The Discovery Of Islands Essays In British History

The Discovery Of Islands Essays In British History-71
Further down the coast came New Jersey (1670s); Pennsylvania, founded (1681) by English Quakers but thereafter populated largely by German immigrants (misnamed the “Pennsylvania Dutch”); Delaware (1704); Carolina (1663, later to be divided into two colonies, North and South); and Georgia (1732).Considered as a whole, English men and women constituted more than 90% of seventeenth-century colonists.But the following century would bring an extraordinary shift toward multiethnic, multicultural diversity, as Germans, Scots-Irish, and, most especially, Africans arrived in increasingly large numbers.

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Its animating source was the clash and competition of European empires—a distinctly modern element.

Yet the motivation for such endeavor also involved extending Christianity to “heathen lands,” and locating rich sources of gold and other precious metals—twin ideas of ancient provenance.

Its compact towns and villages were organized around largely autonomous “Congregational” churches; ministers played a key role in the local culture; and Protestant moral strictures framed many aspects of everyday life.

Farming was the focus of productive effort, and most of what was raised went straight to household kitchens and dinner tables.

This focus lay behind the distinctive settlement pattern of the Chesapeake colonies—where numerous, more or less isolated, “plantations” lay stretched out along rivers and ridgelines, with little in the way of village-style contact among them.

Tobacco exhausted soil fertility so rapidly that individual planters felt obliged to engross large quantities of land simply in order to maintain consistent levels of production; when, after a few years, one field would no longer bear a good crop, cultivation was moved to others.For example, the Puritan founders of Massachusetts were strongly bent on converting native “savages”—hence their adoption of an official seal with the image of an unclothed Indian saying, “Come Over and Help Us.” Meanwhile, the first settlers of the region around Chesapeake Bay, starting with Jamestown, Virginia, and its environs, looked more toward material gain; when Captain John Smith arrived there, he found them frantically searching for “gold, gold, gold.” These contrasting interests would shape the development of the two earliest British colonies for several successive generations.Massachusetts—begun at Boston in 1630, following a beachhead made a decade before by the “Pilgrims” at Plymouth—retained a deeply religious orientation through most of the colonial era.Indians won some of the battles, but not the ones that counted most.Moreover, their losses in wartime were hugely compounded by their vulnerability to epidemic diseases carried from overseas in the boats and bodies of the colonizers; by the 1700s their numbers had been reduced by a factor of ten.This group—perhaps 10 million strong, continent-wide, when the first European settlers stepped ashore—would play an ambivalent role in colonization.On the one hand, Indians often served as helpers and teachers of the struggling, sometimes overmatched, newcomers.There would be additional English settlements as well.Thus several new settlements spun off from Massachusetts: Connecticut (1636); Rhode Island (1644); and New Hampshire (1679).As a result, their entry, beginning around 1600, was channeled toward what was left—chiefly, the Caribbean islands and the cold, apparently hostile and frightening, coastline of North America.At first, their plans mirrored those of the Spanish and Portuguese.


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