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]

THE LOST COLONY. - Not long after Drake sailed away with the colonists, a party of recruits arrived with supplies. Finding the island deserted, fifteen men remained to hold the place in the queen's name, and the rest returned to England. Not disheartened by these reverses, Raleigh summoned some men of influence to his aid, and (in 1587) sent out a third party of settlers, both men and women, in charge of John White. This party was to stop at Roanoke Island, pick up the fifteen men there, and then go on to Chesapeake Bay. But for some reason the settlers were left on the island by the convoy, and there they were forced to stay. [11]

White very soon went back to England for help, in the only ship the colonists had. War with Spain prevented his return for several years, and then only the ruins of the settlement were found on the island. [12]

SPAIN ATTACKS ENGLAND. - The war which prevented White from promptly returning to Roanoke began in 1585. The next year, with twenty-five ships, Drake attacked the possessions of Spain in America, and burned and plundered several towns. In 1587 he "singed the beard of the king of Spain" by burning a hundred vessels in the harbor of the Spanish city of Cadiz.

Enraged by these defeats, King Philip II of Spain determined to invade England and destroy that nest of sea rovers. A great fleet known as the Invincible Armada, carrying thirty thousand men, was assembled and in 1588 swept into the English channel. There the English, led by Raleigh, [13] Drake, Frobisher, Hawkins, Lane, and all the other great sea kings, met the Armada, drove it into the North Sea, and captured, burned, and sank many of the ships. The rest fled around Scotland, on whose coast more were wrecked. Less than half the Armada returned to Spain. [14]

THE ENGLISH EXPLORE THE NEW ENGLAND COAST. - The war lasted sixteen years longer (till 1604). Though it delayed, it did not stop, attempts at colonization. In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold, with a colony of thirty-two men, sailed from England, saw the coast of Maine, turned southward, named Cape Cod and the Elizabeth Islands, [15] and after a short stay went home. The next year Martin Pring came with two vessels on an exploring and trading voyage; and in 1605 George Weymouth was sent out, visited the Kennebec River in Maine, and brought back a good report of the country.

THE VIRGINIA CHARTER OF 1606. - Peace had now been made with Spain; England had not been forced to stop her attempts to colonize in America; the favorable reports of Gosnold, Pring, and Weymouth led to the belief that colonies could be successfully planted; and in 1606 King James I chartered two commercial companies to colonize Virginia, as the Atlantic seaboard region was called.

To the first or London Company was granted the right to plant a colony anywhere along the coast between 34° and 41° of north latitude (between Cape Fear River and the Hudson). To the second or Plymouth Company was given the right to plant a colony anywhere between 38° and 45° (between the Potomac River and the Bay of Fundy). Each company was to have a tract of land one hundred miles square - fifty miles along the coast each way from the first settlement and one hundred miles inland; and to prevent overlapping, it was provided that the company last to settle should not locate within one hundred miles of the other company's settlement.

THE COLONY ON THE KENNEBEC. - The charter having been granted, each company set about securing emigrants. To get them was not difficult, for in England at that day there were many people whose condition was so desperate that they were glad to seek a new home beyond the sea. [16] In a few months, therefore, the Plymouth Company sent out its first party of colonists; but the ship was seized by the Spaniards. The next year (1607) the company sent out one hundred or more settlers in two ships. They landed in August at the mouth of the Kennebec River, and built a fort, a church, a storehouse, and fifteen log cabins. These men were wholly unfit for life in a wilderness, and in December about half went home in the ships in which they came. The others passed a dismal winter, and when a relief ship arrived in the spring, all went back, and the Plymouth Company's attempt to colonize ended in failure.

THE COLONY ON THE JAMES. - Meanwhile another band of Englishmen (one hundred and forty-three in number) had been sent out by the London Company to found a colony in what is now Virginia. They set sail in December, 1606, in three ships under Captain Newport, and in April, 1607, reached the entrance of Chesapeake Bay. Sailing westward across the bay, the ships entered a river which was named the James in honor of the king, and on the bank of this river the party landed and founded Jamestown (map, p. 44). With this event began the permanent occupation of American soil by Englishmen. At this time, more than a hundred years after the voyages of Columbus, the only other European settlers on the Atlantic coast of the United States were the Spaniards in Florida.


1. The Huguenots tried to found French colonies on the coast of South Carolina (1562) and of Florida (1564); but both attempts failed.

2. In 1565 all America, save Brazil, either was in Spanish hands, or was claimed by Spain and not yet occupied.

3. During the next twenty years English sailors began to fight Spaniards, Drake sailed around the globe, Frobisher explored the far north, and Sir Humphrey Gilbert attempted to plant a colony in Newfoundland.

4. Gilbert's half-brother Raleigh then took up the work of colonization, but his attempts to plant a colony at Roanoke Island ended in failure.

5. The attacks of English buccaneers on the American colonies of Spain led to a war (1585-1604), in which the most memorable event was the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

6. After the war two companies were chartered to plant English colonies in America. The Plymouth Company's colony was a failure, but in 1607 the London Company founded Jamestown.


[1] The forests supplied the trees for timbers. The seams were calked with the moss that hung in clusters from the branches, and then smeared with pitch from the pines. The Indians made them a rude sort of rope for cordage, and for sails they sewed together bedding and shirts. On the voyage home they ate their shoes and leather jerkins. Read Kirk Munroe's Flamingo Feather.

[2] These men were adventurers, not true colonists, and little disposed to endure the toil, hunger, and dreariness of a life in the wilderness. It was not long, therefore, before the boldest of them seized two little vessels and sailed away to plunder Spaniards in the West Indies. Famine drove them into Havana, where to save their necks they told what was going on in Florida. Sixty-six mutineers presently seized two other vessels and turned buccaneers. But the survivors were forced to return to Fort Caroline, where the leaders were put to death.

[3] Some of these and many others, who were shipwrecked with Ribaut, afterward surrendered and were killed. As Florida was considered Spanish territory the French had no right to settle there, so the French king did nothing more than protest to Spain. Read the story of the French in Florida as told by Parkman, in Pioneers of France in the New World, pp. 28-162.

[4] Read Fiske's Old Virginia and her Neighbours, Vol. I, pp. 19-20.

[5] Read Kingsley's Westward Ho! and Barnes's Drake and his Yeomen. On returning to England in 1573, Drake reached Plymouth on a Sunday, during church time. So great was the excitement that the people left the church during the sermon, in order to get sight of him.

[6] On his return in 1580 Queen Elizabeth knighted Drake on his own deck. A chair made from the timbers of his vessel (the Golden Hind ) is now at Oxford. Read Fiske's Old Virginia and her Neighbours, Vol. I, pp. 26-28.

[7] In 1576 Frobisher, when in search of a northwest passage to China, made his way through Arctic ice to the bay which now bears his name. Two more voyages were made to the far north in search of gold.

[8] The ships were overtaken off the Azores by a furious gale. Gilbert's vessel was a very little one, so he was urged to come aboard his larger consort; but he refused to desert his companions, and replied, "Do not fear; heaven is as near by water as by land."

[9] Queen Elizabeth had declared she would recognize no Spanish claim to American territory not founded on discovery and settlement. Raleigh was authorized, therefore, to hold by homage heathen lands, not actually possessed and inhabited by Christian people, which he might discover within the next six years.

[10] The colonists took home some tobacco, which at that time was greatly prized in England. When Columbus reached the island of Cuba in 1492, two of his followers, sent on an errand into the interior, met natives who rolled certain dried leaves into tubes, and, lighting one end with a firebrand, drew the smoke into their bodies and puffed it out. This was the first time that Europeans had seen cigars smoked. The Spaniards carried tobacco to Europe, and its use spread rapidly. There is a story to the effect that a servant entering a room one morning and seeing smoke issuing from Raleigh's mouth, thought he was on fire and dashed water in his face.

[11] On Roanoke Island, August 18, 1587, a girl was born and named Virginia. She was the granddaughter of Governor White and the daughter of Eleanor and Ananias Dare, and the first child of English parents born on the soil of what is now the United States.

[12] The settlers had agreed that if they left Roanoke before White returned, the name of the place to which they went should be cut on a tree, and a cross added if they were in distress. When White returned the blockhouse was in ruins, and cut on a tree was the name of a near-by island. A storm prevented the ship going thither, and despite White's protests he was carried back to England. What became of the colony, no man knows.

[13] Raleigh was an important figure in English history for many years after the failure of his Roanoke colony. When Queen Elizabeth died (1603), he fell into disfavor with her successor, King James I. He was falsely accused of treason and thrown into prison, where he remained during twelve years. There he wrote his History of the World. After a short period of liberty, Raleigh was beheaded. As he stood on the scaffold he asked for the ax, and said, "This is a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all diseases."

[14] Read Fiske's Old Virginia and her Neighbours, Vol. I, pp. 33-38.

[15] The Elizabeth Islands are close to the south coast of Massachusetts. A few miles farther south Gosnold found another small island which he named Marthas Vineyard. Later explorers by mistake shifted the name Marthas Vineyard to a large island near by, and the little island which Gosnold found is now called No Mans Land (map, p. 59).

[16] The industrial condition of England was changing. The end of the long war with Spain had thrown thousands of soldiers out of employment; the turning of plow land into sheep farms left thousands of laborers without work; manufactures were still in too primitive a state to provide employment for all who needed it.