This chapter discusses the beginnings of English colonization and life in New England, the Middle colonies, and the Southern colonies until the mid 1700s.
Section 1 details how religious, economic, and political changes in England led the English to establish colonies in North America. By the late 1500s, new ideas swept through Europe that changed both religion and politics. These changes also affected what the English thought about colonization. Puritans looked for a place to practice their beliefs, England's poor and unemployed searched for new opportunities, and merchants needed to expand markets. As the rivalry with Spain intensified, England established outposts in America. The first colony, Roanoke, vanished mysteriously, and the second colony, Jamestown, was plagued with problems from its inception. Nearly abandoned, Jamestown found economic salvation in tobacco. Another English colony, Maryland, was founded to assure Catholics the freedom to practice their religion.
Section 2 describes the founding of the New England colonies. Escaping religious persecution at home, Puritans sailed to America in 1620 and established the Plymouth Colony in New England. More Puritans arrived in America when the Massachusetts Bay Company offered thousands of Puritans the opportunity for a new life. Since Puritan beliefs guided the government of Massachusetts, those who disagreed with Puritan ideas could be banished from the colony. Some who felt restricted in Massachusetts decided to establish more tolerant New England communities. In Rhode Island the government had not authority in religious matters. Connecticut offered a written constitution that granted all adult men the right to vote. To the north, settlers established the colonies of New Hampshire and Maine. After a war with Native Americans, English settlers gained complete control of New England.
Section 3 discusses the Middle and Southern colonies that were founded along the Atlantic seaboard. After the English Civil War, England's monarchy and interest in colonization were restored. England's first move was to seize the successful Dutch colony of New Netherlands, now called New York. A portion of the territory became the New Jersey colony. The king granted Quaker William Penn a charter to found Pennsylvania. Penn's aim was to establish a colony where complete political and religious freedom could be practiced. Part of Penn's territory was land that later became the colony of Delaware. Friends and political allies of the king were granted land that became the Southern colonies of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. By 1770 England had built a large and prosperous society of settlers attracted by the opportunity to practice religious freedom and to prosper under new forms of government.
Section 4 discusses colonial ways of life. Favorable growing conditions helped Southern colonists to establish self-sufficient plantations. Slaves soon replaced indentured servants for the backbreaking work and made the planter elite wealthy and powerful. Poor backcountry farmers in Virginia rebelled because they wanted to settle land claimed by Native Americans. To keep society stable, Virginia politicians agreed. At the same time planters increased the use of enslaved Africans, who found their status and rights restricted by slave codes. New England's geography helped the colonists develop thriving fishing, whaling, logging, and shipbuilding industries. Puritans' beliefs guided colonists' behavior. Their town meetings formed the basis for local town governments and fostered New Englanders' strong belief in the right to self-government. The fertile land of the Middle Colonies allowed colonists to cultivate wheat, which they transported on wide rivers to trade centers on the coast. Industries and ports in the Northern colonies boomed, aided by the triangular trade systems. As trade expanded, social classes emerged in New England and the Middle Colonies.
Section 5 describes how England's mercantilist policies and the Glorious Revolution impacted the American colonies. The king tried to generate wealth by controlling manufacturing and trade in America. The Navigation Acts prevented the colonies from selling goods to other nations, taxed trade within the colonies, and instituted other restrictions. When customs officials found that colonists were smuggling, the king revoked the charters of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island and appointed an unpopular royal governor. Troubles in England led to the Glorious Revolution, and a new king and queen allowed Rhode Island and Connecticut to resume their previous governments. Massachusetts, however, became a royal, and more tolerant, colony. England's revolution and the writings of philosopher John Locke introduced Americans to the idea of a justified revolution. During the 1700s, a high birthrate, a flood of immigrants, and the slave trade created a population explosion in the colonies. While the colonial population increased, the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening influenced colonial thought and caused many Americans to question traditional authority.