SS7 Chapter 03 Notes: Colonial America

Section 1: Jamestown and Roanoke (p. 60-63)

The Mystery of Roanoke

England wanted people to settle on it’s North American land. England’s Queen Elizabeth gave Sir Walter Raleigh the right to start a colony there and he selected Roanoke Island as the location. Roanoke Island is just off the coast of what is now North Carolina. The first settlers had a rough winter and gave up and returned to England.

Raleigh sent more settlers to Roanoke Island and selected John White as the leader. White’s pregnant daughter traveled with him and gave birth to Virginia Dare, the first English-born person in America.

The colony needed supplies, so White returned to England to get them.  It took him three years to return. When White arrived back at Roanoke Island all the settlers were gone. To this day, no one knows what happened to them. The only clue was the word “Croatoan” carved on a tree trunk. They were never seen again.

The Roanoke Colony failed. However, England still wanted a colony in North America. The English decided to try again.

Success at Jamestown

England’s new king, James I, gave a business a “charter” to start a colony. A charter is a document that gives someone the right to start a colony. The name of the business that received the charter was the Virginia Company.

The Virginia Company was a joint-stock company. This meant that many people each owned a small part of the company. If the company made money, each owner would get part of the money the company made. The investors hoped that a colony in North America would make money for the company when the colonist found gold or traded goods.

The Virginia Company sent 144 settlers to North America. In 1607, the settlers named the river the James River. They named their town Jamestown. Both names were to honor King James.

Life was difficult in Jamestown. The colonists suffered from disease and hunger. Captain John Smith forced the settlers to work. He befriended a group of Native Americans called the Powhatan. They gave the colonists food and helped them survive.

Then, things got worse. The colonists and the Powhatan stopped getting along. Powhatan stopped giving the colonists food. The winter of 1609–1610 was called “the starving time.” Many colonists died.

Soon after that, new colonists arrived. The colony started to do well once it started growing and selling tobacco. This made money for the owners of the Virginia Company. Also a colonist named John Rolfe married Pocahontas, Powhatan woman and the chief’s daughter.

The Virginia Company wanted even more settlers to go to Virginia and gave away 50 acres of land to each new settler who would go there. This land grant is called a headright and brought many new settlers to the colony.

After a short period of time, the Virginia Company began letting the colonists make some of the rules themselves. It allowed them to choose representatives called burgesses to make the rules for them. These representatives met in a group called the House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses was the first legislature in North America to be elected by the people.


Section 2: The New England Colonies (p. 64-68)

Seeking Religious Freedom

Many English settlers came to North America for religious freedom. In England, the Anglican Church was the dominating force which made many Catholics and Protestants unhappy. These Catholics and Protestants dissented, or disagreed with, what the church was doing. Members of the Anglican Church who wanted to change or “purify” it were called Puritans. The people who wanted to leave (separate from) the Anglican Church were called Separatists.

The Separatists were persecuted, or mistreated because of their beliefs. One group of Separatists fled to North America and became known as the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims sailed to North America aboard a ship called the Mayflower and created a new colony called Plymouth (in Massachusetts).

Before they went ashore, the Pilgrims signed an agreement to govern themselves. The agreement was called the Mayflower Compact. By signing it, they all agreed in advance to obey whatever laws they passed for their colony. This was an important step in the development of democratic government.

At first life was very difficult in the Plymouth colony and many died. Then two Native Americans befriended the Pilgrims: Squanto and Samoset. They showed the Pilgrims how to survive. Squanto and Samoset also helped the Pilgrims be accepted by other Native Americans nearby which resulted in the first thanksgiving.

New Colonies

The Puritans also set up a colony in Massachusetts after leaving England. The leader of the colony was John Winthrop. They left to escape persecution and bad economic times. This movement of Puritans is known as the Great Migration (migration means “movement”).

The Puritans in Massachusetts had no tolerance, or acceptance, of different beliefs. This resulted in people leaving Massachusetts to start their own colonies.

Thomas Hooker and his followers left Massachusetts to form a new colony in what is now Connecticut. In 1639, they wrote out a plan for government called the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was the first written constitution, or written plan of government, in America.

Roger Williams believed in religious freedom and in treating Native Americans fairly. When the Puritans expelled him from Massachusetts, he started the colony of Rhode Island in 1644.

Most conflicts between Native Americans and colonists were because settlers moved onto Native American lands without permission.

King Philip’s War was a conflict between Native Americans and colonists in northeastern United States. Hundreds of Native Americans and colonists died. In the end, the colonists won the war. They were now free to expand their colonies and take even more land.


Section 3: The Middle Colonies (p. 69-72)

New York and New Jersey

The Middle Colonies were the colonies in the middle of the east coast of North America. Some were controlled by the European country called the Netherlands. This colony was called New Netherland (New York state). People from the Netherlands are called “Dutch.”

The Dutch wanted lots of settlers to come.  If someone got 50 or more people to come to New Netherlands, they would be given a large area of land. These people were called patroons.

The most important settlement in New Netherland was New Amsterdam (New York City) because it was a center of shipping to and from the Americas. It became a major port.

New Netherland and New Amsterdam were very successful. The Dutch were very happy, but the English were not. They wanted to take over New Netherland so they could have this valuable colony for themselves. In 1664, the English sent warships to attack New Amsterdam. The Dutch governor, Peter Stuyvesant, surrendered without a fight.

England’s king gave the newly captured colony to his brother, the Duke of York. The duke changed the name of the colony from New Netherland to New York. New Amsterdam became New York City.

New York grew under English rule. The population exploded and was very diverse (mixed). The New York residents included many Dutch, Germans, Swedes, and Native Americans. New York was also home to the first Jews to settle in North America.

The Duke of York decided to divide the New York colony. He gave part of the land to two other nobles (Berkeley and Carteret). This land became the colony of New Jersey. The two proprietors, or owners, named their colony after an island off the coast of England called Jersey.

Like New York, people of many different racial, religious, and national backgrounds lived in New Jersey. To attract settlers, the proprietors offered large amounts of land. They also promised settlers freedom of religion, trial by jury, and a representative assembly.

Pennsylvania and Delaware

Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers. The Quakers were a Protestant religious group who had been mistreated in England. They believed that everyone was equal and were pacifists (people who refuse to use force or fight in wars).

The owner of the colony was named William Penn and put his Quaker ideas into practice.

He designed the colony’s main city of Philadelphia. The name means “city of brotherly love.” Philadelphia quickly became the most popular port in the colonies.

Penn treated Native Americans differently in that he believed the land belonged to the Native Americans. He paid them for their land. Pennsylvania had better relations with Native Americans than many other colonies.

Penn wrote Pennsylvania’s constitution and issued the Charter of Privileges which gave the colonists the right to elect representatives to a legislature, or law making body.

Southern Pennsylvania, which had most Swedish colonists, wanted to have their own legislature. Penn let these colonists have their own legislature and eventually this region became a separate colony called Delaware.


Section 4: The Southern Colonies (p. 73-77)

Virginia and Maryland

Jamestown was settled in 1607 and it grew into a larger colony (Virginia Colony). The Virginia colonists made their living by growing tobacco. Landowners forced enslaved Africans to do much of this work.

Some people weren’t slave but instead were indentured servants who were people who agreed to work for a certain number of years for no pay in exchange for their trip to the colony.

A new colony, called Maryland, began north of Virginia. Maryland was the dream of Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. He wanted to found a colony where Catholics could practice their religion freely as they were being persecuted in England at this time.

In order to draw people there, Maryland offered free land. As in Virginia, wealthy landowners used enslaved Africans and indentured servants to do the work.

Eventually, there were more Protestants than Catholics living in Maryland. To protect the Catholics’ religious freedom, the colony passed the Act of Toleration in 1649. However, the law did not end tension between the colony’s Protestants and Catholics. Eventually Maryland named one Protestant church as the official church of Maryland.

Other tensions arose over Maryland’s border with its northern neighbor, Pennsylvania. For many years, the two colonies argued over the exact location of the boundary between them. They finally agreed to settle the dispute once and for all. They hired Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to map the border. This boundary became known as the Mason-Dixon line (this would become the line that would divide the North from the South).

James Berkeley, the governor of Virginia, promised Native Americans that settlers would not go farther west into their lands. Nathaniel Bacon was a farmer in western Virginia. He, along with other western Virginians, did not like the promise Governor Berkeley had made. They felt that the government of the colony was controlled by people from eastern Virginia who did not care about the problems of western Virginia.

Bacon led attacks on Native American villages and his army even marched to Jamestown and drove out Berkeley. They burned Jamestown down. Bacon was about to take over the colony when he died. Today, we remember this event as Bacon’s Rebellion. Bacon’s Rebellion was important in history because it showed that people wanted a government that would listen to their demands.

The Carolinas and Georgia

King Charles II created a new colony called Carolina, which is Latin for “Charles’s Land.” The new colony needed a constitution. A constitution is a written plan of government. An English political thinker named John Locke wrote the constitution for Carolina.

Farmers from Virginia settled in the northern part of Carolina. They made money growing tobacco.  Another important crop was indigo. Indigo is a blue flowering plant. It was used to dye cloth. The other important crop was rice. Growing rice requires much labor, so the demand for slave labor increased.

The last colony of Georgia was set up by the English in North America. The founder of Georgia was James Oglethorpe. Georgia was to be a place where poor people and debtors could get a fresh start. Debtors are people who owe other people money. England also hoped Georgia would protect the colonies from Spain. Spain had a colony in Florida, and Georgia stood between Spain and the other English colonies.