The Pilgrims

Pilgrim Women at Plymouth Colony

The Pilgrim Maiden Statue
Sculpted by Henry Hudson Kitson
Brewster Gardens, Plymouth, Massachusetts
Dedicated in 1924 to “those intrepid English women whose courage, fortitude and devotion brought a new nation into being.”

In the first years of the 17th century, small numbers of English Puritans broke away from the Church of England and committed themselves to a life based on the Bible. Most of these Separatists were farmers, poorly educated and without social or political standing. The Separatists were persecuted in England, and many fled to Holland where their religious views were tolerated. They remained there for almost 12 years.

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The Mayflower

Women on the Mayflower

Image: The Ship Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor
By William Halsall

The passengers on the ship Mayflower were the earliest permanent European settlers in New England. They were referred to as the “First Comers” and they lived in perilous times. With their religion oppressed by the British government and the Church of England, the small party of Separatists who comprised almost half of the passengers on the ship sought a life where they could practice their religion freely.

Freedom We Seek
On September 6, 1620, the ship Mayflower set off from Plymouth, England on its journey to the New World. There were 102 passengers, which included 41 English Separatists (who would become known as the Pilgrims), who were seeking a new life of religious freedom in America. The Separatists had obtained a Patent from the London Company, which indentured them into service for the Company for seven years after they arrived.

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Georgia Colony

Thirteen Colonies

Image: Oglethorpe and the Indians
From the Frieze of American History
In the Capitol Rotunda
Washington, DC

In the 1730s, England founded Georgia, the last of its colonies in North America. The project was the brain child of James Oglethorpe, a former army officer and a member of Parliament. He was concerned about the atrocious and crowded conditions in the debtor’s prisons, and resolved to ship the inmates to America where there was plenty of room.

Georgia, named for England’s new King, would also provide a refuge for persecuted Protestants, and a military presence between the other colonies, especially South Carolina, an increasingly important colony with many potential enemies close by. These enemies included the Spanish in Florida, the French in Louisiana and along the Mississippi River, and their powerful Indian allies.

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South Carolina Colony

The Year:1670

Districts of South Carolina Colony

The first English settlement was made in 1670, when William Sayle sailed up the Ashley River with three shiploads of English emigrants from the Barbados. They pitched their tents on river banks and built a town, which has since wholly disappeared. In 1671, Sir John Yeamans joined the colony, bringing with him about two hundred African slaves, and before the year was over, two ships bearing Dutch emigrants arrived from New York. In 1680, the colonists sought a more favorable site for their town, and chose a point between the Cooper and Ashley Rivers, and there they founded Charleston.

Government
Scarcely had the first immigrants landed when a popular assembly began to frame laws. William Sayle was their first governor, but he soon died and was succeeded by Sir John Yeamans, who ruled for four years, when he was dismissed for having enriched himself at the expense of the people. Yeamans was followed by John West, an able and honorable man, who held the office for nine years.

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North Carolina Colony

The Year: 1653

By 1729, there were settlements on each of North Carolina’s major river systems, but the largest settlements were on the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

North Carolina almost became the first of the permanent English colonies in America. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth I, granted a charter to Sir Walter Raleigh for land in present-day North Carolina (then Virginia). Five voyages were made under the Raleigh charter with the view of planting a permanent colony on the soil that became North Carolina. Raleigh established two colonies on the coast in the late 1580s, both ending in failure.

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Virginia Colony

Governor’s Palace at Williamsburg

Thirteen Original Colonies

At the beginning of the seventeenth century all the eastern portion of North America, which afterward became the thirteen original states, was known as Virginia. On May 14, 1607, the Virginia Company explorers landed on Jamestown Island, and established the Virginia colony on the banks of the James River, sixty miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

Early Virginia was a death trap. Of the first 3,000 immigrants, all but 600 were dead within a few years of arrival. Virginia was a society in which life was short, diseases ran rampant, and parentless children and multiple marriages were the norm.

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Pennsylvania Colony

The Year: 1682

Image: William Penn’s 1682 treaty with the Lenape
Benjamin West Painting

In 1661, the year after Charles II was restored to the throne of England, William Penn was a seventeen-year-old student at Christ Church, Oxford. His father, a distinguished admiral in high favor at Court, had abandoned his erstwhile friends and had aided in restoring King Charles to the throne again.

Born to all the advantages of the landed aristocracy of England, Penn was sent to the finest English schools and on a grand tour of the continent by his father, Admiral Sir William Penn, conqueror of Jamaica.

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Salem Witch Trials

Witchcraft in 17th Century Massachusetts

Image: Witchcraft Victims on the Way to the Gallows
Illustration in the Boston Herald 14 May 1930

Scattered episodes of witch trials and hangings occurred throughout New England from the middle sixteen hundreds. The only escape for the accused or condemned was to confess and claim to negate the pact with the Devil, or to escape south out of New England to New York or Pennsylvania where witchcraft was not punished. Most of the accused were not wealthy enough to escape south fast enough to stay ahead of the sheriff sent to detain them.

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Carolina Colony

The Year: 1663

Image: Map of the Carolina Colony

In 1630, Sir Robert Heath, the Attorney General of King Charles I, obtained from his king a charter for a domain south of Virginia, six degrees of latitude in width, and extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. This included the region between Albemarle Sound and the St. John’s River in Florida. That patent was declared void in 1663, because neither the proprietor nor his assigns had fulfilled their agreements.

Sufferers from the oppression of the Church of England in Virginia looked to the wilderness for freedom, as the Huguenots and the Pilgrims had done. In 1653, a few Presbyterians from Jamestown settled on the Chowan River. Others followed, and the settlement flourished.

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New York Colony

The Year: 1664

New York best illustrates the great melting pot that would become America. By 1646, the population along the Hudson River included Dutch, French, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, English, Scots, Irish, Germans, Poles, Bohemians, Portuguese and Italians.

Image: Colonial New York on Manhattan Island

The English
In 1664, the English claimed New Netherland and renamed it New York, arguing that the Hudson Valley was part of Virginia as given by James I to two companies in 1606. This tract had been settled at both ends, they reasoned – on the James River and the New England coast – and why should a foreign power claim the central portion?

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