A Brief History of the United States by John Bach McMaster

Produced by Anne Soulard, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES BY JOHN BACH McMASTER PREFACE It is not too much to assert that most of our countrymen acquire at school all the knowledge they possess of the past history of their country. In view of this
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  • 1907
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Produced by Anne Soulard, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



[Illustration: GEORGE WASHINGTON. Painted by Rembrandt Peale.]


It is not too much to assert that most of our countrymen acquire at school all the knowledge they possess of the past history of their country. In view of this fact it is most desirable that a history of the United States for elementary schools should present not only the essential features of our country’s progress which all should learn, but also many things of secondary consequence which it is well for every young American to know.

In this book the text proper consists of the essentials, and these are told in as few words as truth and fairness will permit. The notes, which form a large part of the book, include the matters of less fundamental importance: they may be included in the required lessons, or may be omitted, as the teacher thinks proper; however, they should at least be read. Some of the notes are outline biographies of men whose acts require mention in the text and who ought not to be mere names, nor appear suddenly without any statement of their earlier careers. Others are intended to be fuller statements of important events briefly described or narrated in the text, or relate to interesting events that are of only secondary importance. Still others call attention to the treatment of historical personages or events by our poets and novelists, or suggest passages in standard histories that may be read with profit. Such suggested readings have been chosen mostly from books that are likely to be found in all school libraries.

Much of the machinery sometimes used in history teaching–bibliographies, extensive collateral readings, judgment questions, and the like–have been omitted as out of place in a brief school history. Better results may be obtained by having the pupils write simple narratives in their own words, covering important periods and topics in our history: as, the discovery of America; the exploration of our coast and continent; the settlements that failed; the planting of the English colonies; the life of the colonists; the struggles for possession of the country; the causes of the Revolution; the material development of our country between certain dates; and other subjects that the teacher may suggest. The student who can take such broad views of our history, and put his knowledge in his own words, will acquire information that is not likely to be forgotten.

No trouble has been spared in the selection of interesting and authentic illustrations that will truly illustrate the text. Acknowledgment is due for permission to photograph many articles in museums and in the possession of various historical societies. The reproduction of part of Lincoln’s proclamation on page 365 is inserted by courtesy of David McKay, publisher of Lossing’s _Civil War in America_.


[Illustration: U. S. BATTLESHIP.]








XXIX. THE CIVIL WAR, 1863-1865





[Illustration: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”]


Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores, Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said: “Now we must pray, For, lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak; what shall I say?” “Why say, ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!'”

“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak.” The stout mate thought of home; a spray Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek. “What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?” “Why you shall say at break of day,
‘Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!'”

They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow, Until at last the blanched mate said:
“Why, now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead. These very winds forget their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone, Now speak, brave Admiral; speak and say”– He said, “Sail on! sail on! and on!”

They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate: “This mad sea shows its teeth to-night. He curls his lips, he lies in wait
With lifted teeth, as if to bite! Brave Admiral, say but one good word;
What shall we do when hope is gone?” The words leapt like a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”

Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck, And peered through darkness. Ah, that night Of all dark nights! And then a speck–
A light! A light! A light! A light! It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn. He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”

–Joaquin Miller.

Copyrighted and published by The Whitaker & Ray Wiggin Co. San Francisco, California. Used by permission.




The New World, of which our country is the most important part, was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. When that great man set sail from Spain on his voyage of discovery, he was seeking not only unknown lands, but a new way to eastern Asia. Such a new way was badly needed.

THE ROUTES OF TRADE.–Long before Columbus was born, the people of Europe had been trading with the far East. Spices, drugs, and precious stones, silks, and other articles of luxury were brought, partly by vessels and partly by camels, from India, the Spice Islands, and Cathay (China) by various routes to Constantinople and the cities in Egypt and along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. There they were traded for the copper, tin, and lead, coral, and woolens of Europe, and then carried to Venice and Genoa, whence merchants spread them over all Europe. [1] The merchants of Genoa traded chiefly with Constantinople, and those of Venice with Egypt.

THE TURKS SEIZE THE ROUTES OF TRADE.–While this trade was at its height, Asia Minor (from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean) was conquered by the Turks, the caravan routes across that country were seized, and when Constantinople was captured (in 1453), the trade of Genoa was ruined. Should the Turkish conquests be extended southward to Egypt (as later they were), the prosperity of Venice would likewise be destroyed, and all existing trade routes to the Orient would be in Turkish hands.


THE PORTUGUESE SEEK A NEW ROUTE.–Clearly an ocean route to the East was needed, and on the discovery of such a route the Portuguese had long been hard at work. Fired by a desire to expand Portugal and add to the geographical knowledge of his day, Prince Henry “the Navigator” sent out explorer after explorer, who, pushing down the coast of Africa, had almost reached the equator before Prince Henry died. [2] His successors continued the good work, the equator was crossed, and in 1487 Dias passed the Cape of Good Hope and sailed eastward till his sailors mutinied. Ten years later Vasco da Gama sailed around the end of Africa, up the east coast, and on to India, and brought home a cargo of eastern products. A way to India by water was at last made known to Europe. [3]


COLUMBUS PLANS A ROUTE.–Meanwhile Christopher Columbus [4] planned what he thought would be a shorter ocean route to the East. He had studied all that was known of geography in his time. He had carefully noted the results of recent voyages of exploration. He had read the travels of Marco Polo [5] and had learned that off the coast of China was a rich and wonderful island which Polo called Cipango. He believed that the earth is a sphere, and that China and Cipango could be reached by sailing about 2500 miles due westward across the Atlantic.

COLUMBUS SEEKS AID.–To make others think so was a hard task, for nearly everybody believed the earth to be flat, and several sovereigns were appealed to before one was found bold enough to help him. He first applied to the king of Portugal, and when that failed, to the king and queen of Spain. [6] When they seemed deaf to his appeal, he sent his brother to England, and at last, wearied with waiting, set off for France. Then Queen Isabella of Spain was persuaded to act. Columbus was recalled, [7] ships were provided with which to make the voyage, and on Friday, the 3d of August, 1492, the _Santa Maria_ (sahn’tah mah-ree’ah), the _Pinta_ (peen’tah), and the _Niña_ (neen’yah) set sail from Palos (pah’los), on one of the greatest voyages ever made by men. [8]


THE VOYAGE WESTWARD.–The little fleet went first to the Canary Islands and thence due west across the Sea of Darkness, as the Atlantic was called. The voyage was delightful, but every sight and sound was a source of new terror to the sailors. An eruption of a volcano at the Canaries was watched with dread as an omen of evil. They crossed the line of no magnetic variation, and when the needle of the compass began to change its usual direction, they were sure it was bewitched. They entered the great Sargasso Sea and were frightened out of their wits by the strange expanse of floating vegetation. They entered the zone of the trade winds, and as the breeze, day after day, steadily wafted them westward, the boldest feared it would be impossible to return. When a mirage and flights of strange birds raised hopes that were not promptly realized, the sailors were sure they had entered an enchanted realm. [9]


LAND DISCOVERED.–Columbus, who was above such fear, explained the unusual sights, calmed the fears of the sailors, hid from them the true distance sailed, [10] and steadily pursued his way till unmistakable signs of land were seen. A staff carved by hand and a branch with berries on it floated by. Excitement now rose high, and a reward was promised to the man who first saw land. At last, on the night of October 11, Columbus beheld a light moving as if carried by hand along a shore. A few hours later a sailor on the _Pinta_ saw land distinctly, and soon all beheld, a few miles away, a long, low beach. [11]


THE VOYAGE AMONG THE ISLANDS.–Columbus thought he had found one of the islands of the Indies, as the southern and eastern parts of Asia were called. Dressed in scarlet and gold and followed by a band of his men bearing banners, he landed, fell on his knees, and having given thanks to God, took possession for Spain and called the island San Salvador (sahn sahl-va-dor’), which means Holy Savior. The day was October 12, 1492, and the island was one of the Bahamas. [12]

After giving red caps, beads, and trinkets to the natives who crowded about him, Columbus set sail to explore the group and presently came in sight of the coast of Cuba, which he at first thought was Cipango. Sailing eastward, landing now and then to seek for gold, he reached the eastern end of Cuba, and soon beheld the island of Haiti; this so reminded him of Spain that he called it Hispaniola, or Little Spain.

THE FIRST SPANISH COLONY IN THE NEW WORLD.–When off the Cuban shore, the _Pinta_ deserted Columbus. On the coast of Haiti the _Santa Maria_ was wrecked. To carry all his men back to Spain in the little _Nina_ was impossible. Such, therefore, as were willing were left at Haiti, and founded La Navidad, the first colony of Europeans in the New World. [13] This done, Columbus sailed for home, taking with him ten natives, and specimens of the products of the lands he had discovered.

THE VOYAGE HOME.–The _Pinta_ was overtaken off the Haitian coast, but a dreadful storm parted the ships once more, and neither again saw the other till the day when, but a few hours apart, they dropped anchor in the haven of Palos, whence they had sailed seven months before. As the news spread, the people went wild with joy. The journey of Columbus to Barcelona was a triumphal procession. At Barcelona he was received with great ceremony by the king and queen, and soon afterward was sent back with many ships and men to found a colony and make further explorations in the Indies.


OTHER VOYAGES OF COLUMBUS.–In all Columbus made four voyages to the New World. On the second (1493) he discovered Porto Rico, Jamaica, and other islands. On the third (1498) he saw the mainland of South America at the mouth of the Orinoco River. [14] On the fourth (1502-4) he sailed along the shores of Central America. Returning to Spain, he died poor, neglected, and broken-hearted in 1506. [15]

COLUMBUS BELIEVED HE REACHED THE INDIES.–To his dying day Columbus was ignorant of the fact that he had led the way to a new continent. He supposed he had reached the Indies. The lands he discovered were therefore spoken of as the Indies, and their inhabitants were called Indians, a name given in time to the copper-colored natives of both North and South America.

SPAIN’S CLAIM TO NEW-FOUND LANDS.–One of the first results of the discoveries of Columbus was an appeal to the Pope for a bull securing to Spain the heathen lands discovered; for a bull had secured to Portugal the discoveries of her mariners along the coast of Africa. Pope Alexander VI accordingly drew a north and south line one hundred leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, and gave to Spain all she might discover to the west of it, reserving to Portugal all she might discover to the east. A year later (1494) Spain and Portugal by treaty moved the “Line of Demarcation” to three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands (map, p. 20), and on this agreement, approved by the Pope, Spain rested her claim to America.


1. For many centuries before the discovery of America, Europe had been trading with the far East.

2. The routes of this trade were being closed by the Turks.

3. Columbus believed a new route could be found by sailing due westward from Europe.

4. After many years of fruitless effort to secure aid to test his plan, he obtained help from Spain.

5. On his first voyage westward Columbus discovered the Bahama Islands, Cuba, and Haiti; on his later voyages, various other lands about the Caribbean Sea.

6. In the belief that he had reached the Indies, the lands Columbus found were called the Indies, and their inhabitants Indians.


[1] In the Middle Ages, when food was coarse and cookery poor, cinnamon and cloves, nutmeg and mace, allspice, ginger, and pepper were highly prized for spicing ale or seasoning food. But all these spices were very expensive in Europe because they had to be brought so far from the distant East. Even pepper, which is now used by every one, was then a fit gift from one king to another. Camphor and rhubarb, indigo, musk, sandalwood, Brazil wood, aloes wood, all came from the East. Muslin and damask bear the names of eastern cities whence they were first obtained. In the fifteenth century the churches, palaces, manor houses, and homes of rich merchants were adorned with the rugs and carpets of the East.

[2] Prince Henry was the fourth son of John I, king of Portugal. In 1419 he established his home on Cape St. Vincent, gathered about him a body of trained seamen, and during forty years sent out almost every year an exploring expedition. His pilots discovered the Azores and the Madeira Islands. He died in 1460. His great work was training seamen. Many men afterward famous as discoverers and navigators, as Dias (dee’ahss), Da Gama (dah gah’ma), Cabral (ca-brahl’), Magellan, and Columbus, served under Henry or his successors.

In those days there were neither steamships nor such sailing vessels as we have. For purposes of exploration the caravel was used. It was from 60 to 100 feet long, and from 18 to 25 feet broad, and had three masts from the heads of which were swung great sails. Much of the steering was done by turning these sails. Yet it was in such little vessels that some of the most famous voyages in history were made.

[3] These voyages were possible because of the great progress which had recently been made in the art of navigation. The magnetic compass enabled seamen to set their course when the sun and stars could not be seen. The astrolabe (picture, p. 35) made it possible roughly to estimate distances from the equator, or latitude. These instruments enabled mariners to go on long voyages far from land. Read the account of the Portuguese voyages in Fiske’s _Discovery of America_, Vol. I, pp. 294-334.

[4] Christopher Columbus was a native of Genoa, Italy, where he was born about 1436. He was the son of a wool comber. At fourteen he began a seafaring life, and between voyages made charts and globes. About 1470 he wandered to Portugal, went on one or two voyages down the African coast, and on another (1477) went as far north as Iceland. Meantime (1473) he married a Portuguese woman and made his home at the Madeira Islands; and it was while living there that he formed the plan of finding a new route to the far East.

[5] In 1271 Marco Polo, then a lad of seventeen, was taken by his father and uncle from Venice to the coast of Persia, and thence overland to northwestern China, to a city where Kublai Khan held his court. They were well received, and Marco spent many years making journeys in the khan’s service. In 1292 they were sent to escort a royal bride for the khan from Peking (in China) to Tabriz, a city in Persia. They sailed from China in 1292, reached the Persian coast in 1294, and arrived safely at Tabriz, whence they returned to Venice in 1295. In 1298 Marco was captured in a war with Genoa, and spent about a year in prison. While thus confined he prepared an account of his travels, one of the most famous books of the Middle Ages. He described China (or Cathay, as it was then called), with its great cities teeming with people, its manufactures, and its wealth, told of Tibet and Burma, the Indian Archipelago with its spice islands, of Java and Sumatra, of Hindustan,–all from personal knowledge. From hearsay he told of Japan. In the course of the next seventy-five years other travelers found their way to Cathay and wrote about it. Thus before 1400 Europe had learned of a great ocean to the east of Cathay, and of a wonderful island kingdom, Cipan’go (Japan), which lay off its coast. All this deeply interested Columbus, and his copy of Marco Polo may still be seen with its margins full of annotations.

[6] These sovereigns were just then engaged in the final struggle for the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, so they referred the appeal to the queen’s confessor, who laid it before a body of learned men. This council of Salamanca made sport of the idea, and tried to prove that Columbus was wrong. If the world were round, they said, people on the other side must walk with their heads down, which was absurd. And if a ship should sail to the undermost part, how could it come back? Could a ship sail up hill?

[7] On the way to France Columbus stopped, by good luck, at the monastery of La Rabida (lah rah’bee-dah), and so interested the prior, Juan Perez (hoo-ahn’ pa’rath), in his scheme, that a messenger was sent to beg an interview for Perez with the queen of Spain. It was granted, and so well did Perez plead the cause of his friend that Columbus was summoned to court. The reward Columbus demanded for any discoveries he might make seemed too great, and was refused. Thereupon, mounting his mule, he again set off for France. Scarcely had he started when the royal treasurer rushed into the presence of the queen and persuaded her to send a messenger to bring Columbus back. Then his terms were accepted. He was to be admiral of all the islands and countries he might discover, and have a part of all the gems, gold, and silver found in them.

[8] The vessels were no larger than modern yachts. The _Santa Maria_ was single-decked and ninety feet long. The Pinta and Niña (picture, p. 11) were smaller caravels, and neither was decked amidships. In 1893 reproductions of the three vessels, full size and as exact as possible, were sent across the sea by Spain, and exhibited at the World’s Fair in Chicago.

[9] The ideas of geography held by the unlearned of those days are very curious to us. They believed that near the equator was a fiery zone where the sea boiled and no life existed; that hydras, gorgons, chimeras, and all sorts of horrid monsters inhabited the Sea of Darkness; and that in the Indian Ocean was a lodestone mountain that could draw nails out of ships. Because of the way in which ships disappeared below the horizon, it was believed that they went down hill, and that if they went too far they could never get back.

[10] The object of Columbus was not to let the sailors know how far they were from home.

[11] Columbus was not the first European to reach the New World. About six hundred years earlier, Vikings from Norway settled in Iceland, and from the Icelandic chronicles we learn that about 986 A.D. Eric the Red planted a colony in Greenland. His son, Leif Ericsson, about 1000 A.D., led a party south-westward to a stony country which was probably the coast of Labrador or Newfoundland. Going on southward, they came at last to a spot where wild grapes grew. To this spot, probably on the New England coast, Leif gave the name Vinland, spent the winter there, and in the spring went back to Greenland with a load of timber. The next year Leif’s brother sailed to Vinland and passed two winters there. In later years others went, but none remained long, and the land was soon forgotten. Iceland and Greenland were looked upon as part of Europe; and the Vikings’ discoveries had no influence on Columbus and the explorers who followed him. Read Fiske’s _Discovery of America_ Vol. I, pp. 148-255; and Longfellow’s _Skeleton in Armor_.

[12] Nobody knows just which of the Bahamas Columbus discovered. Three of the group–Cat, Turks and Watling–each claim the honor. At present Watling is believed to have been San Salvador. A good account of the voyage is given in Irving’s _Life and Voyages of Columbus_, Vol. I, Book iii, and in Fiske’s _Discovery of America_, Vol. I, pp. 408-442.

[13] When Columbus on his second voyage returned to Hispaniola, he found that every one of the forty colonists had perished. They had been killed by the natives.

[14] Despite the great thing he did for Spain. Columbus lost favor at court. Evil men slandered him; his manner of governing the new lands was falsely represented to the king and queen; a new governor was sent out, and Columbus was brought back in chains. Though soon released, he was never restored to his rights.

[15] Columbus was buried at Valladolid, in Spain, but in 1513 his body was taken to a monastery at Seville. There it remained till 1536, when it was carried to Santo Domingo in Haiti. In 1796 it was removed and buried with imposing ceremonies at Havana in Cuba. In 1898, when Spain was driven from Cuba, his bones were carried back to Seville.



THE ATLANTIC COAST LINE EXPLORED.–Columbus having shown the way, English, Spanish, and Portuguese explorers followed. Some came in search of China or the Spice Islands; some were in quest of gold and pearls. The result was the exploration of the Atlantic coast line from Labrador to the end of South America.

SOME FAMOUS VOYAGES.–In 1497 John Cabot, sailing from England, reached Newfoundland, which he believed to be part of China. [1] In 1498 John Cabot and his son Sebastian, while in search of the Spice Islands, sailed along the coast from Newfoundland to what is now South Carolina. [2]

[Illustration: RECORD OF PAYMENT OF JOHN CABOT’S PENSION FOR 1499. [3] Photographed from the original accounts of the Bristol customs collectors, now in Westminster Abbey, London.]


Before 1500 Spaniards in search of gold, or pearls, or new lands had explored the coast line from Central America to Cape St. Roque. [4]

In 1500 Cabral, while on his way from Portugal to India by Da Gama’s route (p. 11), sailed so far westward that he sighted the coast of the country now called Brazil. Cabral went on his way; but sent back a ship to the king of Portugal with the news that the new-found land lay east of the Line of Demarcation. The king dispatched (1501) an expedition which explored the coast southward nearly as far as the mouth of the Plata River.

SOME RESULTS OF THESE VOYAGES.–The results of these voyages were many and important. They furnished a better knowledge of the coast; they proved the existence of a great mass of land called the New World, but still supposed to be a part of Asia; they secured Brazil for Portugal, and led to the naming of our continent.

WHY THE NEW WORLD WAS CALLED AMERICA.–In the party sent by the king of Portugal to explore the coast of Brazil, was an Italian named Amerigo Vespucci (ah-ma’ree-go ves-poot’chee), or Americus Vespucius, who had twice before visited the coast of South America. Of these three voyages and of a fourth Vespucius wrote accounts, They were widely read, led to the belief that he had discovered a new or fourth part of the world, and caused a German professor of geography to suggest that this fourth part should be called America. The name was applied first to what is now Brazil, then to all South America, and finally also to North America, when it was found, long afterward, that North America was part of the new continent and not part of Asia.

[Illustration: THE FIRST PRINTED SUGGESTION OF THE NAME AMERICA. [5] Part of a page from Waldseemüller’s book _Cosmographie Introductio_, printed in 1507, now in the Lenox Library, New York.]

BALBOA DISCOVERS THE PACIFIC.–The man who led the way to the discovery that America was not part of Asia was Balbo’a. [6] He came to the eastern border of Panama (1510) with a band of Spaniards seeking gold. There they founded the town of Darien and in time made Balboa their commander. He married the daughter of a chief, made friends with the Indians, and heard from them of a great body of water across the mountains. This he determined to see, and in 1513, with Indian guides and a party of Spaniards, made his way through dense and tangled forests and from the summit of a mountain looked down on the Pacific Ocean, which he called the South Sea. Four days later, standing on the shore, he waited till the rising tide came rolling in, and then rushing into the water, sword in hand, he took possession of the ocean in the name of Spain. [7]

[Illustration: SPANISH HELMET AND SHIRT OF MAIL FOUND IN MEXICO. Now in Essex Hall, Salem, Mass.]

THE PACIFIC CROSSED; THE PHILIPPINES DISCOVERED.–The Portuguese meantime, by sailing around Africa, had reached the Spice Islands. So far beyond India were these islands that the Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan took up the old idea of Columbus, and maintained that they could be most easily reached by sailing west. To this proposition the king of Portugal would not listen; so Magellan persuaded the king of Spain to let him try; and in 1519 set sail with five small ships. He crossed the Atlantic to the mouth of the Plata, and went south till storms and cold drove him into winter quarters. [8] In August, 1520 (early spring in the southern hemisphere), he went on his way and entered the strait which now bears his name. One of the ships had been wrecked. In the strait another stole away and went home. The three remaining vessels passed safely through, and out into an ocean so quiet compared with the stormy Atlantic that Magellan called it the Pacific. Across this the explorers sailed for five months before they came to a group of islands which Magellan called the Ladrones (Spanish for _robbers_) because the natives were so thievish. [9] Ten days later they reached another group, afterward named the Philippines. [10]

On one of these islands Magellan and many of his men were slain. [11] Two of the ships then went southward to the Spice Islands, where they loaded with spices. One now started for Panama, but was forced to return. The other sailed around Africa, and in 1522 reached Spain in safety. It had sailed around the world. The surviving captain was greatly honored. The king ennobled him, and on his coat of arms was a globe with the motto “You first sailed around me.”


RESULTS OF THE VOYAGE.–Of all the voyages ever made by man up to that time, this of Magellan and his men was the greatest. It gave positive proof that the earth is a sphere. It revealed the vast width of the Pacific. It showed that America was probably not a part of Asia, and changed the geographical ideas of the time. [12]

THE COAST OF FLORIDA EXPLORED.–What meantime had happened along the coast of North America? In 1513 Ponce de Leon [13] (pon’tha da la-on’), a Spaniard, sailed northwest from Porto Rico in search of an island which the Indians told him contained gold, and in which he believed was a fountain or stream whose waters would restore youth to the old. In the season of Easter, or Pascua Florida, he came upon a land which he called Florida. Ponce supposed he had found an island, and following the coast southward went round the peninsula and far up the west coast before going back to Porto Rico. [14]


THE GULF COAST EXPLORED.–In 1519 another Spaniard, Pineda (pe-na’da), sailed along the Gulf coast from Florida to Mexico. On the way he entered the mouth of a broad river which he named River of the Holy Spirit. It was long supposed that this river was the Mississippi; but it is now claimed to have been the Mobile. Whatever it was, Pineda spent six weeks in its waters, saw many Indian towns on its banks, traded with the natives, and noticed that they wore gold ornaments.

THE EXPEDITION OF NARVAEZ.–Pineda’s story of Indians with gold ornaments so excited Narvaez (nar-vah’eth) that he obtained leave to conquer the country, and sailed from Cuba with four hundred men. Landing on the west coast of Florida, he made a raid inland. When he returned to the coast the ships which were sailing about watching for him were nowhere to be seen. After marching westward for a month the Spaniards built five small boats, put to sea, and sailing near the shore came presently to where the waters of the Mississippi rush into the Gulf. Two boats were upset by the surging waters. The others reached the coast beyond, where all save four of the Spaniards perished.

FOUR SPANIARDS CROSS THE CONTINENT.–After suffering great hardships and meeting with all sorts of adventures among the Indians, the four survivors, led by Cabeza de Vaca (ca-ba’tha da vah’ca), walked across what is now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico to a little Spanish town near the Pacific coast. They had crossed the continent. [15]

NEW MEXICO EXPLORED.–Cabeza de Vaca had wonderful tales to relate of “hunchback cows,” as he called the buffalo, and of cities in the interior where gold and silver were plentiful and where the doorways were studded with precious stones. [16] Excited by these tales, the Spanish viceroy of Mexico sent Fray Marcos to gather further information. [17] Aided by the Indians, Marcos made his way over the desert and came at last to the “cities,” which were only the pueblos of the Zuñi (zoo’nyee) Indians in New Mexico. The pueblos were houses several stories high, built of stone or of sun-dried brick, and each large enough for several hundred Indians to live in. But Marcos merely saw them at a distance, for one of his followers who went in advance was killed by the Zuñi, whereupon Marcos fled back to Mexico.


THE SPANIARDS REACH KANSAS.–Marcos’s reports about the seven cities of Cibola (see’bo-la), as he called them, aroused great interest, and Corona’do was sent with an army to conquer them. Marching up the east coast of the Gulf of California and across Arizona, Coronado came at last to the pueblos and captured them one by one. He found no gold, but did see doorways studded with the green stones of the Rocky Mountains. Much disappointed, he pushed on eastward, and during two years wandered about over the plains of our great Southwest and probably reached the center of what is now Kansas. [18]

DE SOTO ON THE MISSISSIPPI.–As Coronado was making his way home, an Indian woman escaped from his army, and while wandering about fell in with a band of Spaniards belonging to the army of De Soto. [19]

De Soto, as governor of Cuba, had been authorized to conquer and hold all the territory that had been discovered by Narvaez. He set out accordingly in 1539, landed an army at Tampa Bay, and spent three years in wandering over Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. In the spring of 1542 he crossed the Mississippi River and entered Arkansas, and it was there that one of his bands met the Indian woman who escaped from Coronado’s army. In Arkansas De Soto died of fever, and was buried in the Mississippi River. His followers then built a few boats, floated down the river to the Gulf, and following the coast of Texas came finally to the Spanish settlements in Mexico.

THE FRENCH ON THE COAST.–Far to the northeast explorers of another European nation by this time were seeking a foothold. When John Cabot came home from his first voyage to the Newfoundland coast, he told such tales of cod fisheries thereabouts, that three small ships set sail from England to catch fish and trade with the natives of the new-found isle. Portuguese and Frenchmen followed, and year after year visited the Newfoundland fisheries. No serious attempt was made to settle the island. What Europe wanted was a direct westward passage through America to Cathay. This John Verrazano, an Italian sailing under the flag of France, attempted to find, and came to what is now the coast of North Carolina. There Verrazano turned northward, entered several bays along the coast, sailed by the rock-bound shores of Maine, and when off Newfoundland steered for France.

THE FRENCH ON THE ST. LAWRENCE.–Verrazano was followed (1534) by Jacques Cartier (zhak car-tya’), also in search of a passage to Cathay. Reaching Newfoundland (map, p. 114), Cartier passed through the strait to the north of it, and explored a part of the gulf to the west. A year later he came again, named the gulf St. Lawrence, and entered the St. Lawrence River, which he thought was a strait leading to China. Up this river he sailed till stopped by the rapids which he named Lachine (Chinese). Near by was a high hill which he called Mont Real (re-ahl’), or Mount Royal. At its base now stands the city of Montreal. [20] From this place the French went back to a steep cliff where now stands the city of Quebec, and, it is believed, spent the winter there. The winter was a terrible one, and when the ice left the river they returned to France (1536).

[Illustration: INDIAN LONG HOUSE.]

Not discouraged, Cartier (1541) came a third time to plant a colony on the river. But hunger, mutiny, and the severity of the winter brought the venture to naught. [21]

NO SETTLEMENTS IN OUR COUNTRY.–From the first voyage of Columbus to the expeditions of De Soto, Coronado, and Cartier, fifty years had passed. The coast of the new continent had been roughly explored as far north as Labrador on the east and California on the west. The Spaniards in quest of gold and silver mines had conquered and colonized the West Indies, Mexico, and parts of South America. Yet not a settlement had been made in our country. Many rivers and bays had been discovered; two great expeditions had gone into the interior; but there were no colonies on the mainland of what is now the United States.


1. The voyage of Columbus led to many other voyages, prompted chiefly by a hope of finding gold. They resulted in the exploration of the coast of America, and may be grouped according to the parts explored, as follows:–

2. The Atlantic coast of North America was explored (1497-1535) by Cabot (for England)–from Newfoundland to South Carolina. Ponce de Leon (for Spain)–peninsula of Florida. Verrazano (for France)–from North Carolina to Newfoundland. Cartier (for France)–Gulf of St. Lawrence.

3. The Gulf and Caribbean coasts of North America were explored (1502- 1528) for Spain by Columbus–Central America. Ponce de Leon–west coast of Florida. Pineda–from Florida to Mexico. Narvaez expedition–from Florida to Texas.

4. The Atlantic coast of South America was explored (1498-1520) by Columbus–mouth of the Orinoco. Other explorers for Spain–whole northern coast. Cabral (for Portugal)–part of eastern coast. Vespucius (for Portugal)–eastern coast nearly to the Plata River. Magellan (for Spain)– to the Strait of Magellan.

5. The Pacific coast of America was explored (1513-1542) for Spain by Balboa–part of Panama. Magellan–part of the southwest coast. Pizarro (note, p. 23)–from Panama to Peru. Cabrillo (note, p. 28)–from Mexico up the coast of California.

6. The Spaniards early established colonies in the West Indies, South America, and Mexico; but fifty years after Columbus’s discovery there was no settlement of Europeans in the mainland part of the United States. Several Spanish expeditions, however, had explored (1534-1542) large parts of the interior:–Cabeza de Vaca and his companions walked from Texas to western Mexico, Coronado wandered from Mexico to Kansas. De Soto wandered from Florida beyond the Mississippi River.


[1] This discovery made a great stir in Bristol, the port from which Cabot sailed. A letter written at the time states, “Honors are heaped upon Cabot. He is called Grand Admiral, he is dressed in silk, and the English run after him like madmen.” The king gave him £10 and a pension of £20 a year. A pound sterling in those days was in purchasing power quite the equal of fifty dollars in our time.

[2] These voyages of Cabot were not followed up at the time. But in the days of Queen Elizabeth, more than eighty years later, they were made the basis of the English claim to a part of North America.

[3] Bristoll–Arthurus Kemys et Ricardus ap. Meryke collectores custumarum et subsidiorum regis ibidem a festo Sancti Michaelis Archangeli anno XIIII mo Regis nunc usque idem festum Sancti Michaelis tunc proximo sequens reddunt computum de MCCCCXXIIII li. VII S. x d. quadr. De quibus…. Item in thesauro in una tallia pro Johanne Cabot, xx li. Translation: “Bristol –Arthur Kemys and Richard ap Meryke, collectors of the king’s customs and subsidies there, from Michaelmas in the fourteenth year of this king’s reign [Henry VII] till the same feast next following render their account of £1424 7_s._ 10-1/4_d._…. In the treasury is one tally for John Cabot, £20.”

[4] On one of these voyages the Spaniards saw an Indian village built over the water on piles, with bridges joining the houses. This so reminded them of Venice that they called it Venezuela (little Venice), a name afterward applied to a vast extent of country.

[5] “But now these parts [Europe, Asia, and Africa] have been more widely explored, and another fourth part has been discovered by Americus Vespucius (as will appear in the following pages); so I do not see why any one should rightly object to calling it Amerige or America, i.e. land of Americus, after its discoverer Americus, a man of sagacious mind–since both Europe and Asia are named after women. Its situation and the ways of its people may be clearly understood from the four voyages of Americus which follow.”

[6] Vasco Nuñez de Balboa had come from Spain to Haiti and settled down as a planter, but when (1510) an expedition was about to sail for South America to plant a colony near Panama, Balboa longed to join it. He was in debt; so lest his creditors should prevent his going, he had himself nailed up in a barrel and put on board one of the ships with the provisions.

[7] In the course of expeditions along the eastern coast of Mexico, the Spaniards heard of a mighty king, Montezuma, who ruled many cities in the interior and had great stores of gold. In 1519 Cor’tes landed with 450 men and a few horses, sank his ships, and began inland one of the most wonderful marches in all history. The account of the great things which he did, of the marvelous cities he conquered, of the strange and horrible sights he saw, reads like fiction. Six days after reaching the city of Mexico, he seized Montezuma and made himself the real ruler of the country; but later the Mexicans rose against him and he had to conquer them by hard fighting. Read the story of the conquest as briefly told in Fiske’s _Discovery of America_, Vol. II, pp. 245-293.

The Spaniards also heard rumors of a golden kingdom to the southward where the Incas ruled. After preliminary voyages of exploration Francisco Pizarro sailed from Panama in 1531 with 200 men and 50 horses to conquer Peru. Landing on the coast he marched inland to the camp of the Inca, a young man who had just seized the throne. The sight of the white strangers clad in shining armor, wielding thunder and lightning (firearms), and riding unearthly beasts (horses were unknown to the Indians), caused wonder and dread in Peru as it had in Mexico. The Inca was made prisoner and hundreds of his followers were killed. He offered to fill his prison room with gold as high as he could reach if Pizarro would set him free; the offer was accepted and in 1533 some $15,000,000 in gold was divided among the conquerors. The Inca, however, was put to death, and the Spaniards took possession of the whole country.

[8] None of Magellan’s vessels were as large as the _Santa Maria_, and three were smaller than the _Niña_. The sailors demanded that Magellan return to Spain. When he refused, the captains and crews of three ships mutinied, and were put down with difficulty.

[9] Guam, which now belongs to our country, is one of the Ladrones.

[10] The Spaniards took possession of the Philippines a few years later, and in 1571 founded Manila. The group was named after Philip II of Spain. In 1555 a Spanish navigator discovered the Hawaiian Islands; but though they were put down on the early Spanish charts, the Spaniards did not take possession of them. Indeed, these islands were practically forgotten, and two centuries passed before they were rediscovered by the English explorer, Captain Cook, in 1778.

[11] Magellan was a very religious man, and after making an alliance with the king of the island of Cebu, he set about converting the natives to Christianity. The king, greatly impressed by the wonders the white man did, consented. A bonfire was lighted, the idols were thrown in, a cross was set up, and the natives were baptized. This done, the king called on Magellan to help him attack the chief of a neighboring island; but in the attack Magellan was killed and his men put to flight. This defeat so angered the king that he invited thirty Spaniards to a feast, massacred them, cut down the cross, and again turned pagan.

[12] Read the account in Fiske’s _Discovery of America_, Vol. II, pp. 190-211.

[13] Juan Ponce de Leon had sailed with Columbus on his second voyage, and had settled in Haiti. Hearing that there was gold in Porto Rico, he explored it for Spain, in 1509 was made its governor, and in 1511 founded the city of San Juan (sahn hoo-ahn’). After he was removed from the governorship, he obtained leave to search for the island of Bimini.

[14] He now obtained authority to colonize the supposed island; but several years passed before he was ready to make the attempt. He then set off with arms, tools, horses, and two hundred men, landed on the west coast of Florida, lost many men in a fight with the Indians, and received a wound of which he died soon after in Cuba.

[15] The story of this remarkable march across the continent is told in _The Spanish Pioneers_, by C. F. Lummis.

[16] There was a tradition in Europe that when the Arabs conquered Spain in the eighth century, a certain bishop with a goodly following fled to some islands far out in the Sea of Darkness and founded seven cities. When the Spaniards came in contact with the Indians of Mexico, they were told of seven caves from which the ancestors of the natives had issued, and jumped to the conclusion that the seven caves were the seven cities; and when Cabeza de Vaca came with his story of the wonderful cities of the north, it was believed that they were the towns built by the bishop.

[17] At an Indian village in Mexico, Marcos heard of a country to the northward where there were seven cities with houses of two, three, and four stories, and that of the chief with five. On the doorsills and lintels of the best houses, he was told, were turquoise stones.

[18] Read _The Spanish Pioneers_, by C. F. Lummis, pp. 77-88, 101-143. The year that Coronado returned to Mexico (1542) an expedition under Cabrillo (kah-breel’yo) coasted from Mexico along what is now California. Cabrillo died in San Diego harbor.

[19] Hernando de Soto was born about 1500 in Spain, and when of age went to Panama and thence to Peru with Pizarro. In the conquest of Peru he so distinguished himself that on returning to Spain he was made governor of Cuba.

[20] Landing on this spot, Cartier set forth to visit the great Indian village of Hochelaga. He found it surrounded with a palisade of tree trunks set in three rows. Entering the narrow gate, he beheld some fifty long houses of sapling frames covered with bark, each containing many fires, one for a family. From these houses came swarms of women and children, who crowded about the visitors, touched their beards, and patted their faces. Soon the warriors came and squatted row after row around the French, for whom mats were brought and laid on the ground. This done, the chief, a paralyzed old savage, was carried in, and Cartier was besought by signs to heal him, and when Cartier had touched him, all the sick, lame, and blind in the village were brought out for treatment. Read Parkman’s _Pioneers of France in the New World_, pp. 187-193.

[21] As Cartier was on his way home he stopped at the harbor of St. Johns in Newfoundland, a harbor then frequented by fishermen from the Old World. There he was met by three ships and 200 colonists under Roberval, who ordered him to return. But one night Cartier slipped away in the darkness. Roberval went on to the site of Quebec and there planted his colony. What became of it is not known; but that it did not last long is certain, and many years passed before France repeated the attempt to gain a foothold on the great river of Canada.



THE FRENCH IN SOUTH CAROLINA.–After the failure in Canada twenty years passed away before the French again attempted to colonize. Then (1562) Admiral Coligny (co-leen’ye), the leader of the Huguenots, or Protestants of France, sought to plant a colony in America for his persecuted countrymen, and sent forth an expedition under Ribaut (ree-bo’). These Frenchmen reached the coast of Florida, and turning northward came to a haven which they called Port Royal. Here they built a fort in what is now South Carolina. Leaving thirty men to hold it, Ribaut sailed for France. Famine, homesickness, ignorance of life in a wilderness, soon brought the colony to ruin. Unable to endure their hardships longer, the colonists built a crazy boat, [1] put to sea, and when off the French coast were rescued by an English vessel.


THE FRENCH IN FLORIDA.–Two years later (1564) Coligny tried again, and sent forth a colony under Laudonnière (lo-do-ne-air’). It reached the coast of Florida, and a few miles up the St. Johns River built a fort called Caroline in honor of the French King Charles. The next year there came more colonists under Ribaut. [2]

[Illustration: FORT CAROLINE. From an old print.]

THE SPANIARDS FOUND ST. AUGUSTINE.–Now it so happened that just at this time a Spaniard named Menendez (ma-nen’deth) had obtained leave to conquer and settle Florida. Before he could set off, news came to Spain that the French were on the St. Johns River, and Menendez was sent with troops to drive them out. He landed in Florida in 1565 and built a fort which was the beginning of St. Augustine, the first permanent settlement on the mainland part of the United States. Ribaut at once sailed to attack it. But while he was at sea Menendez marched overland, took Fort Caroline, and put to death every man there, save a few who made good their escape. [3]

SPAIN HOLDS AMERICA.–More than seventy years had now parsed since Columbus made his great voyage of discovery. Yet, save some Portuguese settlements in Brazil, the only European colonies in America were Spanish. From St. Augustine, around the Gulf of Mexico, down South America to the Strait of Magellan and up the west coast to California, save the foothold of Portugal, island and mainland belonged to Spain. And all the rest of North America she claimed.

ENGLISH ATTACKS ON SPAIN IN THE NEW WORLD.–So far in the sixteenth century England had taken little or no part in the work of discovery, exploration, and settlement. Her fishermen came to the Banks of Newfoundland; but not till 1562, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, did the contact of England with the New World really begin. Then it was that Sir John Hawkins, one of England’s great “sea kings,” went to Africa, loaded his ships with negroes, sold them to planters in Haiti, and came home with hides and pearls. Such trade for one not a Spaniard was against the law of Spain. But Hawkins cared not, arid came again and again. When foul weather drove him into a Mexican port, the Spaniards sank most of his ships, but Hawkins escaped with two vessels, in one of which was Francis Drake. [4]

Smarting under defeat, Drake resolved to be avenged. Fitting out a little squadron at his own cost, without leave of the queen, Drake (1572) sailed to the Caribbean Sea, plundered Spanish towns along the coast, captured Spanish ships, and went home loaded with gold, silver, and merchandise. [5]

DRAKE SAILS AROUND THE GLOBE.–During this raid on the Spanish coast Drake marched across the Isthmus of Panama and looked down upon Balboa’s great South Sea. As he looked, he resolved to sail on it, and in 1577 left England with five ships on what proved to be the greatest voyage since that of Magellan. He crossed the Atlantic, sailed down the coast of South America, and entered the Strait of Magellan. There four ships deserted, but Drake went on alone up the west coast, plundering towns and capturing Spanish vessels. To return the way he came would have been dangerous, for Spanish cruisers lay in wait. Drake, therefore, went on up the coast in search of a passage through the continent to the Atlantic. Coasting as far as southern Oregon and finding no passage, Drake turned southward, entered a harbor, repaired his ship, and then started westward across the Pacific. He touched at the Philippines, visited the Spice Islands, came home by way of the Cape of Good Hope, and won the glory of being the first Englishman to sail around the globe. [6]

[Illustration: DRAKE’S ASTROLABE. Now in Greenwich Hospital, London.]

THE ENGLISH IN THE FAR NORTH.–While Drake was on his voyage around the world, Martin Frob’isher discovered Hudson Strait, [7] and Sir Humphrey Gilbert failed in an attempt to plant a colony somewhere in America. The failure was disheartening. But the return of Drake laden with spoil aroused new interest in America, and (in 1583) Gilbert led a colony to Newfoundland. Disaster after disaster overtook him, and while he was on his way home with two vessels (all that were left of five), one with Gilbert on board went down at sea. [8]

THE ENGLISH ON ROANOKE ISLAND.–The work of colonization then passed to Sir Walter Raleigh, a half-brother of Gilbert. He began by sending out a party of explorers who sailed along the coast of North Carolina and brought back such a glowing description of the country that the queen named it Virginia and Raleigh chose it for the site of a colony. [9]

In 1585, accordingly, a party of men commanded by Ralph Lane were landed on Roanoke Island (map, p. 44). But the site proved to be ill chosen, and the Indians were hostile. The colonists were poorly fitted to live in a wilderness, and were almost starving when Drake, who stopped at Roanoke (1586) to see how they were getting on, carried them back to England. [10]

[Illustration: RALEIGH’S PIPES.]

THE LOST COLONY.–Not long after Drake sailed away with the colonists, a party of recruits arrived with supplies. Finding the island deserted, fifteen men remained to hold the place in the queen’s name, and the rest returned to England. Not disheartened by these reverses, Raleigh summoned some men of influence to his aid, and (in 1587) sent out a third party of settlers, both men and women, in charge of John White. This party was to stop at Roanoke Island, pick up the fifteen men there, and then go on to Chesapeake Bay. But for some reason the settlers were left on the island by the convoy, and there they were forced to stay. [11]

[Illustration: INDIANS IN A DUGOUT CANOE. Part of a drawing by John White.]

White very soon went back to England for help, in the only ship the colonists had. War with Spain prevented his return for several years, and then only the ruins of the settlement were found on the island. [12]

[Illustration: ENGLISH DRESS, SIXTEENTH CENTURY. Contemporary portrait of Raleigh and his son, by Zuccaro.]

SPAIN ATTACKS ENGLAND.–The war which prevented White from promptly returning to Roanoke began in 1585. The next year, with twenty-five ships, Drake attacked the possessions of Spain in America, and burned and plundered several towns. In 1587 he “singed the beard of the king of Spain” by burning a hundred vessels in the harbor of the Spanish city of Cadiz.

Enraged by these defeats, King Philip II of Spain determined to invade England and destroy that nest of sea rovers. A great fleet known as the Invincible Armada, carrying thirty thousand men, was assembled and in 1588 swept into the English channel. There the English, led by Raleigh, [13] Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins, Lane, and all the other great sea kings, met the Armada, drove it into the North Sea, and captured, burned, and sank many of the ships. The rest fled around Scotland, on whose coast more were wrecked. Less than half the Armada returned to Spain. [14]

THE ENGLISH EXPLORE THE NEW ENGLAND COAST.–The war lasted sixteen years longer (till 1604). Though it delayed, it did not stop, attempts at colonization. In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold, with a colony of thirty-two men, sailed from England, saw the coast of Maine, turned southward, named Cape Cod and the Elizabeth Islands, [15] and after a short stay went home. The next year Martin Pring came with two vessels on an exploring and trading voyage; and in 1605 George Weymouth was sent out, visited the Kennebec River in Maine, and brought back a good report of the country.

THE VIRGINIA CHARTER OF 1606.–Peace had now been made with Spain; England had not been forced to stop her attempts to colonize in America; the favorable reports of Gosnold, Pring, and Weymouth led to the belief that colonies could be successfully planted; and in 1606 King James I chartered two commercial companies to colonize Virginia, as the Atlantic seaboard region was called.

To the first or London Company was granted the right to plant a colony anywhere along the coast between 34° and 41° of north latitude (between Cape Fear River and the Hudson). To the second or Plymouth Company was given the right to plant a colony anywhere between 38° and 45° (between the Potomac River and the Bay of Fundy). Each company was to have a tract of land one hundred miles square–fifty miles along the coast each way from the first settlement and one hundred miles inland; and to prevent overlapping, it was provided that the company last to settle should not locate within one hundred miles of the other company’s settlement.

[Illustration: VIRGINIA.]

THE COLONY ON THE KENNEBEC.–The charter having been granted, each company set about securing emigrants. To get them was not difficult, for in England at that day there were many people whose condition was so desperate that they were glad to seek a new home beyond the sea. [16] In a few months, therefore, the Plymouth Company sent out its first party of colonists; but the ship was seized by the Spaniards. The next year (1607) the company sent out one hundred or more settlers in two ships. They landed in August at the mouth of the Kennebec River, and built a fort, a church, a storehouse, and fifteen log cabins. These men were wholly unfit for life in a wilderness, and in December about half went home in the ships in which they came. The others passed a dismal winter, and when a relief ship arrived in the spring, all went back, and the Plymouth Company’s attempt to colonize ended in failure.

THE COLONY ON THE JAMES.–Meanwhile another band of Englishmen (one hundred and forty-three in number) had been sent out by the London Company to found a colony in what is now Virginia. They set sail in December, 1606, in three ships under Captain Newport, and in April, 1607, reached the entrance of Chesapeake Bay. Sailing westward across the bay, the ships entered a river which was named the James in honor of the king, and on the bank of this river the party landed and founded Jamestown (map, p. 44). With this event began the permanent occupation of American soil by Englishmen. At this time, more than a hundred years after the voyages of Columbus, the only other European settlers on the Atlantic coast of the United States were the Spaniards in Florida.

[Illustration: RUINS AT JAMESTOWN. Church tower as it looks to-day.]


1. The Huguenots tried to found French colonies on the coast of South Carolina (1562) and of Florida (1564); but both attempts failed.

2. In 1565 all America, save Brazil, either was in Spanish hands, or was claimed by Spain and not yet occupied.

3. During the next twenty years English sailors began to fight Spaniards, Drake sailed around the globe, Frobisher explored the far north, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert attempted to plant a colony in Newfoundland.

4. Gilbert’s half-brother Raleigh then took up the work of colonization, but his attempts to plant a colony at Roanoke Island ended in failure.

5. The attacks of English buccaneers on the American colonies of Spain led to a war (1585-1604), in which the most memorable event was the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

6. After the war two companies were chartered to plant English colonies in America. The Plymouth Company’s colony was a failure, but in 1607 the London Company founded Jamestown.


[1] The forests supplied the trees for timbers. The seams were calked with the moss that hung in clusters from the branches, and then smeared with pitch from the pines. The Indians made them a rude sort of rope for cordage, and for sails they sewed together bedding and shirts. On the voyage home they ate their shoes and leather jerkins. Read Kirk Munroe’s _Flamingo Feather_.

[2] These men were adventurers, not true colonists, and little disposed to endure the toil, hunger, and dreariness of a life in the wilderness. It was not long, therefore, before the boldest of them seized two little vessels and sailed away to plunder Spaniards in the West Indies. Famine drove them into Havana, where to save their necks they told what was going on in Florida. Sixty-six mutineers presently seized two other vessels and turned buccaneers. But the survivors were forced to return to Fort Caroline, where the leaders were put to death.

[3] Some of these and many others, who were shipwrecked with Ribaut, afterward surrendered and were killed. As Florida was considered Spanish territory the French had no right to settle there, so the French king did nothing more than protest to Spain. Read the story of the French in Florida as told by Parkman, in _Pioneers of France in the New World_, pp. 28-162.

[4] Read Fiske’s _Old Virginia and her Neighbours_, Vol. I, pp. 19-20.

[5] Read Kingsley’s _Westward Ho!_ and Barnes’s _Drake and his Yeomen_. On returning to England in 1573, Drake reached Plymouth on a Sunday, during church time. So great was the excitement that the people left the church during the sermon, in order to get sight of him.

[6] On his return in 1580 Queen Elizabeth knighted Drake on his own deck. A chair made from the timbers of his vessel (the _Golden Hind_) is now at Oxford. Read Fiske’s _Old Virginia and her Neighbours_, Vol. I, pp. 26-28.

[7] In 1576 Frobisher, when in search of a northwest passage to China, made his way through Arctic ice to the bay which now bears his name. Two more voyages were made to the far north in search of gold.

[8] The ships were overtaken off the Azores by a furious gale. Gilbert’s vessel was a very little one, so he was urged to come aboard his larger consort; but he refused to desert his companions, and replied, “Do not fear; heaven is as near by water as by land.”

[9] Queen Elizabeth had declared she would recognize no Spanish claim to American territory not founded on discovery and settlement. Raleigh was authorized, therefore, to hold by homage heathen lands, not actually possessed and inhabited by Christian people, which he might discover within the next six years.

[10] The colonists took home some tobacco, which at that time was greatly prized in England. When Columbus reached the island of Cuba in 1492, two of his followers, sent on an errand into the interior, met natives who rolled certain dried leaves into tubes, and, lighting one end with a firebrand, drew the smoke into their bodies and puffed it out. This was the first time that Europeans had seen cigars smoked. The Spaniards carried tobacco to Europe, and its use spread rapidly. There is a story to the effect that a servant entering a room one morning and seeing smoke issuing from Raleigh’s mouth, thought he was on fire and dashed water in his face.

[11] On Roanoke Island, August 18, 1587, a girl was born and named Virginia. She was the granddaughter of Governor White and the daughter of Eleanor and Ananias Dare, and the first child of English parents born on the soil of what is now the United States.

[12] The settlers had agreed that if they left Roanoke before White returned, the name of the place to which they went should be cut on a tree, and a cross added if they were in distress. When White returned the blockhouse was in ruins, and cut on a tree was the name of a near-by island. A storm prevented the ship going thither, and despite White’s protests he was carried back to England. What became of the colony, no man knows.

[13] Raleigh was an important figure in English history for many years after the failure of his Roanoke colony. When Queen Elizabeth died (1603), he fell into disfavor with her successor, King James I. He was falsely accused of treason and thrown into prison, where he remained during twelve years. There he wrote his _History of the World_. After a short period of liberty, Raleigh was beheaded. As he stood on the scaffold he asked for the ax, and said, “This is a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all diseases.”

[14] Read Fiske’s _Old Virginia and her Neighbours_, Vol. I, pp. 33-38.

[15] The Elizabeth Islands are close to the south coast of Massachusetts. A few miles farther south Gosnold found another small island which he named Marthas Vineyard. Later explorers by mistake shifted the name Marthas Vineyard to a large island near by, and the little island which Gosnold found is now called No Mans Land (map, p. 59).

[16] The industrial condition of England was changing. The end of the long war with Spain had thrown thousands of soldiers out of employment; the turning of plow land into sheep farms left thousands of laborers without work; manufactures were still in too primitive a state to provide employment for all who needed it.



LIFE AT JAMESTOWN.–The colonists who landed at Jamestown in 1607 were all men. While some of them were building a fort, Captain Newport, with Captain John Smith and others, explored the James River and visited the Powhatan, chief of a neighboring tribe of Indians. This done, Newport returned to England (June, 1607) with his three ships, leaving one hundred and five colonists to begin a struggle for life. Bad water, fever, hard labor, the intense heat of an American summer, and the scarcity of food caused such sickness that by September more than half the colonists were dead. [1] Indeed, had it not been for Smith, who got corn from the Indians and directed affairs in general, the fate of Jamestown might have been that of Roanoke. [2] As it was, but forty were alive when Newport returned In January, 1608, with the “first supply” of one hundred and twenty men.

[Illustration: SMITH IN SLAVERY. Picture in one of his books.]

[Illustration: POWHATAN’S COAT. Now in a museum at Oxford.]

THE COMPANY’S ORDERS.–Newport was ordered to bring back a cargo. So while some of the colonists cut down cedar and black walnut trees and made clapboards, others loaded the ship with glittering sand which they thought was gold dust. These labors drew the men away from agriculture, and only four acres were planted with corn.

In September Newport was back again with the “second supply” of seventy persons; two of them were women. This time he was ordered to crown the Powhatan, and to find a gold mine, discover a passage to the South Sea, or find Raleigh’s lost colony. Smith laughed at these orders. But they had to be obeyed; so several parties went southward in search of the lost colony, but found it not; Newport went westward beyond the falls of the James in search of the passage; and the Powhatan was duly crowned and dressed in a crimson robe. [3] No gold mine could be found, so Newport sailed for England with a cargo of pitch, tar, and clapboards.

SMITH RULES THE COLONY.–By this time Smith had become president of the council for the government of the colony. He decreed that those who did not work should not eat; and by spring his men had dug a well, shingled the church, put up twenty cabins, and cleared and planted forty acres of corn. Yet, despite all he could do, the colony was on the verge of ruin when in August, 1609, seven ships landed some three hundred men, women, and children known as the “third supply.” [4]

JAMESTOWN ABANDONED.–And now matters went from bad to worse. The leaders quarreled; Smith was injured and had to go back to England; the Indians became hostile; food became scarce; and when at last neither corn nor roots could be had, the colonists began to suffer the horrors of famine. During that awful winter, long known as “the starving time,” cold, famine, and the Indians swept away more than four hundred. When Newport arrived in May, 1610, only sixty famishing creatures inhabited Jamestown. To continue the colony seemed hopeless; and going on board the ships (June, 1610), the colonists set sail for England and had gone well down the James when they met Lord Delaware with three well-provisioned ships coming up. [5]

JAMESTOWN RESETTLED.–Lord Delaware had come out as governor under a new charter granted to the London Company in 1609. This is of interest because it gave to the colony an immense domain of which we shall hear more after Virginia became a state. This domain extended from Point Comfort, two hundred miles up and two hundred miles down the coast, and then “up into the land throughout from sea to sea, west and northwest.”

After the meeting between the departing settlers and the newcomers under Delaware, the whole band returned to Jamestown and began once more the struggle for existence.

PROSPERITY BEGINS.–Delaware, who soon went back to England, left Sir Thomas Dale in command, and under him the colony began to prosper. Hitherto the colonists had lived as communists. The company owned all the land, and whatever food was raised was put into the public granary to be divided among the settlers, share and share alike. Dale changed this system, and the old planters were given land to cultivate for themselves. The effect was magical. Men who were lazy when toiling as servants of the company, become industrious when laboring for themselves, and prosperity began in earnest.

More settlers soon arrived with a number of cows, goats, and oxen, and the little colony began to expand. When Dale’s term as acting governor ended in 1616, Virginia contained six little settlements besides Jamestown. The next governor, Yeardley, introduced the cultivation of tobacco, which was now much used in Europe and commanded a high price.

[Illustration: VIRGINIA (from 1609 to 1624).]

THE FIRST REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY.–Yeardley was succeeded (1617) by Argall, who for two years ruled Virginia with a rod of iron. So harsh was his rule that the company was forced to recall him and send back Yeardley. Yeardley came with instructions to summon a general assembly, and in July, 1619, the first legislative body in America met in the little church at Jamestown; eleven boroughs were represented. Each sent two burgesses, as they were called, and these twenty-two men made the first House of Burgesses, and had power to enact laws for the colony. [6]

SLAVERY INTRODUCED.–Another event which makes 1619 a memorable year in our history was the arrival at Jamestown of a Dutch ship with a cargo of African negroes for sale. Twenty were bought, and the institution of negro slavery was planted in Virginia. This seemed quite proper, for there were then in the colony many white slaves, or bond servants–men bound to service for a term of years. The difference between one of these and an African negro slave was that the white man served for a short time, and the negro during his life. [7]

A CARGO OF MAIDS.–Yet another event which makes 1619 a notable year in Virginian history was the arrival of a ship with ninety young women sent out by the company to become wives of the settlers. The early comers to Virginia had been “adventurers,” that is, men seeking to better their fortunes, not intending to live and die in Virginia, but hoping to return to England in a few years rich, or at least prosperous. That the colony with such a shifting population could not prosper was certain. Virginia needed homes. The mass of the settlers were unmarried, and the company very wisely determined to supply them with wives. The ninety young women sent over in 1619, and others sent later, were free to choose their own husbands: but each man, on marrying one of them, had to pay one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco for her passage to Virginia.


THE CHARTER TAKEN AWAY.–For Virginia the future now looked bright. Her tobacco found ready sale in England at a large profit. The right to make her own laws gave promise of good government. The founding of home ties could not fail to produce increased energy on the part of the settlers. But trouble was brewing for the London Company. The king was quarreling with a part of his people, and the company was in the hands of his opponents. Looking upon it as a “seminary of sedition,” King James secured (1624) the destruction of the charter, and Virginia became a royal province. [8]

STATE OF THE COLONY IN 1624.–The colony of Virginia when deprived of its charter was a little community of some four thousand souls, scattered in plantations on and near the James River. Let us go back to those times and visit one of the plantations. The home of the planter is a wooden house with rough-hewn beams and unplaned boards, surrounded by a high stockade. Near by are the farm buildings and the cabins of his bond servants. His books, his furniture, his clothing and that of his family, have all come from England. So also have the farming implements and very likely the greater part of his cows and pigs. On his land are fields of wheat and barley and Indian corn; but the chief crop is tobacco. [9]

EFFECTS OF TOBACCO PLANTING.–As time passed and the Virginians found that the tobacco always brought a good price in England, they made it more and more the chief crop. This powerfully affected the whole character of the colony. It drew to Virginia a better class of settlers, who came over to grow rich as planters. It led the people to live almost exclusively on plantations, and prevented the growth of large towns. Tobacco became the currency of the colony, and salaries, wages, and debts were paid, and taxes levied, and wealth and income estimated, in pounds of tobacco.

FEW ROADS IN VIRGINIA.–As there were few towns, [10] so there were few roads. The great plantations lay along the river banks. It was easy, therefore, for a planter to go on visits of business or pleasure in a sailboat or in a barge rowed by his servants. The fine rivers and the location of the plantations along their banks enabled each planter to have his own wharf, to which came ships from England laden with tables, chairs, cutlery, tools, rich silks, and cloth, everything the planter needed for his house, his family, his servants, and his plantation, all to be paid for with casks of tobacco.


GOVERNOR BERKELEY.–Despite the change from rule by the company to rule by the king, Virginia grew and prospered. When Sir William Berkeley came over as governor (in 1642), her English population was nearly fifteen thousand and her slaves three hundred, and many of her planters were men of much wealth. Berkeley’s first term as governor (1642-1652) covered the period of the Civil War in England.

CIVIL WAR IN ENGLAND.–When King James died (in 1625) he was succeeded by Charles I, under whom the old quarrel between the king and the people, which had caused the downfall of the London Company, was pushed into civil war. In 1642 Charles I took the field, raised the royal standard, and called all loyal subjects to its defense. The Parliament of England likewise raised an army, and after varying fortunes the king was defeated, captured, tried for high treason, found guilty, and beheaded (1649). England then became a republic, called the Commonwealth.

THE CAVALIERS.–While the Civil War was raging in England, Virginia (largely because of the influence of Governor Berkeley) remained loyal to the king. As the war went on and the defeats of the royal army were followed by the capture of the king, numbers of his friends, the Cavaliers, fled to Virginia. After Charles I was beheaded, more than three hundred of the nobility, gentry, and clergy of England came over in one year. No wonder, then, that the General Assembly recognized the dead king’s son as King Charles II, and made it treason to doubt his right to the throne. Because of this support of the royal cause, Parliament punished Virginia by cutting off her trade, and ordered that steps be taken to reduce her to submission. A fleet was accordingly dispatched, reached Virginia early in 1652, and forced Berkeley to hand over the government to three Parliamentary commissioners. One of them was then elected governor, and Virginia had almost complete self-government till 1660, when England again became a kingdom, under Charles II.

MARYLAND, THE FIRST PROPRIETARY COLONY.–When Virginia became crown property (1624), the king could do with it what he pleased. King Charles I accordingly cut off a piece and gave it to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. [11] This Lord Baltimore was a Catholic who had tried in vain to found a settlement in Newfoundland. He died before the patent, or deed, was drawn for the land cut off from Virginia, so (1632) it was issued to his son Cecilius, the second Lord Baltimore. The province lay north of the Potomac River and was called Maryland.


By the terms of the grant Lord Baltimore was to pay the king each year two arrowheads in token of homage, and as rent was to give the king one fifth of all the gold and silver mined. This done, he was proprietor of Maryland. He might coin money, grant titles, make war and peace, establish courts, appoint judges, and pardon criminals. But he was not allowed to tax the people without their consent. He had to summon a legislature to assist him in making laws, but the laws when made did not need to be sent to the king for approval.

THE FIRST SETTLERS.–The first settlement was made by a company of about twenty gentlemen and three hundred artisans and laborers. They were led and accompanied by two of Lord Baltimore’s brothers, and by two Catholic priests. They came over in 1634 in two ships, the _Ark_ and the _Dove_, and not far from the mouth of the Potomac founded St. Marys. In February, 1635, they held their first Assembly. To it came all freemen, both landholders and artisans, and by them a body of laws was framed and sent to the proprietor (Lord Baltimore) for approval.

SELF-GOVERNMENT BEGUN.–This was refused, and in its place the proprietor sent over a code of laws, which the Assembly in its turn rejected. The Assembly then went on and framed another set of laws. Baltimore with rare good sense now yielded the point, and gave his brother authority to assent to the laws made by the people, but reserved the right to veto. Thus was free self-government established in Maryland. [12]

TROUBLE WITH CLAIBORNE.–Before Lord Baltimore obtained his grant, William Claiborne, of Virginia, had established an Indian trading post on Kent Island in Chesapeake Bay. This fell within the limits given to Maryland; but Claiborne refused to acknowledge the authority of Baltimore, whereupon a vessel belonging to the Kent Island station was seized by the Marylanders for trading without a license. Claiborne then sent an armed boat with thirty men to capture any vessel belonging to St. Marys. This boat was itself captured, instead; but another fight soon occurred, in which Claiborne’s forces beat the Marylanders. The struggle thus begun lasted for years. [13]

THE TOLERATION ACT.–The year 1649 is memorable for the passage of the Maryland Toleration Act, the first of its kind in our history. This provided that “no person or persons whatsoever within this province, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be any ways troubled, molested, or discountenanced for, or in respect to, his or her religion.”

END OF THE CLAIBORNE TROUBLE.–The nine years that followed formed a stormy period for Maryland. One of the parliamentary commissioners to reduce Virginia to obedience (1652, p. 49) was our old friend Claiborne. He and the new governor of Virginia forced Baltimore’s governor to resign, and set up a Protestant government which repealed the Toleration Act and disfranchised Roman Catholics. Baltimore bade his deposed governor resume office. A battle followed, the Protestant forces won, and an attempt was made to destroy the rights of Baltimore; but the English government sustained him, the Virginians were forced to submit, and the quarrel of more than twenty years’ standing came to an end. Thenceforth Virginia troubled Maryland no more.

GROWTH OF MARYLAND.–The population of the colony, meantime, grew rapidly. Pamphlets describing the colony and telling how to emigrate and acquire land were circulated in England. Many of the first comers wrote home and brought out more men, and were thus enabled to take up more land. Emigrants who came with ten or twenty settlers were given manors or plantations. Such as came alone received farms.

Most of the work on plantations was done by indented white servants, both convicts and redemptioners. [14] Negro slavery existed in Maryland from the beginning, but slaves were not numerous till after 1700.

[Illustration: HAND LOOM. [15]]

Food was abundant, for the rivers and bay abounded with geese and ducks, oysters and crabs, and the woods were full of deer, turkeys, and wild pigeons. Wheat was not plentiful, but corn was abundant, and from it were made pone, hominy, and hoe-cakes.

NO TOWNS.–As everybody could get land and therefore lived on manors, plantations, or farms, there were practically no towns in Maryland. Even St. Marys, so late as 1678, was not really a town, but a string of some thirty houses straggling for five miles along the shore. The bay with its innumerable creeks, inlets, coves, and river mouths, afforded fine water communication between the farms and plantations; and there were no roads. As in Virginia, there was no need of shipping ports. Vessels came direct to manor or plantation wharf, and exchanged English goods for tobacco or corn. Such farmers or planters as had no water communication packed their tobacco in a hogshead, with an axle through it, and with an ox or a horse in a pair of shafts, or with a party of negro slaves or white servants, rolled it to market.


1. The struggle of the Jamestown colony for life was a desperate one. For two years it was preserved by Captain John Smith’s skillful leadership, and the frequent reinforcements and supplies sent over by the London Company; but in 1610 the settlers started to leave the country.

2. The arrival of Lord Delaware saved the colony. He brought out news of a new charter (1609) which greatly extended the domain of the company.

3. The settlers were now given land of their own, tobacco was grown, more settlements were planted, and prosperity began.

4. In 1619 slavery was introduced; a shipload of young women arrived; and a representative government was established.

5. In 1624 Virginia became a royal colony.

6. During the Civil War in England many Cavaliers came to Virginia.

7. King Charles I cut off a part of Virginia to make (1632) the proprietary colony of Maryland. The new province was given to Lord Baltimore, who founded (1634) a colony at St. Marys.

8. Claiborne, a Virginian, denied the authority of Baltimore, and kept up a struggle against him for many years.

9. In both Maryland and Virginia the people lived on large plantations, and there were few towns. Travel was mostly by water, and there were no good roads.


[1] Read Fiske’s _Old Virginia and her Neighbours_, Vol. I, pp. 96-98.

[2] Captain John Smith was born in England in 1580. At an early age he was a soldier in France and in the Netherlands; then after a short stay in England he set off to fight the Turks. In France he was robbed and left for dead, but reached Marseilles and joined a party of pilgrims bound to the Levant. During a violent storm the pilgrims, believing he had caused it, threw him into the sea. But he swam to an island, and after many adventures was made a captain in the Venetian army. The Turks captured him and sold him into slavery, but he killed his master, escaped to a Russian fortress, made his way through Germany, France, Spain, and Morocco, and reached England in time to go out with the London Company’s colony. His career in Virginia was as adventurous as in the Old World. While exploring the Chickahominy River he and his companions were taken by the Indians. Lest they should kill him at once Smith showed them a pocket compass with its quivering needle always pointing north. They could see, but could not touch it because of the glass. Supposing him a wizard, they took him to the Powhatan. According to Smith’s account two stones were brought and Smith’s head laid upon them, while warriors, club in hand, stood near by to beat out his brains. But suddenly the chief’s little daughter, Pocahontas, rushed in and laid her head on Smith’s to shield him. He was given his life and sent back to Jamestown.

[3] Smith and Newport visited the old chief at his village of Werowocomoco, took off the Powhatan’s raccoon-skin coat, and put on the crimson robe. When they told him to kneel, he refused. Two men thereupon seized him by the shoulders and forced him to bend his knees, and the crown was clapped on his head. The Powhatan then took off his old moccasins and sent them, with his raccoon-skin coat, to his royal brother in London.

[4] They were part of a body of some five hundred in nine ships which left England in June. On the way over a storm scattered the fleet; one ship was lost, and another bearing the leaders of the expedition was wrecked on the Bermudas. The shipwrecked colonists spent ten months building two little vessels, in which they reached Jamestown in May, 1610.

[5] Read Fiske’s _Old Virginia and her Neighbours_, Vol. I, pp. 152-155.

[6] The governor, the council, and the House of Burgesses constituted the General Assembly. Any act of the Assembly might be vetoed by the governor, and no law was valid till approved by the “general court” of the company at London. Neither was any law made by the company for the colony valid till approved by the Assembly. After 1660 the House of Burgesses consisted of two delegates from each county, with one from Jamestown.

[7] For some years to come the slaves increased in numbers very slowly. So late as 1671, when the population of Virginia was 40,000, there were but 2000 slaves, while the bond servants numbered 6000. Some of these indentured servants, as they were called, were persons guilty of crime in England, who were sent over to Virginia and sold for a term of years as a punishment. Others–the “redemptioners”–were men who, in order to pay for their passage to Virginia, agreed to serve the owner or the captain of the ship for a certain time. On reaching Virginia the captain could sell them to the planters for the time specified; at the end of the time they became freemen.

[8] That is, the unoccupied land became royal domain again, and the king appointed the governors and controlled the colony through a committee of his privy council. One unhappy result of the downfall of the London Company was the defeat of a plan for establishing schools in Virginia. As early as 1621 some funds were raised for “a public free school,” in Charles City. A tract of land was also set apart in the city of Henricus for a college, and a rector, or president, was sent out to start it. But he was killed by the Indians in 1622, and before the company had found a successor the charter was destroyed. Virginia’s first college–William and Mary–was established at Williamsburg in 1693.

[9] Read the description of early Virginia in J. E. Cooke’s _Virginia_ (American Commonwealths Series), pp. 141-157; or _Stories of the Old Dominion_; or Fiske’s _Old Virginia and her Neighbours_, Vol. I, pp. 223- 232.

[10] Jamestown was long the chief town of Virginia; but in its best days the houses did not number more than 75 or 80, and the population was not more than 250. In 1676 the church, the House of Burgesses, and the dwellings were burned during Bacon’s Rebellion (p. 95). In 1679 the Burgesses ordered Jamestown “to be rebuilt and to be the metropolis of Virginia”; but in 1698 the House of Burgesses was again burned and in 1699 Williamsburg became the seat of government. The ruined church tower (p. 40) is the only structure still standing in Jamestown; but remains of the ancient graveyard, of a mansion built on the foundations of the old House of Burgesses, and some foundations of dwellings may also be seen. The site is cared for by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.

[11] George Calvert was the son of a Yorkshire farmer, was educated at Oxford, and went to Parliament in 1604. Becoming a favorite of King James I, he was knighted in 1617, and two years later was made principal Secretary of State. He became a Roman Catholic, although Catholics were then bitterly persecuted in England. Just before the king died, he resigned office, and received the title of Lord Baltimore, the name referring to a town in Ireland. Finding all public offices closed to him because he was a Catholic, Baltimore resolved to seek a home in America.

[12] Baltimore ordered that any colonist who came in the _Ark_ or _Dove_ and brought five men with him should have 2000 acres of land, subject to an annual rent of 400 pounds of wheat. A settler who came in 1635 could have the same amount of land if he brought ten men, but had to pay 600 pounds of wheat a year as rent. Plantations of 1000 acres or more were manors, and the lord of the manor could hold courts.

[13] Claiborne’s London partners took possession of Kent Island, and acknowledged the authority of Baltimore; but after the Civil War broke out in England, Claiborne joined forces with a half pirate named Ingle, and recovered the island. For two years Ingle and his crew lorded it over all Maryland, stealing corn, tobacco, cattle, and household goods. Not till 1646, when Calvert received aid from Virginia, was he able to drive out Claiborne and Ingle, and recover the province.

[14] The redemptioners, when their time was out and they became freemen, received a set of tools, clothes, and a year’s provisions from their former masters, and fifty acres from the proprietor of the colony.

[15] On such looms skilled servants wove much of the cloth used on the plantation. Similar looms were used in all the colonies.



NEW ENGLAND NAMED.–While the London Company was planting its colony on the James River, the Plymouth Company sought to retrieve its failure on the Kennebec (p. 39). In 1614 Captain John Smith, who had returned to England from Jamestown, was sent over with two ships to explore. He made a map of the coast from Maine to Cape Cod, [1] and called the country New England. The next year Smith led out a colony; but a French fleet took him prisoner, no settlement was made, and five years passed before the first permanent English colony was planted in the Plymouth Company’s grant–by the Separatists.


THE SEPARATISTS.–To understand who these people were, it must be remembered that during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Protestant Episcopal Church was the Established Church of England, and that severe laws were passed to force all the people to attend its services. But a sect arose which wished to “purify” the church by abolishing certain forms and ceremonies. These people were called Puritans, [2] and were divided into two sects:

1. Those Puritans who wished to purify the Church of England while they remained members of it.

2. The Independents, or Separatists, who wished to separate from that church and worship God in their own way.

The Separatists were cruelly persecuted during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, and afterward. One band of them fled to Holland (in 1608), where they found peace; but time passed and it became necessary for them to decide whether they should stay in Holland and become Dutch, or find a home in some land where they might continue to remain Englishmen. They decided to leave Holland, formed a company, and finally obtained leave from the London Company to settle near the mouth of the Delaware River.

[Illustration: BREWSTER’S CHAIR. Now in Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth.]

VOYAGE OF THE MAYFLOWER.–Led by Brewster, Bradford, and Standish, a party of Pilgrims sailed from Holland in July, 1620, in the ship _Speedwell_; were joined in England by a party from London in the _Mayflower_; and in August both vessels put to sea. But the _Speedwell_ proved unseaworthy, and all put back to Plymouth in England, where some gave up the voyage. One hundred and two held fast to their purpose, and in September set sail in the _Mayflower_. The voyage was long and stormy, and November came before they sighted a sandy coast far to the northeastward of the Delaware. For a while they strove hard to go southward; but adverse winds drove them back, and they dropped anchor in Cape Cod Bay. [3]

THE LANDING.–The land here was within the territory of the Plymouth Company. The Pilgrims, however, decided to stay and get leave to settle, but this decision displeased some of them. A meeting, therefore, was held in the ship’s cabin (November 21, 1620), and the “Mayflower compact,” binding all who signed it to obey such government as might be established, was drawn up and signed by forty-one of the sixty-five men on the vessel.

This done, the work of choosing a site for their homes began, and for several weeks little parties explored the coast before one of them entered a harbor and selected a spot which John Smith had named Plymouth. [4] To this harbor the _Mayflower_ was brought, and while the men were busy putting up rude cabins, the women and children remained on the ship.

THE FIRST WINTER was a dreadful one. The Pilgrims lived in crowded quarters, and the effects of the voyage and the severity of the winter sent half of them to their graves before spring. But the rest never faltered, and when the _Mayflower_ returned to England in April, not one of the colonists went back in her. By the end of the first summer a fort had been built on a hill, seven houses had been erected along a village street leading down from the fort to the harbor, six and twenty acres had been cleared, and a bountiful harvest had been gathered. Other Pilgrims came over, the neighboring Indians kept the peace, and the colony was soon prosperous.

[Illustration: SITE OF THE FORT AT PLYMOUTH. In the old “burying ground.”]

PLYMOUTH, OR THE OLD COLONY.–As soon as the colony was planted, steps were taken to buy the land on which it stood. The old Plymouth Company (pp. 38, 39), organized in 1606, was succeeded in 1620 by a new corporation called the Council for New England, which received a grant of all the land in America between 40° and 48° of north latitude. From this Council for New England, therefore, the Pilgrims bought as much land as they needed. The king, however, refused to give them a charter, so the people of Plymouth, or the Old Colony as it came to be called, managed their own affairs in their own way for seventy years. At first the men assembled in town meeting, made laws, and elected officers. But when the growth of the colony made such meetings unwieldy, representative government was set up, and each settlement sent two delegates to an assembly.

[Illustration: GRAVE OF MILES STANDISH, near Plymouth.]

THE SALEM COLONY.–Shortly after 1620, attempts were made to plant other colonies in New England. [5] Most of them failed, but some of the colonists made a settlement called Naumkeag. Among those who watched these attempts with great interest was John White, a Puritan rector in England. He believed that the time had come for the Puritans to do what the Separatists had done. The quarrel between the king and the Puritans was then becoming serious, and the time seemed at hand when men who wished to worship God according to their conscience would have to seek a home in America. White accordingly began to urge the planting of a Puritan colony in New England. So well did he succeed that an association was formed, a great tract of land was obtained from the Council for New England, and in 1628 sixty men, led by John Endicott, settled at Naumkeag and changed its name to Salem, which means “peace.”

THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY.–The members of the association next secured from King Charles I a charter which made them a corporation, called this corporation The Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England, and gave it the right to govern colonies planted on its lands. More settlers with a great herd of cattle were now hurried to Salem, which thus became the largest colony in New England.


THE GREAT PURITAN MIGRATION.–The same year (1629) that the charter was obtained, twelve leading Puritans signed an agreement to head an emigration to Massachusetts, provided the charter and government of the company were removed to New England. One of the signers was John Winthrop, and by him in 1630 nearly a thousand Puritans were led to Salem. Thence they soon removed to a little three-hilled peninsula where they founded the town of Boston. More emigrants followed, and before the end of 1630 seventeen ships with nearly fifteen hundred Puritans reached Massachusetts. They settled at Boston, Charlestown, Roxbury, Dorchester, Watertown, and Cambridge.

The charter was brought with them, the meetings of the company were now held in the colony, and so many of the colonists became members of the company that Massachusetts was practically self-governing. Before long a representative government was established in the colony, each town electing members of a legislature called the General Court. Every town also had its local government carried on by town meetings; but only church members were allowed to vote.

MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE.–About two years after the founding of Plymouth, the Council for New England granted to John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges (gor’jess) a large tract of land between the rivers Merrimac and Kennebec. In it two settlements (now known as Portsmouth and Dover) were planted (1623) on the Piscat’aqua River, and some fishing stations on the coast farther north.

In 1629 the province was divided. Mason obtained a patent (or deed) for the country between the Merrimac and the Piscataqua, and named it New Hampshire. Gorges received the country between the Piscataqua and the Kennebec, which was called Maine.

[Illustration: ENGLISH ARMOR. Now in Essex Hall, Salem.]

UNION WITH MASSACHUSETTS.–The towns on the Piscataqua were small fishing and fur-trading stations, and after Mason died (1635) they were left to look out for themselves. With two other New Hampshire towns (Exeter and Hampton) they became almost independent republics. They set up their own governments, made their own laws, and owed allegiance to nobody save the king. Massachusetts, however, claimed as her north boundary an east and west line three miles north of the source of the Merrimac River. [6] She therefore soon annexed the four New Hampshire towns, and gave them representation in her legislature.

If the claim of Massachusetts was valid in the case of the New Hampshire towns, it was equally so for those of Maine. But it was not till 1652, after Gorges was dead and the settlers in Maine (at York, Wells, and Kittery) had set up a government of their own, that these towns were brought under her authority. Later (1677), Massachusetts bought up the claim of the heirs of Gorges, and came into possession of the whole province.


RHODE ISLAND.–Among those who came to Salem in the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was a Puritan minister named Roger Williams. [7] But he had not been long in the colony when he said things which angered the rulers. He held that all religions should be tolerated; that all laws requiring attendance at church should be repealed; that the land belonged to the Indians and not to the king; and that the settlers ought to buy it from the Indians and not from the king. For these and other sayings Williams was ordered back to England. But he fled to the woods, lived with the Indians for a winter, and in the following summer founded Providence (1636). [8]

And now another disturber appeared in Boston in the person of Anne Hutchinson, [9] and in a little while she and her followers were driven away. Some of them went to New Hampshire and founded Exeter (p. 60), while others with Anne herself went to Rhode Island in Narragansett Bay, and founded Portsmouth and Newport.

For a time each of the little towns, Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport, arranged its own affairs in its own way, but in 1643 Williams obtained from the English Parliament a charter which united them under the name of The Incorporation of Providence Plantations on the Narragansett Bay in New England.

CONNECTICUT FOUNDED.–Religious troubles did not end with the banishment of Williams and Anne Hutchinson. Many persons objected to the law forbidding any but church members to vote or hold office. So in 1635 and 1636 numbers of people, led by Thomas Hooker and others, went out (from Dorchester, Watertown, and Cambridge) and founded Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford in the Connecticut River valley. Later a party (from Roxbury) settled at Springfield. For a while these four towns were part of Massachusetts. But in 1639 Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield adopted a constitution [10] and founded a republic which they called Connecticut.

THE NEW HAVEN COLONY.–As the quarrel between the Puritans and the king was by this time very bitter, the Puritans continued to come to New England in large numbers. Some of them made settlements on Long Island Sound. A large band under John Davenport founded New Haven (1638). Next (in 1639) Milford and Guilford were started, and then (in 1640) Stamford. In 1643 the four towns joined in a sort of union and took the name New Haven Colony.

[Illustration: PURITAN DRESS.]

THE UNITED COLONIES OF NEW ENGLAND.–Thus there were planted in New England between 1620 and 1643 five distinct colonies, [11] namely: (1) Plymouth, or the Old Colony, (2) Massachusetts Bay Colony, (3) Rhode Island, or Providence Plantations, (4) Connecticut, and (5) the New Haven Colony.

In 1643 four of them–Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven –united for defense against the Indians and the Dutch, [12] and called their league “The United Colonies of New England.” This confederation maintained a successful existence for forty-one years.

EFFECT OF THE CIVIL WAR IN ENGLAND.–When the New England confederation was formed, the king and the Puritans in old England had come to blows, and civil war was raging there. During the next twenty years no more English colonies were planted in America. War at once stopped the stream of emigrants. The Puritans in England remained to fight the king, and numbers went back from New England to join the Parliamentary army. For the next fifteen years population in New England increased slowly.

TRADE AND COMMERCE.–Life in the New England colonies was very unlike that in Virginia. People dwelt in villages, cultivated small farms, and were largely engaged in trade and commerce. They bartered corn and peas, woolen cloth, and wampum with the Indians for beaver skins, which they sent to England to pay for articles bought from the mother country. They salted cod, dried alewives and bass, made boards and staves for hogsheads, and sent all these to the West Indies to be exchanged for sugar, molasses, and other products of the tropics. They built ships in the seaports where lumber was cheap, and sold them abroad. They traded with Spain and Portugal, England, the Netherlands, and Virginia.

[Illustration: STONE HAND MILL. Brought from England in 1630 and used for grinding flour. Now in Essex Hall, Salem, Mass.]

SCARCITY OF MONEY.–The colonists brought little money with them, and much of what they brought went back to England to pay for supplies. Buying and trading in New England, therefore, had to be done largely without gold or silver. Beaver skins and wampum, bushels of corn, produce, cattle, and even bullets were used as money and passed at rates fixed by law. [13] In the hope of remedying the scarcity of money, the government of Massachusetts ordered that a mint should be set up, and in 1652 Spanish silver brought from the West Indies was melted and coined into Pine Tree currency. [14]

[Illustration: SPINNING WOOL.]

MANUFACTURES.–That less gold and silver might go abroad for supplies,