III. THE ERA OF COLONIZATION.
[Voyages of Colonization.]
To acquire a title to the fertile and fruitful lands and fabled riches of the newly discovered continent, became the aspiration of the great maritime states of Europe, which had shared between them the honors of its discovery. From the middle of the sixteenth to the beginning of the seventeenth century, the voyages of adventure and projected colonization were almost continuous. Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Englishmen fitted out vessels and crossed the ocean, to make more extended researches, and to found, if possible, permanent settlements. Although failure generally attended these attempts at colonization, they gradually led the way to the final occupation of the continent.
[The Huguenots in America.]
Of these abortive efforts, that of Admiral Coligny to found a settlement of the Huguenots, who were persecuted in France, on the new shores, was the earliest and one of the most romantic. As long ago as 1562, America became a refuge of the oppressed for conscience's sake. The Huguenot colony, taking up their residence on the River May, gave the name of "Carolina" (from King Charles IX.) to their new domain. After many and terrible hardships, they returned again to France, to be soon succeeded by another colony of Huguenots, also sent out by brave old Coligny, which settled on the same soil of Carolina.
[Menendez in Florida]
This aroused the jealousy and cupidity of Spain. The "most Catholic" king was not only enraged to find the soil which he claimed as his own by right of discovery, taken possession of by the subjects of his French rival, but was scandalized that the new colonists should be Calvinistic heretics. It was the very height of the gloomiest period of religious fanaticism and persecution in Europe. Menendez was accordingly sent out to Florida by King Philip, and assumed its governorship; and on September 8, 1565, Saint Augustine, the oldest town in the United States, was founded, and Philip of Spain was solemnly proclaimed sovereign of all North America. Menendez lost no time in attacking the Huguenot colonists of Carolina. They were speedily defeated, and most of them were ruthlessly massacred; and our almost virgin soil was thus early the scene of another St. Bartholomew.
Meanwhile, England was not idle in contesting with France and Spain the supremacy of the western land. Very early in the sixteenth century projects of colonizing America were formed in England.
Numerous voyages hither were undertaken during the reign of Henry VIII.; but the accounts which remain of them are rare and meagre. Some of them resulted in terrible disasters of shipwreck and death. Late in the century a courageous and determined navigator, Martin Frobisher, made three voyages to America, but without establishing a colony, or finding the treasures of gold and gems which he sought. Later, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the half-brother of Raleigh, and Barlow, made attempts to found colonies, but in vain.
It was in the spring of 1585 that Sir Walter Raleigh fitted out his famous expedition of seven ships, and one hundred and eight emigrants, and sent it forth, bound for the shores of Carolina. At first it seemed as it art English colony were really about to prosper in the new land. They established themselves at Roanoke, and explored the country. Hariot, one of the shrewdest of them, discovered the seductive proper-ties of tobacco, the succulence of Indian corn, and the nutritive quality of potatoes.
[Sir Francis Drake.]
The hostility of the natives, however, soon became so bitter, and their attacks so frequent, that the colony was glad to return to England in the visiting ships of Sir Francis Drake. Two years later Raleigh, undismayed by the failure of his first colony, sent out another, under John White, which settled on the Isle of Roanoke, and founded the "city of Raleigh." It was here that, on the 18th of August, 1587, the first child of English parents was born on American soil. Her name was Virginia Dare, and she was the granddaughter of Governor White. The Governor returned to England, leaving the emigrants behind; and on his going back to Roanoke, three years afterwards, no vestige of the colony could be discovered. It is supposed that they were all massacred by the Indians during White's absence. The first permanent settlement in America, was made by the French, at Port Royal, in 1605.
[Colonies in Virginia.]
English enterprise was now at last ready to found and perpetuate states on the new continent. In little more than a year after the French occupation of Port Royal, a patent was granted by King James the First to a party of colonists, under Newport and Smith, authorizing them to form a government in Virginia, subject to the English crown. Imagine, then, three small ships setting forth, on the bleak 19th of December, 1606, and directing their way to Virginia, with one hundred and five men on board, and freighted with a goodly store of arms and provisions. Most of the party were gallant and courtly cavaliers: there were but twelve laborers and four carpenters in all the company. After a stormy voyage they passed up the James River, and landing, on its shores, they founded Jamestown.