Readings - Holton
English Settlement of Virginia
According to the economic theory called mercantilism, colonies were valuable to established nations
in Europe in the 1500s and 1600s. What two business reasons for establishing colonies are outlined in
the first paragraph?
In what year was the Jamestown colony first settled? This first British colony in North America to
become permanent was begun in a place where people were already living. Who was living in what
we today know as Virginia when Jamestown’s settlers arrived? What problems did that present?
What did the London Company assume the settlers would find in North America that would make the
Company rich? What product ended up being the profitable item shipped back to Britain from
What woman is mentioned who played an interesting role in the early history of Virginia?
What was an indentured servant?
What eventually replaced indentured servitude as a source of inexpensive labor in colonial Virginia?
commodities – trade items; these can be raw goods or manufactured (finished) goods
mortality rates – the number of deaths (technically the number of deaths divided by the total number of residents)
confederacy – a league or an alliance of groups. Sometimes this alliance can be loosely structured; other
times the term can be used to mean a firm, structured combination.
vagabond – someone who is homeless and wanders about
pauper – a poor person
During the early and mid-sixteenth century [which is to say the 1500s], the English
tended to conceive of North America as a base for piracy and harassment of the Spanish. But
by the end of the century, the English began to think more seriously about North America as a
place to colonize: as a market for English goods and a source of raw materials and
commodities such as furs. . . . America would also provide a place to send the English poor
and ensure that they would contribute to the nation's wealth. During the late sixteenth and
early seventeenth centuries, the English poor increased rapidly in number. As a result of the
enclosure of traditional common lands (which were increasingly used to raise sheep), many
common people were forced to become wage laborers or … to support themselves hand-tomouth … as beggars.
After unsuccessful attempts to establish settlements in Newfoundland and at Roanoke,
the famous "Lost Colony," off the coast of present-day North Carolina, England established its
first permanent North American settlement, Jamestown, in 1607. Located in swampy
marshlands along Virginia's James River, Jamestown's residents suffered horrendous
mortality rates during its first years. Immigrants had just a fifty-fifty chance of surviving five
The one-hundred or so men of the 1607 voyage and subsequent arrivals built a small fortified town that may
have looked like this along the banks of a river, which the English named for King James I.
Jamestown. Photographer. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 9 Apr 2016.
The Jamestown expedition was financed by the Virginia Company of London, which
believed that precious metals were to be found in the area. From the outset, however,
Jamestown suffered from disease and conflict with Indians. Approximately 30,000 Algonquin
Indians lived in the region, divided into about 40 tribes. About 30 tribes belonged to a
confederacy led by Powhatan.
Food was an initial source of conflict. More interested in finding gold and silver than in
farming, Jamestown's residents (many of whom were either aristocrats or their servants) were
unable or unwilling to work. When the English began to seize Indian food stocks, Powhatan
cut off supplies, forcing the colonists to subsist on frogs, snakes, and even decaying corpses.
Captain John Smith (1580?-1631) was twenty-six years old when the first expedition
landed. A farmer's son, Smith had already led an adventurous life before arriving in Virginia.
He had fought with the Dutch army against the Spanish and in eastern Europe against the
Ottoman Turks, when he was taken captive and enslaved. He later escaped to Russia before
returning to England. Smith, serving as president of the Jamestown colony from 1608 to 1609,
required the colonists to work and traded with the Indians for food. In 1609, after being
wounded in a gunpowder accident, Smith returned to England. After his departure, conflict
between the English and the Powhatan confederacy intensified, especially after the colonists
began to clear land in order to plant tobacco.
The adventuresome John Smith
John Smith.. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 9 Apr 2016.
In a volume recounting the history of the English
colony in Virginia, Smith describes a famous incident
in which Powhatan's 12-year-old daughter,
Pocahontas (1595?-1617), saved him from execution.
Although some have questioned whether this
incident took place (since Smith failed to mention it in his Historie's first edition), it may well
have been a "staged event," an elaborate adoption ceremony by which Powhatan symbolically
made Smith his vassal or servant. Through similar ceremonies, the Powhatan people
incorporated outsiders into their society. Pocahontas reappears in the colonial records in 1613,
when she was lured aboard an English ship and held captive. Negotiations for her release
failed, and in 1614, she married John Rolfe, the colonist who introduced tobacco to Virginia.
Whether this marriage represented an attempt to forge an alliance between the English and the
Powhatan remains uncertain.
Early Virginia was a death trap. Of the first 3,000 immigrants, all but 600 were dead
within a few years of arrival. Virginia was a society in which life was short, diseases ran
rampant, and parentless children and multiple marriages were the norm.
The image on the left certainly looks like a proper English lady and certainly nothing like the Disney
caricature from the 1995 animated movie. The portrait is, in fact, of the Native American woman Pocahontas,
daughter of the powerful Powhatan. She accompanied her husband merchant John Rolfe to England in 1616
and even met King James I (for whom Jamestown had been named). Pocahontas became ill and died before
sailing back to Virginia in 1617.
Pocahontas. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 9 Apr 2016.
Pocahontas (1995). Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 11 Apr 2016. CREDIT: WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS / Album / Universal Images
Group Rights Managed / For Education Use Only
The growth of Virginia
In sharp contrast to New England, which was settled mainly by families, most of the
settlers of Virginia and neighboring Maryland were single men bound in servitude. Before the
colonies turned decisively to slavery in the late seventeenth century, planters relied on white
indentured servants from England, Ireland, and Scotland. They wanted men, not women.
During the early and mid-seventeenth century, as many as four men arrived for every woman.
Why did large numbers of people come to such an unhealthful region? To raise tobacco,
which had been introduced into England in the late sixteenth century. Like a number of other
consumer products introduced during the early modern era -- like tea, coffee, and chocolate -tobacco was related to the development of new work patterns and new forms of sociability.
Tobacco appeared to relieve boredom and stress and to enhance peoples' ability to concentrate
over prolonged periods of time. Tobacco production required a large labor force. . . Virginians
experimented with a variety of labor sources, including Indian slaves, [convicts], and white
indentured servants. Convinced that England was overpopulated with vagabonds and
paupers, the colonists imported surplus Englishmen to raise tobacco and to produce dyestuffs,
potash, furs, and other goods that England had imported from other countries. Typically,
young men or women in their late teens or twenties would sign a contract of indenture.
In exchange for transportation to the New World, a servant would work for several years
(usually four to seven) without wages.
The plant that saved colonial Virginia
Tobacco Plant. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
Web. 11 Apr 2016.
This is an often-reproduced painting of 1619
arrival at Jamestown of Africans as imagined by
an illustrator name Howard Pyle who published
picture books in the late 1800s. There is some
question as to whether the ship that dropped off
these “20 and odd Negroes” to work at
Jamestown was Dutch or English.
JAMESTOWN: SLAVERY, 1619. - The introduction of black slavery into the
American colonies at Jamestown, Virginia in August 1619, when a Dutch
ship landed 14 men and 6 women from Guinea. Illustration by Howard Pyle.
Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 9 Apr 2016.
Servitude and Slavery
The status of indentured servants in early Virginia and Maryland was not wholly
dissimilar from slavery. Servants could be bought, sold, or leased. They could also be
physically beaten for disobedience or running away. Unlike slaves, however, they were freed
after their term of service expired, their children did not inherit their status, and they received
a small cash payment of "freedom dues."
Black slavery took root in the American colonies slowly. Historians now know that
small numbers of Africans lived in Virginia before 1619, the year a Dutch ship sold some
twenty blacks (probably from the West Indies) to the colonists. But it was not until the 1680s
that black slavery became the dominant labor system on plantations there. . . Until the mid1660s, the number of white indentured servants was sufficient to meet the labor needs of
Virginia and Maryland. Then, in the mid-1660s, the supply of white servants fell sharply.
Many factors contributed to the growing shortage of servants. The English birth rate had
begun to fall and with fewer workers competing for jobs, wages in England rose. The great fire
that burned much of London in 1666 created a great need for labor to rebuild the city.
Meanwhile, Virginia and Maryland became less attractive as land grew scarcer. Many
preferred to migrate to Pennsylvania or the Carolinas, where opportunities seemed greater. To
replenish its labor force, planters in the Chesapeake region increasingly turned to enslaved
Africans. In 1680, just seven percent of the population of Virginia and Maryland consisted of
slaves; twenty years later, the figure was 22 percent. Most of these slaves did not come directly
from Africa, but from Barbados and other Caribbean colonies or from the Dutch colony of
New Netherlands, which the English had conquered in 1664 and renamed New York.
© Digital History, 2016
English Colonization Begins: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtid=2&psid=3574
Life in Early Virginia:
Slavery Takes Root in Colonial Virginia:
English Settlement of New England
Using the knowledge you have obtained from your reading about Virginia and now about
Massachusetts, discuss the two principle reasons why some Europeans wanted to settle in the “New
World” in the early 1600s?
What two colonies existed during the early 17 th century in what is today Massachusetts? How were
they distinct from one another?
List Britain’s thirteen American colonies (south of Canada.)
How did the arrival of European settlers affect Native Americans?
In addition to founding the colonies of Virginia and Maryland, English settlers moved
into other areas along the Atlantic seaboard throughout the 1600s and 1700s. After the
establishment of Georgia in 1732, Great Britain claimed thirteen colonies between French
Canada and Spanish Florida.
The area to the south of Virginia became known as Carolina eventually subdividing
into North Carolina and South Carolina. Georgia, the southernmost of the “original 13
colonies” was established well over a century after Jamestown’s founding.
William Penn (and his family after him) controlled the colonies of Pennsylvania and
Delaware to the north of Maryland. English emigrants moved into the area east of
Pennsylvania, and it became the colony of New Jersey in the early 1700s. What is today New
York City had originally been a trading town established by Holland, but the appearance of
English warships in New Amsterdam’s harbor in 1664 convinced the Dutch to give control
over to Great Britain. The settlement was renamed in honor of the Duke of York.
Forty-four years before the seizure of Manhattan (New York City) migrants from Britain
had begun to move into the area northeast of New York. This region became known as (and is
still known as) New England; eventually there were four New England colonies. The next
British North American settlement begun after Virginia was the Plymouth settlement famous
for starting the American tradition of Thanksgiving.
Whereas the Jamestown settlers had been interested largely in making money in “the
New World,” many of the New England settlers had religious motivations for traveling and
establishing colonies. Most of the Pilgrims of Plymouth and many of the
others who came later were part of a religious movement known as Puritanism.
At this point in history, the one Christian church in Great Britain was the Anglican
Church or the Church of England (which had split off from the Roman Catholic Church in
1534 under King Henry VIII). Some Anglicans, however, were unhappy about the practices of
their own church (claiming that it was little different than the hated Catholic Church) and
wished to purify it (hence the name Puritans). But because the head of the Church of England
was the king of England, to criticize the church was to criticize the government making it
difficult if not dangerous to hold Puritan beliefs.
One way that Puritans could worship as they wished was to get out of Britain. A small
sub-group within the movement who wished to go even further and break away entirely from
the Anglicans were known as Separatists. Some of these Separatists had tried living in
Holland in the city of Leiden for a decade, but that was not completely satisfactory. This
group, which we know in American history as the Pilgrims, decided to migrate to the “New
World” to find the freedom of religion that they sought, and so they arranged for
transportation across the Atlantic in a ship called the Mayflower.
The Pilgrims who arrived on the
Mayflower and later arrivals to
Plymouth Colony built houses like
these inside a stockade (constructed
as protection against attack by
1627 English Village Is A Re. Photograph. Encyclopædia
Britannica Image Quest. Web. 29 Jul 2011.
They were supposed to be sailing to northern Virginia, but, having been blown off
course, the first land sighted by the one hundred or so passengers of the Mayflower was the
coast of Cape Cod late in the year 1620. After exploring the Cape briefly, the group sailed west
across Cape Cod Bay and built, over the succeeding years, a town on the mainland naming it
after a port city in southwestern England.
Native Americans had lived where the new Plymouth was built, but they had been
wiped out by epidemic disease several years before (illness that the Indians caught years
earlier from European fishermen who had visited the coast). The Pilgrims took advantage of
the fact that there were no Indians living in the immediate area, and yet some of the land had
been cleared for farming by previous inhabitants. The Plymouth settlers lived in an often
uneasy truce with Native American groups who lived more distant from them in the
forestlands of what is today Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Still, some of those Indians
helped the Pilgrims survive, and there were Indians who took part in that first harvest feast in
1621 with the grateful residents of Plymouth Colony.
This often-reproduced painting shows the Pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving Day in 1621 (without Indian
guests, it should be noted). It was painted by George Henry Boughton in 1867,
long after the event.
The First Thanksgiving Day/Boughton. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 30 Jul 2011.
Plymouth was eclipsed in size beginning in 1630 when an even greater migration of
Puritans from Britain settled roughly forty miles north of Plymouth along the coast. This was
the Massachusetts Bay Colony centered at what became the city of Boston. The Puritan colony
expanded as the growing population settled outlying towns, but disagreements among
Puritans caused some groups to move great distances away from Boston and away from the
Puritan leadership into other areas of New England.
In 1636 a Puritan minister named Thomas Hooker led his followers west to the
Connecticut River, and they began the towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor which
developed into the colony of Connecticut. In that same year another minister was forced out
of Massachusetts Bay; Roger Williams founded what grew to be Rhode Island.
Puritan minister Roger Williams fell out of
favor with the leaders of Massachusetts Bay
Colony. He moved south, purchased land
from the local Indians, and founded
Roger Williams Sheltered By The Narragansetts Roger Williams C.1603 1683 English Essayist Clergyman Pamphleteer And Religious Writer
Founder Of The Colony Of Rhode Island From A 19th Century Print
Engraved By J C Armytage After A H Wray. Photograph. Encyclopædia
Britannica Image Quest. Web. 29 Jul 2011.
New Hampshire received its English-derived name in 1629 from Captain John Mason
who had been granted land south of the Piscataqua River; it became separate from
Massachusetts in 1679. The modern state of Maine was never a colony unto itself; it was
considered a province or district of Massachusetts until 1820. French, English, and even
Dutch settlers lived in isolated Vermont; after 1763 and Britain’s victory in the French and
Indian War, the colonial governments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and New York
all thought of Vermont as a part of their colony. Vermont is not considered as one of the
“thirteen original colonies;” residents considered themselves an independent country (until
Vermont joined the U.S. as the fourteenth state in 1791).
As more and more English settlers arrived in New England, tensions between them and
the Native American population increased. The British concept of owning land and the
English use of land for hunting and farming were very different from Indian concepts. This
led to conflicts between the two groups each of which wanted to control the same
environment. The greatest of these conflicts came to be called King Philip’s War. A Native
American leader named Metacomet (known to the English as King Philip) led an uprising in
Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts in 1675. Metacomet formed an alliance of
Indian tribes, and the Native American attacks inflicted wide-spread damage on English
towns and farms killing many English settlers. By 1676 colonial soldiers had pushed back the
Indians; Metacomet himself was killed. This was certainly not the end to conflicts between
European settlers and Native American groups; those continued even into the 1800s, but the
colonists’ victory in King Philip’s War secured all but the most far-flung areas of New England
for English settlement.
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English Settlement of Maryland
Only one other colony – Pennsylvania – was tied as closely to one particular family as Maryland was.
What role did the Calvert family play in the founding of Maryland?
What group passed the Toleration Act of 1649? What is a legislature?
The text says that enslaved people of African descent were not seen in large numbers in Maryland
“until last several decades of the 17 th century.” Give the numerals for those years.
What three towns are mentioned besides St. Mary’s City that were important to the colony (and still
are important cities in modern Maryland)?
patriarch – the male figure seen as the head of the family when it came to prominence (from the Latin pater,
crown – This term is a synonym for the monarchy or the government. It is, obviously, a reference to one of
the symbols of a king or queen.
life expectancy – a statistic, an average suggesting the age at which the typical person in a particular time or
place would be expected to die
absentee landlord – the owner of a property who receives the rents but who does not live on or even near that
property. This owner may, as a result, have a very poor sense of the condition of his land or buildings.
Twenty-seven years after Jamestown had been founded and fourteen years after the
Pilgrims established Plymouth, Maryland got its start. While the early British settlers of this
colony had similar experiences to those in Virginia and Massachusetts, Maryland was different
than most of the other English North American colonies in several regards.
The founding and early history of
Maryland was closely tied to one family, the
Calverts. The patriarch George Calvert was
interested by the financial possibilities of
“the New World.” He had sponsored a
failed attempt to create a fishing-based
colony in Newfoundland. By 1629 his eye
Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore
Portrait of Cecilius Calvert with his grandson and houseboy (oil on canvas) .
oil on canvas. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 11 Apr 2016.
was on land further south and on climate
that was more temperate than the Canadian
weather. George Calvert was also known by his aristocratic title Lord Baltimore. Calvert was
finally successful in convincing King Charles I to give him a charter to form a colony just to the
north of Virginia and centered on the upper Chesapeake Bay.
George Calvert died in April of 1632 just weeks before the details of the royal charter
were complete. The right to establish a colony passed to Calvert’s son Cecilius (or Cecil). The
new colony was called Maryland, no doubt to please Charles I whose French wife was named
Maria. The first Marylanders, who arrived in the spring of 1634 and who were supported by
Cecilius Calvert, traded with the local native people, the Yaocomaco and the Piscataway. They
established the town of St. Mary’s City near the junction of the Potomac River and the
Chesapeake Bay (roughly fifty miles southeast of modern Washington, D.C.).
A modern aerial view of St. Mary’s City and a drawing of what the early settlement may have looked like.
Both illustrations courtesy of Historic St. Mary’s City
The British crown had allowed the Calvert family the privilege of creating a colony in
spite of the fact that the Calverts were Roman Catholic. Protestant England was very
suspicious of Catholics fearing that they were secretly connected to two of Great Britain’s
greatest European rivals, Spain and France, both predominantly Roman Catholic nations. The
residents of Jamestown and its surrounding plantations in the colony of Virginia were equally
biased against Catholicism. Cecilius Calvert was eager that his colony would protect Catholic
settlers and allow them to worship as they wished; Maryland was the only colony to allow
Catholicism. Calvert was willing to allow Protestant residents to settle in his colony as well,
and yet the Marylanders of St. Mary’s City
fought with a group of Puritans who had
founded modern-day Annapolis. In 1649 the
colonial legislature of Maryland passed a
Toleration Act that guaranteed that no
Christian in Maryland could be persecuted for
favoring one church or another. This was the
first such law in North America in an age
when religious convictions were quite
inflexible, and most colonists were not at all
inclined to accept someone who belonged to a
different religious group than they did.
ACT OF TOLERATION, 1649. - The Act of Toleration, passed by
the Province of Maryland in 1649, granting religious freedom to all
Christian denominations.. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica
ImageQuest. Web. 11 Apr 2016.
Although life was difficult in the early years of Maryland just as it was in any of the
North American colonies (and the life expectancy shorter than for those living back in
England), the colony managed to avoid the high drama and close calls of Jamestown or
Plymouth. Farmers began to cultivate tobacco early on which proved an important cash crop.
Calvert, Lord Baltimore, as the proprietor, received income from the planters – a tax of sorts –
usually paid not in cash but as a percentage of the agricultural products grown in Maryland
and shipped across the Atlantic to London. Among the farmers were indentured servants just
as they existed in other colonies. Enslaved Africans were to be found in Maryland, but they
did not become a significant part of the labor force until the last several decades of the 17th
Unlike his father (George) who had traveled to Newfoundland and had been to
Jamestown, Cecilius Calvert governed his colony from the comfort of his estate in Yorkshire,
England. Predictably, the people living in Maryland did not always agree with the policies of
their “absentee landlord,” and Maryland’s early history was complicated by laws passed by
the local legislature and instructions sent by Calvert.
On the left is the excavation at St. Mary’s City of a plantation house known as St. John’s built by a colonist
named John Lewger. The drawing represents what the house may have looked like given the foundation.
Notice the cellar on the right and the base of the fireplaces toward the center of the building.
Both illustrations courtesy of Historic St. Mary’s City
The colony of Maryland and the title of Lord Baltimore passed to Charles Calvert when
his father passed away in 1675. Because of more Protestant/Catholic friction, the British
monarch, now Charles II, took the colonial charter back from the Calvert family, and Maryland
became what was referred to as a royal colony after 1689.
White settlers expanded the colony up until the American Revolution by moving into
areas north and west of St. Mary’s City as well as onto the eastern shore of the Chesapeake
Bay. (Today the peninsula that forms the Bay is shared by the states of Delaware, Maryland,
and Virginia. Taking initials from those three state names, it is referred to as the Delmarva
Peninsula.) The city of Baltimore, today Maryland’s largest urban area, was not founded until
1729; Frederick in northwestern Maryland was, for many years, the colony’s largest town. In
1763 a pair of surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, marked a very clear border
between Maryland and Pennsylvania to its north; the Mason-Dixon Line is a more-or-less
straight line (running along 39 degrees, 43 minutes North latitude), and it became (and
continues to be) the traditional boundary between northern and southern colonies – free states
and slave states.
© 2016 Holton-Arms School