Chapter Two: The Planting of English America
(1500 - 1733)
England's Imperial Stirrings
Beginning of 17
Century: Native Americans had been largely wiped out.
Thousands of slaves toiled on Caribbean and Brazilian plantations.
From Florida and New Mexico southward, most of South America belonged to
North America remained largely unexplored and unclaimed.
Three distant, primitive outposts:
French, Quebec, 1608
Spanish, Santa Fe, 1610
English, Jamestown, 1607
England had made feeble attempts at overseas empire, and those were
largely crippled by King Henry VIII's separation with the Catholic Church
the Protestant Reformation
– and the religious conflict that continued
However, after the Protestant Elizabeth took the throne in 1558,
Protestantism became dominant and English wanted to compete with Catholic
Catholic Ireland became a source of conflict as they appealed to Spain
for help, but the uprising was crushed with terrible ferocity by
Elizabeth Energizes England
English buccaneers swarmed out onto the shipping lanes, encouraged by
Although England and Spain were at peace, they pillaged Spanish ships and
Spanish settlements in the names of Protestantism and plunder.
Sir Francis Drake was one of them and he returned to England in 1580 with
loads of Spanish treasure. His financial backers netted profits of about
4600%, one of which was secretly Queen Elizabeth.
Newfoundland was the first attempt by the English at colonization, under
Sir Humphrey Gilbert
, who died at sea in 1583. Sir
Walter Raleigh tried the same in warmer climates, at Roanoke off the
Virginia coast. However, Roanoke mysteriously disappeared without a trace
while Raleigh was away.
Phillip II of Spain, used part of his massive gains in the New World to
build "an invincible armada" to crush the English Protestants.
In 1588, 130 Spanish ships lumbered into the English Channel when the
English struck back with fast, well-manned, more maneuverable ships to
cripple the cumbersome Spanish embarrassment. A massive storm arose ("
") and sank more of the Spanish fleet.
The crippling of the Spanish Armada marked the beginning of the end of
Spain's imperial glory, as Spanish Netherlands (Holland) claimed its
independence and much of the Spanish Caribbean slipped from its grasp. It
also marked the beginning of England's naval dominance in the North
Atlantic. The English also had a revitalized spirit of confidence and
patriotism as a result of the armada's defeat.
England on the Eve of Empire
England's population was mushrooming and the agricultural revolution
(enclosure movement) forced farmers off of the land. So it was no
coincidence that these people supplied most of the early immigrants to
By law, only the eldest son was able to inherit an estate so younger sons