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Vista, the First View, since known by the name of Labrador. It was more than a year before the continent was gained by Columbus. Another voyage, made a year later (1498) by Sebastian Cabot, the second son of John, and a native of England, was directed along the coast of the new continent from the latitude of Labrador to that of the Chesapeake.
So successful a beginning augured great ends. But there ensued a long interval, in which none but isolated and remote adventures towards the west were undertaken in England. The fisheries of the north were for many years the only objects of attraction in the direction of America. Then the opening of hostilities, at first rather of a private or piratical than of a national character, against Spain,* drew the English towards the southern regions. But the central territories, those of the present United States, were long unvisited except for some passing purpose. More than three quarters of a century had elapsed since the coasting voyage of Sebastian Cabot, and both the Spaniards and the French had several times seized upon the shores discovered by the English navigators, when a new permission to possess and settle the western lands was given by Queen Elizabeth to one of her noblest subjects, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, (1578.) At the same period, while Sir Francis Drake, the half hero, half freebooter of the English navy, was on his voyage of adventure and plunder round the world, he gave the name of New Albion to the coasts of California and Oregon. Thus gaining a foothold on the western as well as on the eastern side of the continent, England was recalled, at a moment of general activity throughout the nation, to her interests in America.
* Beginning about 1570, though there was no formal war until 1585.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert perished in the course of a second attempt to reach his American possessions, (1583.) But his claims were immediately transferred to his half brother, Walter Raleigh, the courtier and the cavalier of the age in England, (1584.) A voyage of exploration was immediately made under his directions to the coast of our North Carolina, of which so flattering an account was returned to him and to his sovereign, that the name of Virginia, from the virgin Queen Elizabeth, was not thought too great for the new land.
Failures of his
In the following year, (1585,) Sir Richard Gren
ville, one of the chief commanders of the time, left colonies. a colony of one hundred and eighty persons at Roanoke Island; but such were the hardships which they encountered, that they were only too well satisfied to be taken home by Sir Francis Drake a year afterwards. They had scarcely gone when Grenville returned with supplies for them, and he, unwilling to have the colony abandoned, left fifteen of his mariners to keep possession until they could be reënforced, (1586.) The little band was gone, murdered, it was believed, by the natives, when, in the next year, (1587,) a fresh party of one hundred and seventeen arrived. Soon after they came, the first English child to see the light in America was born. She was the daughter of Ananias Dare, and the granddaughter of John White, the leader of the expedition, who gave her the name of Virginia. But the presence of the infant brought no better fate to the colony than had befallen its predecessors. The one hundred and eighteen disappeared, and though sought for at various times, were never heard of more. Raleigh lost heart as well as means. He made over his patent to a number of persons, (1589,) who, with less enterprise than he, met with still less success. North
Carolina was but a waste as far as English settlements were concerned, and Virginia but a name.
Many years passed before any further attempts and were made to occupy the American coast.
cessation of hostilities with Spain* at length reopened the way to commercial and colonial enterprise. Bartholomew Gosnold, after landing on Cape Cod, sailed thence to Buzzard's Bay, where, on Elizabeth's Island, named after his queen, he commenced, but soon abandoned, a settlement, (1602.) The adjoining coasts were revisited the next year (1603) by Martin Pring, and again, the next year but one, (1605,) by George Weymouth, both, like Gosnold, commanders of distinction. The preparation for settlements was decidedly resumed.
Ill success of
It was high time. The Spaniards had their St. Augustine and their Santa Fe, the French their the Eng- Port Royal, though this was beyond the limits of our United States. But the English, the first to discover the coast, were still without a single foothold upon it. Wherever they had gained one, it had slipped from beneath them.
SECTION II. — Companies. 1606 to 1635.
Hitherto the efforts of the English in exploring and in settling the American shore had been those efforts. of individuals. No one, indeed, unless it were those who went on voyages for fishery or for trade, attempted his enterprise without the formal countenance of the sovereign. But there had been no organized efforts such as were now prepared.
* 1604. But it was some time since the war had been generally carried on.
Patent of A year or two after James I. succeeded to the Virginia. English throne, he issued the patent of Virginia. This was a twofold grant of the American territory from what is now North Carolina to what is now Maine. Of this vast tract, the southerly half* was appropriated to the First Colony, and the northerly † to the Second Colony, each colony to be founded and governed by a separate council, to which the grant was made. The council or company, as it is generally styled, of the First Colony went by the name of London, from the residence of its prominent members. For a similar reason, the name of Plymouth was given to the council or company of the Second Colony. The great point, however, is this, that the parties to the patent were not colonists, but capitalists, not adventurers, but speculators, who, in their respective corporations in England, not in America, were declared possessors of the best portion of the American territory. At the same time, the companies were invested with ample powers to settle "colonists and servants," to impose duties, and to coin money. Their obligations, in return, were to pay over to the crown a share of their profits, and to support the laws and the church of England. To exercise some sort of supervision over so great corporations as these, a council for Virginia was instituted by the king, who, to complete his work, put forth a code of laws and regulations for the direction of the various bodies which he had created.
* From lat. 34° to lat. 38°, with a right, if first in the field, to make settlements as far north as 41°.
From lat. 41° to lat. 45°, with a right, if first in the field, to make settlements as far south as 38°.
† One fifth of the gold and silver, and one fifteenth of the copper, that might be found.
THE LONDON COMPANY.
The moving spirit of the London Company ap and pears to have been Richard Hakluyt, prebendary colonists. of Bristol, afterwards of Westminster, who had been interested in American colonization from the time of Ra
leigh's expeditions. Around him were gathered many eminent and energetic men, among them Sir George Calvert, the future founder of Maryland, but none of greater promise, in relation to the work before them, than Bartholomew Gosnold, the settler of Elizabeth's Island, and John Smith, a hero in the east long before he turned his face westward. Gosnold and Smith were both amongst the first colonists.
It was in midwinter, (December 19, 1606,) that town. an expedition, one hundred strong, set out from England. A feeble band as regarded their individual resources, they were strong in the company by which they were sent to stranger shores. The voyage was long, by the common route of the West Indies, but Virginia was reached at last. The spring (May 13, 1607) saw the beginning of the first English town in America. Its royal name of Jamestown is now a name alone.
The company had hardly begun its work when charters. it sought new powers. Three years after the patent, a second charter was framed, giving additional authority to the English company, and extending the American limits to the latitude of Philadelphia, (1609.) Three years later, (1612,) a third charter vested the powers of the company in a General Court of the members, and added the Bermuda Islands to their domains. If charters were all that the company needed in order to flourish, it bade fair to be great and enduring.
The fortunes of the colony were less promising. Some