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Early European Settlements of North America
The story of Chapter 7 begins in North America in the year 1587. Read the time line below. By
the last date, Europeans had established a growing colony in New England. By the middle
1600s, the English, French, and Dutch each had their own settlements in North America.
Focus Activity
What is the mystery of the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke?
Queen Elizabeth I
Sir Walter Raleigh
John White
King Philip II
Roanoke Island
The word CROATOAN (kroh uh TOH un) was one of the last messages left by a small group of
English colonists before they disappeared. In 1587 over 100 English people had begun new
lives on Roanoke Island off the coast of present-day North Carolina. Three years later,
they were gone. Eight letters, which were carved into a tree, provide a clue to their
whereabouts. But we still do not know what happened to them.
By the late 1500s Spain claimed most of South America and North America. But other
European countries ignored Spain's claims to these lands. They too wanted to share in the
riches of the Americas.
England challenged Spain in several ways. English sea captains called "sea dogs" raided
Spain's colonies and seized its treasure ships. England also planned to plant colonies in
North America. The English claimed the region north of Florida that was also claimed by
the Spanish. The English called their claim the Virginia colony in honor of Queen
Elizabeth I, who was known is the "Virgin Queen."
The early English colonists in Virginia faced many hardships. On their first attempt to start a
colony in 1585, they returned home after one year. Colonists in England's second attempt
were never heard from again.
Sir Walter Raleigh's interests included military fighting, navigation, and writing history and poetry.
Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the first people in England who told Queen Elizabeth to begin a
colony in North America. Elizabeth had made Raleigh a knight because of battles he had
won for England in Europe. He was one of her most trusted advisers.
English explorers told Raleigh about Roanoake Island off the Atlantic Coast of North America.
Find Roanoke Island on the map on this page. The island was "sweet, fruitful and
wholesome," they said. It was also in a location difficult for passing Spanish sailors to see.
Elizabeth granted Raleigh a charter to establish a colony in Virginia. A charter was a
document that permitted colonists to settle on land claimed by their ruler.
The First Try
Roanoke, an Algonkian word, comes from the Roanoac (ROH uh noh uk) people. They and the
Hatteras (HAT ur as) and the Tuscarora (tus kuh ROHR uh) lived on the Atlantic Coast.
They built their villages along its many streams and rivers.
In 1585 the first English people came to Roanoke Island to start a settlement. They faced
hunger and hardship. After a colonist killed the Roanoac's leader, Wingina (WIHN jih
nuh), the Roanoac stopped helping the English. The colonists soon returned to England.
A Second Try
In 1587 Raleigh again sent colonists across the Atlantic Ocean. He chose John White to be the
colony's governor. White, a skillful painter, had gone with the first settlers to Roanoke.
While there, he sketched the Native Americans he met and drew pictures of plants and
animals. In July White and more than 100 men, women, and children landed at Roanoke.
His granddaughter, Virginia Dare, was born after they arrived. Her family named the baby
Virginia after the colony.
The colonists asked White to return to England for more food and tools. White sadly bid
farewell to the colony in 1587. He promised to return as soon as possible. He told the
colonists to carve a message on a tree trunk if they should move. "Mark a cross if you are
in danger," he added.
"Secotan" was the name of the village and the people White met on his first voyage.
1. Not including the Secotan people, which Native Americans lived near Roanoke Island?
2. How far is Roanoke Island from Secotan village?
White reached England in November to find the country caught by war fever. Spain was
preparing an armada, or large fleet of ships, to invade England. Queen Elizabeth needed all
her ships and sailors for the war. White would have to delay returning to Roanoke.
The Spanish Armada
Spain's King Philip II wanted to punish England for attacking Spanish colonies and ships. In
1588 the Spanish Armada set sail for England. The "sea dog," Sir Francis Drake, led the
English fleet. England's smaller, better armed ships darted around Spain's larger, slower
ships. The English set many Spanish ships on fire. Then the weather took a bad turn. A
violent storm pounded and sank much of the badly damaged Spanish Armada. The
surviving ships fled home to Spain. The English celebrated an important victory.
The Mystery and Its Clues
John White was finally able to return to Roanoke in August 1590. His hopes soared as he
neared land.
We let fall our grapnel [anchor] near the shore and sounded with a trumpet a call, and
afterwards many familiar English tunes.
No one appeared on land. White went ashore. There he found some clues.
One of the chief trees . . . had the bark taken off, and five [feet] from the ground in fair capital
letters was [engraved] CROATOAN without any cross or sign of distress,
White wrote. Croatoan was the name of an island south of Roanoke. It was also the name of
Native Americans who might have been living on the island.
Storms, low supplies, and complaints from his crew forced White to end his search. He had to
sail back to England.
People still wonder what happened to the "lost colonists." Did they fight with the nearby
Roanoac or with Spanish soldiers from Florida? White
John White's watercolor (left) shows the Secotan people's village in what is now North Carolina. Below is a
nineteenth-century artist's painting of John White's return to Roanoke.
thought the colonists might be safe among the Croatoan people. Today, the Lumbee people of
North Carolina believe they are descendants of the "lost colonists." No one knows for sure.
England's efforts in the 1500s to start colonies in North America seemed doomed at first. But
the defeat of the Spanish Armada boosted English confidence. Spain was still the strongest
country in Europe. However, English sea power was growing. In the 1600s England would
soon plant permanent colonies of its own along the Atlantic Coast of North America.
Yet England would not be the only European country to dot the coast with colonies. The
Netherlands, Sweden, and France would also send colonists across the Atlantic Ocean.
A Play About the Lost Colony
How do people today remember the 400-year-old lost colony of Roanoke?
Paul Green wrote the play The Lost Colony, which is performed every year on Roanoke Island.
Using songs, dances, and drama, it tells the story of the colonists who disappeared.
In groups, use what you have read about the colony to choose an event that may have happened
at the Roanoke colony. Then work together to write a play, poem, or television or film
script that brings that event to life.
Reviewing Facts and Ideas
• By the late 1500s England was challenging Spanish claims to North America by trying to
plant its own colonies there.
• When the English first tried to establish a colony on Roanoke Island, they met the Roanoac,
who had lived there for many years.
• John White brought a second group of colonists to Roanoke, but they disappeared—a mystery
still unsolved today.
1. Which Native Americans were living near the coast of present-day North Carolina in the late
2. What were some reasons that the first English colonists on Roanoke Island returned to
3. FOCUS Why do you think the story of the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke still interests people?
4. THINKING SKILL What effect did the war between Spain and England have on England's
attempts to colonize Roanoke Island?
5. GEOGRAPHY What natural features off the coast of Virginia might have helped to hide the
Roanoke settlement from Spanish sailors?
Distinguishing Fact from Opinion
In the last lesson you read that John White searched for the "lost colonists" of Roanoke. When
White wrote about this event he gave the facts of what he saw. A fact is a statement that
can be checked and proved true. He also had an opinion about what happened to the
missing colonists. An opinion is a personal view or belief. As you studied White's account
of this mystery, you may have tried to figure out which of his statements could have been
checked by the people who accompanied him and which were his personal beliefs or
Being able to distinguish facts from opinions is important in your study of history. Many of the
primary and secondary sources you read contain both facts and opinions. In statements that
have both, you must first distinguish the facts from the opinions. Then check the facts
before you decide whether or not the statement is correct. An opinion is often based on a
feeling or personal liking, and, therefore, cannot be proved. One way to identify such
opinions is to look for clue words like I believe, I think, I feel that, or it seems. Sometimes
sentences use descriptive words such as good, the best, or wonderful. These words express
beliefs that cannot be proven. Therefore, they, too, are clues that the writer is giving an
During the 1500s people in England were thinking about settling in Virginia. They needed to
distinguish fact from opinion when they read explorers' accounts of the unfamiliar land.
One of the most famous of these accounts was written by Thomas Hariot. Hariot spent the
year of 1585 in Roanoke. During his stay, Hariot took notes on the plants, animals, and
people that he found there. When he returned to England, he wrote A Brief and True Report
of the New Found Land of Virginia. His book includes both facts and opinions about
In the following excerpts, Harlot talks about the Powhatan (pow uh TAN) people.
It remains for me to speak a word or two of the inhabitants of the country They dress in loose
mantles [capes] made of deerskins. They have no . . . tools of iron or steel. Their only
weapons are bows made of witch-hazel [a kind of wood] and arrows of reeds
[The Powhatan] seem very ingenious [good at inventing things]. For although they have no
such tools, crafts, sciences, and arts as we, yet in those things they do. they show
excellence of wit [they are very smart].
Which statements in the first paragraph are facts? Which word clues that show opinions can
you find in the second paragraph?
• A fact can be proven true; an opinion cannot.
• Look for word clues that show an opinion, such as believe or think.
• Decide whether each statement is a fact or an opinion.
Read the following description of early Virginia by an English sea captain, Ralph Lane. Then
use the Helping Yourself box to distinguish facts from opinions.
We have discovered the mainland to be the goodliest soil under . . . heaven. So abounding with
trees . . . and . . . grapes that France, Spain nor Italy have no greater; so many kinds of
apothecary drugs [medicines], several kinds of flax [a kind of plant].. . Within these few
days we have found here maize . . . whose ear yields corn . four hundred upon one ear.
Which statement is an opinion? How can you tell?
1. What is a fact? What is an opinion?
2. What facts does Ralph Lane give to back up his opinion? How do you know?
3. What do you think Lane wants people in England to believe about Virginia?
4. Do you think the facts that Lane gives back up his opinion? Explain.
5. Why would it be important for you to be able to distinguish facts from opinions?
John White's paintings (far left and left) show cooking methods of the Southeastern Indians. Books and
advertisements encouraged people to come to Virginia.
Focus Activity
What did Henry Hudson's voyage show Europeans about North America's Atlantic
Northwest Passage
Henry Hudson
John Cabot
Giovanni da Verrazano
Jacques Cartier
Samuel de Champlain
Hudson River
No one knows exactly what happened to the English sea captain for whom some of the north
Atlantic Coast's great waterways are named. On his final expedition to North America in
1611, the captain's men set him, his son, and a few loyal crew members adrift in a small
boat. Their fate was left to the frigid waters near the Arctic Circle. Who would have risked
the dangers of sailing so far north? What would be the purpose of such an expedition?
The English had tried to set up a colony on Roanoke Island. But another quest kept Europeans
searching for over one hundred years. Like Christopher Columbus, other Europeans
searched for a western water route to Asia. In the early 1500s the Spanish had found that a
southern sea route through Central America and South America did not exist.
English, French, and Dutch explorers continued to search for what they called a Northwest
Passage, a water route through North America to Asia. You can see what these explorers
achieved on the Infographic on pages 176-177. In 1609 Henry Hudson believed he had
come close to finding such a Northwest Passage on his first voyage to North America.
Exploring the Americas was costly. Europe's rulers were not always willing to pay for
expeditions. But the Dutch found their own way to pay for them. A group of merchants
who wanted to trade with Asia formed the Dutch East India Company. The merchants
agreed to pay for expeditions in return for the profits each might bring. Profit is the amount
of money remaining after the costs of a business have been paid. In 1609 the Dutch East
India Company hired Henry Hudson, an English captain, to search for a Northwest Passage
to Asia.
Exploring New York Harbor
That summer Hudson and his crew on the Half Moon explored the coast of North America.
They traveled north from present-day South Carolina to Maine. In August Hudson saw
Chesapeake Bay and then Delaware Bay. Continuing north, Hudson reached what is today
New York Harbor. Had he found a route to Asia?
Hudson mapped the harbor. He traded with the local Native Americans who were known as the
Mannahata. "They go in deerskins loose, well dressed," wrote a crew member. "They have
a great store [supply] of maize or Indian wheat, whereof they make good bread." But times
were not always peaceful between the Dutch and the Mannahata. Hudson's crew also wrote
of drunken fights and armed battles.
"Great River Of the Mountains"
In September Hudson sailed north up the river that empties into New York Harbor. Today it is
called the Hudson River. He felt sure the river was the Northwest Passage. Hudson called it
"Great River of the Mountains." After about 150 miles, near what is today Albany, New
York, the river narrowed and became shallow. Hudson realized this was not the Northwest
At present-day Albany, Hudson reached a large settlement that was home to the Delaware
people. Hudson was amazed at the amount of surplus corn and beans the Delaware were
preparing to store. There was "enough to load three ships," he wrote.
Hudson failed to find a Northwest Passage. But his voyage led to the beginning of trade
between the Dutch and Native Americans.
The Delaware met Henry Hudson in 1609. They call themselves the Lenni Lenape, which means "the People" in
The Search for a Northwest Passage
Europeans slowly explored the east coast of North America, searching for a Northwest Passage
to Asia. The search failed. However, it did lead Europeans to begin colonies on the coast.
Look at the map below and locate the Swedish, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish
John Cabot, an Italian who sailed under the flag of England, reached Newfoundland in 1497.
Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian sailing under the flag of France, explored the Outer Banks
of present-day North Carolina in 1524.
Jacques Cartier, who sailed under the flag of France, reached Newfoundland in 1534.
Samuel de Champlain, sailing under the flag of France, founded Port Royal in present-day
Nova Scotia in 1604 and took colonists to Quebec in 1608.
Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing under the flag of the Netherlands, explored the north
Atlantic Coast in 1609.
The search for a Northwest Passage continued for about another 200 years. It was not until the
1800s that Europeans finally carved a path through the frozen seas of the far north.
However, in the 1600s the explorations made it possible for England, France, and the
Netherlands to begin building colonies in North America. Like Spain, they also looked for
ways to make a profit from their new colonies.
Reviewing Facts and Ideas
• In the 1500s and 1600s, English, Dutch, and French explorers searched for a Northwest
Passage to Asia.
• In 1609 Henry Hudson first sailed up the Hudson River, hoping it might be a waterway to
• During the search for a Northwest Passage, Europeans began to claim land and plant colonies
along the Atlantic Coast of North America.
1. Why did European explorers want to find a Northwest Passage?
2. How did Dutch explorers pay for their explorations?
3. FOCUS What did Henry Hudson's 1609 voyage accomplish?
4. THINKING SKILL Identify the facts and opinions that led to the search for a Northwest
5. GEOGRAPHY Use the Infographic on pages 76-77 in order to locate and list the Native
Americans who lived along the waterways that Hudson explored in 1609.
Focus Activity
Who helped the colony of Jamestown survive?
cash crop
indentured servant
House of Burgesses
Chief Powhatan
John Smith
John Rolfe
Chesapeake Bay
In April 1607, 104 men and boys landed at Jamestown, Virginia, to set up another English
colony. Fish filled the rivers. Deer wandered everywhere. The strawberries, wrote one
colonist, were "four times bigger and better than ours in England." By September only 46
settlers were still alive. What happened to cloud the bright beginning of England's first
permanent colony in North America?
The English had faced setbacks like those on Roanoke Island. But they still wanted to build
colonies in North America. Explorers told stories about its rich land. Others brought home
valuable cargoes of fur and fish. In 1606 a group of London merchants asked King James I
for a charter to plant a colony in Virginia again. The king agreed.
The English thought the best place to settle was around Chesapeake Bay. The bay had plentiful
fish and good hunting. Historians disagree about the number of Native Americans living in
eastern Virginia at that time. Whatever their population was, they called their homeland
Tsenacomacoh (sen uh KAHM uh koh). The center of Tsenacomacoh was Chesapeake
At first the English and the Native Americans found a way to live on the land together. That
changed as peace gave way to conflict.
For over 1,000 years Native Americans had lived in the area the English now called Virginia.
Algonkian-speaking peoples there had joined together to form the Powhatan chiefdom.
This chiefdom was a group of Native Americans, including the Powhatan people, who
united under one main chief. The chief was known as the Powhatan. When the English
heard this, they also gave the name Powhatan to all the peoples the chief ruled.
Chief Powhatan was called Wahunsonacock (wah hun SAHN uh kahk) by his people. He ruled
hundreds of villages in Tsenacomacoh. The Powhatan people paid him tribute with
deerskins, pearls, corn, and other valuables. Chief Powhatan was a respected leader whose
orders were obeyed.
The Powhatan Chiefdom
By the early 1600s the Powhatan chiefdom included many other Native Americans besides the
Powhatan people. The map on this page shows where some of the other members of the
chiefdom lived. Their enemies spoke Iroquoian and Siouan languages. They lived on all
sides of the chiefdom. The people of the chiefdom had united probably in order to protect
their hunting grounds as well as because they shared a language.
In addition to Chief Powhatan, each town and village also had its own chief, or leader. Both
men and women could become either the chief of the village or the Chief Powhatan. All
this would change after the English arrived.
The deerskin cloak, known as Powhatan's mantle, was taken to England in 1608. It is kept in the Ashmolean
Museum in Oxford, England.
Werowocomo (we roh WOH coh moh) was the capital of the Powhatan chiefdom.
1. Which peoples lived near the York River?
2. Which peoples lived directly south of Werowocomo?
Across the ocean from the Powhatan chiefdom, in England, merchants and landowners started a
business called the Virginia Company of London. They set up the company to start a
colony in Virginia. The merchants sold shares of ownership, or stock, in the company. Any
profits the company made from the colony would be divided among the people who had
bought stock.
The Virginia Company offered to send colonists to North America. It gave them tools,
weapons, medicine, seed, and other goods. In return, the colonists had to repay the
company. Repayment was made with a share of any gold the colonists found or any crops
they grew.
The Jamestown Colony
In 1607 three small ships paid for by the Virginia Company entered Chesapeake Bay. "We saw
the goodliest woods—[such] as beech, oak, cedar, cypress, walnut, and sassafras," wrote
one colonist named George Percy. Percy became one of the colony's first planters.
After much debate, the newcomers settled near a large river. They called it the James River,
after England's King James I. They built houses, a church, and a fort. Unknown to them,
this was Tsenacomacoh. The colonists named their tiny settlement , Jamestown.
Jamestown sat on a peninsula a few miles from the ocean into Chesapeake Bay. The location
seemed to be safe from Spanish ships. But the water was salty and dangerous to drink. The
swampy land held another danger, disease-carrying mosquitoes. That summer almost half
of the colonists died. By winter the survivors were desperate.
Scholars have found that while John Smith stretched the truth about some events in Virginia, his writings have
proved to be a valuable source on colonial history.
John Smith Leads the Colony
The colonists might have died without the help of Captain John Smith was an adventurer who
often told tales of his past. But he was also a strong leader.
By 1608 Smith was disgusted with the colonists. They spent their time looking for gold instead
of planting crops. Their only interest, he said, was to "dig gold, refine gold, load gold." So
Smith declared, "He that will not work shall not eat." He forced colonists to build houses,
plant crops, and raise livestock. Most of the men and boys at Jamestown had not worked in
England. They were not used to such tasks. Smith's orders made him unpopular, but he
kept the colonists alive.
Smith later wrote a book about Virginia. In it he tells how he was taken captive by Chief
Powhatan and saved by the chief's daughter, Pocahontas (poh kuh HAHN tus). Read the
excerpt from Smith's A General History of Virginia. Today, many historians believe that
Smith's account of this event was not completely accurate.
[T]wo great stones were brought before Powhatan, then as many as could laid hands on
[Smith], dragged him to [the stones], and thereon laid his head. And being ready with their
clubs to beat out his brains, Pocahontas, [Powhatan]'s dearest daughter, . . . got his head
in her arms and laid her own upon his to save him from death. Whereat [Powhatan] was
contented he should live.
Trading with the Powhatan
Sometimes Smith traded with the Powhatan people for food. Other times the colonists and the
Native Americans fought with one another. From Smith's writings we know that he and
Chief Powhatan spoke about the fighting. Powhatan said:
Think you I am so simple not to know it is better . . . being your friend, than . . . being so hunted
that . . . I can neither rest, eat, nor sleep . . . [E]very year our friendly trade shall furnish
you with corn.
In 1609 Smith was hurt in a gunpowder explosion. He had to return to England. Without his
leadership, the colon) again faced hard times. One colonist called the winter of 1609-1610
the starving time. "Our food was but a small can of barley shared among five men each
day," he wrote.
This engraving (left), which shows Smith being saved by Pocahontas, appeared in his book in 1624. Smith made a
map of Virginia (above) during his first visit to North America in 1606.
The 1614 wedding of John Rolfe and Pocahontas (right) was a turning point for Jamestown. That same year Rolfe
began growing tobacco (above). The painting of Pocahontas in English clothes (left) hangs in the National
Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The colony barely survived. Then in 1614 John Rolfe found a solution. He harvested a crop of
tobacco. This plant is native to the Americas. People were already smoking tobacco in
England. As demand grew, tobacco became a cash crop, or a crop that is sold for money.
Colonists hoped to become wealthy from growing tobacco.
King James I called tobacco a "stinking weed." To him, smoking was "hateful to the nose,
harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs." But the Virginia Company ignored the king's
views. It began to give colonists land that they could own and grow tobacco on. The
colonists worked harder than ever. Before tobacco, wrote one colonist, "glad was he who
could slip from his labor or slumber over his task." Now the colonists did more work in a
day than they had done in a week.
The "Peace of Pocahontas"
John Rolfe took another important step in 1614. He married Pocahontas. She had become a
Christian and taken the name Rebecca. Two of Pocahontas'! brothers and her uncle
attended the wedding at Jamestown's church.
The marriage helped keep peace between the English and the Powhatan people. The "Peace of
Pocahontas" lasted for about eight years. In 1617 the Rolfes sailed to England with their
baby boy Thomas. In London Pocahontas met Sir Walter Raleigh. As she was about to
return to Virginia she became ill and died.
Africans Arrive in Jamestown
When John Rolfe returned to Jamestown, he found people growing tobacco in "the
marketplace, the streets, and all other spare places." Tobacco growing attracted more
colonists. In 1619 new people arrived.
Many newcomers to Virginia were indentured (ihn DEN churd) servants. Some people could
not afford the trip to North America. In these cases, the Virginia Company paid for them.
To repay the debt, each person agreed to work about five to seven years. In following
years, thousands of people came to Virginia as indentured servants.
Also in 1619 a Dutch ship anchored off Jamestown. Its captain sent about 20 captive Africans
ashore, with the hope of trading them for supplies. Although they were held as captives on
the ship, these first Africans to arrive in Jamestown were indentured servants. After
working for some years as indentured servants, they became farmers and planters. Over the
next few decades, the population of the colony included both free Africans and those who
worked as indentured servants.
An African named Anthony Johnson arrived in Jamestown in about 1621 and worked there as
an indentured servant. After working off his debt, he later became a landowner. By 1651 he
had over 250 acres of land in present-day North Hampton County on the Pungoteague
(PUN goh teeg) River. The area soon became home to a successful African American
However, by 1661 a very different life had begun for most Africans in Virginia. By then large
numbers were enslaved and forced to work on large farms.
Probably because they had become Christians, the first Africans brought to Jamestown were not enslaved.
Christians could not be enslaved under English law.
Two other major events helped Virginia to grow. These events both took place in 1619. As you
have read, the first Jamestown colonists were mostly men. Then the Virginia Company
brought women to the colony. The men paid for the voyage of their future wives. At last
Jamestown was becoming a place for families to live.
The last major event to occur in 1619 took place in Jamestown's small church. There, the House
of Burgesses met for the first time. The House of Burgesses made laws for the colony. Its
members were white men who owned land.
The House of Burgesses did not represent all people, but it did give some Virginia colonists a
voice in their government. It is important because it was one of the first steps European
colonists took toward governing themselves. You will read more about the House of
Burgesses in later chapters.
The first women to come to Jamestown (above) married the male colonists who paid for their voyage or became
indentured servants. Scholars are not sure how women wore bonnets such as this one from the early 1600s
Conflict with the Powhatan
After 1619 the colonists faced the future with more hope. Even so, Virginia's growth brought
problems. Planters were moving up the James River. They were clearing new land for
tobacco. The Powhatan chiefdom saw the English taking more and more of their hunting
Chief Powhatan had died in 1618. His brother, Openchancanough (oh pun CHAN kun awf),
became the new Powhatan. He was determined to force the English to leave. Early one
March morning in 1622, the Powhatan chiefdom attacked. They killed about 350 colonists.
This was one of the last major battles between Native Americans and the English in
The first male landowners at Jamestown learned how to govern themselves in the House of Burgesses
A New Governor
In 1624 King James I took control of Virginia from the House of Burgesses. He named a
governor to rule the colony. The king did not like the idea of the colonists governing
themselves. As you will read later, the colonists battled with the new governor. They did
not like outside control, especially following laws made in far-off England.
The English finally established a colony in 1607. Jamestown, the first permanent English
colony in North America, helped set a pattern that later European colonists followed. Each
colony had a brief period of help from Native Americans until the colonists began taking
more and more land. Conflict soon followed as the colonists came to value land more than
good relations with Native Americans. The colonists' desire for self-government also
became more important to them as their colonies grew.
Other English colonies followed. You will read in the next lesson about colonists who formed a
strong friendship with the Native Americans.
Reviewing Facts and Ideas
• In the early 1600s the English again tried to build a permanent colony in North America.
• The Powhatan chiefdom had established its own way of life on the east coast of North
America, where the English planned to colonize.
• In 1607 English newcomers to Jamestown suffered many terrible hardships until Captain John
Smith brought order to the colony.
• When the colonists began growing tobacco for money, the Virginia colony finally began to
grow. In 1619 Africans and women settled in the new colony.
1. What was the Powhatan chiefdom?
2. What problems did the colonists face in Jamestown?
3. FOCUS Identify the key contributions made by both Powhatan and English peoples that
helped the Jamestown colony to survive.
4. THINKING SKILL What effects did Virginia's "stinking weed" have on the growth of the
5. WRITE Write a scene that shows how John Smith might have told his men, "He that will
not work shall not eat."
Focus Activity
How did the Wampanoag people help the Pilgrims at Plymouth?
Mayflower Compact
William Bradford
Miles Standish
Cape Cod
New England
In December 1620 weary and cold passengers on board a ship called the Mayflower landed
near what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. In their first years, the newcomers might have
starved without help from the Wampanoag (wahm puh NOH ahg) people who helped to
keep the little English colony alive.
Early in the 1500s much of Europe was divided over religion. The king of England, Henry VIII,
broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and set up another Christian church called
the Church of England. The members of the Church of England were called Protestants
because they had protested against practices of the Catholic Church. Protestants' beliefs
and practices were different from those of Catholics.
Within England, however, some Protestants felt that the Church of England had kept too many
Catholic ways. They set up their own Protestant churches.
In the early 1600s these Protestants moved to the Netherlands, where they could worship in
peace. Life was difficult in a foreign land. Parents worried that their children were growing
up too much like the Dutch, not like the English. These people, who became known as the
Pilgrims, decided to start a colony in North America. This is the story of the Pilgrims, who
hoped to find religious freedom in a new land.
This diagram shows how the inside of the Mayflower might have looked. Supplies were stored in the hold; a
shallop is a small boat; meals were prepared in the galley. In what space did the Pilgrims stay during their
In 1620 King James I allowed the Pilgrims to settle in Virginia. In London merchants agreed to
pay for the voyage. The Pilgrims agreed to repay the debt by sending back lumber and furs.
On September 16 the Pilgrims and other colonists hired by the London merchants set sail from
Plymouth, England, in the Mayflower. The holds below the deck of the Mayflower. were
stuffed with barrels of salted beef and bread. The holds also contained pigs, chickens, and
goats. The diagram above shows that the space below was very cramped for the more than
100 passengers on board. They planned to reach Virginia just as winter set in.
For 66 days the Mayflower tossed in the stormy Atlantic. One passenger, a servant boy, died.
Another passenger, Mrs. Hopkins, gave birth to a boy. He was named Oceanus.
In November lookouts finally saw land. The Mayflower was far off course. The land was not
Virginia but Cape Cod, in what is today New England. A small group went ashore to
explore. They "fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven, who had brought them
over the vast and furious ocean," wrote one of the passengers.
The Mayflower Compact
The Pilgrims were supposed to settle in Virginia, not in New England. Before setting foot on
land, the Pilgrims wrote a compact, or agreement. The compact would serve as a form of
government for their colony. In the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims agreed to make and
obey the colony's "just and equal laws." Forty-one men signed the compact. Having few
legal rights, women were not asked to sign. But they were still expected to obey the laws.
The Mayflower Compact was an important step. It helped plant the idea of self-government
among the colonists in North America.
Like the Jamestown colonists, the Pilgrims settled on land already home to many Native
Americans. In New England they first met the Wampanoag people. The Wampanoag
hunted, farmed, and fished on the east coast of present-day Massachusetts and Rhode
Island, as the map on this page shows.
Native Americans of New England
Many other Native Americans besides the Wampanoag lived in New England. Among them
were the Narragansett, the Pequot (PEE kwaht), and the Mohegan. Each spoke a form of
the Algonkian language. In Algonkian, Wampanoag means "people of the east (or dawn)."
Many Algonkian words are now part of English. Words such as moose, woodchuck,
hickory, moccasin, squash, and toboggan are all from the Algonkian language.
Each of the Native American peoples had a sachem (SAY chum), or leader. In the early 1600s,
Massasoit (MAS uh soyt) was the sachem of the Wampanoag. He probably ruled about 30
different communities. Even before the Pilgrims arrived, Massasoit knew about the strange
ships that were reaching the New England coast.
Massasoit had also heard the story of a man named Squanto. Squanto belonged to a
Wampanoag community called the Pawtuxet (paw TUK sut). In 1615 he was captured by
an English fishing captain and was enslaved in Spain. Squanto escaped to England and
returned home in 1619. He found his village empty. His family and friends had all died.
Squanto then found a home with the Wampanoag. Another Native American, the sachem
called Samoset, had learned a little English from sailors and traders.
Massasoit, Squanto, and Samoset helped to save the Pilgrims' lives in their first hard years in
New England.
This statue of chief Massasoit stands in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was carved by the sculptor Walter Meayers
For a month after reaching Cape Cod, the Pilgrims looked for a place to settle. They decided on
a place the English called Plymouth. Captain John Smith had visited and named Plymouth
Harbor six years earlier.
Plymouth Colony
Once on shore, the Pilgrims faced a lonely future. One of the Pilgrims, wrote a book about the
Plymouth colony. How did the Pilgrims feel after they arrived?
The Pilgrim's first winter was cold and harsh. Everyone went hungry. Without the right kind of
food, many died from disease. By spring, only about half of the Pilgrims were still alive.
When their governor died, the Pilgrims elected William Bradford to be the colony's new
Excerpt from Of Plymouth Plantation, written by William Bradford in 1646.
It was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent,
and subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to
search an unknown coast.
For summer being done, all things stand upon them with a weather-beaten face, . . . If they
looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed and was now as a
main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world. . . .
What could now sustain them but the spirit of God and His grace?
civil: having to do with cities
Meeting the Wampanoag
With spring, the Pilgrim's hope returned. They started planting crops. One March morning,
Samoset entered their settlement. "Welcome, Englishmen!" he declared. He told the
surprised newcomers how he had learned to speak their language. A few days later,
Samoset returned. With him were Massasoit and Squanto. With Squanto's help, the sachem
Massasoit and the Pilgrims' leaders worked out a lasting peace agreement.
Help from Squanto
Squanto decided to stay with the Pilgrims. The land on which the Pilgrims had settled was once
the home of Squanto's people, the Pawtuxet. Squanto showed the Pilgrims how to plant
corn in the traditional Native American manner, using fish to fertilize the soil. He also
shared his knowledge of the woodlands. The newcomers learned how to trap rabbits, deer
and other wild animals.
With Squanto's help, the Pilgrims began to eat better. The sickness of the past winter finally
ended. Squanto was so helpful to the Pilgrims that Bradford called him "a special
instrument sent of God for their good."
According to tradition, he Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock (left) in 620. A year later they celebrated
Thanksgiving with the Wampanoag.
By the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims had some important successes. Governor Bradford noted
that "they began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and
dwellings against winter." Besides homes and crops, they had made friends with the
The Pilgrims invited Massasoit to a great feast. He and 90 of his followers arrived. The
Pilgrims had suffered much hardship, but they still had good reason to celebrate and thank
God. This feast would later be considered by many as our country's first "thanksgiving."
But the idea of celebrating good harvests was not new. Both the English and the
Wampanoag had held such celebrations long before.
A Thanksgiving Feast
For three days in October, as the leaves sparkled red, orange, and yellow, the English and their
Wampanoag guests feasted. The Indians brought five deer. The Pilgrims added other foods,
including wild turkey, geese, and duck.
We do not know exactly what people Ate at that Thanksgiving. Lobster, eels, oysters, and fish
were plentiful. There was also corn, which could be made into bread and puddings.
Pumpkin may lave been served, but not pumpkin pie. Seeds from England would have
given the Pilgrims cabbage, carrots, turnips, and onions. Other treats were fruits such as
plums, gooseberries, and strawberries that were picked and dried in the spring.
At meal time, the Wampanoag sat on the ground. The Pilgrims probably sat in stools around
tables made of wooden planks.
The days were filled with games, races, and wrestling contests. Under the command of Pilgrim
Miles Standish, men paraded and fired off their guns. the Wampanoag in turn showed their
skills with bows and arrows. They also performed their own harvest dances. [t was, indeed,
a celebration.
At first relations between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims were friendly. But the English took
over more and more land. Soon the Native Americans of New England and the English
became bitter enemies. Today several Wampanoag communities survive. Through
traditional ceremonies they preserve their values and culture.
Despite the constant struggles the Plymouth colony survived and grew. Before long, other
English Protestants would seek religious freedom in North America. Among them were the
Puritans. Like the Pilgrims, the Puritans were treated badly in England for their beliefs.
They, too, hoped to make a safe home on the wooded shores of New England. And as in
Plymouth, the idea of self-government also took root.
How did Thanksgiving become a national holiday?
For many years the United States as a country had no regular date on which to celebrate
Thanksgiving. Then in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln officially made the last Thursday
of November Thanksgiving Day. 1941, the United States Congress made Thanksgiving the
fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving also became a legal federal holiday.
Reviewing Facts and Ideas
• Religious conflict led the Pilgrims to leave England for the Netherlands and then to settle in
North America.
• In 1620 the Pilgrims sailed for Virginia on the Mayflower but landed instead in New England.
There they drew up the Mayflower Compact to set up a government for their colony.
• The Wampanoag were one of many Native Americans living in New England. Their leader,
Massasoit, became a loyal friend of the Pilgrims.
• Almost a year after landing, in 1621 the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag friends celebrated a
great harvest. Today many people in the United States count that feast as our county's first
1. Why did the Pilgrims draw up the Mayflower Compact? Why was it an important document?
2. What hardships did the Pilgrims face during their first year at Plymouth?
3. FOCUS Describe three ways that the Wampanoag helped the Pilgrims.
4. THINKING SKILL Read the excerpt on page 189 from Of Plymouth Plantation. Then list
the facts Bradford gives in one column and the opinions in another.
5. GEOGRAPHY How did the New England climate affect the Pilgrims' attempts to settle
there? How might the climate of Virginia have affected their settling there?
How do you picture Thanksgiving? Perhaps you imagine a warm house filled with the delicious
smell of turkey, where a family such as the one in this painting sits around the dinner table.
Perhaps you think of it as a day on which worship God and to kelp others. Both images of
Thanksgiving have been around a long time.
Thanksgiving has been a national American holiday since 1863. The holiday's roots go back
directly to the Pilgrims' feast in the fall of 1621.
Giving thanks is a legacy shared by many cultures. For hundreds of years people have come
together for at least one day to give thanks for plentiful food and safe homes.
This painting, freedom from Want, was created by Norman Rockwell in 1943.
This painting shows English colonists giving thanks to God for their safe arrival in Virginia on
December 14, 1619. Similar ceremonies were held by the Pilgrims in Massachusetts,
French colonists in Florida, and Spanish settlers in Texas. Many Native Americans in these
places held thanksgiving celebrations long before Europeans arrived.
Thanksgiving reminds many people that their community is made up of more than family and
friends. Every Thanksgiving state workers serve Thanksgiving dinner to homeless people
in Austin, Texas.
The people of Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico hold the ceremonial Rainbow Dance to show
thanks for the season's corn crop.
Number a paper from 1 to 10. Beside each number write the word or term below that best
completes the sentence.
cash crop
House of Burgesses
indentured servant
Mayflower Compact
Northwest Passage
1. Henry Hudson sailed in search of the ____, a water route through North America to Asia.
2. A successful trading company makes a great deal of
3. The merchant bought ____, or a share of ownership, in the Virginia Company.
4. Each of the Native American peoples had a ____, or leader.
5. Demand for tobacco in England made it a good ____ for the Virginia colonists.
6. Spain tried to invade England with a large fleet of ships called an ____.
7. The Pilgrims wrote the ____ to serve as a form of government for the Plymouth colony.
8. An ____ worked in exchange for the trip to North America.
9. The Virginia ____ was the first lawmaking body in North America established by Europeans
10. The Spanish ____ was badly damaged by fire and stormy weather.
1. What did Sir Walter Raleigh convince Queen Elizabeth to do in the late 1500s?
2. What was the purpose of Henry Hudson's explorations in 1609?
3. Who was John Rolfe?
4. Why did the Pilgrims come to North America on the Mayflower?
5. Look at the time line above. How many years passed from when the first Africans arrived at
Jamestown to when large numbers of Africans were enslaved?
Write a proposal in which you attempt to convince a ruler or company to pay for your
expedition across the Atlantic.
Suppose that you are Pocahontas traveling in England for the first time. Write a series of diary
entries in which you record your thoughts about the country.
Write a report in which you describe the various Native American peoples that Europeans met
as they began colonies in North America. Include facts about their way of life, as well as
Answer the following questions to practice the skill of distinguishing fact from opinion.
1. What is a fact? What is an opinion?
2. What are some word clues that you can look for to help recognize an opinion?
3. Which of the following states a fact?
a. John White returned to the Roanoke colony in 1590.
b. The English defeated the Spanish armada in 1588.
c. The Roanoac hated the English.
4. At first Henry Hudson believed that he had found the Northwest Passage as he sailed up the
Hudson River. Was this a fact or an opinion?
5. Why is distinguishing facts from opinions an important skill?
Summing Up the Chapter
Copy the matrix chart on a separate piece of paper. Fill in the blank sections to help summarize
the information in this chapter. After you have finished, use the information in the chart to
write a few paragraphs in which you answer the question "How would you compare and
contrast the early European settlements and expeditions in the Americas?"
Number a paper from 1 to 10. Beside each number write the word or term from the list below
that best completes the sentence.
cash crop
historical map
indentured servant
Mayflower Compact
Northwest Passage
1. When the young woman agreed to work for a period of time in exchange for passage to the
Americas, she became an ____.
2. Spain's strong ____ was defeated by England's fast ships.
3. European explorers from many countries began looking for a ____ to Asia.
4. The explorer's ____, or journey for a special purpose, took him through lands unknown to
5. The ____ came to New Spain to teach the Roman Catholic religion to the Indians of Mexico.
6. Only male Pilgrims could sign the ____ when they reached North America.
7. A ____ is a place ruled by another country.
8. Tobacco is an example of a ____
9. The ____ came to the Americas to conquer land for Spain.
10. To find information about places where past events occurred, you can use a ____.
Write a summarizing paragraph that explains the cause-and-effect connections between
Columbus's contact with the Taino in 1492 and the founding of European colonies in the
Think about what the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims might have said to each other when hey
first met in the Plymouth Colony. Write dialogue that you think could have taken place
between one of the Pilgrims and one of the Wampanoag. For example, you might want to
write a conversation between Samoset and William Bradford.
Select a person you have read about in the unit. Compare what people thought about that person
during his or her lifetime with what people may think about that person today. Explain why
there might be differences between the two perspectives.
1. Historical maps What does an historical map show?
2. Historical maps How can you tell if a map is an historical map?
3. Fact and opinion What are the clue words that help you know that something is an opinion?
4. Fact and opinion Is the following sentence a fact or an opinion? Columbus made four
voyages to the Americas.
5. Fact and opinion What is one way to check the statement above?
The explorers of the 1500s needed courage, knowledge, and creativity to invent new
technology and to journey to places unknown to them. Would an explorer today need the
same qualities? What kind of technology would he or she use? Where might an explorer of
the future travel?
Here are some books you might find at the library to help you learn more.
by George Crespo, reteller
This myth tells about four boys who accidentally spill a sacred gourd that floods the land.
by Joan Anderson
This photographic essay shows the Latino culture of the Southwest region.
by Cheryl Harness
This story, based upon actual events, is about three Pilgrim children who sailed on the