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the private life and religion of the people. Groups were formed in all the European nations to withdraw from the conditions at home and establish themselves anew in some land that looked more inviting from a distance; many pictured the new world as a paradise in which to carry out their plans of religious and civil liberty.
From the discovery of America in 1492 to the settlement of the first permanent English colony in Virginia in 1607, covering a period of a hundred and fifty years, there was constant conflict between Rome and Protestantism. At times one seemed to have the advantage, and at times the other. The Protestant Revolution during this time severed most of the European states from the political domination of the Pope. This was a great step in the formation of the modern states. It left the people free to organize into representative governments, which they lost no time in doing. The feudal system, now fast dying out, was still a thorn in the flesh of the peasantry, who had already kept up a kind of strike till they had secured money payments for their work instead of labor service. The dawn of commerce on the heels of the Middle Ages was largely responsible for the introduction of money payments for services rendered. This influence was fundamental, as it left workmen and peasants free to wander about and gather up news from everywhere, and incidentally learn what other people in like circumstances were doing. Quoting from Seebohm's PROTESTANT REVOLUTION, “The masses of the people in England were more and more becoming a free people, working for wages, while such tenants as remained on the land paid fixed money rents instead of services, and instead of being tied to the land were ejected from their holdings if they could not pay their rents." This ejection from the small farms added constantly to a vagrant population, robbery was increased, and thieves and vagabonds alike were hung. Many times twenty or more would be seen hanging from a single gibbet.
These peasants now first merging into a free state had not yet participated in the affairs of government, but there was nothing but ignorance to hinder them from doing so. This ig. norance was soon giving way to a more popular appreciation of the functions of government, and the movement for universal representation was greatly stimulated by the Peasants' War in
Europe beginning in 1525. This is one of the bloodiest chapters in all history, and the horrors are too horrible to be recounted. In Germany over a hundred thousand peasants were killed, which prolonged serfdom in that country till the nineteenth century. What the peasants lost in Germany they gained in other parts of Europe and especially in England, for the Magna Charta had opened the way to them for participation in the affairs of Government, and the Barons who wrested the great charter from John had united with the common people against royalty. From that time the peasants no doubt expected much. They were conscious of a kind of freedom that was growing on them, and they felt the pinch of any kind of restriction. When it came they sought a way of escape. Common people had also learned to cooperate with men of affairs, and were ready to take part in any venture for financial gain. Church people had experienced a taste of religious freedom brought about by the significant Protestant Revolution. They were no longer restricted by the state church, but only by their own conscience, and efforts to regulate their conscience on the part of the state brought about rebellion.
This general review of European conditions seems necessary to any intelligent understanding of the colonization of North America by England. All the factors entering into this period of history could not be discussed in a short paper, but the above are some of the important ones, and they bring us to the actual settlement of the colonies and to a discussion of the immediate causes of the migration of the colonists in each individual case. Upon careful examination we will find that each colony had its own reasons for leaving the mother country and settling in the new world, but in one way or another they all conformed to the general spirit of the time. They all were seeking adventures as well as a kind of religious freedom, or commercial advantage. They were all without exception expressing the results of bad condition in Europe, and various efforts to pull themselves out of that condition.
The first permanent English settlement in America was in Virginia in the year 1607. England had grown greatly in population during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and needed room for expansion. All thinking men of the time saw an opportunity in planting colonies in America. This would
reduce paupers and probably eventually bring a large revenue to the Treasury. On such grounds a charter was granted by King James to a company with two sub-divisions first The London Company, composed of London merchants who were to establish a colony between the mouth of the Hudson River and North Carolina-or what is now known as North Carolina; second, The Plymouth Company, composed chiefly of traders and country gentlemen in the west of England, with chief offices at Plymouth, who were to plant a settlement somewhere north of the mouth of the Potomac and south of the St. Lawrence. These colonies were directly under the King's control and not under Parliament. The colonies were to be governed by laws dictated by the crown who did not believe in colonization. The land tenure was to be the same as that in England. Trial by jury was guaranteed.
The London Company was the most active, having among the number of its grantees Hakluyt, perhaps England's then greatest student of world affairs, who had written and edited his long series of VOYAGES. The people coming over as representatives of the London Company were mostly "gentlemen," unused to and scorning manual labor. Only twelve were laborers, and among the artisans were jewelers, gold refiners, and perfumers. There were no women nor children on board, thus showing how little conception they had of the true mission of a colony. John Smith, a member of the company and one of the colonists, was the saviour of the colony. He insisted on the members of the colony cultivating the rich soil, building houses, trading with the natives, and exploring rather than seeking for gold where there was none. After many hardships and many changes in the plans of the colony it finally proved a success.
ne Plymouth Company, which was originally granted a charter at the time The London Company was granted its charter, had made attempts at colonization, but had failed. In 1620 a new charter was granted to the Plymouth Company, extending from Long Branch, New Jersey, to the Bay of Chaleurs, and was to be called New England, the name be stowed upon it by John Smith. The Plymouth Colony con. sisted of about a hundred yeomen and artisans, members of the independent congregation at Scrooby, a village on the bor
der between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. They were skilled in industry, often independent in resources, and well trained in the intellectual controversies of religion and politics. They were seeking in the New World a land where the heavy hand of oppression could not reach them. John Fiske observes that “the aim of Winthrop and his friends in coming to Massachusetts was the construction of a theocratic state which should be to Christians, under the new dispensation, all that the theocracy of Moses and Joshua and Samuel had been to the Jews in Old Testament times. They should be to all intents and purposes freed from the jurisdiction of the Stuart king, and so far as possible the text of Holy Scripture should be their guide both in weighty matters of general legislation and in the shaping of the smallest details of daily life.”
Hendrik Hudson sailed up the Hudson River as early as 1609 trying to find a waterway through the North American continent, and the English named the river after him. The Dutch visited the region annually after that, establishing small trading posts till the year 1626, when they established a permanent colony and called it New Netherlands. It was strictly a business enterprise. Efforts were made to transplant the European feudel system in the wilds of America. Patroons or large land owners were to have control over the colonists, and thus build up a landed aristocracy. Internal dissensions and quarrels with New England helped to bring about the necessary changes in the plans of the colonists to make possible a species of local self government.
Pennsylvania was settled by the persecuted Quakers of England and Germany. William Penn established the colony in 1681, both as a refuge for Quakers and as a real estate venture. The English Government owed him sixteen thousand pounds, and he persuaded it to give him instead of the money, a proprietary charter of forty thousand square miles of land in America. Penn is said to have widely advertised his grant and to have offered small parcels of this land to prospective purchasers at the rate of two pounds per acre. In this way he soon had gathered around him a very large colony. He proposed from the beginning to establish a popular government based on the principle of exact justice to all regardless of religious beliefs. He drew to this colony Quakers, Dutch,
Swedes, Germans, and Welsh alike. The people soon began to grow uneasy under the proprietary government and boundary disputes constantly harassed Penn. Delaware was made a separate colony in 1703.
The Carolinas were peopled from other colonies in North America and from the Bahamas and the West Indies. The English were dominant in all the colonies, but especially so in the south. In North Carolina industry attracted many immigrants, “in the main French Huguenots, Moravians, and Germans, with some Swiss, and Scotch-Irish." The soil was favorable to agriculture and most of the colonists developed into farmers, and the towns were insignificant. The south was a favorable place for the growth and development of slavery. The climate was mild, the farm lands fairly fertile, and slave labor paid. The middle and upper classes grew into a very strong and sturdy citizenship. They had leisure, and many of them were intensely industrious intellectually. From such people came Calhoun, Jefferson, Stephens and others.
The colony of Georgia was settled in 1632 under the leadership of James Oglethorpe, a prominent member of Parliament, and an army officer. He had been active in effecting many reforms in England, and on inspection of prisons he found many worthy men in prison on account of debt. He asked for a charter or grant of land to settle these in the Carolina country, to be known as Georgia after the name of the King. Shortly a body of Germans settled at Ebenezer on the Savannah River just north of Savannah. The slow development of the Georgia colony caused Oglethorpe to infuse into the settlement a party of Scotch Highlanders and German Protestants, and there was great improvement. At all times from the founding there were many idlers and worthless fellows.
To the south of Georgia was the Spanish settlement of Florida, which had long been in a flourishing condition, a constant menace to the English colonies on the South. North of the St. Lawrence River were the French, a constant menace to the English colonies on the North. A large colony of French had settled around the mouth of the Mississippi River and had worked its way up the river. The French to the north had explored far to the west on the Great Lakes, and it may be