Colonization and Conflict in the South, 1600-1750

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CHAPTER-3: Colonization and Conflict in the South, 1600-1750 CHAPTER OVERVIEW
Instead of becoming havens for the English poor and unemployed, or models of interracial harmony, the southern colonies of seventeenth-century North America were weakened by disease, wracked by recurring conflicts with Native Americans, and disrupted by profit-hungry planters’ exploitation of poor whites and blacks alike. Many of the tragedies of Spanish colonization and England’s conquest of Ireland were repeated in the American South and the British Caribbean. Just as the English established their first outpost on Chesapeake Bay with a set of goals and strategies in mind, so too the native Indians of that region pursued their own aims and interests. They had recently been consolidated by the weroance (or chief), Powhatan, into a powerful confederacy. Powhatan used the English newcomers to advance his own longstanding objectives. Although he considered the colonists a nuisance, Powhatan welcomed trade goods and English weapons as a means to consolidate his political authority and to fend off challenges from the Piedmont tribes. The future of the English settlers, plagued by disease, starvation, and leadership struggles, did not seem secure. Powhatan could have destroyed them, but chose not to do so. Around the time of his death, the colonists’ efforts at tobacco farming began to take off, which eventually would have disastrous implications for Powhatan’s people. In the following decades, bloody wars broke out between the Indians and settlers, but the Virginia settlement began to stabilize; by 1650, it could claim some 15,000 colonists. Increasing demand for labor in the tobacco fields and a decrease in indentured servants caused a greater reliance of the enslavement of Indians and the importation of African slaves. During the same period, the Spanish Empire was consolidating its hold on North American territories in what we now call Florida and the Southwestern United States. The...
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