman conditions
in which the African slaves were made to travel, it is no wonder
that many died on the way. One out of every 6 or 8 slaves died on
the way to the ’new’ world.
Table of Contents
- Chronology of Major Events in this Period
2.1 - Colonies in America
2.2 - The First English
2.3 - Puritan Influence on the early
2.4 - Colonies Versus Britain
2.5 - Points to Remember