(ORDO NEWS) — On September 16, 1620, 102 English colonists sailed for North America on the Mayflower. These deeply religious people did not accept the Anglican Church and sought to achieve greater freedom of religion. Having crossed the Atlantic in two months, the pilgrims signed the so-called “Mayflower Agreement”, the principles of which formed the basis of later American documents. It was with the journey of the Mayflower that the purposeful colonization of North America began.
English colonists managed to gain a foothold in North America only at the beginning of the 17th century. In 1606, King James I bestowed the charter of the Virginia Company. It included the London and Plymouth branches, engaged in the development of the north-east coast of America, including the delivery of British colonists to the continent. Numerous immigrants traveled to the New World with families and even entire communities at their own expense.
It was assumed that the Plymouth Company would manage the settlements that are located in the northern part of the continent, and the southern territories, along with all the colonies, would go under the jurisdiction of the London Company. As a result, the Plymouth agents were not very successful in settling distant American lands, but the London group achieved visible success, organizing a colony on the southern coast of the Chesapeake Bay.
In 1607, a town called Jamestown grew up on the banks of the James River.
At first, it seemed that the venture was doomed to failure: the colonists who arrived from England did not find any deposits of precious metals, or the north-western passage to India. Investors in the metropolis were understandably disappointed because they did not see any sources of get rich quick. The colonists themselves also had a hard time: interruptions in food supplies, a hostile environment of Indian tribes, repeated outbreaks of malaria – all this naturally reduced the morale of the settlers.
On the other hand, virgin forests, stretching for more than 2,000 km along the entire Atlantic coast, abounded with everything necessary for the construction of houses and ships, and the rich nature satisfied the needs of the colonists for food. The more and more frequent calls of European ships into the natural bays of the coast provided them with goods not produced in the colonies.
For the sake of income, the colonists established the import of goods into the metropolis. In 1608, the first ship sailed to England with a cargo of timber and iron ore.
In 1610-1620, things began to improve: the colonists discovered a promising agricultural crop – tobacco, and began to cultivate it with enthusiasm. They defended their land rights against the Indians for many years and achieved self-government through a representative assembly. Within a few years, Jamestown became a thriving city thanks to the extensive tobacco plantations established there in 1609, which became the main source of income for the residents.
In the conditions of economic recovery in agriculture, there was an acute shortage of labor. The colonists had to hire hired workers (servants) and even use slave labor on a small scale. In 1619, a Dutch ship arrived in Virginia with the first black Africans, twenty of whom were immediately bought by the colonists as servants.
Blacks were made slaves for life, and slave status in Virginia and Maryland became hereditary in the 1660s.
“Not all settlers came to America for gold or other benefits, many emigrated in search of religious freedom,” notes American historian Robert Rimini. – After the Protestant Reformation and religious wars between representatives of various sects and religions, persecution for religious reasons was in the order of things. In England, monarchs led the Anglican Church, which opposed the Roman Catholic Church, although Anglicanism retained many Catholic rites and rituals. Protestants who believed that the Church of England needed to be cleansed of such attributes became known as the Puritans. Even more radical Protestants sought to separate from the Church of England altogether. ”
Exactly 400 years ago, an event occurred that went down in American history as the beginning of the purposeful colonization of the continent by the British. On September 16, 1620, 102 pilgrims sailed from Plymouth to the New World aboard the Mayflower galleon. These people chose to leave the bosom of the Anglican Church, being dissatisfied with its religious hierarchy, dogmas and rituals, which, in their opinion, were too reminiscent of Catholic ones. Initially, a group of English religious dissidents, striving for even greater religious freedom, fled to Holland, whose authorities showed religious tolerance. The pilgrims, however, never managed to adapt to the local lifestyle. After receiving permission from the London Company to settle in Virginia, they left Holland, sailing to the New World.
The two-month voyage in the Atlantic Ocean turned out to be difficult. Due to storms and gales, the ship deviated far north. Two people died on the way. One child was born on the ship and named Oceanus Hopkins.
Initially, the pilgrims planned to establish their colony in northern Virginia, but their ship went off course and on November 21, 1620, moored ashore 200 miles from the intended point – at Cape Cod on the shores of Massachusetts Bay. Here they founded the settlement of Plymouth.
Finding themselves outside the zone of influence of the Virginia Company, the pilgrims decided to develop their own code of life in the New World.
While still on deck, all 41 adult men, heads of families, signed the document that went down in history as the “Mayflower Agreement.” The settlers agreed to “unite in a civil political organism to maintain better order and security” and vowed to “follow and obey the laws, ordinances, acts, regulations and institutions that serve the common good of the colony.” These principles were later developed in similar agreements reached by the colonists of Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, and in later documents of American history. The Pilgrim Document became, over time, a symbol of democratic self-government. After signing, John Carver was elected governor.
The Mayflower Agreement was the first of many documents that declared the principles that later became the basis of government and the political system of the inhabitants of the New World. Later, it became a custom among Americans to use a written document as an authoritative source in proclaiming the principles and procedures by which all members of society should be guided.
As explained by the political leader of the colonists, William Bradford, the importance of maintaining order was compounded by the “terrible and desolate savagery full of terrible beasts and uncivilized people” in which his charges were to live. There was another reason for these people to unite: they saw themselves as part of some divine plan to purify religion.
On November 25, small groups of pilgrims began to land on the coast and explore the new land. Almost immediately they were attacked by the Indians. Thanks to firearms, the settlers emerged victorious from the armed conflict.
To a certain extent, they were lucky: two indigenous people, Scanto from the Potaxet tribe and Samoset from the Pemakweed tribe, spoke a little English and were friendly towards Europeans. The Indians taught the pilgrims how to grow corn and showed the places for fishing and hunting. The colony survived and flourished, and the colonists thanked God for their happy fate. Today, tens of millions of US residents have at least one Pilgrim ancestor.
“Having lost half of the members of their community, but survived in a land they had not yet known in the harsh conditions of the first American winter and the subsequent crop failure, the colonists set an example for their compatriots and other Europeans arriving in the New World ready for the hardships that awaited them. After 1630, no less than a dozen small towns arose in the Plymouth Colony, in which the newly arrived English Puritans settled. The immigration wave of 1630-1643 brought about 20 thousand people to New England, at least 45 thousand more chose the colonies of the American South or the island of Central America for their place of residence, “summarizes the head of the department of the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences Edward Ivanyan in” History of the USA “.
During the first 75 years of the development of North America, 13 colonies appeared.
The settlers occupied unpopulated areas or exchanged land for a song from the Indians. In addition to the British, the Dutch, Spaniards and French tried to gain a foothold here. Bloody skirmishes often took place between them. But the rapid development of the northeastern lands, and even more so the advance into the interior of the continent, beyond the Appalachian mountains, was hampered by the lack of roads, impenetrable forests and mountains, as well as a dangerous neighborhood with the hostile Indian tribes
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