A. Jamestown Settlement
The failure of the Roanoke colony was not the end of English colonial ambitions. In 1607, a group of businessmen established the Virginia Company, and secured a charter from King James I. They decided to plant a settlement this time at the Chesapeake Bay, which offered better harbors, many rivers, and fertile land. The company sent 104 men and boys where they established a small settlement called Jamestown on a swampy peninsula in a river. The goal of the colony was to find gold or other precious natural resources, perhaps trade with the Indians, and otherwise make money for the Virginia Company.
The English settlers successfully built small houses and a Church of England chapel but they simultaneously faced numerous challenges. The early settlers suffered from disease and a crisis of leadership. They also suffered from Indian attacks, many of which they themselves (the English) provoked. By January 1608, only thirty-eight of the original 104 survived. Many were gentlemen unaccustomed to working with their hands and others were military officers who insisted upon wearing their military armor around. They resisted hard labor and retained elaborate styles of dress. Only when Captain John Smith emerged as a leader, and imposed strict regulations on the colonists, did Jamestown have a chance to survive. But John Smith was injured in a gunpowder explosion and had to return to England. In his absence the winter of 1609-1610 was also difficult.
B. Relations with Indians
Maintaining peaceful relations with the Indians was another continual challenge to the English settlers (though the English themselves were often the aggressors). The Powhatan Confederacy, a group of six Eastern Woodlands Indians (the Algonquian Indians), traded some excess corn and food in exchange for guns, and this helped the settlers out. But the initially friendly relationship soured, and the Indians’ crops failed during a drought, and the Indians became frustrated.
Pocahontas, meaning "playful one," was the nickname of the daughter of the Powhatan leader. As a child she was sent as an ambassador to Jamestown. She befriended the colonists and risked her life on several occasions to warn them of Indian attacks. The most famous incident was her intervention to save the life of Captain John Smith. She probably did it for humanitarian reasons rather than the romantic ones of legend, because she was only twelve at the time. In 1613 the English kidnapped her, but her father refused their demand for ransom. Left to live with the English, she adopted many of their ways. In 1614, at the age of nineteen, she married John Rolfe, perhaps as a form of diplomatic alliance.
Baptized a Christian, and taking the name Rebecca Rolfe, she was regarded as an example of the possibilities of converting the Indians. In fact, she was almost the only Indian ever converted, and nothing but total immersion in English culture brought it about. But in their day Rebecca and John Rolfe and their infant son seemed the perfect family to promote Virginia in England. They were entertained as celebrities in London. He sought to relieve fears about disease, the climate, and Indian hostility in Virginia. She impressed Londoners with her grace, intelligence, and competent English. She was touted as a princess, a European misconception about Indian society that persists to this day. She died suddenly -- possibly of tuberculosis or smallpox -- as she prepared to return to Virginia. She was just twenty-two, and Anglo-Powhatan relations deteriorated soon afterward.
C. Social, Economic, Legal Changes
Later generations of Americans would often look to Jamestown as a monumental example of free people exercising the right to govern themselves, and this is partly true. The first representative assembly in the New World convened in the Jamestown church on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly (later called the House of Burgesses) met in response to orders from the Virginia Company "to establish one equal and uniform government over all Virginia" which would provide "just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people there inhabiting." However, the other crucial event that would play a role in the development of America was the arrival of Africans to Jamestown. All we know is that 19 Africans arrived in Jamestown on a Dutch ship. The Africans became indentured servants.
Fifteen years after its founding, Virginia was a difficult place to live. Tensions between the Indians and the settlers began to increase as the English encroached further and further upon the Indians’ land and tried to convert more and more Indians to Christianity. Powhatan’s brother coordinated a series of attacks all along the James River in 1622, and killed 347 settlers (1/4 of the total). This 1623 letter of Richard Frethorne, a young immigrant to Virginia shows one first-hand view of the colonists’ troubles:
Loveing and kind father and mother my most humble duty remembered to you hopeing in God of your good health, as I my selfe am at the makeing hereof, this is to let you understand that I your Child am in a most heavie Case by reason of the nature of the Country is such that it Causeth much sicknes [including scurvy and "the bloody flux"] . . . and when wee are sicke there is nothing to comfort us; for since I came out of the ship, I never at anie thing but pease, and loblollie (that is water gruell)[.] as for deare or venison I never saw anie since I came into this land there is indeed some foule, but Wee are not allowed to goe, and get yt, but must Worke hard both earelie, and late for a messe of water gruell, and a mouthfull of bread, and beife[.] a mouthfull of bread for a pennie loafe must serve for 4 men which is most pitifull if you did knowe as much as I, when people crie out day, and night, Oh that they were in England without their lymbes and would not care to loose anie lymbe to bee in England againe, yea though they beg from doore to doore. . . . I have nothing at all, no not a shirt to my backe, but two Ragges nor no Clothes, but one poore suite, nor but one paire of shooes, but one paire of stockins, but one Capp, but two bands, my Cloke is stollen by one of my owne fellowes, and to his dying hower would not tell mee what he did with it [although some friends saw the "fellowe" buy butter and beef from a ship, probably purchased with Frethorne's cloak]. . . . but I am not halfe a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victualls, for I doe protest unto you, that I have eaten more in a day at home than I have allowed me here for a Weeke. . . .
O that you did see may daylie and hourelie sighes, grones, and teares, and thumpes that I afford mine owne brest, and rue and Curse the time of my birth with holy Job. I thought no head had beene able to hold so much water as hath and doth dailie flow from mine eyes.
It was becoming clear that Jamestown was wilting. Even though a last minute warning had spared the colony from another Indian attack, the threats posed by the Indians and the mismanagement of the Virginia Company at home together convinced the King that he should revoke the Virginia Company Charter. Of the 8,500 colonists who had been sent to Jamestown by the Virginia Company, only 1,218 were left by 1624. Virginia became a royal colony in 1624 and under Crown leadership, Virginia began to prosper.
This turn of fortunes was due in large part to Virginian colonists’ discovery of how to grow tobacco. As the tobacco boomed, and with a rising demand from Europe, the colony grew quickly by the 1630s. Once small English settlements began to increase, tobacco was established as the staple crop. The planting, cultivation, and harvesting of tobacco were time-consuming and required tough labor. Nearby Indians were reduced by war and disease and were hostile to the English in any event. The Virginians couldn’t enslave them because they would just run away, and plus, men did not farm in Indian culture. Few slaves arrived until the 1650s, because the slave traders preferred to go to the Caribbean, where they could make more money.
In order to maximize the tobacco harvests (and, thus, profits), the colonists brought indentured servants to America. These servants were mainly English men. In return for their passage, they (the servant) signed a contract agreeing to work for between 4-7 years. 75% of the indentured servants were males between 15 and 24, and 15-20% were women (therefore the remaining 5-10% of indentured servants were men over age 24). These servants were from poor families in poor regions of England, and were people desperate to get across the Atlantic to try to improve their fortunes. Though their day-to-day experience was similar to that of African slaves (see below), it is important to point out the several differences between indentured servants and slaves.
First of all, indentured servants voluntarily entered into an indenture contract. True, they may have been facing starvation and destitution in England, so they may have felt they had no other choice but death or indenture, but they were not captured and forced into bondage. In fact, after serving their required terms, indentured servants would receive clothes, tools, livestock, corn and tobacco, and usually a small farm. Yet it was difficult work—6 days a week, 10-14 hours a day, in a warmer climate than England. Their masters could discipline or sell them, as they saw fit. If the servants ran away, their terms of services were lengthened. They were not allowed to marry. If women got pregnant, their terms of service were extended, and their children could even be taken away from them. They suffered from malaria, dysentery, typhoid, and other illnesses, and life expectancy was very low. Thus the indentured servant faced any number of hurdles in trying to survive and win their freedom.
By now, as the profit motive for the colony was being borne increasingly by tobacco farming, settlers intensively sought after increasing amounts of farmland. By the late 1600s, “free” land in Virginia was becoming less and less available to these English colonists. Consequently, England attracted fewer indentured servants. At this point, slavery became more attractive and more desirable to the larger and wealthier tobacco planters. This was partly due to the need to grant land to emancipated indentured servants; it was also due to tensions between poor former indentured servants-turned-farmers and their wealthier former masters. With the increasing presence of Africans and African-Americans in the late 1600s, Virginia began passing laws that made hereditary slavery binding on all African-Americans in the colony. Those who had once served as indentured servants alongside whites, and could own land and even their own slaves once their contracts were up, gradually found themselves discriminated against. Increasingly, the African-American population in Virginia became slave-based. Here are some examples:
1662-1705: the Virginia House of Burgesses (the colonial legislature) passed a series of laws defining slavery:
1662: Children born to Negro women were free or bonded according to the condition of the mother.
1667: The baptism of slaves as Christians did not alter their status as slaves.
1669: A master who killed a disobedient slave could not be accused of a felony.
1670: Free Negroes and Indians were prohibited from buying Christian indentured servants.
Even if white Virginians could agree on the second-class status of African-Americans (not to mention Indians), these free white colonists did not always form a united bloc on other issues, specifically economic ones. Since commodities are subject to the whims of supply and demand, prices can vary wildly, leaving farmers to get rich quick or fall into poverty suddenly. In the case of Virginia, tobacco prices fell, which made times tough. King Charles II passed a series of trade restrictions on the colonies, which hurt the economy further. A great depression set in, and the wealthy planters with the large farms began to clash with the poorer indentured servants and former indentured servants (who became small farmers after gaining their freedom). By 1674, ¼ of the former indentured servant population had no land, and the social stratification in Virginia was beginning to look like that in England. Dangerous, impatient, rebellious, and armed, these poor men presented a serious threat to the ruling elites. Plus, a renewed series of Indian attacks by the miniscule Indian population against the poorer farmers led these poorer whites to believe that the rich leaders of Virginia did nothing to protect them.
D. Bacon’s Rebellion and the triumph of the Gentry
In 1676, a disgruntled planter who had an axe to grind, Nathaniel Bacon, led an insurrection that led to some changes in Virginia. Although Bacon died of dysentery and his movement quickly fell apart, Bacon’s Rebellion had long-term effects. Because slaves had helped in the riot, the House of Burgesses worked even harder to place restrictions on African Americans, and they hoped also that it would gain the allegiance of all the poor whites—that is, that all whites, rich and poor alike, would make African-Americans their enemy and not each other. Second, they reduced taxes to try to help the poorer whites out of their financial difficulties. They lowered property qualifications for voting, too. So whiteness became even more strongly tied to power and freedom, while non-whiteness was increasingly tied to powerlessness and bondage.
Virginia continued to develop under plantation slavery, and increasingly by the 1720s, a wealthy class of elite planters emerged—the gentry. These people controlled the politics, the economy, and the high society of Virginia’s capital, Williamsburg. At cockfights, court days, military drills, and elections, the gentry asserted their control of society. They included families like the Byrds, Randolphs, and Carters; and later Custis, Lee, Washington and Jefferson. They lived in huge homes, with imported possessions, hundreds of slaves. They modeled themselves after wealthy English, lived luxuriously, gambled, competed to marry the most beautiful women, and adopted foxhunting, the game of cricket, pool, partridge hunting, and various other hobbies. Perhaps the best example of this is William Byrd, whose diaries give us a revealing look into the life of one of these Virginia Gentry. In some ways, the triumph of the gentry are metaphors for the entire colonial project in Virginia – as it was wealthier men who first came to Roanoke, then who paid the transit fees for the indentured servants, then who imported slaves, all to garner greater and greater wealth. That is not to say that poor whites, Indians, and slaves are not part of the Virginia story – quite the opposite – but that economics and class are important elements in explaining this colony’s story.
60-Second Quiz #1a: Which of the following factors was NOT important in understanding the founding and growth of the Virginia colony?
a. search for profits
b. search for religious liberty
c. relations with Indians
d. growth of plantation agriculture
Maryland was almost identical to Virginal in its history, although it began as a gift from the King of England to Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore in the 1630s. So unlike Virginia, Maryland was under the control of an individual, not a private company or the Crown. And yet, Maryland was another colony with an agricultural economy that ultimately centered on plantation slavery.
At the outset, Maryland was also designed to serve a religious purpose. Lord Baltimore, a Catholic and the proprietor of the colony, had desired to make Maryland a haven for English Catholics. Roman Catholics in England could not worship in public and had to pay taxes to the Anglican Church. As Lord Proprietor, Baltimore received 10 million acres, and in turn awarded large manors to each settler who brought 20 servants to the colony. Unfortunately, most of the settlers that came to Maryland were Protestant, and bought land. With growing numbers of Protestants coming, Lord Baltimore was forced in 1649 to grant freedom of religion, and the Protestants soon became a majority and even persecuted the Catholics. Baltimore’s goals of creating a Catholic haven and a manor system failed. Maryland developed its tobacco and slave-based economy almost exactly like Virginia.
Maryland is also a good example of the connectedness that existed between the colonies and the mother country. In 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, William and Mary became King and Queen of England, and they revoked Maryland’s charter. Protestants and Catholics fought an all-out civil war in Maryland; the result was that the Protestants won and persecuted the Catholics. Maryland became a royal colony. Catholicism was outlawed in Maryland until after the Revolutionary War. Many wealthy plantation owners built chapels on their land so that they could practice their Catholicism in relative secrecy. During the persecution of Maryland Catholics by the Puritan revolutionary government, all of the original Catholic churches of southern Maryland were burned down. The capital, which was in St. Mary’s, a Catholic area, moved to Annapolis in 1708. In 1715, Charles Calvert died and his son Benedict became the fourth Lord Baltimore. He had become a Protestant, and the government of Maryland was now restored to him. The colony remained in the hands of the Calverts from this time until the war of the Revolution.
60-Second Quiz #1b: Which of the following factors was NOT important in understanding the founding and growth of the Maryland colony?
a. search for profits
b. search for religious liberty
c. relations with Indians
d. growth of plantation agriculture
Florida did NOT start our as an English colony! Florida had been settled by the Spanish to protect itself against French pirate ships and to bail out shipwrecked sailors in the Caribbean. The French had actually built a settlement near present-day Jacksonville, called Fort Caroline, in the mid-1500s. The Spanish crown attacked and destroyed Fort Caroline, and killed most of the 300 residents there. Under the leadership of navy officer Pedro Menendez, the Spanish established a fortified colony along the Atlantic Coast in 1565 called St. Augustine, 40 miles to the South, the first lasting settlement within the borders of the future United States. Menendez also built a series of small forts as far north as Beaufort, South Carolina.
The Spanish experience in Florida was in some ways similar to that of the English. Most of the small Spanish posts and missions in Florida succumbed to French or Indian attack. Menendez ran out of money, found no gold or silver, and in 1574, only two towns still stood; by 1587, only St. Augustine remained. Unable to attract colonists to Florida, the Spanish brought missionaries and the Franciscans (a Catholic religious order) set up a series of missions along the entire coast of Florida. At its peak in 1675, 40 friars ministered to 20,000 Native Americans in 36 churches. After failing to establish a settlement colony, the Spanish had apparently succeeded in Florida by pursuing the Franciscan mode of conversion. Yet Spanish Florida declined in the early 1700s, and the Indian population dwindled from disease, while the missions shut down.
St. Augustine remained and Spain was determined to bolster its New World Empire. St. Augustine was still a military outpost yet the arrival of African slaves led to more growth in ranching and farming. Black slaves and a scattering of free blacks, most from Mexico, Haiti and Cuba, constructed and maintained the military fortifications in Florida. Blacks served in the military. Free blacks also worked in St. Augustine as soldiers, sailors, privateers, and trackers, artisans, laborers, and house servants. They were even allowed to purchase property. Thus Florida became a safe-haven for slaves escaping from South Carolina (see below), since the Spanish allowed the slaves to work for wages, instructed them in Catholicism, allowed them to marry, and by the late-1600s, offered them freedom. As slavery expanded in South Carolina, the stream of fugitives grew.
As much as race became linked to power and bondage in Virginia and other English colonies in the south, the experience of blacks in Spanish Florida appeared to be much different. To better protect St. Augustine, the governor of Florida established an all-black settlement to the North of the City, called Mose for short. It was a military and agricultural settlement and became the center of black life in colonial Florida, with something like 100 free black men and women. In 1746, there were 1,500 people in St. Augustine and about 350 were blacks. And yet, in 1749, a new Spanish governor of Florida segregated St. Augustine. Then in 1763, as the result of an Imperial War with Spain, the British gained control of Florida. At this time, Spain evacuated Florida, and the inhabitants returned to Cuba. At that time, there were only about 500 houses there. The British split Florida into parts, with the panhandle being West Florida, and the rest of it East Florida.
For two hundred years, Spain had ruled Florida, yet there was little to view by the 1750's. St. Augustine remained a small garrison town of two thousand soldiers and settlers. The most prosperous merchants were those who operated food services for the troops. On the Gulf side, Pensacola was barely more than a few wooden houses and a fort. The mission system was in ruins. The greatest weakness of Spanish Florida was its inability to attract families to live there. The rules of Spain forbade the colonialization of non-Catholics and any trade with English America. Spaniards refused to settle in Florida. Investors felt their money would be better spent in Cuba and Mexico. This was Spanish Florida, obviously underpopulated and underdeveloped. Its cultural and economic contributions limited to a few places. This would not have been a dangerous situation if the growing English colonies would not have been so close and so well-prepared to one day overrun the Florida peninsula.
Up to now, we have seen the English plant Virginia as essentially a business venture, settle Maryland as a religious haven-turned-plantation colony, and then capture Florida from Spain (who had initially sought riches but also to spread Catholicism). Georgia would begin with yet a different mission but eventually assume a similar pattern. James Oglethorpe, a retired army officer and Member of Parliament, devoted his life to relieving the poor of London, especially those people imprisoned for debt. He devised a plan to transport the inmates to the wilderness of America. Oglethorpe became the governor of Georgia, and would rule with a group of advisors to run the colony called the Georgia Trustees, a mix of wealthy merchants, landowners, and Anglican ministers. They hoped to minimize English urban poverty by shipping poor people and convicted felons to a new Southern colony, where hard work might turn their lives around and could also defend the empire—because Georgia bordered on Spanish Florida, South Carolina was vulnerable to Spanish or Indian attack, and South Carolina slaves were running away (see above).
In 1733, Oglethorpe and the first colonists founded the city of Savannah (they called it “savannah,” because of the vast marshlands and tall grass) and religious groups settled a few additional other towns. George Whitefield came together with James Habersham in 1737 to Savannah, where they started the nation's first orphanage, Bethesda, in 1740. The majority of Georgian immigrants were poor. There was a vast mix of settlers to Georgia—from poor, thirty year old men to entire families; they represented a variety of backgrounds in Europe. The Trustees were fairly welcoming to different religions, and as a result, many Jewish merchants arrived in Savannah during the following decades. Some German Lutherans arrived as well.
As mentioned above, the Georgia colony’s purpose(s) departed from the earlier English colonies’ goals in a number of important ways; yet there were still some similarities. England’s reasons for the founding of the colony of Georgia included the following:
To provide relief to the debtors of England,
To help the English poor and unemployed,
To remove the poor, so England would not have to support them,
To provide relief to persecuted Protestants such as the Salzburgers,
To act as a buffer to protect South Carolina from Spaniards in Florida,
To strengthen the British Empire by the success of the colony and its population,
To have the colony supply raw products such as wine, hemp, silk, flax, etc. to manufacturers in England,
To establish another market for exported English made products.
Although agricultural production was part of Georgia’s plan, the Trustees had initially banned slavery, because slavery threatened to undermine the white work ethic that they hoped to promote. Thus, Instead of planting rice and indigo with slave labor, the Georgians were encouraged to cultivate high-value crops like hemp (used to make rope), flax (for linen), mulberry (to feed to silkworms), and grapes (to make wine). They would ideally settle close together for protection. Having a bunch of hardworking small farmers would create a peaceful society of equals, and would foster cooperation, not competition, or so the Trustees hoped. It should be noted that, because the Trustees were driven by concerns for military security and to make whites work hard, the antislavery policy was not out of sympathy for enslaved Africans, nor was it an attempt to convince other colonies to follow suit. Everyone in the South at this point pretty much accepted the use of African slavery as the best means of making the colonial economies work.
Restricting slavery was not the only limit that the Trustees placed on the settlers there—in fact, they kept the number of acres people could own small (which in turn limited land ownership), they banned rum, and prohibited lawyers. They permitted no elected assembly, because they did not want the (mostly poorer) residents to gain too much power and prestige; that is, the Trustees wanted to remain in control. Instead of an Assembly, they appointed four administrators to run the colony, sort of like a board of directors. These Georgia Trustees were powerful and distant elites who put too many restrictions on their colonial subjects. And the colonists came to see their overlords as unrealistic, domineering, and unfair. The colonists in Georgia increasingly demanded the right to own slaves, and rallied behind the slogan, “Liberty and Property without restrictions.” If they could not own slaves and own large plantations, they did not consider themselves truly “free.”
Georgians soon rejected the Trustees’ model and created a plantation society modeled after Carolina. Under increasing pressure, the Trustees gave in, permitting slavery in 1752, and at this point, they gave back control the Crown. So Georgia became a royal colony, with an assembly, a crown-appointed council, and a royal governor. At this point, Georgia began to develop by copying South Carolina as a model. After 1752, slavery expanded rapidly in Georgia. From 3,000 whites and 600 blacks in 1752, the Georgian population numbered 18,000 whites and 15,000 blacks by 1775(!). Georgia began to develop rice and indigo and stopped growing wine, silk, hemp, and flax. Large plantations meant the emergence of wealthy planters, and of vast differences between rich and poor. To the end of the colonial era, Georgia was essentially the southern frontier of South Carolina, as North Carolina was of Virginia. The social condition of Georgia resembled that of North Carolina. There were no schools, and the mails seldom or never reached the inland settlements. The people were mostly small farmers, with here and there a rich planter. There was little town life. Savannah was the only town of importance, and it was still a wooden village at the time of the Revolution. The roads were mere Indian trails, and the settlers saw little of one another.
60-second Quiz #2: In what way(s) were Florida’s and Georgia’s histories, together, different from the Chesapeake colonies?
a. Florida and Georgia both saw completely peaceful relations with Indians, at least initially
b. Florida and Georgia both developed large plantation economies to grow wine, hemp, and silk, at least initially
c. Florida and Georgia both did not welcome religious minorities to their colonies
d. Florida and Georgia both did not extensively practice African slavery, at least initially
V. The Carolinas
The first permanent English settlers in North Carolina were immigrants from the tidewater area of southeastern Virginia. That is, they had come to Virginia and then moved southward. The first of these "overflow" settlers moved into the Albemarle area of (modern-day) northeast North Carolina around 1650. At this time, there was only one “Carolina” colony – it would later split into “North Carolina” and “South Carolina.” What is important to remember is that the northern part of Carolina remained a thinly populated area throughout its history. In fact, these early settlers into Carolina came before the colony was formally established – that did not happen until the 1670s, when, wealthy planters from Barbados (at this time another British colony, an island in the south Caribbean) established a new colony (called “Carolina”). A group of 200 English colonists from Barbados founded Charleston, and for the next thirty or forty years, settlers slowly trickled in, setting up plantations in the low country, most within 30 miles of Charleston. North and South Carolina split in 1712.
A. North Carolina
North Carolina’s eastern region was home to expansive forests, which were useful to the British navy for naval stores (raw materials that would be used to build ships). North Carolinians tapped the pitch from pine trees to make tar, which became used for waterproofing ropes and ships. Trees with the tallest and straightest trunks would be used for masts. In fact, one naval historian claims that there are still a few 200+ year old trees growing in North Carolina’s forests, bearing the mark of the royal navy – these would be trees the British government claimed but never came back to chop down. Aside from naval stores, Carolina also became the preeminent cattle country in the English empire. Many owners entrusted the roaming cattle to African-American cowboys. Additionally, North Carolina also grew some tobacco and grain.
In the backcountry (the western regions, beyond the coastal plain), which remained sparsely populated, lived poor white people in terrible conditions—mostly Scotch-Irish immigrants, various religious groups, and simple corn farmers. They lived in virtual isolation; there were no cities, just small villages. They were farmers and woodmen, scattered across the wilderness. On a surveying expedition in North Carolina, the Virginian William Byrd made the following observations:
The inhabitants suffer disadvantages natural to their place of residence - swampy, mosquitoes.
Nature in North Carolina favors laziness.
Religion does not thrive there. There is no place to worship. The law empowers a justice of peace to marry, and christening depends on the casual arrival of a visiting churchman.
Government is weak there; laws are feebly executed and magistrates have little authority.
Such a province is a natural asylum for outcasts.
In view of all this, it is not surprising that the borderers, when the line (between Virginia and North Carolina) is run, hope to find themselves on the Carolina side.
Marginally better off were the coastal settlements in North Carolina, which were few, and which featured small slaveholding plantations, none of which became as wealthy as Virginia or Carolina.
North Carolina was not free of Indian encounters. In the autumn of 1711 a terrible Indian massacre took place in North Carolina. Hundreds of settlers fell victims of the merciless tomahawk. The chief sufferers were the inoffensive Germans at New Berne, where one hundred and thirty people were slaughtered within two hours after the signal for the massacre was given. Various tribes, led by the Tuscaroras, engaged in the massacre. But the European people rallied, and, receiving aid from South Carolina, and at length the Tuscaroras themselves. The Tuscaroras’ ancestors had come from New York, and they now resolved to abandon their southern home and return to the land of their fathers. They removed in 1714 and joined the Iroquois or Five Nations of New York, and that confederation was afterward known as the Six Nations.
Of all the thirteen colonies, North Carolina was the least commercial, the most provincial, the farthest removed from European influences. North Carolina was probably, with exception of possibly Maine, the poorest colony.
B. South Carolina
South Carolina developed much differently. It offered abundant land, had a broad fertile coast, large muddy rivers, and despite its hot, humid, mosquito-infested summers, the rest of the year was much milder. South Carolina was too far north to grow sugar, and could not compete with the already established tobacco plantations in Virginia and Maryland. Initially, the Carolina planters had supplied livestock and lumber to the West Indies. In the early years, it too was a place of deerskin trappers, cowboys, and men that traded with Indians. There was some farming, but not large, plantation-based labor yet. This would change, in time.
During the early-1700s, numerous problems plagued South Carolina, especially Indians. In 1715, claiming that South Carolina owed them money for 100,000 deerskins, the Yamassee Indians rebelled, killing traders, slaughtering cattle, and burning plantations around Beaufort. The rebels recruited Catawba and Creek Indians to join them, and Carolina (still one colony at that time) faced a united Indian attack. The Indians killed about four hundred colonists, and the rest fled to Charleston. As the Indians ran low on guns and gunpowder, and Virginia helped Carolina with weapons and troops, the Carolinians turned the tide. They got the support of enemies of the Indians. Despite their pleas to England for help, though, the Lords Proprietors (the board of governors in charge of the colony) did nothing. This convinced South Carolina that they did not need the Lords Proprietors at all, and so South Carolina became a royal colony soon after.
The Carolinians also subdued the Catawba Indians, and suppressed and enslaved many others. The Carolina Indians dwindled from a combination of disease epidemics, rum consumption, and being seized as slaves. As they eliminated the Indian problem, the colony attracted more settlers, and began to thrive.
To be able to prosper, Carolina needed a staple crop, a major export crop. It finally developed that crop: rice. Beginning in the 1690s, Carolina imported slaves, who had knowledge of rice from their time in West Africa. George Town became the center of rice production in the colony. Due to this new technology, rice became so profitable that many merchants, physicians and attorneys left their professions, purchased land and slaves and became rice planters. They built irrigation systems. After planting the crop in April and May, they flooded the rice fields in the summer, and harvested in September and October. Removing the husk from the grain was difficult work, and required long hours of pounding. Finally by December or January, they could ship off the rice. Carolina’s rice economy grew rapidly in the 1730s. Not a coincidence, by the 1730s, the majority of South Carolina’s inhabitants was African Americans.
Despite these accomplishments, Carolina had a period of three hardships: (1) In 1738, Charleston was hit with a deadly smallpox epidemic. (2) In 1739, a slave rebellion called the Stono Rebellion broke out about 20 miles south of Charleston. Roughly 100 enslaved Africans, led by Jemmy, captured firearms and marched south, killing colonists and attempting to rally more slaves to join them. They planned to escape to St. Augustine, Florida, where the Spanish promised freedom. Whites notified authorities and South Carolina forcefully put down the rebellion and executed sixty of the rebels. (3) In 1740, a deadly fire hit Charleston. Despite these hardships, Carolina bounced back. During the 1750s, Carolina developed a second valuable plantation crop, indigo, a plant that produced a blue dye in great demand by the clothing industry in England. In the 1750s, indigo thrived. Carolina’s planters, growing rice and indigo, became the wealthiest colonists in America.
60-second Quiz #3: What characteristic(s) united the southern colonies?
a. Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were all initially settled as military outposts
b. Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina all initially relied initially on indentured servants, and later on slaves, as the major source of labor
c. Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina all crafted laws giving colonists unrestricted freedom of religion at the time of their founding
d. Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina all had economies in which agriculture played an important role, at one time or another.
KEY to 60-second Quizzes:
1a.) b - profit all the way was the Virginia Company’s goal
1b.) a - no one company owned all of Maryland, so there cannot be said to have been the same profit motive that the Virginia Company had. Having said that, individual planters in Maryland certainly did want to make money but there was not a company managing the colony to do so.
2.) d - the Spanish allowed some free blacks in St. Augustine, and Georgia initially banned slavery
3.) d - agriculture is the key to understanding the southern colonies