United States History to 1865

Exploration to Revolution: Pre-Columbian Times to the 1770s


The student will demonstrate knowledge of the factors that shaped colonial America by


  • Why did Europeans establish colonies in North America? Colonies in North America were established for religious and economic reasons.
  • Use graphic organizers at the following Web sites and have students organize the following background information on the Lost Colony of 1587:
    (Score Graphic Organizers)
    (Reading Strategies for Content Teachers)
  • Roanoke Island (the Lost Colony of 1587) was established as an economic venture.
  • The following information about the Lost Colony of 1587 is from the National Park Service Web site at http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/hh/16/hh16toc.htm.
    In the year 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh organized a colonial expedition consisting of 150 persons. Its truer colonizing character was evidenced by the significant facts that, unlike the expedition of 1585, this one included women and children and the men were called "planters." Its government was also less military, since the direction of the enterprise in Virginia was to be in the hands of a syndicate of sub-patentees -- a governor and 12 assistants whom Raleigh incorporated as the "Governor and Assistants of the Citie of Ralegh in Virginia." The new arrangement indicated that colonization was becoming less of a one-man venture and more of a corporate or business enterprise, anticipating in a certain degree the later English companies that were to found successful colonies in Virginia and New England. For reasons that are obscure, but perhaps because the season was late, it was decided to settle again at Roanoke Island rather than go on to the Chesapeake Bay country. On August 13, complying with Raleigh's instructions, Manteo was christened and declared Lord of Roanoke and Dasamonquepeuc as a reward for his many services. Five days later, Governor White's daughter, Eleanor, wife of Ananias Dare, gave birth to a daughter, who was named Virginia because she was the first child of English parentage to be born in the New World. Another child was born to Dyonis and Margery Harvie shortly afterwards. On the 27th, Governor White, at the earnest entreaty of the "planters in Virginia," sailed homeward with the fleet to obtain supplies for the colony. With Governor White's departure on the 27th, the history of events in the colony becomes a tragic mystery that one can only seek to explain. There had been talk of moving the colony 50 miles inland, and White had arranged for appropriate indications of their whereabouts if they removed from Roanoke Island before his return. However, White could not return as soon as expected because of the outbreak of war with Spain. The months slipped by, but Governor White and the London merchants seemed to have been unable to get a fleet organized for the relief and strengthening of the colony. As the ships anchored at Hatoraske, smoke was seen rising on Roanoke Island, giving hope that the colonists were still alive. It was a wearisome task that consumed the whole day and led to nothing, since no human beings were at the scene of the woods fire. The next day, August 17, they prepared to go to Roanoke Island. As they climbed the sandy bank toward the settlement area, they found CRO carved in Roman letters on a tree at the brow of the hill. Going from there to the site of the dwelling houses, they found all of the houses taken down and the area strongly enclosed with a palisade of tree trunks, with curtains and flankers "very Fort-like." One of the chief trees, or posts, had the bark peeled off, and carved on it in capital letters was the word CROATOAN, but without the maltese cross or sign of distress that White had asked the settlers to use in such messages in the event of enforced departure from Roanoke Island. On entering the palisade, they found iron and other heavy objects thrown about and almost overgrown with grass, signifying that the place had been abandoned for some time. As late as 1602, Raleigh was still seeking in vain for his lost colony. In that year he sent out an expedition under Samuel Mace, who reached land some "40 leagues to the so-westward of Hatarask," presumably at or near Croatoan Island. Here they engaged in trading with the Indians along the coast. They probably did not look as diligently as they should have for the lost colonists, because they alleged that the weather made their intended search unsafe. On August 21, 1602, in a letter to Sir Robert Cecil, Raleigh expressed his undying faith in the overseas English Empire which he had attempted to establish, saying, ". . . I shall yet live to see it an English Nation." The memory of the Lost Roanoke Colony by that time had become an imperishable English tradition. After the establishment of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia in 1607, the Virginia colonists evidenced an almost constant interest in trying to learn from the Indians the whereabouts of the Roanoke settlers. However, the hearsay data they collected were never sufficiently concrete to be of any real assistance in locating Raleigh's men, and the answer remains a mystery to this day.
  • A quick look at the Roanoke Colony is provided at http://beatl.barnard.columbia.edu/imagearchive/his3487/lorimer/croatan.html.
  • Following his marriage to Elizabeth Throckmorton, which displeased the Queen, Raleigh remained out of favor until after the capture of Cadiz, in 1596, in which he had participated. Upon the accession of King James I, in 1603, he again lost favor at Court and on July 16, 1603, was imprisoned in the Tower of London on the charge of having conspired to place Arabella Stuart on the throne instead of James. At the trial in November, Raleigh, along with Lords Cobham and Grey, was convicted and condemned to death. The lives of all three were dramatically spared at the last minute, but the conviction and sentence of death against Raleigh were allowed to stand and he remained in prison in the Tower until 1616. One consequence of the conviction of Raleigh was the loss of any rights that he might still have had under the patent of 1584 giving him the sole right to colonize the vast territory called Virginia. The patent had obligated him to settle Virginia within 6 years but so long as the mystery of the Lost Colonists remained unsolved, Raleigh could allege that his colonists might be living somewhere in Virginia and that in consequence his rights under the Charter of Queen Elizabeth were still in force. These claims he asserted as late as 1603. In fact, the abolition of Raleigh's claims appears to have been one of the outstanding consequences of the Cobham plot trails. Because his patent was now clearly lost and because of his imprisonment, Raleigh was unable to participate in the movement that culminated in the settlement of Virginia in 1607. Yet this movement, and the movement to settle New England, had close ties with him. Among the leading spirits behind the later successful Virginian enterprise were Richard Hakluyt and Sir Thomas Smythe, two of those to whom Raleigh had deeded his interest in the Lost Colony undertaking on March 7,1589. Likewise, among the early leaders of the North Virginia, or Plymouth, group were Raleigh Gilbert and Sir John Gilbert, sons of Raleigh's half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Raleigh Gilbert participated in the effort to plant a settlement on the Kennebec River in Maine in 1607 and was a member of the Plymouth Company as late as 1620.
  • The first permanent English settlement in North America (1607), Jamestown Settlement, was an economic venture by the Virginia Company.
  • Use graphic organizers at the following Web sites and have the students organize the following background information on the first permanent English settlement in North America (1607), Jamestown Settlement, which was an economic venture by the Virginia Company:
    Score Graphic Organizers
    Reading Strategies for Content Teachers
  • Select a group of students to hold a sign that says Virginia Company of London. On the opposite side of the room, have one or two students hold a map of Virginia. In another section have one student portray the king by wearing a paper crown and holding a poster that looks like a charter. Set the scene by reading the following scenario. Groups of businessmen who live in England are trying to increase their wealth. They are all members of the Virginia Company of London. They have decided that Virginia is a good place to locate an English colony because they suspect that there is gold and/or silver there. They also hope to find natural resources that could be used to produce products for new markets for English trade. The businessmen will not travel themselves, but need to find men who will travel; They also need to provide ships and supplies for the journey and settlement. They also need permission from King James, and so they present their case. King James grants a charter allowing them to proceed.
  • Have the student playing King James read the first charter of the Virginia Company of London. Information about the Charters of Virginia is available at http://www.jamestowne.org/Royalc.htm.
  • Review the reasons for the colonization and settlement in Virginia. Discuss the importance of the Virginia charters with the class. Stress how Jamestown was an economic venture. Share samples of the charters from Virginia: "The History and Culture of a Commonwealth" from The Library of Virginia. Charters are available at http://www.learner.org/channel/workshops/primarysources/virginia/before.html.
  • Choose a group of students to pretend they are boarding the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed for travel to the New World. Have them travel across the room to Virginia. Ask the students what they see around them when they arrive. List the responses on a chart. Reinforce the idea that there were lots of forests and wilderness and that the inhabitants were Eastern Woodland Indians, specifically the Algonquian language group and Powhatan tribe.
  • Give the students a world map and have them trace the route from England to Virginia through the Chesapeake Bay to Jamestown. Place a star on the student map and classroom Virginia map for easy reference. Review the meaning of peninsula and explain that Jamestown was originally located on a peninsula, but now Jamestown is an island. Learn more about why the settlers chose Jamestown at http://www.virginiaplaces.org/vacities/7jamestown.html.
  • Introduce the term hardship, and ask students to give an example of what hardships they might encounter in the present. Define the word hardship. Now have them brainstorm possible hardships for the setters at Jamestown. Remind the students that the men who came were gentleman who lacked labor skills and thought that they would find riches upon arrival. Explain that they did not know how to grow crops or hunt. They did not want to work, because in England they had been businessmen.
  • Review the hardships faced by the settlers. A teacher and student resource, Voyage to Virginia, is available from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation at the following Web site: http://www.historyisfun.org/PDFbooks/Voyage_to_Virginia.pdf.
  • Read a book about the settlers of Jamestown to help identify John Smith and show his picture from the following Web site. Discuss his leadership role at Jamestown. An image of John Smith is available at the Jamestown Rediscovery Web site: http://www.apva.org/history/jsmith.html.
  • Plymouth colony was settled by separatists from the Church of England who wanted to avoid religious persecution. Massachusetts Bay Colony was settled by the Puritans for the same reasons.
  • Use graphic organizers at the following Web sites and have the students organize the following background information on the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony:
    Score Graphic Organizers
    Reading Strategies for Content Teachers
  • Some seventeenth century English colonists came to the New World seeking religious freedom. Settlers founded the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies because they were unhappy with the Church of England.
  • The Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom, set sail for North America in 1620 and established their colony in Plymouth, which they had chosen under the influence of Smith's A Description of New England. There they set up a democratic government in accordance with the terms of the famous "Mayflower Compact," an agreement binding all to conform to the will of the majority. In spite of great hardship, the Pilgrim settlement prospered (the local Wampanoag, including the English-speaking Squanto and Chief Massasoit, were very helpful), and in 1621 the first Thanksgiving was observed. Gradually small fishing and trading stations were established, notably at Wessagusset (Weymouth), Quincy, and Cape Ann.
  • More important, however, was the arrival of the Puritans, who were also determined to find a place where their religious views and practices would be free from persecution. In 1628 a shipload of emigrants led by John Endicott left England for Salem, there to join Roger Conant's band of refugees from the abandoned fishing station on Cape Ann, which had been originally formed in 1623 as the "Dorchester Company" by Rev. John White. The company was not successful as a fishing station, so it was abandoned and some of the members returned to England. In 1627 Woodbury was chosen to return to England to try and obtain a charter for Rev. White's supporters. And on March 19, 1628, a royal charter was granted to the Massachusetts Bay Company, to promote the settlement of the territory "from sea to sea" that had been granted to the Puritans, and to govern its colonies. The charter given to the Company was the foundation of the government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It provided for a General Court, which was a single body, of which the Court of Assistants was an integral part. Later the Court of Assistants separated from the General Court and became America's first elected Upper House. When John Winthrop and a large group of Puritans arrived at Salem in 1630, bearing with them the prized charter, a self-contained English colony, governed by its own members, was assured. Winthrop moved from Salem to Charlestown and thence to Boston, other settlements were founded, and by 1640 the immigrants in Massachusetts numbered 16,000, all seeking greater opportunity and a free environment for their dissentient religious views. Many also felt it their mission to "civilize" the land and its people; the seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony shows a Native American saying "Come Over and Help Us." The colonizing movement spread rapidly along the coast and then westward; those who were restless and rebellious against the rigid rule of the ministers went out into what are now other New England states, founding towns based upon the Massachusetts pattern. Small-scale farming was the fundamental way of earning a living, and compact settlements with outlying fields grew up around the central green, which is a characteristic of old, New England towns. For more information, go to: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cismaf/mf2.htm#newera
  • Pennsylvania was settled by the Quakers, who wanted to have freedom to practice their faith without interference.
  • Use graphic organizers at the following Web sites and have the students organize the following background information on the colony of Pennsylvania:
    (Score Graphic Organizers)
    Reading Strategies for Content Teachers
  • Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn and the Quakers. Penn was born in London on October 24, 1644, the son of Admiral Sir William Penn. Despite high social position and an excellent education, he shocked his upper-class associates by his conversion to the beliefs of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, then a persecuted sect. He used his inherited wealth and rank to benefit and protect his fellow believers. Despite the unpopularity of his religion, he was socially acceptable in the king's court because he was trusted by the Duke of York, later King James II. The origins of the Society of Friends lie in the intense religious ferment of 17th century England. George Fox, the son of a Leicestershire weaver, is credited with founding it in 1647, though there was no definite organization before 1668. The Society's rejections of rituals and oaths, its opposition to war, and its simplicity of speech and dress soon attracted attention, usually hostile. King Charles II owed William Penn 16,000, money which Admiral Penn had lent him. Seeking a haven in the New World for persecuted Friends, Penn asked the King to grant him land in the territory between Lord Baltimore's province of Maryland and the Duke of York's province of New York. With the Duke's support, Penn's petition was granted. The King signed the Charter of Pennsylvania on March 4, 1681, and it was officially proclaimed on April 2. The King named the new colony in honor of William Penn's father. It was to include the land between the 39th and 42nd degrees of north latitude and from the Delaware River westward for five degrees of longitude. Other provisions assured its people the protection of English laws and, to a certain degree, kept it subject to the government in England. In 1682 the Duke of York deeded to Penn his claim to the three lower counties on the Delaware, which are now the state of Delaware. For more information, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/VC/visitor_info/pa_history/pa_history.htm.
  • Georgia was settled by people who had been in debtor's prisons in England. They hoped to experience a new life in the colony and to experience economic freedom in the New World.
  • Use graphic organizers at the following Web sites and have the students organize the following background information on the colony of Georgia:
    Score Graphic Organizers
    Reading Strategies for Content Teachers
  • The last of the 13 British colonies on the Atlantic seaboard, Georgia was founded on February 12, 1733 at the present site of the city of Savannah. On June 9, 1732, King George II granted a charter to Oglethorpe and a group of 20 friends, organized as trustees, to establish a colony named for the king. Oglethorpe's concern for the poverty and unemployment in England motivated him to help relieve the poor from the harsh conditions found in debtors' prisons. It was also hoped that founding a new colony would increase trade and wealth and provide a buffer for South Carolina against attack by the Spanish, the French and the Indians The Royal Charter for the colony of Georgia was officially certified on June 9, 1732. 114 passengers left Gravesend, England on the Anne, a 200-ton frigate commanded by Captain John Thomas. The ship was crowded, but the voyage went smoothly. Two sickly children died on the trip, yet in general the company stayed healthy. A baby, Georgius Warren was christened on November 12 and the passengers celebrated Oglethorpe's birthday with a special dinner at Christmas. The company finally sighted Charles Town, South Carolina on January 13, 1733.


Score Graphic Organizers

Reading Strategies for Content Teachers

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

A Quick Look at the Roanoke Colony

Connecting Links with Jamestown and New England

Charters of Virginia

Voyage to Virginia from the Jamestown Foundation

History of the Plymouth Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony

History of the colony of Pennsylvania 

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