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SETTLEMENT OF BRITISH AMERICA.
The discovery of the western hemisphere, effected by the bold and persevering genius of Christopher Columbus, in the year 1492, gave a new impulse to European activity; and the splendid conquests of the Spaniards in the West Indies, and in South America, excited the emulation of the other maritime powers of Christendom. Our ancestors were not dilatory in their endeavors to enter upon this new path to glory and wealth; for we find that in the year 1498, John Cabot, by virtue of a commission from Henry VII., took formal possession, in the name of that monarch, of a considerable portion of the continent of North America. No attempt however, was made to establish a colony in that country till the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh, in the years 1578 and 1584, formed settlements there, which were soon wasted by famine, by disease, and by the arrows of the natives, who, as heathens, were counted as nothing in the royal grants under which the adventurers acted. The first permanent British settlement was established in the reign of King James I., under whose auspices a company of adven
Who discovered America ? In what year?
turers built Jamestown, on the northern side of James river. This colony, however, continued for a long time in a feeble state. It was founded A. D. 1607; and, though it received continual accessions of new settlers, its population, in the year 1670, amounted to no more than 40,000 souls.
The Virginian colonists were prompted to quit their native country by the hope of bettering their temporal condition. A higher motive gave rise to the colonization of the northern portion of the new continent. After the passing of the Act of Uniformity, in the reign of Elizabeth, the Puritans had suffered a grievous persecution; to escape from which a small body of them had fled, in the year 1606, into Holland. Unwilling, however, entirely to sever themselves from the land which gave them birth, they applied to their sovereign, King James, beseeching him to permit them to establish themselves in his North American dominions, in the full exercise of liberty in religious matters. With this their request, in its full extent, James refused to comply. All that they could obtain from him was a promise that he would connive at their infringements of the statutes, the operation of which had driven them into voluntary exile. On the faith of the royal word to this effect, they embarked, to the number of 101, in the month of September, 1620, and arriving at Cape Cod in the following November, soon afterwards fixed themselves in a place of settlement, which they called New Plymouth, and which, it must be observed to their honor, they purchased from the natives. Dreadful were the difficulties with which this handful of reli
Where was the first permanent settlement made?
What inducements prompted the Virginian colonists to quit their native country?
When and where was the second settlement made?
gionists had to struggle; landing as they did in the depth of winter, and exposed as they were, notwithstanding their conciliatory disposition to the hostility of the natives. But, supported by the principles of piety, and determined at any price to purchase riligious freedom, they maintained their ground; and being from time to time recruited by new migrations of their persecuted brethren, they, by degrees, spread themselves over the province of Massachusetts.
It too often happens that religion produces dissension, and that those who have suffered persecution, when they have obtained power, become persecutors themselves.This was the case with the principal inhabitants of the colony of Massachusetts. Falling into the common error of the times, in thinking that uniformity of sentiment on the subject of religious doctrines was required by the truth of the gospel, and by a regard to the peace and welfare of society, they established it as a rule of government, that no man should be admitted to the freedom of their body politic, but such as were members of some of their chur. ches; and they afterwards passed a resolution, 'that none but such should share in the administration of civil government, or have a voice in any election. In this instance, however, as in many others, evil was productive of good. The discontented sectarians sought other settlements, and founded the colonies of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
Whilst the once persecuted Protestants thus gave a sad proof that their sufferings had not taught them mercy, it was reserved for a Roman Catholic nobleman to give to the new world a striking example of this happy docility.
With what difficulties had they to struggle?
In the year 1632, Lorld Baltimore obtained a charter for a new colony, the first settlers of which consisted chiefly of Roman Catholic gentlemen; and, having established his band of emigrants in Maryland, he so exerted his influence with the members of the assembly of the new province, that they laid it down as a fundamental principle of their constitution, that no persons professing to believe in Christ Jesus should be molested in respect of their religion, or in the free exercise thereof.' His lordship’s enlightened policy was eminently successful. Under the nurture of religious liberty, his infant settlement soon advanced rapidly towards maturity.
In the reign of Charles II., royal charters of the most liberal tenor were granted to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations; and patents were also granted to Lord Clarendon and the Duke of York, bestowing on the former a right to form plantations in the district now comprehending North and South Carolina and Georgia, and delegating to the latter the same right as respecting New York and New Jersey; and finally, a patent was issued, authorizing the celebrated William Penn to colonize Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The English emigrants who settled in North America were a class of people very different from the Spaniards, who subdued the southern continent. They did not leave their native shores for the purpose of invading and plundering rich provinces and wealthy cities; but they sought prosperity by the painful arts of industry and economy. Purchasing land from the aborigines, they at first devoted
By whom, and when, was Baltimore settled?
What charters were granted ? What patents were issued during the reign of Charles II.?
By whom was South America subdued ?
themselves to the culture of the soil; and in process of time, those who continued to reside on the sea-shore, or on the banks of navigable rivers, addicted themselves to commerce. Their success in this pursuit is evinced by the fact, that though in the year 1704, the imports of the province of Pennsylvania amounted only to £11,499 sterling, in 1772 they were increased to the value of £507,909, and in the same year the whole of the exports from Great Britain to her North American colonies amounted to upwards of £6,000,000 sterling.
Though each colony had its separate constitution, the principles of freedom pervaded them all. In some provinces the governors and the magistrates were elected by the people; and in those, the governors and chief officers of which were appointed by the crown, the power of these functionaries was controlled by assemblies, the members of which were chosen by the freeholders, who were too numerous to be bribed, and too independent in their circumstances to be swayed by influence. Throughout the whole of the Union there was not found a single proprietor of a borough, nor an interest to nurture the principles of bigotry and passive obedience. When the first settlers took possession of the country, they brought with them all the rights of Englishmen, and those rights they were jealous in maintaining. Their interior concerns were regulated by their representatives in assembly; but in consideration of their origin, and of the protection against foreign enemies, which they received from the mother country, they cheerfully submitted to the obligation of exclusively trading
How did the English differ from them?