English Colonisation In America: The Beginning

2407 words - 10 pages

Earlier exploration

There were more than 500 different Indian tribal cultures that existed in North America before the first Europeans arrived. They had lived in America already thousands of years, but for Europeans this continent was unknown until 15 century. Every schoolboy knows that Columbus is the discoverer of the "New World." This traditional fact is quite ironic, because the "hero" even did not understood that he had found a new continent - he thought he was in India.

The earliest explorers of America were not English, Spanish or French as usually is said. The first Europeans in America were Scandinavians. The Old Norse Vinland Saga describes how adventurous Leif Eriksson and his men settled briefly somewhere on the north-east coast of America (probably Nova Scotia in Canada). Their voyage took place in the end of the 10th century, more than 400 years before the next recorded European discovery of the New World.

The first "English" explorer who set his foot on the new continent was John Cabot. He landed on the American east coast at 24 June, 1497. Cabot's exact landing place is still unknown, because of lack of evidence. Many experts think it's on Cape Breton Island, others look for it in Newfoundland, Labrador or Maine. Cabot was Italian, but King Henry VII gave him a grant "full and free authoritie, leave, and power, to sayle to all partes, countreys, and seas, of the East, of the West, and of the North, under our banners and ensignes, with five ships ... and as many mariners or men as they will have in saide ships, upon their own proper costes and charges, to seeke out, discover, and finde, whatsoever iles, countreyes, regions or provinces of the heathen and infidelles, whatsoever they bee, and in what part of the world soever they be, whiche before this time have beene unknowen to all Christians.." Cabot's journey was later to provide the basis for British claims to North America.


Initial English attempts to colonize the east coast of North-America were disasters. The first colony was set up in 1585 at Roanoke, in the coast of North Carolina by Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618). One hundred and eight men settled on Roanoke Island, but after a year of very hard life they were picked up and carried back to England by Sir Francis Drake. They brought with them tobacco and the potato and first introduced use of those plants in England. However, Raleigh was disappointed at the failure of his colony and in 1587 he tried again.

The second colony of one hundred and three men and seventeen women under the governing of John White was again set up in Roanoke Island. Soon after they landed at Roanoke, Virginia Dare was born. She was a grandchild of Governor White and the first English child on the soil of the United States. Soon the governor had to make a trip to England but because of the war with Spain could not return to the Roanoke until three years passed. By that time the colony was disappeared, all its colonists...

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