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Lecture 2: England's First Colonies

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University of Toronto St. George
Erin Black

Lecture 2 I. Motivations for Colonization 1. National rivalries. For example, England and Spain. While previously allies, the relationship changed by the 1580s as they entered into war with each other. Establishing colonies in North America therefore became a competitive aspect to damage the other countries. 2. Religion. European-wide difficulties between Protestants and Catholics meant an additional aspect of competition - converting Natives. 3. Economic need. The source of England's economic stability collapsed in the mid 1560s, when their main export of selling wool and cloth to Antwerp tailors collapsed. They therefore started forming trading companies (East India Trading Company) who went in search of other markets. This helped force the English to become more of a seafaring nation. 4. Population pressure. Between 1500 and 1650, the population of England and Wales grew by 2 million. Collectively, these aspects convinced the monarchy to establish permanent settlements in the 'New World'. The lack of financing for the English monarchy was problematic, however. The solution was to subcontract colonization by allowing monopolies to private companies and adventurers. They were therefore financing expedition in the name of the crown, but not funded by the crown. II. Jamestown (Virginia & the Chesapeake) This was the first successful colony. In the 1580s, the English had tried to establish colonies in the islands off the coast of Virginia, but these failed in a matter of months. Jamestown was founded in 1607, by the joint-venture Virginia Company. The first few months were rocky. More than 3/4 of the original settlers died of malaria, along with their lack of resources - they expected to receive food from the Natives. Most colonists were lazy or were shipped to North America against their will. Their survival was due to a chief named Powhatan, an Algonquian. He hoped that he could contain the colonists, and use them as subordinates and allies, wherein he could gain access to metals and other important trade items. It was a matter of strategy. Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan. When initial supplies were insufficient, Cpt. John Smith was sent to retrieve more from Powhatan but was captured and sentenced to die - but was then "rescued" by Pocahontas. This was part of a ceremony, however. John Smith was supposed to be saved, and through the ceremony becomes a subordinate to Powhatan in a ceremony called a werowance. Story is often romanticized, wherein Pocahontas 'saved' the Jamestown colonies. Opechancanough, brother of Powhatan, in 1622 had different views on the settlers - attempted an assault in order to remove settlers: the 'Virginia Massacre'. Failed to dislodge the colony. The colonists used this to eliminate the Natives, such as systematic burnings of Native crops and Native villages. Tobacco. Grew wild in this part of the New World. Natives had been using for medicinal and ceremonial purposes for thousands of years. Within 5 years, colonists produced enough to send a shipment of tobacco to England, sold at an astoundingly high price. By 1620, Virginia is able to ship 60,000 pounds to England. By 1700, Virginia is shipping out 35 million pounds out. By this point, however, the Virginia Company had gone bankrupt. Virginia was taken over by the crown, as the first royal colony. The crown was sharing power with local elected assemblies, and to counterbalance they established crown officials located in the colonies. III. The Origins of Slavery The origins of slavery came as a result of the amount of work required in producing tobacco. Planting, picking, curing, packing, etc. More labour was needed than there were colonists. A small effort was made to capture Natives in order to make them work, but this failed due to their ability to easily escape. 1620s, some planters purchased African slaves, but it was not fully economical as they might die quickly. However, as tobacco was becoming more of a staple, the colonists initially established a 'servant' society. English people were granted free passage to the New World and the granting of their own land in the New World in exchange for becoming indentured servants. The potential to change their status and gain land was appealing. Evolution of Chesapeake society. By the 1660s, swampland was cleared which reduced disease, and the settlers began to adapt. Therefore indentured servants began to live longer, gaining their own land. As more servants are living to gain their land, land becomes more scarce and moving inland meant possibly hostile Natives. Societal/class polarization began to emerge, with a rebellion - Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, named for Nathaniel Bacon. In the 1660s and 1670s, there are eruptions of violence between settlers and Natives. The Rebellion came first as attacks against the Native people, as defiance of the governor's law to be nice to Natives. The governor declared him a traitor, and therefore the focus of Bacon's rebellion shifted to them. To recr
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