HRS Europeans Colonize North America, 1600-1650

                                                                                                                 Pocahontas                                      John Winthrop

HRS Chapter 2 Study Guide

The theme of interaction among peoples of different cultures and between people and their environment begun in Chapter 1 continues in Chapter 2. In Spanish, French, and Dutch North America we discuss the colonizing efforts of Spain, France and the Netherlands in North America, the characteristics of the settlements they established, and the interactions between the settlers and Native Americans and between the settlers and their environment. In the next section (The Caribbean), the focus shifts to French, Dutch, and English efforts to gain control of the Lesser Antilles and the importance of sugar cane in those endeavors.

The third section, English Interest in Colonization, takes us from the general discussion of European colonization to the more particular case of England. A discussion of social, religious, economic, and political changes in seventeenth-century English society, changes that prompted masses of English citizens to move to North America in the seventeenth century, sets the stage for an explanation in section four of the means, motives, and problems associated with the Jamestown settlement. We then return to the important theme of interaction in this case the interaction between the Jamestown settlers and the Algonquians. Here we see the development of the idea that the differences between these two cultures became the focal point of their interaction, with the economic evolution of Virginia and the subsequent spread of the tobacco culture finally leading to open warfare.

The next section, Life in the Chesapeake, is a more complete discussion of the development of Chesapeake society politically, socially, and economically. Important elements are the headright system, the emergence of representative assemblies, the practice of indentured servitude, and patterns of family life. These elements interacted to produce a distinctive Chesapeake-area lifestyle.

In The Founding of New England we discuss the motives that led to English settlement of the New England area. Because those motives were primarily religious, the religious beliefs of the Separatists and the Congregationalist Puritans are discussed. Examination of the impact of the interaction between settlers and Native Americans of the New England area is intertwined with a discussion of the political, social, and economic evolution of New England society. Finally, in the chapter's last section, Life in New England, the modes of life adopted by New England colonizers are contrasted with the modes of life of (1) New England Indians and that of (2) Chesapeake settlers. This contrast carries us to a further discussion of the impact of religion on practically every aspect of life in the Puritan colonies. As the text says on page 56:

Puritans objected to secular interference in religious affairs but at the same time expected the church to influence the conduct of politics and the affairs of society. They also believed that the state was obliged to support and protect the one true church theirs. As a result, although they came to America seeking freedom to worship as they pleased, they saw no contradiction in refusing to grant that freedom to others.

The chapter ends with a discussion of the reasons why Massachusetts Bay colony's Puritan leaders decided to banish Roger Williams from the colony in 1636 and Anne Hutchinson in 1638.

Norton (2008). A People and a Nation: A History of the United States, 8th Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

The Atlantic Coast to 1660

1517 Martin Luther initiates the Protestant Reformation in Germany.

1509-47 Reign of Henry VIII witnesses the beginning of Protestant Reformation in England.

1553-58 Queen Mary returns England to the Catholic Church.

1558-1603 English economy, culture, and sea power flourish under Queen Elizabeth I.

1580 Sir Francis Drake circumnavigates the globe under the flag of England.

1585-90 Roanoke, first English colony in America, struggles to survive and then disappears.

1588 English navy defeats the Spanish Armada.

1606 The French found New France.

1607 The English plant their first successful colony at Jamestown, Virginia.

1609?10 Virginians suffer during the "starving time."

1612 John Rolfe introduces tobacco to Virginia.

1620 Separatists found Plymouth Colony in New England and adopt Mayflower Compact.

1622 Indian attack, led by Opechancanough, devastates Virginia.

1624 Virginia loses its charter and becomes England?s first royal colony.
Dutch found New Netherland.

1630 Puritans found Massachusetts Bay Colony.

1638 Swedish found New Sweden.

1653-59 Oliver Cromwell heads the English Protectorate after the execution of King Charles I.


THEMES

Religion: Religion or its absence played an important role in the settlement of all the North American colonies. Religious freedom was not a dominant feature of the early colonies, but Rhode Island was founded with that as a principle. The many denominations founded in the post-Reformation era assured that diversity would characterize religion in the Americas.

Demographic Changes: The contrast between success in New England and Virginia is most evident in demographic data. New Englanders emigrated in family groups, settled in a relatively healthy climate with compact settlement, and enjoyed a long life expectancy. In contrast, Virginians were mostly male, settled in a disease-ridden environment with dispersed settlement, and suffered high mortality. Immigration continued throughout the seventeenth century and westward migration continued as the century progressed.

American Identity: The Puritan idea of creating a "city on a hill" as an example to a corrupt England embedded a sense of mission into the American identity. The Puritans wished to transmit their idea of utopia to the rest of the world. Other distinct characteristics established during this early period were slavery, democratic foundations, and ethnic and religious diversity.

American Diversity: Although England sponsored settlement in the North American colonies, settlers came from throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa to live with Native Americans. Africans quickly became an underclass upon which a system of white superiority was based throughout the colonies. The Scots-Irish, resistant to authority in their European homes, settled in western frontier areas away from imperial and colonial control. In the middle and southern colonies a variety of people from mainland Europe settled and created a heterogeneous population.

Environment: The abundance of land differentiated America from Europe. It led Americans to use and then abandon resources rather than to conserve and reuse them. Coastal lands were abandoned and farmers moved to the west. Population growth and the clearing of lands eliminated forests and created pollution in the increasingly densely populated seaports.

George, J. & Brown, J. (2007). AP achiever: Advanced placement american history exam preparation guide.  McGraw Hill.

Digital History

17th Century

The economic, religious, and social developments that led Europeans to colonize new lands; the differences between Spanish, French, and English colonization; and the difficulties they encountered as a result of the varied climates and topographies. 

Biography of America (series 2) 

English Settlement

As the American character begins to take shape in the early seventeenth century, English settlements develop in New England and Virginia. Their personalities are dramatically different. Professor Miller explores the origins of values, cultures, and economies that have collided in the North and South throughout the American story. 


Lecture Outlines

Colonial Settlement 1607-1680

Puritanism 1

Puritanism 2


Multimedia Presentations

The First English Settlements

The New England Colonies

The Middle, Chesapeake, and Southern Colonies


PowerPoint Presentations 

The New England Colonies


Student Assignments

BOA #2  English Settlement 

Comparative Chart (Chesapeake vs. New England) 

Colonial Foundations Chart


Web Links