By defeating an armada of Spanish ships, England ended Spain’s control of the seas. This opened the way for other European powers to colonize the New World. After making several unsuccessful attempts to establish a colony, England founded the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607. For several years the colony experienced hard times and many settlers died. By 1619, however, it became clear that the colony would stay.
There were many different reasons for founding colonies in America. The members of the Virginia Company hoped to make a large profit. Other colonies were founded in a search for religious freedom. Pilgrims trying to escape persecution in England settled in Plymouth. In time, Puritans from England established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Connecticut and Rhode Island were established by people who disagreed with the leaders of the Puritan colony. In many cases the early colonists would not have survived without the help of Native Americans. However, conflicts also arose.
The Dutch had established colonies along the Hudson River and on Manhattan Island. After being taken over by the English, these settlements became the English colonies of New York and New Jersey. Another Middle Colony, Pennsylvania, was founded as a home for Quakers.
Maryland, a Southern Colony, was a place where Catholics could freely practice their religion. Agriculture played an important role in the development of North and South Carolina, while Georgia—the last of the British colonies in America—was established as a home for debtors. Many people came willingly to this new land to make a fresh start. Others were brought unwillingly to America as enslaved people or indentured servants. From the very beginning America was a country with a diverse population.