CHAPTER III. FRANCE AND ENGLAND ATTEMPT TO SETTLE AMERICA

THE FRENCH IN SOUTH CAROLINA. - After the failure in Canada twenty years passed away before the French again attempted to colonize. Then (1562) Admiral Coligny (co-leen'ye), the leader of the Huguenots, or Protestants of France, sought to plant a colony in America for his persecuted countrymen, and sent forth an expedition under Ribaut (ree-bo'). These Frenchmen reached the coast of Florida, and turning northward came to a haven which they called Port Royal. Here they built a fort in what is now South Carolina. Leaving thirty men to hold it, Ribaut sailed for France. Famine, homesickness, ignorance of life in a wilderness, soon brought the colony to ruin. Unable to endure their hardships longer, the colonists built a crazy boat, [1] put to sea, and when off the French coast were rescued by an English vessel.

THE FRENCH IN FLORIDA. - Two years later (1564) Coligny tried again, and sent forth a colony under Laudonnière (lo-do-ne-air'). It reached the coast of Florida, and a few miles up the St. Johns River built a fort called Caroline in honor of the French King Charles. The next year there came more colonists under Ribaut. [2]

THE SPANIARDS FOUND ST. AUGUSTINE. - Now it so happened that just at this time a Spaniard named Menendez (ma-nen'deth) had obtained leave to conquer and settle Florida. Before he could set off, news came to Spain that the French were on the St. Johns River, and Menendez was sent with troops to drive them out. He landed in Florida in 1565 and built a fort which was the beginning of St. Augustine, the first permanent settlement on the mainland part of the United States. Ribaut at once sailed to attack it. But while he was at sea Menendez marched overland, took Fort Caroline, and put to death every man there, save a few who made good their escape. [3]

SPAIN HOLDS AMERICA. - More than seventy years had now parsed since Columbus made his great voyage of discovery. Yet, save some Portuguese settlements in Brazil, the only European colonies in America were Spanish. From St. Augustine, around the Gulf of Mexico, down South America to the Strait of Magellan and up the west coast to California, save the foothold of Portugal, island and mainland belonged to Spain. And all the rest of North America she claimed.

ENGLISH ATTACKS ON SPAIN IN THE NEW WORLD. - So far in the sixteenth century England had taken little or no part in the work of discovery, exploration, and settlement. Her fishermen came to the Banks of Newfoundland; but not till 1562, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, did the contact of England with the New World really begin. Then it was that Sir John Hawkins, one of England's great "sea kings," went to Africa, loaded his ships with negroes, sold them to planters in Haiti, and came home with hides and pearls. Such trade for one not a Spaniard was against the law of Spain. But Hawkins cared not, arid came again and again. When foul weather drove him into a Mexican port, the Spaniards sank most of his ships, but Hawkins escaped with two vessels, in one of which was Francis Drake. [4]

Smarting under defeat, Drake resolved to be avenged. Fitting out a little squadron at his own cost, without leave of the queen, Drake (1572) sailed to the Caribbean Sea, plundered Spanish towns along the coast, captured Spanish ships, and went home loaded with gold, silver, and merchandise. [5]

DRAKE SAILS AROUND THE GLOBE. - During this raid on the Spanish coast Drake marched across the Isthmus of Panama and looked down upon Balboa's great South Sea. As he looked, he resolved to sail on it, and in 1577 left England with five ships on what proved to be the greatest voyage since that of Magellan. He crossed the Atlantic, sailed down the coast of South America, and entered the Strait of Magellan. There four ships deserted, but Drake went on alone up the west coast, plundering towns and capturing Spanish vessels. To return the way he came would have been dangerous, for Spanish cruisers lay in wait. Drake, therefore, went on up the coast in search of a passage through the continent to the Atlantic. Coasting as far as southern Oregon and finding no passage, Drake turned southward, entered a harbor, repaired his ship, and then started westward across the Pacific. He touched at the Philippines, visited the Spice Islands, came home by way of the Cape of Good Hope, and won the glory of being the first Englishman to sail around the globe. [6]

THE ENGLISH IN THE FAR NORTH. - While Drake was on his voyage around the world, Martin Frob'isher discovered Hudson Strait, [7] and Sir Humphrey Gilbert failed in an attempt to plant a colony somewhere in America. The failure was disheartening. But the return of Drake laden with spoil aroused new interest in America, and (in 1583) Gilbert led a colony to Newfoundland. Disaster after disaster overtook him, and while he was on his way home with two vessels (all that were left of five), one with Gilbert on board went down at sea. [8]

THE ENGLISH ON ROANOKE ISLAND. - The work of colonization then passed to Sir Walter Raleigh, a half-brother of Gilbert. He began by sending out a party of explorers who sailed along the coast of North Carolina and brought back such a glowing description of the country that the queen named it Virginia and Raleigh chose it for the site of a colony. [9]

In 1585, accordingly, a party of men commanded by Ralph Lane were landed on Roanoke Island (map, p. 44). But the site proved to be ill chosen, and the Indians were hostile. The colonists were poorly fitted to live in a wilderness, and were almost starving when Drake, who stopped at Roanoke (1586) to see how they were getting on, carried them back to England. [10]