United States History I. Introduction United States History, story of how the republic developed from colonial beginnings in the 16th century, when the first European explorers arrived, until modern times. As the nation developed, it expanded westward from small settlements along the Atlantic Coast, eventually including all the territory between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across the middle of the North American continent, as well as two noncontiguous states and a number of territories.
The European background The English colonization of North America was but one chapter in the larger story of European expansion throughout the globe. The Portuguesebeginning with a voyage to Porto Santo off the coast of West Africa inwere the first Europeans to promote overseas exploration and colonization.
By the Portuguese had traveled all the way to the southern tip of Africa, establishing trading stations at ArguinSierra Leoneand El Mina. First in the Caribbean and then in spectacular conquests of New Spain and Peruthey captured the imagination, and the envy, of the European world.
Architect of the Capitol Franceoccupied with wars in Europe to preserve its own territorial integritywas not able to devote as much time or effort to overseas expansion as did Spain and Portugal. Beginning in the early 16th century, however, French fishermen established an outpost in Newfoundlandand in Jacques Cartier began exploring the Gulf of St.
By the French had ceased their efforts to colonize the northeast portion of the New World. In the last half of the 16th century, France attempted to found colonies in Florida and Brazilbut each of these efforts failed, and by the end of the century Spain and Portugal remained the only two European nations to have established successful colonies in America.
Cartier, JacquesThis map details the first two voyages of Jacques Cartier. The Englishalthough eager to duplicate the Spanish and Portuguese successes, nevertheless lagged far behind in their colonization efforts.
The English possessed a theoretical claim to the North American mainland by dint of the voyage of John Cabot off the coast of Nova Scotiabut in fact they had neither the means nor the desire to back up that claim during the 16th century.
Thus it was that England relied instead on private trading companies, which were interested principally in commercial rather than territorial expansion, to defend its interests in the expanding European world.
The first of these commercial ventures began with the formation of the Muscovy Company in In Sir Francis Drake made his famous voyage around the world, plundering the western coast of South America en route.
A year later Sir Humphrey Gilbertone of the most dedicated of Elizabethan imperialists, began a series of ventures aimed at establishing permanent colonies in North America. All his efforts met with what was, at best, limited success. Finally, in SeptemberGilbert, with five vessels and men, disappeared in the North Atlantic.
John Cabot landing on the shores of Labrador, coloured engraving by an unknown artist, 19th century. Even men such as the English geographer Richard Hakluyt were not certain that the Spanish colonization experience could or should be imitated but hoped nevertheless that the English colonies in the New World would prove to be a source of immediate commercial gain.
There were, of course, other motives for colonization. English imperialists thought it necessary to settle in the New World in order to limit Spanish expansion.
Once it was proved that America was a suitable place for settlement, some Englishmen would travel to those particular colonies that promised to free them from religious persecution. There were also Englishmen, primarily of lower- and middle-class origin, who hoped the New World would provide them with increased economic opportunity in the form of free or inexpensive land.
These last two motives, while they have been given considerable attention by historians, appear not to have been so much original motives for English colonization as they were shifts of attitude once colonization had begun.
Settlement Virginia The leaders of the Virginia Companya joint-stock company in charge of the Jamestown enterprise, were for the most part wealthy and wellborn commercial and military adventurers eager to find new outlets for investment. During the first two years of its existence, the Virginia colony, under the charter ofproved an extraordinarily bad investment.
This was principally due to the unwillingness of the early colonizers to do the necessary work of providing for themselves and to the chronic shortage of capital to supply the venture. JamestownJamestown Fort in Virginia U.
As a result, the enterprise still failed to yield any profits, and the number of investors again declined. The crown issued a third charter inauthorizing the company to institute a lottery to raise more capital for the floundering enterprise.
In that same year, John Rolfe harvested the first crop of a high-grade and therefore potentially profitable strain of tobacco. At about the same time, with the arrival of Sir Thomas Dale in the colony as governor inthe settlers gradually began to practice the discipline necessary for their survival, though at an enormous personal cost.
Each person in Virginia, including women and children, was given a military rank, with duties spelled out in minute detail. Penalties imposed for violating these rules were severe: The settlers could hardly protest the harshness of the code, for that might be deemed slander against the company—an offense punishable by service in the galleys or by death.
To increase incentive the company, beginning inoffered 50 acres about 20 hectares of land to those settlers who could pay their transportation to Virginia and a promise of 50 acres after seven years of service to those who could not pay their passage.
Concurrently, the new governor of Virginia, Sir George Yeardleyissued a call for the election of representatives to a House of Burgesseswhich was to convene in Jamestown in July In its original form the House of Burgesses was little more than an agency of the governing board of the Virginia Company, but it would later expand its powers and prerogatives and become an important force for colonial self-government.
Despite the introduction of these reforms, the years from to proved fatal to the future of the Virginia Company. Epidemicsconstant warfare with the Indians, and internal disputes took a heavy toll on the colony.
In the crown finally revoked the charter of the company and placed the colony under royal control. The introduction of royal government into Virginia, while it was to have important long-range consequences, did not produce an immediate change in the character of the colony.
The economic and political life of the colony continued as it had in the past. The House of Burgesses, though its future under the royal commission of was uncertain, continued to meet on an informal basis; by it had been officially reestablished.support and did not last long.
New York was the home of the first newspaper published in for English American readers. Named Albion; or, the British and Colonial Foreign Gazette, it survived until and outlasted its rivals, the Old Countryman (), the Emigrant (), and the Anglo-American ().
John Winthrop was the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, one of the eight colonies governed by royal charter in the colonial period.
They created and nurtured them. Like children, the American colonies grew and flourished under British supervision.
Like many adolescents, the colonies rebelled. The first colony was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in Many of the people who settled in the New World came to escape religious persecution.
The Pilgrims, founders of .
The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by.
The colonial history of the United States covers the history of European colonization of the Americas from the start of colonization in the early 16th century until their incorporation into the United States of America.
In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands launched major colonization programs in eastern North America. Geoff Mangum's Guide to Native American History & Culture. Prehistory, Contact to the End of the Indian Wars, and Modern Days.
This webpage features North America before the Europeans, and during the ensuing four centuries () of European dispossession of the native populations by violence and deceit, euphemistically termed "the clash of cultures", and with modern information on tribes.