The New England Colonies

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The New England Colonies of British America included the colonies of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Connecticut Colony, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and Province of New Hampshire. They were part of the Thirteen Colonies including the Middle Colonies and the Southern Colonies. These were early colonies of what would later be the states in New England.[1] Captain John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, was the author of "The Description of New England” published in 1616. The book was the first to apply the term “New England” to coastal lands of North America from the Long Island Sound to Newfoundland.[2]

Early 17th century

The English royal charters granted land to the north to the Plymouth Company, land to the south to the London Company and the land between could be settled first by either company There were several attempts early in the 17th century to colonize New England by France, England and other countries who were in often in contention for lands in the New World. French nobleman Pierre Dugua de Monts (Sieur de Monts) established a settlement on Saint Croix Island, Maine in June 1604 under the authority of the King of France. The small St. Croix River Island is located on the northern boundary of present-day Maine. After nearly half the settlers perished due to a harsh winter and scurvy, they moved out of New England north to Port-Royal of Nova Scotia (see symbol "R" on map to the right) in the spring of 1605.[3]

King James I of England, recognizing the need for a permanent settlement in New England, granted competing royal charters to the Plymouth Company and the London Company. The Plymouth Company ships arrived at the mouth of the Kennebec River (then called the Sagadahoc River) in August 1607 where they established a settlement named Sagadahoc Colony or more well known as Popham Colony (see symbol "Po" on map to the right) to honor financial backer Sir John Popham. The colonists faced a harsh winter, the loss of supplies following a storehouse fire and mixed relations with the indigenous tribes.

After the death of colony leader Captain George Popham and a decision by a second leader, Raleigh Gilbert, to return to England to take up an inheritance left by the death of an older brother, all of the colonists decided to return to England. It was around August 1607, when they left on two ships, the Mary and John and a new ship built by the colony named Virginia of Sagadahoc. The 30-ton Virginia was the first English-built ship in North America.[4]

Conflict over land rights continued through the early 17th century, with the French constructing Fort Petagouet near present day Castine, Maine in 1613. The fort protecting a trading post and a fishing station was considered the first longer term settlement in New England. The fort traded hands multiple times throughout the 17th century between the English, French and Dutch colonists.[5]

In 1614, the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block sailed along the coast of Long Island Sound, and then up the Connecticut River to site of present day Hartford, Connecticut. By 1623, the new Dutch West India Company regularly traded for furs there and ten years later they fortified it for protection from the Pequot Indians as well as from the expanding English colonies. They fortified the site, which was named "House of Hope" (also identified as "Fort Hoop", "Good Hope" and "Hope"), but encroaching English colonization made them agree to withdraw a Treaty of Hartford, and by 1654 they were gone.[6]

[edit] Pilgrims and Puritans (1620s)

A group of religious dissenters known as the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower from England and the Netherlands early in 1620 to establish Plymouth Colony, which was the first British colony in New England to last over a year and one of the first colonies of British Colonial America following Jamestown, Virginia. About half of the one hundred plus passengers on the Mayflower survived that first winter,...
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