the history of the colonization of north america is one of the most well-known formations of any country across the globe spain france and great britain all played crucial roles in the development of what is now the influential united states of america but today most people particularly remember the colonial efforts of the english above all else so how did the english colonize america to understand how it first behooves us to understand why well a few factors were significant.
in determining the reason for england’s colonial efforts a summary of these justifications can be found in the 1584 work of richard hacklet known as the discourse on western planning haklut claims that english colonization of the new world would be not only to the benefit of england but furthermore to the benefit of god he made a common argument.
that protestant england needed to rescue north america from the catholic world and the current hold that spain had over much of the continent of course england and spain had more than just a religious rivalry but the point was often a compelling one nonetheless furthermore haklut acknowledged the obvious economic and social possibilities that new world colonies would provide since there was currently.
an overabundance of job and landless vagabonds plaguing england haklut stated that the establishment of a colony would provide more land and job opportunities for these homeless men and women moreover the expansion of trade alone would produce great profit for england and the resources the new world may provide were vast these points made by Richard.
hey cloot were echoed throughout england and combined with the visible success of the spanish beginning to produce envy from the english a decision to enter the new world was made queen elizabeth had chosen to opt for a less typical route of joining the colonial world by sponsoring sailors known as sea dogs that participated.
in a form of piracy identified as privateering two such sailors by the names of john hawkins and francis drake were sent by the queen to wreak havoc on the spanish in america the privateers and the latter in particular plundered spanish ships and raided caravans even as far as the coast of peru this unprompted attack greatly angered spain and the discord between the nations drastically increased even further after england had the catholic mary queen of scots executed in 1587.
the following year king philip ii of spain decided to retaliate in what would become the largest scale invasion to yet occur with the goal of annihilating the british navy and boasted 18 000 soldiers 8 000 sailors and 130 ships the spaniards made no mistake in targeting the british navy which played an extremely crucial role in the nation’s trade and colonial power while the spanish ships notably outnumbered the british.
the latter were better equipped with more suitable ships for such a clash and quickly beat back their attacker the spanish fleet had to turn back heading for the netherlands to gather reinforcements but an unexpected storm ripped through the remaining armada ships leaving the english as the clear victors now it was time to focus on the colonies.
as the 16th century came to a close some attempts had already been made by england to establish colonies in north america but so far none had succeeded sir humphrey gilbert was one of the men in charge of such efforts and had hoped to create a colony in newfoundland but had miserably failed john white in 1587 had also made a similar attempt on roanoke island alongside 150 other english colonists but the colony quickly ran out of supplies and resources white returned to England.
where he intended only to gather what he needed for his colony before heading back but he ended up trapped in his native land for over a year due to the current situation brought about by the spanish armada when white was finally able to return to roanoke island he found his colony completely abandoned and his efforts in vain.
when the 17th century began with still no solid english colony in the americas queen elizabeth passed away in 1603 leaving the future of england’s colonial efforts in the hands of king james the following year peace was made between england and spain and in 1606 king james established the virginia company beginning a new wave of efforts to find colonial success in america three ships in particular the discovery the susan constant and the godspeed set off for the east coast arriving at the james river in spring of 1607.
the colonists reached the fairly uninhabited region of virginia which they would shortly name jamestown this would become the first permanent english colony in america contemporarily king james had also granted a charter to the plymouth company but their popham colony was disappointingly short-lived the jamestown colonists did fare better.
than those from popham given that their colony didn’t collapse but the endeavor was still a harrowing one nonetheless by 1617 only 351 of the initial 17 000 colonists remained alive the men had been widely unprepared for the life of hard physical labor and the land itself was not as easy to utilize as they had hoped many starved.
while others fell ill and if it had not been for the help of the local native american tribe known by the colonists as the powhatan confederacy the english may have all but perished powhatan’s roughly 10 000 strong tribe was incredibly efficient at utilizing the difficult terrain for hunting and farming throughout the chesapeake with more than enough food and potentially benefit to gain from the colonists manufactured food the natives were fairly welcoming and greatly assisted.
the sickly englishmen in their first winter in the years to come though matters were not so simple the english continued to starve and perish from disease even despite help from the natives as 400 new settlers arrived in jamestown in 1609 as the general well-being of the colony continued on a downward spiral their relationship with the natives also began to deteriorate occasional.
guerrilla wars started to break out between the colonists and powhatan’s tribe and the english were still starving the fate of jamestown seemed scarcely hopeful no major improvement appeared until 1614 at which point the daughter of powhatan pocahontas married an english colonist by the name of john rolfe this at least began to ease tensions between the english and natives.
the young colony also started to see some new changes and leadership as the discovery of what would be their savior tobacco the jamestown colonists were rescued by a boom in demand being native to the new world and immensely popular from the start of its first exports to europe within 40 years the jamestown exports were amassing 15 million pounds per year.
the colony had suddenly gone from a dwindling starving group of migrants to a rapidly growing colonial power in need of more men for the increasing number of jobs the new market was providing as jamestown’s success kept building the colonists began expanding the english territory beyond its original borders.
which unfortunately brought them back into conflict with the natives powhatan’s brother succeeded the chief upon his death in 1622 and vowed to rid his land of the english on march 22nd 1622 he and his tribe attacked the colony and massacred 347 colonists in a single day this however in the minds of the english justified years of fierce brutality the new method of how the english would continue to colonize america was vastly different.
than how their competition both the french and spanish had done the same for the english they had received a bit of practice to sharpen the skills they would use in america back when they had begun their efforts to take ireland from the native catholics as the english decided that they no longer needed to put much effort into co-existing or assimilating.
the natives into their new colonies they began utilizing violence against the native people to seize their land and take control and between war and disease it wasn’t long before the native americans had been disastrously affected there was also a building distinction in the eyes of the colonists between themselves and other peoples.
which made them even more determined to establish an english dominance throughout north america and as their positive view of the natives quickly decayed the pre-existing supremacy of english protestantism over the spanish catholics in the minds of the former had now stretched beyond religion and they had the power to enforce these ideas the english also had the power and means to establish more colonies with even greater success.
than they had so far achieved eventually virginia massachusetts new york new jersey pennsylvania delaware maryland connecticut south carolina north carolina new hampshire rhode island and lastly georgia would make up the english 13 colonies which would later form the united states of america if it had not been for the newfound tobacco industry in the original colony.
it’s likely that the english would have never been able to colonize north america permanently and the pure demoralization may have prevented any further success or even attempts at trying again but instead the english were able to establish multiple booming colonies whilst also bringing an impressive profit for the crown and boasting enormous economic success.
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