This chapter focuses on how the Spanish, French, and
English founded colonies in North America that reflected their values and traditions.
Section 1explains how the Spanish and French built
their American empires. During the early 1500s, Spanish explorers ventured into
the area that is now Mexico and Peru. On their quest for gold and enslaved labor,
they gained allies, spread disease, and conquered two Native American civilizations.
Later Spanish expeditions explored North America's southern and southwestern
areas. By the 1600s, the Spanish Catholic Church led the way in settling the
Southwest. The people of Spain influenced the colonies' governing system,
structured societies, and impact on Native Americans. The French took a different
approach to colonization. French merchants, attracted by the lucrative fur market,
established New France in what is today Nova Scotia. French fur traders and
Jesuit missionaries commonly lived among the Native Americans and learned their
culture. When France's king grew unhappy with the colony's slow growth,
he took actions to expand its population and borders. As a result of one expedition,
France gained a vast territory named Louisiana.
Section 2 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, English leaders pushed to establish 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 3 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. Rhode Island's charter emphasized religious
freedom with total separation of church and state. 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 4 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.