The City on the Hill, 1492–1707 山巅之城市,1492–1707年
The Age of European Discovery 欧洲发现时代

God, glory, and gold—not necessarily in that order—took post-Renaissance Europeans to parts of
the globe they had never before seen. The opportunity to gain materially while bringing the Gospel
to non-Christians offered powerful incentives to explorers from Portugal, Spain, England, and
France to embark on dangerous voyages of discovery in the 1400s. Certainly they were not the first
to sail to the Western Hemisphere: Norse sailors reached the coasts of Iceland in 874 and
Greenland a century later, and legends recorded Leif Erickson’s establishment of a colony in
Vinland, somewhere on the northern Canadian coast.1 Whatever the fate of Vinland, its historical
impact was minimal, and significant voyages of discovery did not occur for more than five hundred
years, when trade with the Orient beckoned.

上帝,荣耀和金子(不一定按此顺序)将文艺复兴后的欧洲人带到了他们从未见过的地球另一部分。向传非基督徒福音的同时又有物质收获的机会激励了向来自葡萄牙,西班牙,英国和法国探险家在1400年代踏上了危险的发现之旅。当然,他们不是第一批航行至西半球的人:北欧水手于874年就​​到达冰岛海岸, 一个世纪后踏上格陵兰岛。传说记载莱夫·埃里克森(Leif Erickson)在文兰(Vinland),位于加拿大北部海岸的某个地方建立一个殖民点。无论文兰的命运如何,它在历史造成的影响很小。接下500多年内并没有重大的发现航行,这期间主要是与东方的贸易。

Marco Polo and other travelers to Cathay (China) had brought exaggerated tales of wealth in the
East and returned with unusual spices, dyes, rugs, silks, and other goods. But this was a difficult,
long journey. Land routes crossed dangerous territories, including imposing mountains and vast
deserts of modern-day Afghanistan, northern India, Iran, and Iraq, and required expensive and wellprotected caravans to reach Europe from Asia. Merchants encountered bandits who threatened
transportation lanes, kings and potentates who demanded tribute, and bloodthirsty killers who
pillaged for pleasure. Trade routes from Bombay and Goa reached Europe via Persia or Arabia,
crossing the Ottoman Empire with its internal taxes. Cargo had to be unloaded at seaports, then
reloaded at Alexandria or Antioch for water transport across the Mediterranean, or continued on
land before crossing the Dardanelles Strait into modern-day Bulgaria to the Danube River.
European demand for such goods seemed endless, enticing merchants and their investors to engage
in a relentless search for lower costs brought by safer and cheaper routes. Gradually, Europeans
concluded that more direct water routes to the Far East must exist.

马可·波罗(Marco Polo)和其他前往中国的旅行者夸大了东方财富故事,他们带回了不同寻常的香料,染料,地毯,丝绸和其他物品。但这是艰难,漫长的旅程。陆路穿越危险区域,包括巍峨的山脉和现代阿富汗,印度北部,伊朗和伊拉克的广袤沙漠,需要昂贵,且防护良好的大篷车才能从亚洲到达欧洲。商人会遇到威胁运输道的土匪 ,要求进贡的国王和君主,强掠为乐的嗜血杀手 。从孟买和果阿出发的贸易路线穿越需要缴税的奥斯曼帝国,经过波斯或阿拉伯半岛到达了欧洲。货物必须在海港卸货,然后在亚历山德里亚或安提阿重新装船,以进行穿越地中海的水路运输,或在穿越达达尼尔海峡前继续陆路运进入现代的保加利亚,再到多瑙河。 欧洲对此类商品的需求似乎无止境的,吸引了商人及其投资者参与不懈寻求更安全,更便宜的路线带来的更低成本。渐渐地,欧洲人得出的结论,应该存在更直接的通往远东的水路。

possible. First, sailing and shipbuilding technology had advanced rapidly after the ninth century,
thanks in part to the Arabs’ development of the astrolabe, a device with a pivoted limb that
established the sun’s altitude above the horizon. By the late tenth century, astrolabe technology had
made its way to Spain.2 Farther north, Vikings pioneered new methods of hull construction, among
them the use of overlapping planks for internal support that enabled vessels to withstand violent
ocean storms. Sailors of the Hanseatic League states on the Baltic coast experimented with larger
ship designs that incorporated sternpost rudders for better control. Yet improved ships alone were
not enough: explorers needed the accurate maps generated by Italian seamen and sparked by the
new inquisitive impulse of the Renaissance. Thus a wide range of technologies coalesced to
encourage long-range voyages of discovery.

这是可能的。首先,航海和造船技术在九世纪以后迅猛发展。这在一定程度上要归功于阿拉伯人对星盘的发展。这是一种确定太阳在地平线上方高度并具有可旋转指针的装置。到十世纪末,星盘技术已经传到西班牙。更北的维京人率先开创了新的船体建造方法。他们使用重叠的木板作为内部支撑,使船只能够承受海洋惊涛骇浪。汉萨同盟水手在波罗的海沿岸用较大船体设计进行了试验,船上安装了便于控制的船尾舵。然而,仅改进船舶是远远不够的:探险家需要被文艺复兴时期新好奇心启发并由意大利海员绘制的准确航海图 。因此,广泛的技术融合促成了远距离的航海大发现。

Political changes, a second factor giving birth to the age of discovery, resulted from the efforts of
several ambitious European monarchs to consolidate their possessions into larger, cohesive
dynastic states. This unification of lands, which increased the taxable base within the kingdoms,
greatly increased the funding available to expeditions and provided better military protection (in the
form of warships) at no cost to investors. By the time a combined Venetian-Spanish fleet defeated a
much larger Ottoman force at Lepanto in 1571, the vessels of Christian nations could essentially
sail with impunity anywhere in the Mediterranean. Then, in control of the Mediterranean,
Europeans could consider voyages of much longer duration (and cost) than they ever had in the
past. A new generation of explorers found that monarchs could support even more expensive
undertakings that integrated the monarch’s interests with the merchants’.3

政治变革是产生大发现时代的第二个因素。几位雄心勃勃的欧洲君主将他们的属地整合为更大,有凝聚力王国。土地的统一扩大了王国内部的税收基础, 大大增加了用于探险的资金,并免费为投资者提供了更好的军事保护(以军舰形式)。到威尼斯-西班牙联合舰队1571年在勒潘托(Lepanto)击败了更强大的奥斯曼帝国军队时,基督教国家的船只基本上可以在地中海的任何地方畅通无阻地航行。控制了地中海后, 欧洲人可以考虑比以往任何时候都要更长(更高成本)的航程。新一代的探险家发现,君主可以资助符合君主与商人利益的更昂贵探险。

Third, the Protestant Reformation of 1517 fostered a fierce and bloody competition for power and
territory between Catholic and Protestant nations that reinforced national concerns. England
competed for land with Spain, not merely for economic and political reasons, but because the
English feared the possibility that Spain might catholicize numbers of non-Christians in new lands,
whereas Catholics trembled at the thought of subjecting natives to Protestant heresies. Therefore,
even when economic or political gains for discovery and colonization may have been marginal,
monarchs had strong religious incentives to open their royal treasuries to support such missions.

第三,1517年的新教改革加剧了天主教和新教国家之间激烈,血腥的权利和领土竞争。这使各国忧心忡忡。英国与西班牙争夺土地,不仅是出于经济和政治原因,而是因为英国担心西班牙可能在新土地上使非基督教徒天主教化, 而天主教徒对于让土著人接受新教异端感到不寒而栗。因此, 即使大发现和殖民化带来的经济或政治利益微不足道, 君主有强烈的宗教动机来开放他们的皇家国库以支持此类探险。

Time Line 时间段
Columbus’s four voyages 哥伦布四次航行
Cortés conquers Mexico 科尔特斯征服墨西哥
Roanoke Island (Carolinas) colony fails 罗阿诺克岛(卡罗来纳州)定居点失败
Jamestown, Virginia, founded 弗吉尼亚州詹姆斯定居点建立
First Africans arrive in Virginia 第一批非洲人抵达弗吉尼亚

Virginia House of Burgesses formed 弗吉尼亚州议会成立
Pilgrims found Plymouth, Massachusetts 朝圣者建立了马萨诸塞州普利茅斯定居点
Puritan migration to Massachusetts 清教徒移民到马萨诸塞州
Calverts found Maryland 卡尔弗特男爵建立了马里兰定居点
Pequot Indian War (Massachusetts) 佩特(Pequot)印第安人战争(马萨诸塞州)
Anne Hutchinson convicted of heresy 安妮·哈钦森(Anne Hutchinson)被判异端
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut 康涅狄格基本法
English Civil War 英国内战
First Navigation Act (mercantilism) 第一部航海法(重商主义)
English conquer New Netherlands (New York) 英国征服新荷兰(纽约)
King Philip’s (Metacomet’s) War (Massachusetts) 菲利普国王(Metacomet)战争(马萨诸塞州)
Bacon’s Rebellion (Virginia) 培根起义(弗吉尼亚州)
Pennsylvania settled 宾夕法尼亚定居
English Glorious Revolution and Bill of Rights 英国光荣革命与人权法案
Massachusetts becomes royal colony 马萨诸塞州成为皇家殖民地
Salem witch hunts 塞勒姆猎巫

Portugal and Spain: The Explorers
Ironically, one of the smallest of the new monarchical states, Portugal, became the first to subsidize
extensive exploration in the fifteenth century. The most famous of the Portuguese explorers, Prince
Henry, dubbed the Navigator, was the brother of King Edward of Portugal. Henry (1394–1460) had
earned a reputation as a tenacious fighter in North Africa against the Moors, and he hoped to roll
back the Muslim invaders and reclaim from them trade routes and territory.


具有讽刺意味的是,作为最小君主制国家之一的葡萄牙成为十五世纪第一个补贴广泛探险的国家 。葡萄牙最著名的探险家,王子亨利被称为航海家,是葡萄牙爱德华国王的兄弟。亨利(1394–1460) 在北非抵抗摩尔人中赢得了顽强斗士的声誉。他希望 回击穆斯林入侵者并从他们那里收回贸易路线和领土。

A true Renaissance man, Henry immersed himself in mapmaking and exploration from a coastal
center he established at Sagres, on the southern point of Portugal. There he trained navigators and
mapmakers, dispatched ships to probe the African coast, and evaluated the reports of sailors who
returned from the Azores.4 Portuguese captains made contact with Arabs and Africans in coastal
areas and established trading centers, from which they brought ivory and gold to Portugal, then
transported slaves to a variety of Mediterranean estates. This early slave trade was conducted
through Arab middlemen or African traders who carried out slaving expeditions in the interior and
exchanged captive men, women, and children for fish, wine, or salt on the coast.

亨利(Henry)作为一位真正的文艺复兴时期的人在葡萄牙南端的萨格里什(Sagres)建立了海岸中心,全心投入到地图制作和探索。他在那里训练航海家和地图制作者,派出船只探查非洲海岸,评估水手们从亚速尔群岛返回的报告 。葡萄牙船长与沿海地区的阿拉伯人和非洲人接触并建立交易中心。他们从那里将象牙和黄金带到葡萄牙,然后将奴隶运送到各个地中海庄园。这种早期的奴隶贸易是通过阿拉伯中间商或非洲商人进行的。他们在内陆实施掠奴行动,在沿岸用俘获男人,女人和孩子交换鱼,酒或盐。

Henry saw these relatively small trading outposts as only the first step in developing reliable water
routes to the East. Daring sailors trained at Henry’s school soon pushed farther southward, finally
rounding the Cape of Storms in 1486, when Bartholomeu Dias was blown off course by fantastic
winds. King John II eventually changed the name of the cape to the Cape of Good Hope, reflecting
the promise of a new route to India offered by Dias’s discovery. That promise became reality in
1498, after Vasco de Gama sailed to Calicut, India. An abrupt decline in Portuguese fortunes led to
her eclipse by the larger Spain, reducing the resources available for investment in exploration and
limiting Portuguese voyages to the Indian Ocean to an occasional “boatload of convicts.”5
Moreover, the prize for which Portuguese explorers had risked so much now seemed small in
comparison to that discovered by their rivals the Spanish under the bold seamanship of Christopher
Columbus, a man the king of Portugal had once refused to fund.

亨利认为这些相对较小的贸易站只是开辟通往东方可靠水路的第一步。在亨利学校受过训的勇敢水手们很快向南推进,在1486年,当巴多罗缪·迪亚斯(Bartholomeu Dias)被诡异的狂风吹离航道时,终于绕过风暴角(Cape of Storms)。约翰二世国王最终将海角的名称改为好望角,反映了对迪亚斯(Dias)发现一条通往印度的新路线的希望。当1498年,瓦斯科·德·加马(Vasco de Gama)航行到印度卡利卡特(Calicut),那个希望变成了现实。葡萄牙财富的突然下降导致使其与国土面积更大的西班牙比黯然失色,减少了可用于投入探险的资源,将葡萄牙到印度洋的航行局限为偶尔的“定罪者船”。而且,与对手西班牙人在葡萄牙国王曾经拒绝资助的克里斯托弗∙哥伦布率领下采用大胆的航海技术发现的战利品相比,葡萄牙探险家冒巨大风险所得到的现在看来微不足道。 。

Columbus departed from Spain in August 1492, laying in a course due west and ultimately in a
direct line to Japan, although he never mentioned Cathay prior to 1493.6 A native of Genoa,
Columbus embodied the best of the new generation of navigators: resilient, courageous, and
confident. To be sure, Columbus wanted glory, and a motivation born of desperation fueled his
vision. At the same time, Columbus was “earnestly desirous of taking Christianity to heathen
lands.”7 He did not, as is popularly believed, originate the idea that the earth is round. As early as
1480, for example, he read works proclaiming the sphericity of the planet. But knowing
intellectually that the earth is round and demonstrating it physically are two different things.

尽管他在1493年以前从未提到过中国,哥伦布(Columbus)设定了一条正西,最终直线到达日本的航道,于1492年8月从西班牙出发。哥伦布作为热那亚人体现了新一代航海家的优点:坚韧,勇气和自信。可以肯定的是,哥伦布想要荣耀,绝望所产生的动机催生了其想象。同时,哥伦布“迫切希望将基督教带给异地的异教徒。” 正如人们普遍认为的那样,他并没提出地球是圆的想法。例如,早在1480年,他阅读了宣告地球是圆形的著作。但是,从认知上讲,知道地球是圆的,和身体力行证明地球是圆的是两回事。

Columbus’s fleet consisted of only three vessels, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María, and a
crew of ninety men. Leaving port in August 1492, the expedition eventually passed the point where
the sailors expected to find Japan, generating no small degree of anxiety, whereupon Columbus
used every managerial skill he possessed to maintain discipline and encourage hope. The voyage
had stretched to ten weeks when the crew bordered on mutiny, and only the captain’s reassurance
and exhortations persuaded the sailors to continue a few more days. Finally, on October 11, 1492,
they started to see signs of land: pieces of wood loaded with barnacles, green bulrushes, and other
vegetation.8 A lookout spotted land, and on October 12, 1492, the courageous band waded ashore
on Watling Island in the Bahamas, where his men begged his pardon for doubting him.9

哥伦布舰队仅由九十名船员和三艘船组成:尼娜,平塔和圣玛丽亚。 1492年8月,探险队离开港口,终于过了水手预计会发现日本的地点,没看到日本使人产生不小的焦虑。于是,哥伦布利用他所拥有的所有管理技能来保持纪律和鼓励希望。航程延续了十个星期。期间,船员差点兵变,只有机长才安慰和劝诫说服水手们再多坚持几天。最后,在1492年10月11日, 他们开始看到陆地迹象:携带藤壶的木片,绿色芦苇和其它植物。 监哨发现了土地。1492年10月12日,勇敢的船员在巴哈马的沃特灵岛(Watling Island)涉水上岸 上,众船员因怀疑他而请求原谅。

Columbus continued to Cuba, which he called Hispaniola. At the time he thought he had reached
the Far East, and referred to the dark-skinned people he found in Hispaniola as Indians. He found
these Indians “very well formed, with handsome bodies and good faces,” and hoped to convert
them “to our Holy Faith by love rather than by force” by giving them red caps and glass beads “and
many other things of small value.”10 Dispatching emissaries into the interior to contact the Great
Khan, Columbus’s scouts returned with no reports of the spices, jewels, silks, or other evidence of
Cathay; nor did the khan send his regards. Nevertheless, Columbus returned to Spain confident he
had found an ocean passage to the Orient.11


Reality gradually forced Columbus to a new conclusion: he had not reached India or China, and
after a second voyage in 1493—still convinced he was in the Pacific Ocean—Columbus admitted
he had stumbled on a new land mass, perhaps even a new continent of astounding natural resources
and wealth. In February 1493, he wrote his Spanish patrons that Hispaniola and other islands like it
were “fertile to a limitless degree,” possessing mountains covered by “trees of a thousand kinds and
tall, so that they seem to touch the sky.”12 He confidently promised gold, cotton, spices—as much
as Their Highnesses should command—in return for only minimal continued support. Meanwhile,
he continued to probe the Mundus Novus south and west. After returning to Spain yet again,
Columbus made two more voyages to the New World in 1498 and 1502.

现实逐渐迫使哥伦布得出一个新结论:他没有到达印度或中国。继1493年第二次航行之后-仍然确信他在太平洋-哥伦布承认 他发现了一块新的陆地,甚至可能是一块具有惊人自然资源新和财富新大陆。 1493年2月,他写信给西班牙人,说西班牙裔和其他岛屿都喜欢 拥有“无限的肥沃”,拥有被“一千种树木和 高大,使他们似乎触及天空。他自信地答应了黄金,棉花,香料等。 按照殿下的要求,以换取最低限度的持续支持。与此同时, 他继续向南和西探索新世界。再回到西班牙之后 哥伦布在1498年和1502年又进行了两次前往新世界的航行。

Whether Columbus had found parts of the Far East or an entirely new land was irrelevant to most
Europeans at the time. Political distractions abounded in Europe. Spain had barely evicted the
Muslims after the long Reconquista, and England’s Wars of the Roses had scarcely ended. News of
Columbus’s discoveries excited only a few merchants, explorers, and dreamers. Still, the prospect
of finding a waterway to Asia infatuated sailors; and in 1501 a Florentine passenger on a
Portuguese voyage, Amerigo Vespucci, wrote letters to his friends in which he described the New
World. His self-promoting dispatches circulated sooner than Columbus’s own written accounts, and
as a result the term “America” soon was attached by geographers to the continents in the Western
Hemisphere that should by right have been named Columbia. But if Columbus did not receive the
honor of having the New World named for him, and if he acquired only temporary wealth and fame
in Spain (receiving from the Crown the title Admiral of the Ocean Sea), his place in history was
never in doubt. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison, a worthy seaman in his own right who reenacted
the Columbian voyages in 1939 and 1940, described Columbus as “the sign and symbol [of the]
new age of hope, glory and accomplishment.”13

Once Columbus blazed the trail, other Spanish explorers had less trouble obtaining financial
backing for expeditions. Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1513) crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the
Pacific Ocean (as he named it). Ferdinand Magellan (1519–22) circumnavigated the globe, lending
his name to the Strait of Magellan. Other expeditions explored the interior of the newly discovered
lands. Juan Ponce de León, traversing an area along Florida’s coast, attempted unsuccessfully to
plant a colony there. Pánfilo de Narváez’s subsequent expedition to conquer Tampa Bay proved
even more disastrous. Narváez himself drowned, and natives killed members of his expedition until
only four of them reached a Spanish settlement in Mexico.

Spaniards traversed modern-day Mexico, probing interior areas under Hernando Cortés, who in
1518 led a force of 1,000 soldiers to Tenochtitlán, the site of present-day Mexico City. Cortés
encountered powerful Indians called Aztecs, led by their emperor Montezuma. The Aztecs had
established a brutal regime that oppressed other natives of the region, capturing large numbers of
them for ritual sacrifices in which Aztec priests cut out the beating hearts of living victims. Such
barbarity enabled the Spanish to easily enlist other tribes, especially the Tlaxcalans, in their efforts
to defeat the Aztecs.

Tenochtitlán sat on an island in the middle of a lake, connected to the outlying areas by three huge
causeways. It was a monstrously large city (for the time) of at least 200,000, rigidly divided into
nobles and commoner groups.14 Aztec culture created impressive pyramid-shaped temple
structures, but Aztec science lacked the simple wheel and the wide range of pulleys and gears that it
enabled. But it was sacrifice, not science, that defined Aztec society, whose pyramids, after all,
were execution sites. A four-day sacrifice in 1487 by the Aztec king Ahuitzotl involved the
butchery of 80,400 prisoners by shifts of priests working four at a time at convex killing tables who
kicked lifeless, heartless bodies down the side of the pyramid temple. This worked out to a “killing
rate of fourteen victims a minute over the ninety-six-hour bloodbath.”15 In addition to the
abominable sacrifice system, crime and street carnage were commonplace. More intriguing to the
Spanish than the buildings, or even the sacrifices, however, were the legends of gold, silver, and
other riches Tenochtitlán contained, protected by the powerful Aztec army.

Cortés first attempted a direct assault on the city and fell back with heavy losses, narrowly escaping
extermination. Desperate Spanish fought their way out on Noche Triste (the Sad Night), when
hundreds of them fell on the causeway. Cortés’s men piled human bodies—Aztec and European
alike—in heaps to block Aztec pursuers, then staggered back to Vera Cruz. In 1521 Cortés returned
with a new Spanish army, supported by more than 75,000 Indian allies.16 This time, he found a
weakened enemy who had been ravaged by smallpox, or as the Aztecs called it, “the great leprosy.”
Starvation killed those Aztecs whom the disease did not: “They died in heaps, like bedbugs,” wrote
one historian.17 Even so, neither disease nor starvation accounted for the Spaniards’ stunning
victory over the vastly larger Aztec forces, which can be credited to the Spanish use of Europeanstyle disciplined shock combat and the employment of modern firepower. Severing the causeways,
stationing huge units to guard each, Cortés assaulted the city walls from thirteen brigantines the
Spaniards had hauled overland, sealing off the city. These brigantines proved “far more ingeniously
engineered for fighting on the Aztecs’ native waters than any boat constructed in Mexico during the
entire history of its civilization.”18 When it came to the final battle, it was not the brigantines, but
Cortés’s use of cannons, muskets, harquebuses, crossbows, and pikes in deadly discipline, firing in
order, and standing en masse against a murderous mass of Aztecs who fought as individuals rather
than a cohesive force that proved decisive.

Spanish technology, including the wheel-related ratchet gears on muskets, constituted only one
element of European military superiority. They fought as other European land armies fought, in
formation, with their officers open to new ideas based on practicality, not theology. Where no
Aztec would dare approach the godlike Montezuma with a military strategy, Cortés debated tactics
with his lieutenants routinely, and the European way of war endowed each Castilian soldier with a
sense of individual rights, civic duty, and personal freedom nonexistent in the Aztec kingdom.
Moreover, the Europeans sought to kill their enemy and force his permanent surrender, not forge an
arrangement for a steady supply of sacrifice victims. Thus Cortés captured the Aztec capital in
1521 at a cost of more than 100,000 Aztec dead, many from disease resulting from Cortés’s cutting
the city’s water supply.19 But not all diseases came from the Old World to the New, and syphilis
appears to have been retransmitted back from Brazil to Portugal.20
If Europeans resembled other cultures in their attitude toward conquest, they differed substantially
in their practice and effectiveness. The Spanish, especially, proved adept at defeating native
peoples for three reasons. First, they were mobile. Horses and ships endowed the Spanish with vast
advantages in mobility over the natives. Second, the burgeoning economic power of Europe
enabled quantum leaps over Middle Eastern, Asian, and Mesoamerican cultures. This economic
wealth made possible the shipping and equipping of large, trained, well-armed forces. Nonmilitary
technological advances such as the iron-tipped plow, the windmill, and the waterwheel all had
spread through Europe and allowed monarchs to employ fewer resources in the farming sector and
more in science, engineering, writing, and the military. A natural outgrowth of this economic
wealth was improved military technology, including guns, which made any single Spanish soldier
the equal of several poorly armed natives, offsetting the latter’s numerical advantage. But these two
factors were magnified by a third element—the glue that held it all together—which was a western
way of combat that emphasized group cohesion of free citizens. Like the ancient Greeks and
Romans, Cortés’s Castilians fought from a long tradition of tactical adaptation based on individual
freedom, civic rights, and a “preference for shock battle of heavy infantry” that “grew out of
consensual government, equality among the middling classes,” and other distinctly Western traits
that gave numerically inferior European armies a decisive edge.21 That made it possible for tiny
expeditions such as Ponce de León’s, with only 200 men and 50 horses, or Narváez’s, with a force
of 600, including cooks, colonists, and women, to overcome native Mexican armies outnumbering
them two, three, and even ten times at any particular time.
More to the point, no native culture could have conceived of maintaining expeditions of thousands
of men in the field for months at a time. Virtually all of the natives lived off the land and took
slaves back to their home, as opposed to colonizing new territory with their own settlers. Indeed,
only the European industrial engine could have provided the material wherewithal to maintain such
armies, and only the European political constructs of liberty, property rights, and nationalism kept
men in combat for abstract political causes. European combat style produced yet another advantage
in that firearms showed no favoritism on the battlefield. Spanish gunfire destroyed the hierarchy of
the enemy, including the aristocratic dominant political class. Aztec chiefs and Moor sultans alike
were completely vulnerable to massed firepower, yet without the legal framework of republicanism
and civic virtue like Europe’s to replace its leadership cadre, a native army could be decapitated at
the head with one volley, whereas the Spanish forces could see lieutenants fall and seamlessly
replace them with sergeants.
Did Columbus Kill Most of the Indians?
The five-hundred-year anniversary of Columbus’s discovery was marked by unusual and strident
controversy. Rising up to challenge the intrepid voyager’s courage and vision—as well as the
establishment of European civilization in the New World—was a crescendo of damnation, which
posited that the Genoese navigator was a mass murderer akin to Adolf Hitler. Even the
establishment of European outposts was, according to the revisionist critique, a regrettable
development. Although this division of interpretations no doubt confused and dampened many a
Columbian festival in 1992, it also elicited a most intriguing historical debate: did the esteemed
Admiral of the Ocean Sea kill almost all the Indians? A number of recent scholarly studies have
dispelled or at least substantially modified many of the numbers generated by the anti-Columbus
groups, although other new research has actually increased them. Why the sharp inconsistencies?
One recent scholar, examining the major assessments of numbers, points to at least nine different
measurement methods, including the time-worn favorite, guesstimates.

  1. Pre-Columbian native population numbers are much smaller than critics have maintained. For
    example, one author claims “Approximately 56 million people died as a result of European
    exploration in the New World.” For that to have occurred, however, one must start with early
    estimates for the population of the Western Hemisphere at nearly 100 million. Recent research
    suggests that that number is vastly inflated, and that the most reliable figure is nearer 53 million,
    and even that estimate falls with each new publication. Since 1976 alone, experts have lowered
    their estimates by 4 million. Some scholars have even seen those figures as wildly inflated, and
    several studies put the native population of North America alone within a range of 8.5 million (the
    highest) to a low estimate of 1.8 million. If the latter number is true, it means that the “holocaust”
    or “depopulation” that occurred was one fiftieth of the original estimates, or 800,000 Indians who
    died from disease and firearms. Although that number is a universe away from the estimates of 50
    to 60 million deaths that some researchers have trumpeted, it still represented a destruction of half
    the native population. Even then, the guesstimates involve such things as accounting for the effects
    of epidemics—which other researchers, using the same data, dispute ever occurred—or expanding
    the sample area to all of North and Central America. However, estimating the number of people
    alive in a region five hundred years ago has proven difficult, and recently several researchers have
    called into question most early estimates. For example, one method many scholars have used to
    arrive at population numbers—extrapolating from early explorers’ estimates of populations they
    could count—has been challenged by archaeological studies of the Amazon basin, where dense
    settlements were once thought to exist. Work in the area by Betty Meggers concludes that the early
    explorers’ estimates were exaggerated and that no evidence of large populations in that region
    exists. N. D. Cook’s demographic research on the Inca in Peru showed that the population could
    have been as high as 15 million or as low as 4 million, suggesting that the measurement
    mechanisms have a “plus or minus reliability factor” of 400 percent! Such “minor” exaggerations
    as the tendencies of some explorers to overestimate their opponents’ numbers, which, when
    factored throughout numerous villages, then into entire populations, had led to overestimates of
  2. Native populations had epidemics long before Europeans arrived. A recent study of more than
    12,500 skeletons from sixty-five sites found that native health was on a “downward trajectory long
    before Columbus arrived.” Some suggest that Indians may have had a nonvenereal form of syphilis,
    and almost all agree that a variety of infections were widespread. Tuberculosis existed in Central
    and North America long before the Spanish appeared, as did herpes, polio, tick-borne fevers,
    giardiasis, and amebic dysentery. One admittedly controversial study by Henry Dobyns in Current
    Anthropology in 1966 later fleshed out over the years into his book, argued that extensive
    epidemics swept North America before Europeans arrived. As one authority summed up the
    research, “Though the Old World was to contribute to its diseases, the New World certainly was
    not the Garden of Eden some have depicted.” As one might expect, others challenged Dobyns and
    the “early epidemic” school, but the point remains that experts are divided. Many now discount the
    notion that huge epidemics swept through Central and North America; smallpox, in particular, did
    not seem to spread as a pandemic.
  3. There is little evidence available for estimating the numbers of people lost in warfare prior to the
    Europeans because in general natives did not keep written records. Later, when whites could
    document oral histories during the Indian wars on the western frontier, they found that different
    tribes exaggerated their accounts of battles in totally different ways, depending on tribal custom.
    Some, who preferred to emphasize bravery over brains, inflated casualty numbers. Others, viewing
    large body counts as a sign of weakness, deemphasized their losses. What is certain is that vast
    numbers of natives were killed by other natives, and that only technological backwardness—the
    absence of guns, for example—prevented the numbers of natives killed by other natives from
    growing even higher.
  4. Large areas of Mexico and the Southwest were depopulated more than a hundred years before
    the arrival of Columbus. According to a recent source, “The majority of Southwesternists…believe
    that many areas of the Greater Southwest were abandoned or largely depopulated over a century
    before Columbus’s fateful discovery, as a result of climatic shifts, warfare, resource
    mismanagement, and other causes.” Indeed, a new generation of scholars puts more credence in
    early Spanish explorers’ observations of widespread ruins and decaying “great houses” that they
    contended had been abandoned for years.
  5. European scholars have long appreciated the dynamic of small-state diplomacy, such as was
    involved in the Italian or German small states in the nineteenth century. What has been missing
    from the discussions about native populations has been a recognition that in many ways the tribes
    resembled the small states in Europe: they concerned themselves more with traditional enemies
    (other tribes) than with new ones (whites).
    Sources: The best single review of all the literature on Indian population numbers is John D.
    Daniels’s “The Indian Population of North America in 1492,” William and Mary Quarterly, April
    1999, pp. 298–320. Among those who cite higher numbers are David Meltzer, “How Columbus
    Sickened the New World,” The New Scientist, October 10, 1992, 38–41; Francis L. Black, “Why
    Did They Die?” Science, December 11, 1992, 139–140; and Alfred W. Crosby Jr., Ecological
    Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900 (New York: Cambridge University
    Press, 1986). Lower estimates come from the Smithsonian’s Douglas Ubelaker, “North American
    Indian Population Size, A.D. 1500–1985,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 77(1988),
    289–294; and William H. MacLeish, The Day Before America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994).
    Henry F. Dobyns, American Historical Demography (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University
    Press, 1976), calculated a number somewhat in the middle, or about 40 million, then subsequently
    revisited the argument, with William R. Swagerty, in Their Number Become Thinned: Native
    American Population Dynamics in Eastern North America, Native American Historic Demography
    Series (Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press, 1983). But, as Nobelist David Cook’s
    study of Incaic Peru reveals, weaknesses in the data remain; see Demographic Collapse: Indian
    Peru, 1520–1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). Betty Meggers’s “Prehistoric
    Population Density in the Amazon Basin” (in John W. Verano and Douglas H. Ubelaker, Disease
    and Demography in the Americas [Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992], 197–
    206), offers a lower-bound 3 million estimate for Amazonia (far lower than the higher-bound 10
    million estimates). An excellent historiography of the debate appears in Daniel T. Reff, Disease,
    Depopulation, and Culture Change in Northwestern New Spain, 1518–1764 (Salt Lake City, Utah:
    University of Utah Press, 1991). He argues for a reconsideration of disease as the primary source of
    depopulation (instead of European cruelty or slavery), but does not support inflated numbers. A
    recent synthesis of several studies can be found in Michael R. Haines and Richard H. Steckel, A
    Population History of North America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Also see
    Richard H. Steckel and Jerome C. Rose, eds., The Backbone of History: Health and Nutrition in the
    Western Hemisphere (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). The quotation referring to
    this study is from John Wilford, “Don’t Blame Columbus for All the Indians’ Ills,” New York
    Times, October 29, 2002.
    Technology and disease certainly played prominent roles in the conquest of Spanish America. But
    the oppressive nature of the Aztecs played no small role in their overthrow, and in both Peru and
    Mexico, “The structure of the Indian societies facilitated the Spanish conquest at ridiculously low
    cost.”22 In addition, Montezuma’s ruling hierarchical, strongly centralized structure, in which
    subjects devoted themselves and their labor to the needs of the state, made it easy for the Spanish to
    adapt the system to their own control. Once the Spanish had eliminated Aztec leadership, they
    replaced it with themselves at the top. The “common people” exchanged one group of despots for
    another, of a different skin color.
    By the time the Aztecs fell, the news that silver existed in large quantities in Mexico had reached
    Spain, attracting still other conquistadores. Hernando de Soto explored Florida (1539–1541),
    succeeding where Juan Ponce de León had failed, and ultimately crossed the Mississippi River,
    dying there in 1542. Meanwhile, marching northward from Mexico, Francisco Vásquez de
    Coronado pursued other Indian legends of riches in the Seven Cities of Cibola. Supposedly, gold
    and silver existed in abundance there, but Coronado’s 270-man expedition found none of the fabled
    cities, and in 1541 he returned to Spain, having mapped much of the American Southwest. By the
    1570s enough was known about Mexico and the Southwest to attract settlers, and some two
    hundred Spanish settlements existed, containing in all more than 160,000 Europeans.
    Traveling with every expedition were priests and friars, and the first permanent building erected by
    Spaniards was often a church. Conquistadores genuinely believed that converting the heathen
    ranked near—or even above—the acquisition of riches. Even as the Dominican friar and Bishop of
    Chiapas, Bartolomé de Las Casas, sharply criticized his countrymen in his writings for making
    “bloody, unjust, and cruel wars” against the Indians—the so-called Black Legend—a second army
    of mercy, Spanish missionaries, labored selflessly under harsh conditions to bring the Gospel to the
    Indians. In some cases, as with the Pueblo Indians, large numbers of Indians converted to
    Christianity, albeit a mixture of traditional Catholic teachings and their own religious practices,
    which, of course, the Roman Church deplored. Attempts to suppress such distortions led to
    uprisings such as the 1680 Pueblo revolt that killed twenty-one priests and hundreds of Spanish
    colonists, although even the rebellious Pueblos eventually rejoined the Spanish as allies.23
    Explorers had to receive from the king a license that entitled the grantee to large estates and a
    percentage of returns from the expedition. From the estates, explorers carved out ranches that
    provided an agricultural base and encouraged other settlers to immigrate. Then, after the colonists
    had founded a mission, the Spanish government established formal forts (presidios). The most
    prominent of the presidios dotted the California coast, with the largest at San Diego. Royal
    governors and local bureaucrats maintained the empire in Mexico and the Southwest with
    considerable autonomy from Spain. Distance alone made it difficult for the Crown to control
    activities in the New World.
    A new culture accompanied the Spanish occupation. With intermarriage between Europeans and
    Indians, a large mestizo population (today, referred to as Mexican or Hispanic people) resulted. It
    generally adopted Spanish culture and values.
    The Pirates of the Caribbean
    Despite frantic activity and considerable promise, Spanish colonies grew slowly. Southwestern and
    Mexican Spanish settlements had a population of about 160,000 by the 1570s, when the territory
    under the control of the king included Caribbean islands, Mexico, the southwestern part of today’s
    United States, large portions of the South American land mass, and an Indian population of more
    than 5 million. Yet when compared to the later rapid growth of the English colonies, the stagnation
    of Spain’s outposts requires examination. Why did the Spanish colonies grow so slowly? One
    explanation involves the extensive influence in the Caribbean and on the high seas of pirates who
    spread terror among potential settlers and passengers. A less visible and much more costly effect on
    colonization resulted from the expense of outfitting ships to defend themselves, or constructing a
    navy of sufficient strength to patrol the sea-lanes. Pirates not only attacked ships en route, but they
    also brazenly invaded coastal areas, capturing entire cities. The famous English pirate Henry
    Morgan took Portobelo, the leading Spanish port on the American Atlantic coast in 1668, and
    Panama City fell to his marauders in 1670–71.24 Sir Francis Drake, the Master Thief of the
    unknown world, as the Spaniards called him, “became the terror of their ports and crews” and he
    and other “sea dogs” often acted as unofficial agents of the English Crown.25
    Other discouraging reports dampened Spanish excitement for settling in the New World. In 1591,
    twenty-nine of seventy-five ships in a single convoy went down trying to return to Spain from
    Cuba; in 1600 a sixty-ship fleet from Cádiz to Mexico encountered two separate storms that sank
    seventeen ships and took down more than a thousand people; and in 1656 two galleons collided in
    the Bahamas, killing all but fifty-six of the seven hundred passengers. Such gloomy news combined
    with reports of piracy to cause more than a few potential Spanish settlers to reconsider their plans
    to relocate in Mexico.26
    Another factor that retarded Spain’s success in the New World was its rigid adherence to
    mercantilism, an economic theory that had started to dominate Europe. Mercantilism held that
    wealth was fixed (because it consisted of gold and silver), and that for one nation to get richer,
    another must get poorer.
    Spain thoroughly embraced the aspects of mercantilism that emphasized acquiring gold and silver.
    Spanish mines in the New World eventually turned out untold amounts of riches. Francisco Pizarro
    transported 13,000 pounds of gold and 26,000 pounds of silver in just his first shipment home.
    Total bullion shipped from Mexico and Peru between 1500 and 1650 exceeded 180 tons. Yet Spain
    did not view the New World as land to be developed, and rather than using the wealth as a base
    from which to create a thriving commercial sector, Spain allowed its gold to sit in royal vaults,
    unemployed in the formation of new capital.27
    Spanish attitudes weighed heavily upon the settlers of New Spain, who quickly were outpaced by
    the more commercially oriented English outposts.28 Put another way, Spain remained wedded to
    the simplest form of mercantilism, whereas the English and Dutch advanced in the direction of a
    freer and more lucrative system in which business was less subordinated to the needs of the state.
    Since the state lacked the information possessed by the collective buyers and sellers in the
    marketplace, governments inevitably were at a disadvantage in measuring supply and demand.
    England thus began to shoot ahead of Spain and Portugal, whose entrepreneurs found themselves
    increasingly enmeshed in the snares of bureaucratic mercantilism.
    France in the New World
    France, the last of the major colonizing powers, abandoned mercantilism more quickly than the
    Spanish, but not as rapidly as the English. Although not eager to colonize North America, France
    feared leaving the New World to its European rivals. Following early expeditions along the coast of
    Newfoundland, the first serious voyages by a French captain into North America were conducted
    under Jacques Cartier in 1534. Searching for the fabled Northwest Passage, a northerly water route
    to the Pacific, he sailed up the St. Lawrence, reaching the present site of Montreal. It was another
    seventy years, however, before the French established a permanent settlement there.29
    Samuel de Champlain, a pious cartographer considered one of the greatest inland explorers of all
    time, searched for a series of lakes that would link the Atlantic and Pacific, and in 1608 established
    a fort on a rocky point called Quebec (from the Algonquin word “kebec,” or “where the river
    narrows”). Roughly twenty years later, France chartered the Company of New France, a trading
    firm designed to populate French holdings in North America. Compared to English colonial efforts,
    however, New France was a disappointment, in no small part because one of the most enthusiastic
    French groups settled in the southeastern part of the United States, not Canada, placing them in
    direct contact with the powerful Spanish. The French government, starting a trend that continued to
    the time of the Puritans, answered requests by religious dissidents to plant a colony in the
    southernmost reaches of North America. Many dissenters born of the Protestant Reformation
    sought religious freedom from Catholic governments. These included French Protestants known as
    Huguenots. Violent anti-Protestant prejudices in France served as a powerful inducement for the
    Huguenots to emigrate.
    Huguenots managed to land a handful of volunteers in Port Royal Sound (present-day South
    Carolina) in 1562, but the colony failed. Two years later, another expedition successfully settled at
    Fort Caroline in Florida, which came under attack from the Spanish, who slaughtered the
    unprepared inhabitants, ending French challenges to Spanish power in the southern parts of North
    America. From that point on, France concentrated its efforts on the northern reaches of North
    America—Canada—where Catholicism, not Protestantism, played a significant role in French
    Canadian expansion alongside the economics of the fur trade.
    French colonization trailed that of the English for several reasons. Quebec was much colder than
    most of the English colonial sites, making it a much less attractive destination for emigrants. Also,
    the conditions of French peasants in the 1600s were better than that of their English counterparts,
    so they were less interested in leaving their mother country. Finally, the French government,
    concerned with maintaining a large base of domestic military recruits, did not encourage migration
    to New France. As a result, by 1700, English colonists in North America outnumbered French
    settlers six to one. Despite controlling the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers, New France,
    deprived by its inland character of many of the advantages available to the coastal English
    settlements, saw only a “meagre trickle” to the region.30 As few as twenty-seven thousand French
    came to Canada in 150 years, and two-thirds of those departed without leaving descendants
    Even so, New France had substantial economic appeal. Explorers had not found gold or silver, but
    northern expeditions discovered riches of another sort: furs. Vast Canadian forests offered an
    abundance of highly valued deer, elk, rabbit, and beaver skins and pelts, harvested by an
    indigenous population eager to trade. Trapping required deep penetration into forests controlled by
    Indians, and the French found that they could obtain furs far more easily through barter than they
    could by deploying their own army of trappers with soldiers to protect them. Thus, French traders
    ventured deep into the interior of Canada to exchange knives, blankets, cups, and, when necessary,
    guns with the Indians for pelts. At the end of a trading journey, the coureurs de bois (runners of the
    woods) returned to Montreal, where they sold the furs to merchants who shipped them back to
    Europe. That strategy demanded that France limit the number of its colonists and discourage
    settlement, particularly in Indian territories. France attempted to deal with natives as friends and
    trading partners, but quickly realized that the Indians harbored as much enmity for each other as
    they did for the Europeans. If not careful, France could find itself on the wrong end of an alliance,
    so where possible, the French government restrained colonial intrusions into Indian land, with the
    exception of missionaries, such as Jacques Marquette (1673) and René de La Salle (1681).32
    The English Presence
    Despite the voyages of John Cabot, English explorers trailed in the wake of the Portuguese,
    Spanish, and French. England, at the beginning of the sixteenth century “was backward in
    commerce, industry, and wealth, and therefore did not rank as one of the great European
    nations.”33 When Queen Elizabeth took the throne in 1558, the situation changed: the nation
    developed a large navy with competent—often skilled—sailors. Moreover, profits from piracy and
    privateering provided strong incentives to bold seamen, especially “sea dogs” like John Hawkins
    and Francis Drake, to join in plundering the Spanish sea-lanes.
    By that time, the English reading public had become fascinated with the writings of Humphrey
    Gilbert, especially A Discourse to Prove a Passage by the North-West to Cathaia and the East
    Indies (1576), which closed with a challenge to Englishmen to discover that water route.
    In 1578, Elizabeth granted him rights to plant an English colony in America, but he died in an
    attempt to colonize Newfoundland. Walter Raleigh, Gilbert’s half brother, inherited the grant and
    sent vessels to explore the coast of North America before determining where to locate a settlement.
    That expedition reached North Carolina in the summer of 1584. After spending two months
    traversing the land, commenting on its vegetation and natural beauty, the explorers returned to
    England with glowing reports. Raleigh supported a second expedition in 1585, at which time one
    hundred settlers landed at Roanoke on the Carolina coast. When the transports had sailed for
    England, leaving the colony alone, it nearly starved, and only the fortunate arrival of Drake, fresh
    from new raiding, provided it with supplies. Raleigh, undeterred by the near disaster, planned
    another settlement for Roanoke, by which time Richard Hakluyt’s Discourse on Western Planting
    (1584) further ginned up enthusiasm for settling in the region.34
    Settlers received stock in Raleigh’s company, which attracted 133 men and 17 women who set sail
    on three ships. They reached Roanoke Island in 1587, and a child born on that island, Virginia
    Dare, technically became the first European born in America. As with the previous English
    expedition, the ships, under the command of the governor, John White, returned to England for
    more supplies, only to arrive under the impending threat of a Spanish invasion of England—a failed
    invasion that would result in the spectacular defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, leaving
    England as the predominant sea power in the world. Delays prohibited the supply ships from
    returning to Roanoke until 1591, when John White found the Roanoke houses standing, but no
    settlers. A mysterious clue—the word croatoan carved on a tree—remains the only evidence of
    their fate. Croatoan Indians lived somewhat nearby, but they were considered friendly, and neither
    White nor generations of historians have solved the puzzle of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
    Whatever the fate of the Roanoke settlers, the result for England was that by 1600 there still were
    no permanent English colonies in America.
    Foundations for English Success in the New World: A Hypothesis
    England had laid the foundation for successful North American settlements well before the first
    permanent colony was planted at Jamestown in 1607. Although it seemed insignificant in
    comparison to the large empire already established by the Spanish, Virginia and subsequent English
    colonies in Massachusetts would eclipse the settlement of the Iberian nations and France. Why?
    It is conceivable that English colonies prospered simply by luck, but the dominance of Europe in
    general and England in particular—a tiny island with few natural resources—suggests that specific
    factors can be identified as the reasons for the rise of an English-Atlantic civilization: the
    appearance of new business practices, a culture of technological inquisitiveness, and a climate
    receptive to political and economic risk taking.
    One of the most obvious areas in which England surpassed other nations was in its business
    practices. English merchants had eclipsed their Spanish and French rivals in preparing for
    successful colonization through adoption of the joint-stock company as a form of business. One of
    the earliest of these joint-stock companies, the Company of the Staple, was founded in 1356 to
    secure control over the English wool trade from Italian competitors. By the 1500s, the Moscovy
    Company (1555), the Levant Company (1592), and the East India Company(1600) fused the
    exploration of distant regions with the pursuit of profit. Joint-stock companies had two important
    advantages over other businesses. One advantage was that the company did not dissolve with the
    death of the primary owner (and thus was permanent). Second, it featured limited liability, in which
    a stockholder could lose only what he invested, in contrast to previous business forms that held
    owners liable for all of a company’s debts. Those two features made investing in an exciting
    venture in the New World attractive, especially when coupled with the exaggerated claims of the
    returning explorers. Equally important, however, the joint-stock feature allowed a rising group of
    middle-class merchants to support overseas ventures on an ever-expanding basis.
    In an even more significant development, a climate receptive to risk taking and innovation, which
    had flourished throughout the West, reached its most advanced state in England. It is crucial to
    realize that key inventions or technologies appeared in non-Western countries first; yet they were
    seldom, if ever, employed in such a way as to change society dramatically until the Western
    societies applied them. The stirrup, for example, was known as early as a.d. 400–500 in the Middle
    East, but it took until 730, when Charles Martel’s mounted knights adopted cavalry charges that
    combat changed on a permanent basis.35 Indeed, something other than invention was at work. As
    sociologist Jack Goldstone put it, “The West did not overtake the East merely by becoming more
    efficient at making bridles and stirrups, but by developing steam engines…[and] by taking
    unknown risks on novelty.”36 Stability of the state, the rule of law, and a willingness to accept new
    or foreign ideas, rather than ruthlessly suppress them, proved vital to entrepreneurship, invention,
    technical creativity, and innovation. In societies dominated by the state, scientists risked their lives
    if they arrived at unacceptable answers.
    Still another factor, little appreciated at the time, worked in favor of English ascendancy: labor
    scarcity ensured a greater respect for new immigrants, whatever their origins, than had existed in
    Europe. With the demand for labor came property rights, and with such property rights came
    political rights unheard of in Europe.
    Indeed, the English respect for property rights soon eclipsed other factors accounting for England’s
    New World dominance. Born out of the fierce struggles by English landowners to protect their
    estates from seizure by the state, by the 1600s, property rights had become so firmly established as
    a basis for English economic activities that its rules permeated even the lowest classes in society.
    English colonists found land so abundant that anyone could own it. When combined with freedom
    from royal retribution in science and technological fields, the right to retain the fruit of one’s
    labor—even intellectual property—gave England a substantial advantage in the colonization
    process over rivals that had more than a century’s head start.37 These advantages would be further
    enhanced by a growing religious toleration brought about by religious dissenters from the Church
    of England called Puritans.38
    The Colonial South
    In 1606, James I granted a charter to the Virginia Company for land in the New World, authorizing
    two subsidiary companies: the London Company, based in Bristol, and the Plymouth Company,
    founded by Plymouth stockholders. A group of “certain Knights, Gentlemen, Merchants, and other
    Adventurers” made up the London Company, which was a joint-stock company in the same vein as
    the Company of the Staple and the Levant Company. The grant to the London Company, reaching
    from modern-day North Carolina to New York, received the name Virginia in honor of Queen
    Elizabeth (the “Virgin Queen”), whereas the Plymouth Company’s grant encompassed New
    England. More than 600 individuals and fifty commercial firms invested in the Virginia Company,
    illustrating the fund-raising advantages available to a corporation. The London Company organized
    its expedition first, sending three ships out in 1607 with 144 boys and men to establish a trading
    colony designed to extract wealth for shipment back to England.
    Seeking to “propagate the Christian religion” in the Chesapeake and to produce a profit for the
    investors, the London Company owned the land and appointed the governor. Colonists were
    considered “employees.” However, as with Raleigh’s employees, the colonists enjoyed, as the king
    proclaimed, “all Liberties, Franchises, and Immunities…as if they had been abiding and born,
    within this our Realm of England.”39 Most colonists lacked any concept of what awaited them: the
    company adopted a military model based on the Irish campaigns, and the migrants included few
    farmers or men skilled in construction trades. After a four-month voyage, in April 1607, twentysix-year-old Captain John Smith piloted ships fifty miles up the James River, well removed from
    eyesight of passing Spanish vessels. It was a site remarkable for its defensive position, but it sat on
    a malarial swamp surrounded by thick forests that would prove difficult to clear. Tiny triangleshaped James Forte, as Jamestown was called, featured firing parapets at each corner and contained
    fewer than two dozen buildings. Whereas defending the fort might have appeared possible,
    stocking the fort with provisions proved more difficult: not many of the colonists wanted to work,
    and none found gold. Some discovered pitch, tar, lumber, and iron for export, but many of the
    emigrants were gentleman adventurers who disdained physical labor as had their Spanish
    counterparts to the Southwest. Smith implored the London Company to send “30 carpenters,
    husbandmen, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons and diggers up of trees…[instead of] a
    thousand of such as we have.”40 Local Indians, such as the Monacan and Chickahominy, traded
    with the colonists, but the English could neither hire Indian laborers nor did Indian males express
    any interest in agriculture themselves. Reaping what they had (not) sown, the settlers of James
    Forte starved, with fewer than one third of the 120 colonists surviving a year. So few remained that
    the living, Smith noted, were scarcely able to bury the dead.
    Disease also decimated the colony. Jamestown settlers were leveled by New World diseases for
    which they had no resistance. Malaria, in particular, proved a dreaded killer, and malnutrition
    lowered the immunity of the colonists. The brackish water at that point of the James River also
    fostered mosquitoes and parasites. Virginia was hardly a “disease-free paradise” before the arrival
    of the Jamestown English.41 New microbes transported by the Europeans generated a much higher
    level of infection than previously experienced by the Indians; then, in a vicious circle, warring
    Indian tribes spread the diseases among one another when they attacked enemy tribes and carried
    off infected prisoners.
    Thanks to the efforts of Smith, who as council president simply assumed control in 1608, the
    colony was saved. Smith imposed military discipline and order and issued the famous biblical edict,
    “He who will not work will not eat.” He stabilized the colony, and in the second winter, less than
    15 percent of the population died, compared to the more than 60 percent who died just a year
    earlier. Smith also organized raids on Indian villages. These brought immediate returns of food and
    animals, but fostered long-term retribution from the natives, who harassed the colonists when they
    ventured outside their walls. But Smith was not anti-Indian per se, and even proposed a plan of
    placing white males in Indian villages to intermarry—hardly the suggestion of a racist. Subsequent
    settlers developed schools to educate Indians, including William and Mary. Smith ran the colony
    like an army unit until 1609, when confident of its survival, the colonists tired of his tyrannical
    methods and deposed him.
    At that point he returned to England, whereupon the London Company (by then calling itself the
    Virginia Company) obtained a new charter from the king, and it sought to raise capital in England
    by selling stock and by offering additional stock to anyone willing to migrate to Virginia. The
    company provided free passage to Jamestown for indentures, or servants willing to work for the
    Virginia Company for seven years. A new fleet of nine ships containing six hundred men and some
    women left England in 1609. One of the ships sank in a hurricane, and another ran aground in
    Bermuda, where it remained until May 1610.
    The other vessels arrived at Jamestown only to experience the “starving time” in the winter of
    1609–10. English colonists, barricaded within James Forte, ate dogs, cats, rats, toadstools, and
    horse hides—ultimately eating from the corpses of the dead. When the remnants of the fleet that
    had been stuck in Bermuda finally reached Virginia in the late spring of 1610, all the colonists
    boarded for a return to England. At the mouth of the James River, however, the ships encountered
    an English vessel bringing supplies. The settlers returned to James Forte, and shortly thereafter a
    new influx of settlers revived the colony.42
    Like Smith, subsequent governors, including the first official governor, Lord De La Warr,
    attempted to operate the colony on a socialist model: settlers worked in forced-labor gangs; shirkers
    were flogged and some even hanged. Still, negative incentives only went so far because ultimately
    the communal storehouse would sustain anyone in danger of starving, regardless of individual work
    effort. Administrators realized that personal incentives would succeed where force would not, and
    they permitted private ownership of land. The application of private enterprise, combined with the
    introduction of tobacco farming, helped Jamestown survive and prosper—an experience later
    replicated in Georgia.
    During the early critical years, Indians were too divided to coordinate their attacks against the
    English. The powerful Chief Powhatan, who led a confederation of more than twenty tribes,
    enlisted the support of the Jamestown settlers—who he assumed were there for the express purpose
    of stealing Indian land—to defeat other enemy Indian tribes. Both sides played balance-of-power
    politics. Thomas Dale, the deputy governor, proved resourceful in keeping the Indians off balance,
    at one point kidnapping Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas (Matoaka), and holding her captive at
    Jamestown. There she met and eventually married planter John Rolfe, in 1614. Their marriage
    made permanent the uneasy truce that existed between Powhatan and Jamestown. Rolfe and
    Pocahontas returned to England, where the Indian princess, as a convert to Christianity, proved a
    popular dinner guest. She epitomized the view that Indians could be evangelized and
    Tobacco, Slaves, and Representative Government
    Rolfe already had made another significant contribution to the success of the colony by curing
    tobacco in 1612. Characterized by King James I as a “vile and stinking…custom,” smoking tobacco
    had been promoted in England by Raleigh and had experienced widespread popularity. Columbus
    had reported Cuban natives rolling tobacco leaves, lighting them on fire, and sticking them in a
    nostril. By Rolfe’s time the English had refined the custom by using a pipe or by smoking the
    tobacco directly with the mouth. England already imported more than £200,000 worth of tobacco
    per year from Spanish colonies, which had a monopoly on nicotine until Rolfe’s discovery.
    Tobacco was not the only substance to emerge from Virginia that would later be considered a
    vice—George Thorpe perfected a mash of Indian corn that provided a foundation for hard liquor—
    but tobacco had the greatest potential for profitable production.
    Substantial change in the production of tobacco only occurred, however, after the Virginia
    Company allowed individual settlers to own land. In 1617, any freeman who migrated to Virginia
    could obtain a grant of one hundred acres of land. Grants were increased for most colonists through
    the headright policy, under which every head of a household could receive fifty acres for himself
    and an additional fifty acres for every adult family member or servant who came to America with
    him. The combination of available land and the growing popularity of tobacco in England resulted
    in a string of plantations stretching to Failing Creek, well up the James River and as far west as
    Dale’s Gift on Cape Charles. Virtually all of the plantations had riverfronts, allowing ships’
    captains to dock directly at the plantation, and their influence extended as far as the lands of the
    Piedmont Indians, who traded with the planters.44
    Tobacco cultivation encouraged expansion. The crop demanded large areas of farmland, and the
    methods of cultivation depleted the soil quickly. Growers steadily moved to interior areas of
    Virginia, opening still more settlements and requiring additional forts. But the recurring problem in
    Virginia was obtaining labor, which headright could not provide—quite the contrary, it encouraged
    new free farms. Instead, the colony placed new emphasis on indentures, including “20 and odd
    Negroes” brought to Virginia by a Dutch ship in 1619.
    The status of the first blacks in the New World remains somewhat mysterious, and any thesis about
    the change in black status generates sharp controversy. Historian Edmund Morgan, in American
    Slavery, American Freedom, contended that the first blacks had the same legal status as white
    indentured servants.45 Other recent research confirms that the lines blurred between indentures of
    all colors and slaves, and that establishing clear definitions of exactly who was likely to become a
    slave proved difficult.46 At least some white colonists apparently did not distinguish blacks from
    other servants in their minds, and some early black indentured servants were released at the end of
    their indentures. Rather than viewing Africa as a source of unlimited labor, English colonists
    preferred European indentured servants well into the 1670s, even when they came from the ranks of
    criminals from English jails. But by the 1660s, the southern colonists had slowly altered their
    attitudes toward Africans. Increasingly, the southerners viewed them as permanent servants, and in
    1664 some southern colonies declared slavery hereditary, as it had been in ancient Athens and still
    was throughout the Muslim world.47
    Perhaps the greatest irony surrounding the introduction of black servants was the timing—if the
    1619 date is accurate. That year, the first elected legislative assembly convened at Jamestown.
    Members consisted of the governor and his council and representatives (or burgesses) from each of
    the eleven plantations. The assembly gradually split into an upper house, the governor and council,
    and the lower house, made up of the burgesses. This meant that the early forms of slavery and
    democracy in America were “twin-born at Jamestown, and in their infancy…were rocked in the
    Cradle of the Republic.”48
    Each of the colonists already had the rights of Englishmen, but the scarcity of labor forced the
    Virginia Company to grant new equal political rights within the colony to new migrants in the form
    of the privileges that land conferred. In that way, land and liberty became intertwined in the minds
    and attitudes of the Virginia founders. Virginia’s founders may have believed in “natural law”
    concepts, but it was the cold reality of the endless labor shortages that put teeth in the colony’s
    political rights. Still, the early colonial government was relatively inefficient and inept in carrying
    out its primary mission of turning a profit. London Company stockholders failed to resupply the
    colony adequately, and had instead placed their hope in sending ever-growing numbers of settlers
    to Jamestown. Adding to the colony’s miseries, the new arrivals soon encroached on Indian lands,
    eliciting hostile reaction. Powhatan’s death in 1618 resulted in leadership of the Chesapeake tribes
    falling to his brother, Opechancanough, who conceived a shrewd plan to destroy the English.
    Feigning friendship, the Indians encouraged a false sense of security among the careless colonists.
    Then, in 1622, Opechancanough’s followers launched simultaneous attacks on the settlements
    surrounding Jamestown, killing more than three hundred settlers. The English retaliated by
    destroying Indian cornfields, a response that kept the Indians in check until 1644. Though blind,
    Opechancanough remained the chief and, still wanting vengeance, ordered a new wave of attacks
    that killed another three hundred English in two days. Again the settlers retaliated. They captured
    Opechancanough, shot him, and forced the Indians from the region between the York and James
    By that time, the Virginia Company had attracted considerable attention in England, none of it
    good. The king appointed a committee to look into the company’s affairs and its perceived
    mismanagement, reflecting the fact that English investors—by then experiencing the fruits of
    commercial success at home—expected even more substantial returns from their successful
    operations abroad than they had received. Opechancanough’s raids seemed to reinforce the
    assessment that the London directors could not make prudent decisions about the colony’s safety,
    and in 1624 the Court of King’s Bench annulled the Virginia Company’s charter and the king
    assumed control of the colony as a royal province.
    Virginians became embroiled in English politics, particularly the struggle between the Cavaliers
    (supporters of the king) and the Puritans. In 1649 the Puritans executed Charles I, whose forces had
    surrendered three years earlier. When Charles was executed, Governor William Berkeley and the
    Assembly supported Charles II as the rightful ruler of England (earning for Virginia the nickname
    Old Dominion). Parliament, however, was in control in England, and dispatched warships to bring
    the rebellious pro-Charles Virginians in line. After flirting with resistance, Berkeley and his
    Cavalier supporters ultimately yielded to the Puritan English Parliamentarians. Then Parliament
    began to ignore the colony, allowing Virginia to assume a great deal of self-government.
    The new king, Charles II, the son of the executed Charles I, rewarded Berkeley and the Virginia
    Cavaliers for their loyalty. Berkeley was reappointed governor in 1660, but when he returned to his
    position, he was out of touch with the people and the assembly, which had grown more irascible,
    and was more intolerant than ever of religious minorities, including Quakers. At the same time, the
    colony’s population had risen to forty thousand, producing tensions with the governor that erupted
    in 1676 with the influx of settlers into territories reserved for the Indians. All that was needed for
    the underrepresented backcountry counties to rise against Berkeley and the tidewater gentry was a
    Bacon’s Rebellion
    Nathaniel Bacon Jr., an eloquent and educated resident in Charles City County, had only lived in
    Virginia fourteen months before he was named to the governor’s council. A hero among
    commoners, Bacon nonetheless was an aristocrat who simmered over his lack of access to the
    governor’s inner circle. His large farm in the west stood on the front line of frontier defense, and
    naturally Bacon favored an aggressive strategy against the Indians. But he was not alone. Many
    western Virginians, noting signs of unrest among the tribes, petitioned Berkeley for military
    protection. Bacon went further, offering to organize and lead his own expedition against the
    Indians. In June 1676 he demanded a commission “against the heathen,” saying, “God damme my
    blood, I came for a commission, and a commission I will have before I goe!”50 Governor Berkeley,
    convinced that the colonists had exaggerated the threat, refused to send troops and rejected Bacon’s
    suggestion to form an independent unit.
    Meanwhile, small raids by both Indians and whites started to escalate into larger attacks. In 1676,
    Bacon, despite his lack of official approval, led a march to track hostiles. Instead, he encountered
    and killed friendly Indians, which threatened to drag the entire region into war. From a sense of
    betrayal, he then turned his 500 men on the government at Jamestown. Berkeley maneuvered to
    stave off a coup by Bacon when he appointed him general, in charge of the Indian campaign.
    Satisfied, Bacon departed, whereupon Berkeley rescinded his support and attempted to raise an
    army loyal to himself. Bacon returned, and finding the ragtag militia, scattered Berkeley’s hastily
    organized force, whereupon Bacon burned most of the buildings at Jamestown.
    No sooner had Bacon conquered Jamestown than he contracted a virus and died. Leaderless,
    Bacon’s troops lacked the ability to resist Berkeley and his forces, who, bolstered by the arrival of
    1,100 British troops, regained control of the colony. Berkeley promptly hanged 23 of the rebels and
    confiscated the property of others—actions that violated English property law and resulted in the
    governor’s being summoned back to England to explain his behavior. Reprimanded by King
    Charles, Berkeley died before he could return to the colony.51
    The Maryland Experiment
    Although Virginia was a Protestant (Anglican) colony—and it must be stated again that the London
    Company did not have a religious agenda per se—a second Chesapeake colony was planted in 1634
    when George Calvert received a grant from James I. Calvert, who enjoyed strong personal support
    from the king despite his conversion to Catholicism in 1625, already had mounted an unsuccessful
    mission to plant a colony in Newfoundland. After returning from the aborted Newfoundland
    venture, Calvert worked to obtain a charter for the northern part of Chesapeake Bay. Shortly after
    he died, the Crown issued a charter in 1632, to Cecilius Calvert, George’s son, naming George
    Calvert Lord Baltimore. The grant, named in honor of Charles I’s sister, Queen Mary, gave
    Baltimore a vast expanse of land stretching from the Potomac River to the Atlantic Ocean.
    Calvert’s grant gave him full proprietary control over the land, freeing him from many of the
    constraints that had limited the Virginia Company. As proprietor, Calvert acted rex in abstentia (as
    the king in his absence), and as long as the proprietor acted in accordance with the laws of England,
    he spoke with the authority of the Crown. Calvert never visited his colony, though, governing the
    province through his brother, Leonard, who held the office of governor until 1647. Like Virginia,
    Maryland had an assembly (created in 1635) elected by all freeholders.
    In March 1634 approximately three hundred passengers arrived at one of the eastern tributaries of
    the Potomac and established the village of St. Mary’s. Located on a high cliff, St. Mary’s had a
    good natural harbor, fresh water, and abundant vegetation. Father Andrew White, a priest who
    accompanied the settlers, observed of the region that “we cannot set down a foot without but tread
    on strawberries, raspberries, fallen mulberry vines, acorns, walnuts, [and] sassafras.”52 The
    Maryland colony was planned better than Jamestown. It possessed a large proportion of laborers—
    and fewer adventurers, country gentlemen, and gold seekers—and the settlers planted corn as soon
    as they had cleared the fields.
    Calvert, while not unaware of the monetary returns of a well-run colony, had another motive for
    creating a settlement in the New World. Catholics had faced severe persecution in England, and so
    Lord Baltimore expected that a large number of Catholics would welcome an opportunity to
    immigrate to Maryland, when he enacted the Toleration Act of 1649, which permitted any Christian
    faith to be practiced in the colony.53 The Act provided that “no person…professing to believe in
    Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be in any ways troubled, molested, or discountenanced.”54 Yet
    the English Catholics simply did not respond the way Calvert hoped. Thus, he had to welcome
    Protestant immigrants at the outset. Once the news of religious toleration spread, other religious
    immigrants came from Virginia, including a group of persecuted Puritans who established
    Annapolis. The Puritans proved a thorn in Baltimore’s side, however, especially after the English
    Civil War put the Puritans in control there and they suspended the Toleration Act. After a brief
    period in which the Calvert family was deprived of all rights to govern, Lord Baltimore was
    supported, ironically, by the Puritan Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, and he was
    reinstated as governor in 1657. Religious conflict had not disappeared, however; an early wave of
    Jesuits worked to convert all of the colonies, antagonizing the Protestant majority. Thus, in many
    ways, the attempt to permit religious toleration resulted in conflict and, frequently, bloodshed.
    Nor did the immigration of Protestants into Maryland allay the nagging labor shortage. In 1640,
    Maryland established its own headright system, and still the demands for labor exceeded the
    supply. As in Virginia, Maryland planters solved the shortage through the use of indentured
    servants and, at the end of the 1600s, African slaves. Maryland enacted a law “concerning Negroes
    and Other Slaves” in 1664, which not only perpetuated the slave status of those already in bondage,
    but expanded slave status to “whosoever freeborn woman shall intermarry with any slave.”55
    Maryland, therefore, with its large estates and black slaves, looked very much like Virginia.
    The Carolinas: Charles Town vs. Cracker Culture
    Carolina, England’s final seventeenth-century mainland slave society was established in 1663,
    when Charles II chartered the colony to eight wealthy proprietors. Their land grant encompassed
    the territories known today as North and South Carolina. Although Charles’s aim was to create a
    strategic buffer zone between Spanish Florida and Virginia, Carolina’s proprietors instead sought
    agricultural riches. Charles Town, now Charleston, South Carolina, founded in 1670, was
    populated largely by English Barbados planters and their slaves. Soon they turned portions of the
    sweltering Carolina seacoast into productive rice plantations; then, over the next century, indigo, a
    vegetable dye, became the planters’ second most important cash crop thanks to the subsidies
    available in the mercantilist system.
    From its outset, Carolina society was triracial: blacks eventually constituted a majority of
    Carolinians, followed by a mix of Indians and Europeans. White Carolinians allied with Cherokee
    Indians to soundly defeat the rival Yamasees and Creeks and pushed them westward. Planters
    failed in their attempts to enslave defeated Indians, turning instead to black slaves to cultivate the
    hot, humid rice fields. A 1712 South Carolina statute made slavery essentially permanent: “All
    negroes, mulattoes, mustizoes, or Indians, which at any time heretofore have been sold…and their
    children, are hereby made and declared slaves.”56 Slave life in the Carolinas differed from Virginia
    because the rice plantation system initially depended almost exclusively on an all-male workforce.
    Life in the rice and indigo fields was incredibly harsh, resembling the conditions in Barbados. The
    crops demanded full-time attention at harvest, requiring exhausting physical labor in the Carolina
    Yet colonial slave revolts (like the 1739 Stono revolt, which sent shock waves through the planter
    community) were exceptions because language barriers among the slaves, close and brutal
    supervision, a climate of repression, and a culture of subservience all combined to keep rebellions
    infrequent. The perceived threat of slave rebellions, nevertheless, hung over the southern coastal
    areas of Carolina, where slaves often outnumbered whites nine to one. Many planters literally
    removed themselves from the site of possible revolts by fleeing to the port cities in the summer.
    Charles Town soon became an island where planter families spent the “hot season” free from the
    plantations, swamps, and malaria of the lowlands. By mid-eighteenth century, Charles Town, with
    a population of eight thousand and major commercial connections, a lively social calendar of balls
    and cotillions, and even a paid symphony orchestra, was the leading city of the South.
    Northern Carolinians differed socially, politically, economically, and culturally from their
    neighbors to the south. In 1729 disputes forced a split into two separate colonies. The northern part
    of the colonies was geographically and economically more isolated, and it developed more slowly
    than South Carolina. In the northeastern lowlands and Piedmont, North Carolina’s economy turned
    immediately to tobacco, while a new ethnic and cultural wave trekked south from Pennsylvania
    into North Carolina via Virginia’s Great Valley. German and Celtic (Scots-Irish) farmers added
    flavor to the Anglo and African stew of Carolina society. Germans who arrived were pious Quaker
    and Moravian farmers in search of opportunities to farm and market wood, leather, and iron
    handicrafts, whereas Celts (or Crackers, as they came to be known) were the wild and woolly
    frontiersmen who had fast worn out their welcome in the “civilized” areas of Pennsylvania and
    Virginia. Crackers answered their detractors by moving on, deeper and deeper into the forests of
    the Appalachian foothills and, eventually, the trans-Appalachian West. Such a jambalaya of
    humankind immediately made for political strife as eastern and western North Carolinians squared
    off time and again in disputes that often boiled down to planter-versus-small-farmer rivalries.
    Life of the Common Colonials
    By the mid-1700s, it was clear across the American colonies that the settlers had become
    increasingly less English. Travelers described Americans as coarse-looking country folk. Most
    colonials wore their hair long. Women and girls kept their hair covered with hats, hoods, and
    kerchiefs while men and boys tied their hair into queues until wigs came into vogue in the port
    cities. Colonials made their own clothes from linen (flax) and wool; every home had a spinning
    wheel and a loom, and women sewed and knitted constantly, since cotton cloth would not be
    readily available until the nineteenth century. Plentiful dyes like indigo, birch bark, and pokeberries
    made colorful shirts, pants, dresses, socks, and caps.
    Americans grew their own food and ate a great deal of corn—roasted, boiled, and cooked into
    cornmeal bread and pancakes. Hearty vegetables like squash and beans joined apples, jam, and
    syrup on the dinner table. Men and boys hunted and fished; rabbit, squirrel, bear, and deer
    (venison) were common entrees. Pig raising became important, but beef cows (and milk) were
    scarce until the eighteenth century and beyond. Given the poor quality of water, many colonials
    drank cider, beer, and corn whiskey—even the children! As cities sprang up, the lack of convenient
    watering holes led owners to “water” their cattle with the runoff of breweries, yielding a disgusting
    variant of milk known as swill milk, which propagated childhood illnesses.
    Even without swill milk, infant mortality was high, and any sickness usually meant suffering and,
    often, death. Colonials relied on folk medicine and Indian cures, including herbs, teas, honey, bark,
    and roots, supplemented with store-bought medicines. Doctors were few and far between. The
    American colonies had no medical school until the eve of the American Revolution, and
    veterinarians usually doubled as the town doctor, or vice versa. Into the vacuum of this absence of
    professional doctors stepped folk healers and midwives, “bone crackers” and bleeders. Going to a
    physician was usually the absolute last resort, since without anesthesia, any serious procedures
    would involve excruciating pain and extensive recovery. Women, especially, suffered during
    childbirth, and infants often had such high mortality rates that babies were not named until age two.
    Instead, mothers and fathers referred to the child as “the little visitor” or even “it.” Despite the
    reality of this difficult life, it is worth noting that by 1774 American colonists already had attained a
    standard of living that far surpassed that found in most of the civilized parts of the modern world.
    Far more than today, though, politics—and not the family—absorbed the attention of colonial men.
    Virtually anyone who either paid taxes or owned a minimum of property could vote for
    representation in both the upper and lower houses of the legislature, although in some colonies
    (Pennsylvania and New York) there was a higher property qualification required for the upper
    house than for the lower house. When it came to holding office, most districts required a candidate
    to have at least one hundred pounds in wealth or one hundred acres, but several colonies had no
    requirements for holding office. Put another way, American colonials took politics seriously and
    believed that virtually everyone could participate. Two colonies stand out as examples of the trends
    in North American politics by the late 1700s—Virginia and Maryland.
    The growth and maturation of the societies in Virginia and Maryland established five important
    trends that would be repeated throughout much of America’s colonial era. First, the sheer distance
    between the ruler and the governed—between the king and the colonies—made possible an
    extraordinary amount of independence among the Americans. In the case of Bacon’s Rebellion, for
    example, the Virginia rebels acted on the principle that it is “easier to ask forgiveness than to seek
    permission,” and were confident that the Crown would approve of their actions. Turmoil in
    England made communication even more difficult, and the instability in the English government—
    the temporary victory of Cromwell’s Puritans, followed by the restoration of the Stuarts—merely
    made the colonial governments more self-reliant than ever.
    Second, while the colonists gained a measure of independence through distance, they also gained
    political confidence and status through the acquisition of land. For immigrants who came from a
    nation where the scarcity of land marked those who owned it as gentlemen and placed them among
    the political elites, the abundance of soil in Virginia and Maryland made them the equals of the
    owners of manorial estates in England. It steadily but subtly became every citizen’s job to ensure
    the protection of property rights for all citizens, undercutting from the outset the widespread and
    entrenched class system that characterized Europe. Although not universal—Virginia had a
    powerful “cousinocracy”—nothing of the rigid French or English aristocracies constrained most
    Americans. To be sure, Virginia possessed a more pronounced social strata than Maryland (and
    certainly Massachusetts). Yet compared to Europe, there was more equality and less class
    distinction in America, even in the South.
    Third, the precedent of rebellion against a government that did not carry out the most basic
    mandates—protecting life, property, and a certain degree of religious freedom (at least from the
    Church of England)—was established and supported by large numbers, if not the vast majority, of
    colonists. That view was tempered by the assumption that, again, such rebellion would not be
    necessary against an informed government. This explains, in part, Thomas Jefferson’s inclusion in
    the Declaration of Independence the references to the fact that the colonists had petitioned not only
    the king, but Parliament as well, to no avail.
    Fourth, a measure of religious toleration developed, although it was neither as broad as is often
    claimed nor did it originate in the charity of church leaders. Although Virginia Anglicans and
    Maryland Catholics built the skeleton of state-supported churches, labor problems forced each
    colony to abandon sectarian purity at an early stage to attract immigrants. Underlying
    presuppositions about religious freedom were narrowly focused on Christians and, in most
    colonies, usually Protestants. Had the colonists ever anticipated that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists,
    Hindus, or members of other non-Christian groups would constitute even a small minority in their
    region, even the most fiercely independent Protestants would have agreed to the establishment of a
    state church, as Massachusetts did from 1630 to 1830.
    America’s vast size contributed to a tendency toward “Live and let live” when it came to
    religion.57 Dissidents always could move to uninhabited areas: certainly none of the denominations
    were open to evangelizing from their counterparts. Rather, the colonists embraced toleration, even
    if narrowly defined, because it affected a relatively cohesive group of Christian sects. Where
    differences that were potentially deeply divisive did exist, the separation caused by distance
    prevented one group from posing a threat to others.
    Finally, the experiences in Virginia and Maryland foreshadowed events elsewhere when it came to
    interaction with the Indians. The survival of a poorly armed, ineptly organized colony in
    Jamestown surrounded by hostile natives requires more of an explanation than “white greed”
    provides. Just as Europeans practiced balance-of-power politics, so too the Indians found that the
    presence of several potential enemies on many sides required that they treat the whites as friends
    when necessary to balance the power of other Indians. To the Doeg Indians, for example, the
    English were no more of a threat than the Susquehannock. Likewise, English settlers had as much
    to fear from the French as they did the natives. Characterizing the struggle as one of whites versus
    Indians does not reflect the balance-of-power politics that every group in the New World struggled
    to maintain among its enemies.58
    New England’s Pilgrims and Puritans
    Whereas gold provided the motivation for the colonization of Virginia, the settlers who traveled to
    Plymouth came for much different reasons.59 The Puritans had witnessed a division in their ranks
    based on their approach to the Anglican Church. One group believed that not only should they
    remain in England, but that they also had a moral duty to purify the church from the inside. Others,
    however, had given up on Anglicanism. Labeled Separatists, they favored removing themselves
    from England entirely, and they defied the orders of the king by leaving for European Protestant
    nations. Their disobedience to royal decrees and British law often earned the Separatists
    persecution and even death.
    In 1608 a group of 125 Separatists from Scrooby, in Nottinghamshire, slipped out of England for
    Holland. Among the most respected leaders of these “Pilgrims,” as they later came to be known,
    was a sixteen-year-old boy named William Bradford. In Holland they faced no religious
    persecution, but as foreigners they found little work, and worse, Puritan children were exposed to
    the “great licentiousness” of Dutch youth. When few other English Separatists joined them, the
    prospects for establishing a strong Puritan community in Holland seemed remote. After receiving
    assurances from the king that they could exercise their religious views freely, they opened
    negotiations with one of the proprietors of the Virginia Company, Sir Edwin Sandys, about
    obtaining a grant in Virginia. Sandys cared little for Puritanism, but he needed colonists in the New
    World. Certainly the Pilgrims already had displayed courage and resourcefulness. He therefore
    allowed them a tract near the mouth of the Hudson River, which was located on the northernmost
    boundary of the Virginia grant. To raise capital, the Pilgrims employed the joint-stock company
    structure, which brought several non-Separatists into the original band of settlers. Sailing on the
    Mayflower, 35 of the original Pilgrims and 65 other colonists left the English harbor of Plymouth
    in September 1620, bound for the Hudson River. Blown off course, the Pilgrims reached the New
    World in November, some five hundred miles north of their intended location. They dropped
    anchor at Cape Cod Bay, at an area called Plymouth by John Smith.
    Arriving at the wrong place, the colonists remained aboard their vessel while they considered their
    situation. They were not in Virginia, and had no charter to Plymouth. Any settlement could be
    perceived in England as defiance of the Crown. Bradford and the forty other adult men thus devised
    a document, before they even went ashore, to emphasize their allegiance to King James, to
    renounce any intention to create an independent republic, and to establish a civil government. It
    stated clearly that their purpose in sailing to Virginia was not for the purposes of rebellion but “for
    the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country….”60
    And while the Mayflower Compact provided for laws and the administration of the colony, it
    constituted more than a mere civil code. It pledged each of them “solemnly and mutually in the
    presence of God and one another” to “covenant and combine ourselves under a civil Body Politick”
    under “just and equal laws…[for the] furtherance of” the glory of God. To the Pilgrims, a just and
    equal society had to be grounded in religious faith. Developing along a parallel path to the concepts
    of government emerging in Virginia, the Mayflower Compact underscored the idea that
    government came from the governed—under God—and that the law treated all equally. But it also
    extended into civil affairs the concept of a church contact (or covenant), reinforcing the close
    connection between the role of the church and the state. Finally, it started to lay a foundation for
    future action against both the king of England and, eighty years after that, slavery by establishing
    basic principles in the contract. This constituted a critical development in an Anglo-European
    culture that increasingly emphasized written rights.
    As one of the first acts of their new democracy, the colonists selected Bradford as governor. Then,
    having taken care of administrative matters, in late December 1620, the Pilgrims climbed out of
    their boats at Plymouth and settled at cleared land that may have been an Indian village years
    earlier. They had arrived too late in the year to plant, and like their countrymen farther south, the
    Pilgrims suffered during their first winter, with half the colony perishing. They survived with
    assistance from the local Indians, especially one named Squanto—“a spetiall instrument sent from
    God,” as Bradford called him.61 For all this they gave thanks to God, establishing what would
    become a national tradition.
    The Pilgrims, despite their fame in the traditional Thanksgiving celebration and their Mayflower
    Compact, never achieved the material success of the Virginia colonists or their Massachusetts
    successors at Massachusetts Bay. Indeed, the Plymouth colony’s population stagnated. Since the
    Separatists’ religious views continued to meet a poor reception in England, no new infusions of
    people or ideas came from the Old World. Having settled in a relatively poor region, and lacking
    the excellent natural harbor of Boston, the Pilgrims never developed the fishing or trading business
    of their counterparts. But the Pilgrims rightly hold a place of high esteem in America history,
    largely because unlike the Virginia settlers, the Separatists braved the dangers and uncertainties of
    the voyage and settlement in the New World solely in the name of their Christian faith.
    Other Puritans, though certainly not all of them Separatists, saw opportunities to establish their own
    settlements. They had particular incentives to do so after the ascension to the throne of England of
    Charles I in 1625. He was determined to restore Catholicism and eradicate religious dissidents. By
    that time, the Puritans had emerged as a powerful merchant group in English society, with their
    economic power translating into seats in Parliament. Charles reacted by dissolving Parliament in
  6. Meanwhile, a group of Dorchester businessmen had provided the perfect vehicle for the
    Puritans to undertake an experiment in the New World.
    In 1623 the Dorchester group established a small fishing post at Cape Ann, near present-day
    Gloucester, Massachusetts. After the colony proved a dismal economic failure, the few settlers who
    had lived at Cape Ann moved inland to Salem, and a new patent, granted in 1628, provided
    incentives for a new group of emigrants, including John Endicott, to settle in Salem. Ultimately, the
    New England Company, as it was called, obtained a royal charter in 1629. Stockholders in the
    company elected a General Court, which chose the governor and his eighteen assistants. Those
    prominent in founding the company saw the Salem and Cape Ann areas as opportunities for
    establishing Christian missions.
    The 1629 charter did not require the company’s headquarters to be in London, as the Virginia
    Company’s had. Several Puritans, including John Winthrop, expressed their willingness to move to
    the trading colony if they could also move the colony’s administration to Massachusetts.
    Stockholders unwilling to move to the New World resigned, and the Puritans gained control of the
    company, whereupon they chose John Winthrop as the governor.62 Called the Moses of the great
    Puritan exodus, Winthrop was Cambridge educated and, because he was an attorney, relatively
    wealthy. He was also deeply committed to the Puritan variant of Christianity. Winthrop suffered
    from the Puritan dilemma, in that he knew that all things came from God, and therefore had to be
    good. Therefore all things were made for man to enjoy, except that man could not enjoy things too
    much lest he risk putting material things above God. In short, Puritans had to be “in the world but
    not of it.”
    Puritans, far from wearing drab clothes and avoiding pleasure, enjoyed all things. Winthrop himself
    loved pipe smoking and shooting. Moreover, Puritan ministers “were the leaders in every field of
    intellectual advance in New England.”63 Their moral codes in many ways were not far from
    modern standards.64
    A substantial number of settlers joined Winthrop, with eleven ships leaving for Massachusetts that
    year. When the Puritans finally arrived, Winthrop delivered a sermon before the colonists
    disembarked. It resounded with many of the sentiments of the Plymouth Pilgrims: “Wee must
    Consider that wee shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” Winthrop
    wanted the Puritans to see themselves as examples and, somewhat typical of his day, made dire
    predictions of their fate if they failed to live up to God’s standard.
    The Massachusetts Bay colony benefited from changes in the religious situation in England, where
    a new policy of forcing Puritans to comply with Anglican ceremonies was in effect. Many Puritans
    decided to leave England rather than tolerate such persecution, and they emigrated to
    Massachusetts in what was called the Great Migration, pulled by reports of “a store of
    blessings.”65 This constant arrival of new groups of relatively prosperous colonists kept the colony
    well funded and its labor force full (unlike the southern colonies). By 1640, the population of
    Massachusetts Bay and its inland settlements numbered more than ten thousand.
    Puritan migrants brought with them an antipathy and distrust of the Stuart monarchy (and
    governmental power in general) that would have great impact in both the long and short term.
    Government in the colony, as elsewhere in most of English America, assumed a democratic bent.
    Originally, the General Court, created as Massachusetts Bay’s first governing body, was limited to
    freemen, but after 1629, when only the Puritan stockholders remained, that meant Puritan male
    church members. Clergymen were not allowed to hold public office, but through the voting of the
    church members, the clergy gained exceptional influence. A Puritan hierarchy ran the
    administrative posts, and although non-Puritan immigrant freemen obtained property and other
    rights, only the church members received voting privileges. In 1632, however, the increasing
    pressure of additional settlers forced changes in the minority-run General Court. The right to elect
    the governor and deputy governor was expanded to all freemen, turning the governor and his
    assistants into a colonial parliament.66
    Political tensions in Massachusetts reflected the close interrelationship Puritans felt between civil
    and religious life. Rigorous tests existed for admission to a Puritan church congregation:
    individuals had to show evidence of a changed life, relate in an interview process their conversion
    experience, and display knowledge of scripture. On the surface, this appeared to place
    extraordinary power in the hands of the authorities, giving them (if one was a believer) the final
    word on who was, and was not, saved. But in reality, church bodies proved extremely lenient in
    accepting members. After all, who could deny another’s face-to-face meeting with the Almighty?
    Local records showed a wide range of opinions on the answer.67 One solution, the “Halfway
    Covenant,” allowed third-generation Puritan children to be baptized if their parents were
    Before long, of course, many insincere or more worldly colonists had gained membership, and with
    the expansion of church membership, the right to participate in the polity soon spread, and by 1640
    almost all families could count one adult male church member (and therefore a voter) in their
    number. The very fact that so many people came, however tangentially, under the rubric of local—
    but not centralized—church authority reinforced civic behavior with a Christian moral code,
    although increasingly the laity tended to be more spiritually conservative than the clergy.69
    Local autonomy of churches was maintained through the congregational system of organization.
    Each church constituted the ultimate authority in scriptural doctrine. That occasionally led to
    unorthodox or even heretical positions developing, but usually the doctrinal agreement between
    Puritans on big issues was so widespread that few serious problems arose. When troublemakers did
    appear, as when Roger Williams arrived in Massachusetts in 1631, or when Anne Hutchinson
    challenged the hierarchy in 1636, Winthrop and the General Court usually dispatched them in short
    order.70 Moreover, the very toleration often (though certainly not universally) exhibited by the
    Puritans served to reinforce and confirm “the colonists in their belief that New England was a place
    apart, a bastion of consistency.”71
    There were limits to toleration, of course. In 1692, when several young Salem girls displayed
    physical “fits” and complained of being hexed by witches, Salem village was thrown into an
    uproar. A special court convened to try the witches. Although the girls initially accused only one as
    a witch (Tituba, a black slave woman), the accusations and charges multiplied, with 150 Salemites
    eventually standing accused. Finally, religious and secular leaders expressed objections, and the
    trials ceased as quickly as they had begun. Historians have subsequently ascribed the hysteria of the
    Salem witch trials to sexism, religious rigidity, and even the fungus of a local plant, but few have
    admitted that to the Puritans of Massachusetts, the devil and witchcraft were quite real, and
    physical manifestations of evil spirits were viewed as commonplace occurrences.
    The Pequot War and the American Militia System
    The Puritan’s religious views did not exempt them from conflict with the Indians, particularly the
    Pequot Indians of coastal New England. Puritan/Pequot interactions followed a cyclical pattern that
    would typify the next 250 years of Indian-white relations, in the process giving birth to the
    American militia system, a form of warfare quite unlike that found in Europe.
    Initial contacts led to cross-acculturation and exchange, but struggles over land ensued, ending in
    extermination, extirpation, or assimilation of the Indians. Sparked by the murder of a trader, the
    Pequot War commenced in July of 1636. In the assault on the Pequot fort on the Mystic River in
    1637, troops from Connecticut and Massachusetts, along with Mohican and Narragansett Indian
    allies, attacked and destroyed a stronghold surrounded by a wooden palisade, killing some four
    hundred Pequots in what was, to that time, one of the most stunning victories of English settlers
    over Indians ever witnessed.
    One important result of the Pequot War was the Indians’ realization that, in the future, they would
    have to unify to fight the Englishmen. This would ultimately culminate in the 1675–76 war led by
    Metacomet—known in New England history as King Philip’s War—which resulted in a staggering
    defeat for northeastern coastal tribes. A far-reaching result of these conflicts was the creation of the
    New England militia system.
    The Puritan—indeed, English—distrust of the mighty Stuart kings manifested itself in a fear of
    standing armies. Under the colonial militia system, much of the population armed itself and
    prepared to fight on short notice. All men aged sixteen to sixty served without pay in village militia
    companies; they brought their own weapons and supplies and met irregularly to train and drill. One
    advantage of the militia companies was that some of their members were crack shots: as an
    eighteenth-century American later wrote a British friend,
    In this country…the great quantities of game, the many lands, and the great privileges of killing
    make the Americans the best marksmen in the world, and thousands support their families by the
    same, particularly the riflemen on the frontiers…. In marching through the woods one thousand of
    these riflemen would cut to pieces ten thousand of your best troops.72
    But the American militia system also had many disadvantages. Insubordination was the inevitable
    result of trying to turn individualistic Americans into obedient soldiers. Militiamen did not want to
    fight anywhere but home. Some deserted in the middle of a campaign because of spring plowing or
    because their time was up. But the most serious shortcoming of the militia system was that it gave
    Americans a misguided impression that they did not need a large, well-trained standing army.
    The American soldier was an amateur, an irregular combatant who despised the professional
    military. Even 140 years after the Pequot War, the Continental Congress still was suspicious that a
    professional military, “however necessary it may be, is always dangerous to the liberties of the
    people…. Standing armies in time of peace are inconsistent with the principles of republican
    Where muskets and powder could handle—or, at least, suppress—most of the difficulties with
    Indians, there were other, more complex issues raised by a rogue minister and an independentminded woman. Taken together, the threats posed by Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson may
    have presented as serious a menace to Massachusetts as the Pequots and other tribes put together.
    Roger Williams and the Limits of Religious Toleration
    The first serious challenge to the unity of state and religion in Massachusetts came from a Puritan
    dissident named Roger Williams. A man Bradford described as “godly and zealous,” Williams had
    moved to Salem, where he served as minister after 1635. Gradually he became more vocal in his
    opinion that church and state needed to be completely separated. Forced religion, he argued,
    “Stinks in God’s nostrils.” Williams had other unusual views, but his most dangerous notion was
    his interpretation of determining who was saved and thus worthy of taking communion with others
    who were sanctified. Williams demanded ever-increasing evidence of a person’s salvation before
    taking communion with him—eventually to the point where he distrusted the salvation of his own
    wife. At that point, Williams completed the circle: no one, he argued, could determine who was
    saved and who was damned.
    Because church membership was so finely intertwined with political rights, this created thorny
    problems. Williams argued that since no one could determine salvation, all had to be treated (for
    civil purposes) as if they were children of God, ignoring New Testament teaching on subjecting
    repeat offenders who were nevertheless thought to be believers to disfellowship, so as not to
    destroy the church body with the individual’s unrepentant sin. Such a position struck at the
    authority of Winthrop, the General Court, and the entire basis of citizenship in Massachusetts, and
    the magistrates in Boston could not tolerate Williams’s open rebellion for long. Other
    congregations started to exert economic pressure on Salem, alienating Williams from his own
    church. After weakening Williams sufficiently, the General Court gave him six weeks to depart the
    colony. Winthrop urged him to “steer my course to Narragansett Bay and the Indians.”74
    Unable to stay, and encouraged to leave, in 1636 Williams founded Providence, Rhode Island,
    which the orthodox Puritans derisively called “Rogues Island” or “the sewer of New England.”75
    After eight years, he obtained a charter from England establishing Rhode Island as a colony.
    Church and state were separated there and all religions—at least all Christian religions—tolerated.
    Williams’s influence on religious toleration was nevertheless minimal, and his halo, “ill fitting.”
    Only a year after Williams relocated, another prominent dissident moved to Rhode Island. Anne
    Hutchinson, a mother of fifteen, arrived in Boston in 1631 with her husband, William (“a man of
    mild temper and weak parts, wholly guided by his wife,” deplored Winthrop). A follower of John
    Cotton, a local minister, Hutchinson gained influence as a Bible teacher, and she held prayer groups
    in her home. She embraced a potentially heretical religious position known as antinomianism,
    which held that there was no relationship between works and faith, and thus the saved had no
    obligation to follow church laws—only the moral judgment of the individual counted. Naturally,
    the colonial authorities saw in Hutchinson a threat to their authority, but in the broader picture she
    potentially opened the door to all sorts of civil mischief. In 1636, therefore, the General Court tried
    her for defaming the clergy—though not, as it might have, for a charge of heresy, which carried a
    penalty of death at the stake. A bright and clever woman, Hutchinson sparred with Winthrop and
    others until she all but confessed to hearing voices. The court evicted her from Massachusetts, and
    in 1637 she and some seventy-five supporters moved to Rhode Island. In 1643, Indians killed
    Hutchinson and most of her family.
    The types of heresies introduced by both Williams and Hutchinson constituted particularly
    destructive doctrinal variants, including a thoroughgoing selfishness and rejection of doctrinal
    control by church hierarchies. Nevertheless, the experience of Hutchinson reaffirmed Rhode
    Island’s reputation as a colony of religious toleration. Confirming the reality of that toleration, a
    royal charter in 1663 stated, “No person…shall be in any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or
    called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion [but that all] may from time
    to time, and at all times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their judgments and
    consciences, in matters of religious concernments.” Rhode Island therefore led the way in
    establishing toleration as a principle, creating a type of “religious competition.”76 Quakers and
    Baptists were accepted. This was no small matter. In Massachusetts, religious deviants were
    expelled; and if they persisted upon returning, they faced flogging, having their tongues bored with
    hot irons, or even execution, as happened to four Quakers who were repeat violators. Yet the
    Puritans “made good everything Winthrop demanded.”77 They could have dominated the early
    state completely, but nevertheless gradually and voluntarily permitted the structures of government
    to be changed to the extent that they no longer controlled it.
    Rhode Island, meanwhile, remained an island of religious refugees in a Puritan sea, as new Puritan
    settlers moved into the Connecticut River Valley in the 1630s, attracted by the region’s rich soil.
    Thomas Hooker, a Cambridge minister, headed a group of families who moved to an area some
    hundred miles southwest of Boston on the Connecticut River, establishing the town of Hartford in
    1635; in 1636 a colony called New Haven was established on the coast across from Long Island as
    a new beacon of religious purity. In the Fundamental Articles of New Haven (1639), the New
    Haven community forged a closer state-church relationship than existed in Massachusetts,
    including tax support for ministers. In 1662 the English government issued a royal charter to the
    colony of Connecticut that incorporated New Haven, Hartford, Windsor, New London, and
    The Council for New England, meanwhile, had granted charters to still other lands north of
    Massachusetts: Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason received territory that comprised Maine
    and New Hampshire in 1629, although settlements had appeared throughout the region during the
    decade. Gorges acquired the Maine section, enlarged by a grant in 1639, and after battling claims
    from Massachusetts, Maine was declared a proprietary colony from 1677 to 1691, when it was
    joined to Massachusetts until admitted to the Union in 1820 as a state. Mason had taken the
    southern section (New Hampshire), which in 1679 became a royal province, with the governor and
    council appointed by the king and an assembly elected by the freemen.
    Unique Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey, and Quaker Pennsylvania
    Sitting between Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas to the south and New England to the north
    was an assortment of colonies later known as the middle colonies. Over time, the grants that
    extended from Rhode Island to Maryland assumed a character that certainly was not Puritan, but
    did not share the slave-based economic systems of the South.
    Part of the explanation for the differences in the region came from the early Dutch influence in the
    area of New Amsterdam. Following the explorations of Henry Hudson in 1609, the West India
    Company—already prominent in the West Indies—moved up the Hudson Valley and established
    Fort Orange in 1624 on the site of present-day Albany. Traveling to the mouth of the Hudson, the
    Dutch settled at a site called New Amsterdam, where the director of the company, Peter Minuit,
    consummated his legendary trade with the Indians, giving them blankets and other goods worth less
    than a hundred dollars in return for Manhattan.
    The Dutch faced a problem much like that confronting the French: populating the land. To that end,
    the company’s charter authorized the grant of large acreages to anyone who would bring fifty
    settlers with him. Few large estates appeared, however. Governor Minuit lost his post in 1631, then
    returned to the Delaware River region with a group of Swedish settlers to found New Sweden.
    Despite the relatively powerful navy, the Dutch colonies lacked the steady flow of immigrants
    necessary to ensure effective defense against the other Europeans who soon reached their borders.
    The English offered the first, and last, threat to New Amsterdam.
    Located between the northern and southern English colonies, the Dutch territory provided a haven
    to pirates and smugglers. King Charles II sought to eliminate the problem by granting to his
    brother, the Duke of York (later James II), all of the land between Maryland and Connecticut. A
    fleet dispatched in 1664 took New Amsterdam easily when the Dutch governor, Peter Stuyvesant,
    failed to mobilize the population of only fifteen hundred. The surrender generously permitted the
    Dutch to remain in the colony, but they were no match for the more numerous English, who
    renamed the city New York. James empowered a governor and council to administer the colony,
    and New York prospered. Despite a population mix that included Swedes, Dutch, Indians, English,
    Germans, French, and African slaves, New York enjoyed relative peace.
    The Duke of York dispensed with some of his holdings between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers,
    called New Jersey, giving the land to Sir George Carteret and John (Lord) Berkeley. New Jersey
    offered an attractive residence for oppressed, unorthodox Puritans because the colony established
    religious freedom, and land rights were made available as well. In 1674 the proprietors sold New
    Jersey to representatives of an even more unorthodox Christian group, the Society of Friends,
    called Quakers. Known for their social habits of refusing to tip their hats to landed gentlemen and
    for their nonviolence, the Quakers’ theology evolved from the teachings of George Fox. Their
    name came from the shaking and contortions they displayed while in the throes of religious
    inspiration. Highly democratic in their church government, Quakers literally spoke in church as the
    Spirit moved them.
    William Penn, a wealthy landlord and son of an admiral, had joined the faith, putting him at odds
    with his father and jeopardizing his inheritance. But upon his father’s death, Penn inherited family
    lands in both England and Ireland, as well as a debt from King Charles II, which the monarch paid
    in a grant of territory located between New York and Maryland. Penn became proprietor and
    intended for the colony to make money. He advertised for settlers to migrate to Pennsylvania using
    multilingual newspaper ads that rival some of the slickest modern Madison Avenue productions.
    Penn also wanted to create a “holy experiment” in Pennsylvania, and during a visit to America in
    1682 designed a spacious city for his colony called Philadelphia (brotherly love). Based on
    experience with the London fire of 1666, and the subsequent plan to rebuild the city, Penn laid out
    Philadelphia in squares with generous dimensions. An excellent organizer, Penn negotiated with the
    Indians, whom he treated with respect. His strategy of inviting all settlers brought talent and skills
    to the colony, and his treatment of the Indians averted any major conflict with them.
    Penn retained complete power through his proprietorship, but in 1701, pressure, especially from the
    southern parts of the colony, persuaded him to agree to the Charter of Liberties. The charter
    provided for a representative assembly that limited the authority of the proprietor; permitted the
    lower areas to establish their own colony (which they did in 1703, when Delaware was formed);
    and ensured religious freedom.
    Penn never profited from his proprietorship, and he served time in a debtors’ prison in England
    before his death in 1718. Still, his vision and managerial skill in creating Pennsylvania earned him
    high praise from a prominent historian of American business, J.R.T. Hughes, who observed that
    Penn rejected expedient considerations in favor of principle at every turn. His ideals, more than his
    business sense, reflected his “straightforward belief in man’s goodness, and in his abilities to know
    and understand the good, the true and beautiful.” Over the years, Pennsylvania’s Quakers would
    lead the charge in freeing slaves, establishing antislavery societies even in the South.
    The Glorious Revolution in England and America, 1688–89
    The epic story of the seventeenth-century founding and development of colonial America ended on
    a crucial note, with American reaction to England’s Glorious Revolution. The story of abuses of
    power by Stuart kings was well known to Americans. Massachusetts Puritans, after all, had fled the
    regime of Charles I, leaving brethren in England to wage the English Civil War. The return of a
    chastened Charles II from French exile in 1660 did not settle the conflict between Parliament and
    the king.
    When James II ascended to the throne in 1685, he decided to single-handedly reorganize colonial
    administration. First, he violated constitutionalism and sanctity of contract by recalling the charters
    of all of the New England and Middle colonies—Massachusetts Bay, Pennsylvania, New York, and
    New Jersey—and the compact colonies Plymouth, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. In 1686 he
    created the so-called Dominion of New England, a centralized political state that his appointee,
    Governor Edmund Andros, was to rule from Boston, its capital city. James’s plan for a Dominion
    of New England was a disaster from the start. Upon arrival, Andros dismissed the colonial
    legislatures, forbade town meetings, and announced he was taking personal command of the village
    militias. In reality, he did no such thing, never leaving the city limits of Boston.
    In the meantime, the countryside erupted in a series of revolts called the colonial rebellions. In
    Maryland’s famed Protestant Revolt, discontented Protestants protested what they viewed as a
    Catholic oligarchy, and in New York, anti-Catholic sentiments figured in a revolt against the
    dominion of New England led by Jacob Leisler. Leisler’s Rebellion installed its namesake in the
    governorship for one year, in 1689. Soon, however, English officials arrived to restore their rule
    and hanged Leisler and his son-in-law, drawing-and-quartering them as the law of treason required.
    But Andros’s government was on its last leg. Upon hearing of the English Whigs’ victory over
    James II, colonials arrested him and put him on a ship bound for the mother country.
    James II’s plans for restoring an all-powerful monarchy dissolved between 1685 and 1688. A
    fervent opposition had arisen among those calling themselves Whigs, a derogatory term meaning
    “outlaw” that James’s foes embraced with pride. There began a second English civil war of the
    seventeenth century—between Whigs and Tories—but this time there was little bloodshed. James
    was exiled while Parliament made arrangements with his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her
    husband, William, of the Dutch house of Orange, to take the crown. William and Mary ascended
    the throne of England in 1689, but only after agreeing to a contract, the Declaration of Rights. In
    this historic document, William and Mary confirmed that the monarch was not supreme but shared
    authority with the English legislature and the courts. Moreover, they acknowledged the House of
    Commons as the source of all revenue bills (the power of the purse) and agreed to acknowledge the
    rights to free speech and petition. Included were provisions requiring due process of law and
    forbidding excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment. Finally, the Declaration of Rights
    upheld the right of English Protestants to keep and bear arms, and forbade “standing armies in time
    of peace” unless by permission of Parliament.
    The resemblance of this Declaration and Bill of Rights to the eighteenth-century American
    Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is striking,
    and one could argue that the Americans were more radicalized by the Glorious Revolution than the
    English. In England, the Glorious Revolution was seen as an ending; in America, the hatred and
    distrust sown by the Stuart kings was reaped by subsequent monarchs, no matter how
    “constitutional” their regimes. Radical Whig ideas contained in the Glorious Revolution—the
    pronounced hatred of centralized political, religious, economic, and military authority—germinated
    in America long after they had subsided in England.
    By 1700, then, three major themes characterized the history of the early English colonies. First,
    religion played a crucial role in not only the search for liberty, but also in the institutions designed
    to ensure its continuation. From the Mayflower Compact to the Charter of Liberties, colonists saw a
    close connection between religious freedom and personal liberty. This fostered a multiplicity of
    denominations, which, at a time when people literally killed over small differences in the
    interpretation of scripture, “made it necessary to seek a basis for political unity” outside the realm
    of religion.78
    A second factor, economic freedom—particularly that associated with land ownership—and the
    high value placed on labor throughout the American colonies formed the basis of a widespread
    agreement about the need to preserve private property rights. The early colonists came to the
    conclusion that the Indians’ view of land never could be harmonized with their own, and they
    understood that one view or the other had to prevail.79 They saw no inherent contradiction in
    taking land from people who did not accept European-style contracts while they continued to
    highly value their own property rights.
    Finally, the English colonies developed political institutions similar to those in England, but with
    an increased awareness of the need for individuals to have protection from their governments. As
    that understanding of political rights percolated up through the colonial governments, the colonies
    themselves started to generate their own aura of independent policy-making processes. Distance
    from England ensured that, barring significant British efforts to keep the colonies under the royal
    thumb, the colonies would construct their own self-reliant governments. And it was exactly that
    evolution that led them to independence.
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