The Europeans

North America was first populated by the migration of Asian tribes across the Bering Strait and perhaps also across the Pacific.[1] Their c40,000-year old archaeological remains have been discovered along the Arctic and Pacific coasts.[2] The Irish were among the first Europeans to arrive on the East coast probably using coracles in the sixth century while the Irish Scotti were settling in Scotland.[3] Vikings followed in the tenth century, when Leif Eriksson landed in Newfoundland.[4] By then the original Asians had become the many Indian nations of hunter-gatherer and farming tribes who had long traded basic commodities amongst themselves. The initial European colonisers were probably the Norse - albeit they failed at l'Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. The Spanish are the next widely-accepted colonisers, accidentally coming upon the Caribbean islands and the Americas en-route to China. However, there is evidence that the Portuguese established the first European colony in the Americas on the island of Puerto Rico.[5] By the end of the fifteenth century Asian spices and silks, and the potential trade profits to be made with China, were irresistible lures to European monarchs and their explorers. The Roman Catholic Church also exerted influence in seeking conversions to Christianity, at the height of the European Inquisition.

World Colonisation: c1754


With the end of the Crusades and the expulsion of the Muslims from Europe a new sense of European identity swept the continent. India and China had been trading through the Arabs for millennia and Europeans had become accustomed to Asian spices. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 was soon followed by the Mamluk Ottoman Turkish sultans closure of the 'silk road'. This ended Europe's direct overland access to Asia. The awareness of Asian wealth and the desire for spices motivated Europeans to find a sea route to 'Cathay' (China, India, and south-eastern Asia), and the Moluccan 'spice islands' of Ternate and Tidore to establish direct trade access. The Chinese had then led the world in naval and survey developments for centuries, but in the early fifteenth century Chinese maps may have been made available to Europe. With Improved naval and navigation technology and methods of public financing led to world exploration and a race to establish new world empires. These new worlds lay in Africa, Australia, and Asia, as well as the Americas, but my interests lie in the American sphere.

 'We came here to serve God, and also to get rich', announced Bernal Diaz with the Spanish explorer and conqueror Hernán Cortés: so much for Spanish motives. Although their initial impetus had been trade with the Chinese the Spanish, Portuguese, and English quickly switched to mining and farming the limitless new land: the French stuck to furs. Led by the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English slave traders brought in 'black gold'. Africans who had been bought and sold as slaves to replace the native Indians, killed by European diseases, as free labour for the sugar, tobacco, and other farms then being established.[6] The French wanted Canadian furs and Jesuit souls, and brought significant numbers of missionaries, the Spanish also wanted souls - as well as Peruvian silver and gold. But the English wanted American land and settlements. With nearly mutually-exclusive interests and areas, surely there was no need for violence? But violence there was in plenty. After finally losing the Anglo-Dutch Wars in 1692, the Dutch gave up America to the English, but kept the profitable Caribbean and South American lands. England, France, and the Netherlands all authorised piracy against the Spanish treasure fleets.

Colonial Americas: c1750


As the exploration confirmed and extended early maps and improved European understanding fear of the great distance and challenges was reduced. Private companies and citizens began to arrive in the new colonies. Beginning with Spain and the establishment of New Spain (España Nueva) most of these colonial nations used similar terms for their new colonies. By the mid-1600s there were a New France (la Nouvelle France), New England, New Scotland (Nova Scotia), New Netherlands (Nieuw Nederlands), and a New Sweden (Nya Sverige). The Portuguese settled on Terra de Vera Cruz (the Land of the True Cross, now Brazil). Most countries were interested in increasing their living space and spreading their culture, however, the French seemed more focused on trade than settlement. unlike England and Spain the French did not, or could not, encourage mass re-settlement into New France (Canada).

Jacques Cartier's voyage and Spanish activity spurred French interest in colonisation. The first French colony was Charlesbourg Royale, just west of Québec City. However, the intended 200 colonists did not arrive until 1542 and after only one winter, Indians, and scurvy the colonists returned to France in 1543.[7] The French were more successful with Tadoussac, which after an earlier failure was finally established as a trading post in 1599..[8] European navigation skills and increasing ambition pushed ships across the Atlantic and in 1607 the English finally settled a permanent colony at Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown was settled the year before the French Sieur de Champlain established a permanent French colony at Québec City in 1608.[9] When Champlain and his three ships arrived at Tadoussac he left his large ships and the French colonists were all transferred to small boats for their final run up to Québec.[10] French interests in America were almost exclusively commercial and focused on finding and developing the fur trade. By the early 1600s French traders were shipping 100,000 beaver pelts annually to Europe to make men's felt hats. Louis XIV was not interested in developing large colonies like the English, evidently the French liked living in France.

The Europeans discovered that although this was not the China the kings and explorers had hoped for, the land was very wealthy in furs, fish, timber, crops and precious metals. The Americas were worth fighting for. The English began to attack Québec in 1629 and Acadia (now Canada's Maritime Provinces and part of the State of Maine), changed hands many times. Because the Acadians were remote from Paris, London and even Québec, the Acadians became very independent people and profited by trading with Boston, despite national wars. In 1621 James I established Nova Scotia in the badly defined Acadia.

The Nova Scotia Baronage, the source of the Mackenzie of Coul baronetcy, was created in 1624 to raise money (£1,350 each) for colonisation and because Charles I was broke he soon sold the colony back to France in 1632. During the period from 1620 to 1640, the English and French occupied the Caribbean Antilles Islands, while the Dutch raided the Spanish flow of gold and silver back to Spain. The Dutch settled New York (Nieuw Amsterdam) in 1623, although the entire colony was seized by the English in 1664. Despite England, in 1674 the Dutchman Captain Jurriaen Aernoutz was paid by Boston to attack French Acadian settlements. Aernoutz decided to claim much of the future Canadian Province of New Brunswick as part of New Holland. The Dutchman had sailed up the St John River (into New Brunswick, Canada) and (temporarily) captured both Pentagouét Fort Jemseg, but no Dutch colonists were ever sent to settle the area.[11]

There were fierce problems to be overcome by any hardy settlers, regardless of nationality or locale. The humid equatorial climate (mosquitoes carry yellow fever there) killed Europeans nearly as fast as smallpox had killed the native Indians. The tremendous snows and cold further north were equal killers and added to scurvy as major headaches. While snow was a problem in the north, weather and hurricanes were problems in the warmer areas. Those Indians not killed by disease were often unfriendly and resented the intrusion from Europe. Many Indians resisted European Christian missionaries, whom they understood to threaten the Indian way of life. The following account is particularly gruesome:

In 1642, Father Isaac Jogues was captured near Schenectady. He was tortured and Mohawks gnawed off his fingers. He survived and was kept as a slave before escaping a year later. In 1648 he returned to the New World and was soon recaptured. He was beaten and the flesh cut off his body in strips before he was killed.

In 1689, England and France went to war, which extended into the Americas. The English armed the Iroquois who were then still fighting the French. In 1689 the Iroquois burned homes, killed women and children, and mutilated their bodies. The Iroquois attacks forced the French to abandon several western settlements. The French struck back against the English colonists, at Portland and Schenectady and killed 162, men, women and children and terrified the English colonists. In 1690, an English force sailed from Boston in 34 ships and captured Acadia (primarily Nova Scotia). The English reached Québec and demanded its surrender: but were repelled. The war in Europe exhaustted both the French and English, and in 1697 the two powers agreed to The Peace of Ryswick. Meanwhile, the French settled the Caribbean islands of: Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St Dominique (now Haiti), where Frenchmen operated sugar plantations and worked slaves.

The only serious challenge to British continental control was the French who had built key forts along the Ohio River routes into the Mississippi and down to the Gulf. The French had established a main road between Montréal and Québec, and they had shipyards, tar factories, and sawmills, which operated along the St Lawrence. A French heavy industrial forge at Trois Rivières produced stoves, pots and ploughs by 1738. Strategically the British were surrounded by the French, but there were only 70,000 Frenchmen surrounding 2,000,000 better-supported New Englanders.[12] The real surprise is that the French succeeded for as long as they did.

England, France, and the Netherlands grew stronger and moved from fighting the Spanish over religion to fighting each other over economics. The English levied economic sanctions against the Dutch in the 1650s and the two nations were at war three times in the next two decades, while New York became English in 1664. Louis XIV also pursued an aggressive expansionist policy in France. While European warfare continued towards the end of the seventeenth century, affairs in the Caribbean became more settled. The colonies were more important and the adverse economic effects of piracy were more apparent. The English increased their numbers and stationed a naval squadron at Port Royal on Jamaica from the 1680s. Privateering became rarer and naval pirate-hunting more common in the eighteenth century; although the Spanish established a Costa Guarda of privateers. In the eighteenth century Spain became more aggressive and occupied America from Texas (1718) to California (1767) extending Spanish authority to the Mississippi. The aggressive Spanish Guarda Costa caused the 1739 War of Jenkins’ Ear as a British retaliation to Spanish treatment of captive Englishmen. The English attacked Cartagena in 1741, and four Jamaican battalions were first named ‘Americans’. Russian interests were focused on the furs and gold from coastal Alaska to California. The 1783 Treaty of Paris exchanged Florida, which went through the French to the British, for Louisiana, which in turn was later ceded by France to Spain. In the 1800s 50,000,000 Europeans left to settle in the Americas.[13]


Viking Spread


The Vikings settled both Iceland and in 982 Erik the Red established a colony on Greenland. It was his son Leif, of course, who followed up a sighting of land now known to have been Newfoundland. The land of Leif's interest and colony was called Vinland and with the 1960's discovery of L'Anse aux Meadows, that land has been identified as Newfoundland. (The apparent dichotomy of the evident warmer temperatures than now experienced in Newfoundland are explained by the known climatic change then warming the northern regions. Vikings were recorded as sailing around Greenland, despite its later becoming ice-bound. Current global warming has again enabled circumnavigation.) Leif's colony was established in c1000.[14]

What is more clear is that the colony only lasted a few years. It also seems probably that L'Anse aux Meadows was used as a summer staging camp for perhaps several more decades. It also seems probable that the Norse sailed back to Labrador (now a district of Newfoundland) to harvest timber. It may be that the Norse gathered timber and traded with the local Indians along the Labrador and Newfound coasts for centuries. There are unconfirmed possibilities of other Viking colonies having also been established in central Canada, or even further south in the are of the northern United States.

A 1267 letter from the Archbishop of Nidros informs the pope that the Archbishop's overseas realm is so large that it will take 5 years to collect the taxes.  Payments were then apparently made in the form of marine products and animal hides most of which come from North American mammals such as beavers, foxes, and black bears.  Thus, thriving Norse colonies are implied for the East Coast region of North America. A report in the 1347 Icelandic Annals notes the arrival of a Norse ship bearing a load of lumber from Markland (identified as Labrador, Newfoundland).  The Icelanders had little native timber for ship-building and routinely shipped lumber along the route of the Gulf Stream current. This was then so common, that it is even indicated on the Hans Resen map of 1605.[15] The implication is perhaps for temporary visits, more than permanent colonies.


Teotihuacán, Mexico: 100 AD


They were definitely not Europeans, but they also appear to have established colonies in America. The Teotihuacán civilisation rose to dominate Mesoamerica in c100-500 AD. Their origins are unknown, but apparently they were influenced by the Olmecs and had trading contact with and influenced the Maya. The Teotihuacán were probably the the conquerors of the Mayan centers of Tikal and Peten.[16]

The later Mexica empire in Central America perhaps became burdened by its own success, over-population, and possible climate change apparently created social pressures for major structural changes in their culture. What resulted is not well-documented, but might be inferred in the spread of maize (commonly called corn in North America) at least as far as the Hurons north of Lake Ontario in Canada.[17]

Between Canada and Mexico there is a trail of ancient earth mounds, resembling the Aztec and Mayan stone structures. Historical estimates suggest that both maize and tobacco were brought north intothe Mississippi region out of Mexico with migrating tribes in c700. The central Mexican metropolis of Teotihuacán had perhaps become over-populated by up to an estimated 250,000 people, but the city declined after droughts in 535-536. By 550 AD, Teotihuacan had lost much of its influence in the outer reaches of Mesoamerica.  Although they were evidently dominated by an elite, the people themselves are known to have been skilled craftsmen and traders and would have been aware of northern lands.

The thesis is that some Aztec component tribes (arguably the Mexica) left their over-crowded region and migrated north. The wide Mississippi River separates two series of mounds, similar in shape to those of the Teotihuacán, which extend northwards to the mid-west and inland from the Atlantic. The Mexica were traders and might have traded their knowledge of Maize, construction, language, etc, for acceptance and space. The alternative is that the Mexica merely began the migration to 'El Norte'. The judgment of what constitutes colonisation is difficult in this case, without more evidence.[18]


If the Europeans were in a rush to trade with China, it seems reasonable to anticipate some trading interest by the Chinese. Ming China is known to have had both a large population and a large navy. Although the evidence is limited, Gavin Menzies has controversially postulated a Chinese world exploration, which included the Americas. His thesis is laid out in his book 1421.[19]

Ming Chinese junk


The basis for a Chinese settlement of America is highly controversial and not widely accepted by the academic community. The reputed colonisation of the Americas in 1422-1423 is in doubt and little corroborative evidence has been uncovered. The putative scientific evidence is in DNA samplings (amongst other circumstantial evidence) made sporadically across the Americas. The details of names, dates, and colonised places are not known. The guiding figure was the historical Admiral Zheng He, who is known to have made seven major voyages of exploration with large fleets.[20]

The leaders of the reputedly large Chinese expeditions were supposedly the Chinese Admiral Zhou Man down the Pacific coast, and Admiral Zhou Wen up the Atlantic coast The Chinese discovery plan was reputedly interrupted by the death of the Ming emperor, and the actual colonists may have been more accidental than deliberate. Both of the admirals' fleets suffered from shipwreck and the need to leave people behind.

Chinese Central American colonies in Mexico and Guatemala were purportedly made deliberately. Considerable evidence has been documented to suggest that Chinese lacquer and dye technologies had been passed to the local Indians, arguably in trade for jade jewelry and Cholula-ware porcelain. Both the local Indian lacquer work and dyes use techniques and products that apparently parallel those found in China. Gavin Menzies (1421) makes a case for the trade in his description of the available evidence.

There are reports of early European explorers encountering 'yellow men in robes, and women in pantaloons'. There are further reports of 'ships as big as houses', and Asian plants and animals - notably four types of Asiatic chickens. It seems possible that the Chinese established a colony in the Queen Charlotte Islands and on Vancouver Island in Canada. This has been postulated by a variety of apparent evidence including DNA sampling of the local populations. The totem pole may be Chinese, not North American Indian. However, the Chinese dimension in the Americas seems suspect until more evidence is forthcoming and has been widely accepted.


The first permanent European colony was Portuguese established by the order of Prince Henry the Navigator on the island of Antilia, and the Caribbean islands are still referred to as the Antilles. Antilia is called Puerto Rico today, but in 1431 Prince Henry's Captain Cabral landed there and left the first colonists.[21] The surviving men and women reportedly were still there in 1447, when the Island was again visited by the Portuguese, and Columbus reported their descendants were in fact still there in 1492. Since the Spanish were there in force they quickly dominated the Portuguese and Columbus had no interest in publicising their earlier achievement.


Arab Dhow with lateen sail


Henry sponsored voyages down the coast of Mauretania that were primarily slaving expeditions. They brought back the African slaves to the nearby town of Lagos for Henry's own use and sale . Prince Henry had created a Mariners' school at Sagres in southern Portugal. Henry's academic aim was to teach Portuguese sailors how to navigate into the unknown and to share techniques and knowledge. Henry's goal was to grab world trade, and especially Chinese silks and spices, for Portugal.[22] His brother, Dom Pedro, had acquired a map of the world in Venice, which he brought to Lisbon in 1428. The Portuguese treated this as a top secret state treasure because it detailed new lands and the bearings to the Moluccan spice islands of Ternate and Tidore. The origin of that map is now unknown, but the source of considerable speculation.

Prior to Henry's 1420 development of an ocean-going caravel many Mediterranean ships were galleys powered by oars. The Vikings had their longships and could raise a sail and travel for days on the ocean, but it was not a true ocean-going ship and could not withstand heavy Atlantic seas. The Arabs used the Dhow with its lateen (triangular) sail, but it was limited with the open 'sewn' side planking without ribs, and could not make long distances, although the Arabs did travel around Africa to India and China. Henry developed an improved ship by combining aspects of the large, four-masted, square-sailed, carrack (often 1,000+ tons, with a high superstructure) with the smaller Arab dhow which had triangular sails. The 50-100 ton caravel was given an added keel and had reduced superstructure: the lateen sails enabled the caravel to sail into the wind (unlike the carrack). Later caravels had both square and lateen sails.[23] We know Henry pushed the Portuguese captains to overcome their fears of the unknown African and Atlantic waters and sail down Africa - despite their sailors' fears of the 'place where the earth ends'. (Some people did really believe that the earth was flat as the much older Greek and Roman information had been lost) The sailors learned all the latest techniques and technologies of navigating and sailing at the school at Sagres.

The Spanish Rodrigo de Borja, known to history as Pope Alexandro VI decreed that all lands west of a meridian '100 leagues west of the Azores' should be Spanish. The Spanish did not complain in 1500 when Pedro Álvares Cabral claimed Brazil for Portugal since the 'line' had been moved to allow Brazil. The history of Portuguese colonialism includes wide-spread enslavement of natives - including Brazilian Indians. For 300 years the Portuguese kept Brazil as a colony and imported millions of African slaves. The Portuguese exploited the hard brazilwood for both dye and timber. After settlers were persuaded to come, Brazil yielded both sugarcane and gold. The Portuguese founded their colonial capital Salvador in 1549 in the north, and Rio de Janeiro in the south in 1567. Sadly the natives were often exterminated as well as enslaved. Brazilian independence was gained by 1825.[24]


The first documented, modern Europeans were with the Spanish Christopher Columbus, who first landed on Watling's Island (which he called San Salvador) in 1492 in the Bahamas, and then colonised Hispaniola. Columbus was a great navigator but poor sdministrator and he soon began to kill the Tainos Indians, and took an additional 25 Indians back to Spain. After Columbus, early Spanish explorers founded colonies in Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, Central America and throughout South America. Spanish rule was imposed in much of the Americas with a structure of viceroyalties, which governed a vast expansion of territorial control. The effect of this new empire was to exploit brutally the native Indians, and African slaves, and to seize the resources to create an enormous transfer of wealth from the Americas to Spain.[25] Treasure fleets moved gold, silver, and jewels to Seville and created the funds to pay for Spanish wars and made a profitable world for pirates. A series of independence movements began in the nineteenth century, which resulted in the loss of most of the Spanish colonies. Spanish government lasted until the American occupation of Cuba and Puerto Rico in 1898.

Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés Pizarro, I Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca conquered Mexico in 1521


Many of Spain's men had been active in the Reconquista of the recovery of Spain from the Moors, or Muslims and brought military discipline and training. Many of Spain's colonial leaders were conquistadores and were driven to conquer or die. Although many examples of extreme cruelty are known, the conquistadores established a reputation for fearlessness and surmounted incredible odds. By the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas the world was divided between the Spanish and the Portuguese giving Spain control of the Americas, and Africa, Brazil, and India went to Portugal. Spain used her 'New World' colonies for trading with Indians, religious conversion, and as bases for further exploration. The Spaniards were committed by royal decree to converting the Indians to Christianity, often by force. However, out of Christian duty, and to keep a close rein on its New World colonies, the Spanish monarchs consistently ordained that the natives be treated with humane respect. In 1512, Ferdinand's Laws of Burgos provided, among other things, that "no Indian shall be whipped or beaten or called 'dog' or any other name, unless it is his proper name." These and later laws were oftened ignored or watered down, but under them many Spaniards were punished for mistreating Indians.

The Spanish, early European heavyweights in America, did not last By 1600 they had built impressive new cities and had created large administrations to govern their empire. The Aztec and Inca empires had been crushed and a 'river of silver' flowed to Seville. Panama was established on the Pacific in 1519 and in 1521 Hernando Cortez enabled Vera Cruz to be built on the Mexican Gulf. Cartagena de Indias on the Colombian coast was founded in 1533 and became the de facto capital of the Viceroyalty of New Grenada. St Augustine was founded in 1565 as the first permanent settlement in North America. New Spain (Mexico) and Peru became the world’s largest silver producers and by 1560, the principal Spanish export to Seville was silver, with lesser quantities of cochineal, cattle hides, tallow and sugar.[26] Spain traded in silver and silk via the Philippines and treasure flowed to Seville. Sir Francis Drake. typified Elizabethan privateers and beginning in 1563 he raided the Spanish in the Caribbean, capturing a treasure in gold and silver at Nombre de Dios in 1573.[27]

Sadly, the Spanish explorers and soldiers (called conquistadores) also brought European diseases with them and smallpox was already found in the Spanish-controlled islands of Hispañiola (the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, and Cuba by 1505. By 1520, smallpox had spread through Mexico and had reached epidemic proportion. By the end of the century tens of millions had died and less than 5% of the native populations survived: worse, these results followed across the Americas and the Caribbean.[28] By the 1600s, After a 95% death-rate, newly-arrived Europeans described the land as empty and chided the native Indians for not having occupied the empty spaces. Many of the cities built by the Pre-columbian Indians and abandoned after their wholesale death have since been found as mute testimony to their pre-Columbian existence.

From the beginning, the Spaniards sought wealth and silver mining, sugar cane plantations became primary economic interests. Their major conquests were Mexico, taken from the Aztecs by Cortés in 1521; and Peru, captured by Francisco Pizarro González, 1st Marqués de los Atabillos in 1533. The Spanish were brutal in their fighting and were helped in their conquests by the spreading European diseases. Most of the Spanish conquistadores were members of the aristocracy and did not undertake physical labour themselves. The native Indians died as slaves, and beginning in 1532 the Spanish imported Africans for manual labor. In some areas, particularly in Mexico, the Spaniards married Indian women and created a new race of mixed blood. The mixed-blood mestizo children were socially ostracised and economically penalised by the European Spaniards. Escaped slaves also married Indians.


New Spain c1600


Colonisation was a little more complex and risky than merely sailing across the Atlantic and setting up shop and several early attempts at settlement failed. The Spanish became more serious about colonization when Florida's security was threatened by the French Huguenots under Jean Ribault, who attempted to establish a colony at Fort Caroline. Spain's response by Phillip II was to commission Pedro Menendez de Aviles as Gobernador to eliminate the French threat and set up a permanent Spanish colony at St Augustine, which he did in 1565. Menendez was no shrinking violet and he murdered all the Frenchmen after ruthlessly tracking them down.

In 1700 Carlos II, the last Habsburg emperor, died and willed Spain to France. England, Austria and the Netherlands declared war to separate the Bourbon crowns of France and Spain. At the same time in British North America commanders often got it wrong in trying to balance their movements with London's co-ordinated global policies. In the American colonies there were the additional problems of trackless forests and the risk of surprise Indian attacks. For Britain this lack of co-ordination would later lead to the American Revolution: for the French it would be the loss of empire and a drive for revenge. The Spanish were occupied in the Caribbean and the American south. Spain was distracted by pirates who were drawn like flies to Spanish treasure. Captain William Kidd was captured in 1700, and Blackbeard (Captain Teach) was killed in 1718.[29] With them gone the piracy menace was virtually ended.

France took control of parts of the Spanish empire and Florida fell first to the British, and then to the Americans. Mexico and Louisiana also became French interests, although Texas and California were sized by the Americans. Mexico later rebelled and formed an independent republic. Although all the Caribbean islands had been first claimed by Spain, England, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark all picked off some islands and fought over others.


Trade promted France to join the race to find a western route to China. The search for a western access to China led the French king François I to hire the Italian Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524 to explore the Atlantic coast north of Florida. Verrazano did discover the harbour of what would be New York, but he did not find a route to China. François next sent Jacques Cartier to explore further north along Newfoundland and the St Lawrence River (le Fleuve St Laurent).

Although he was also looking for a route to China, Jacques Cartier landed in the Gaspé on the southern shore of the St Lawrence Bay in 1534. He named and claimed Canada on 24 July 1534 as the land along the St Lawrence River. Cartier took the word Canada from the Huron-Iroquois Indian word for village (kanata). He called the native Iroquois Indians Canadiennes and visited their large Indian villages at the future cities of both Québec and Montréal. During his third voyage to Canada in 1541, Cartier founded the first French colony, which he called Charlesbourg-Royal near Québec City at the junction of the Cap Rouge and St Lawrence Rivers. After survivng two Canadian winters and the increasingly hostile Iroquois the settlement was abandoned by Jean-François de la Rocque de Roberval in 1543. Apparently Cartier's focus was on gold and diamonds as he sent two boat-loads of worthless quartz and iron pyrites back to France in 1541.[30]

The French lost their enthusiasm for colonisation in Canada and concentrated on the immediate profits from fishing in the Grand Banks off the Atlantic coast However, persistent reports of available furs refocused French interests by the sixteenth century and the French were interested in trade and profit.[31] The first trading post at Tadoussac established the first permanent settlement in New France in 1599.[32] It was set up to support a fur trading monopoly granted by Henri IV in partnership between the merchant Francis Grave and the French naval captain Pierre Chauvin. Tadoussac was built as a seaport at the mouth of the St Lawrence River. Fur trading also brought Samuel de Champlain to New France as an observer in 1603.

La Nouvelle France: 1612


Ste Croix: 1613


Invited by King Henri IV to report on further discoveries in New France, Champlain returned with Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts in 1604.[33] That same year Champlain helped found a settlement at Ste Croix Island on the Canada/US border, in what was christened as l'Acadie (Acadia). Half the men at Ste Croix apparently died that winter, probably due to scurvy. In 1605, the settlement was moved to Port Royale in Nova Scotia, while Champlain spent the next two years exploring and mapping the coast down to Cape Cod. Champlain was a trained cartographer and made a map of the settlement, and another of the St Lawrence.

In the spring of 1608, three ships left the Norman port of Honfleur, and in June, a small group of settlers arrived at Tadoussac. On 3 July 1608, Champlain landed and fortified Québec and built three large buildings, which he called "l'Abitation", fronted by a 5m moat. This was to become la Ville de Québec. Unsurprisingly, the winter was harsh and of the 28 remaining colonists only eight survived, most having died of scurvy.[34]

In 1609, Champlain tried to be friendly with the native Hurons and Algonquins, but sadly they drew him into their war with the Iroquois. A mixed party of Indians and French paddled down the Richelieu River In July at Lake George Champlain killed two Iroquois chiefs with his arquebus (a rudementary musket) and thus set French relationships with the Iroquois. In 1611, Champlain went up the St Larence to the Indian village of Hochelaga, near modern Montréal and cleared some land to build a wall. Having lost his commercial backers, Champlain appealed to the new king, Louis XIII, for help and Louis created a position of lieutenant-general of New France and soon appointed Henri II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé as incumbent. Champlain was also appointed lieutenant with the power to appoint officers, administer justice, make treaties, conduct war, and restrain merchants. He was also enjoined to find a route to China and find gold and silver. Captain Samuel Argall established the pattern of conflict early in 1613; commissioned by the Governor of Virginia he destroyed several French settlements in Acadia along the Atlantic, including Port Royale. In 1628, during the Thirty Years' War, the English Kirke brothers captured Tadoussac and evicted Champlain from Québec in 1629.[35] Happily for Canadian history, the colony was returned to the French, after Louis XIII paid a de-facto ransom in 1632.

By 1650, Montréal had a population of 196. In 1660 that increased to 472, and Montréal's population continued to grow, reaching 2,000 in the 1690s. However, the French population remained at about only 5% of the English. The fort at Montréal was an impenetrable haven during continuous warring with the Iroquois. Montréal, rather than Québec, became the center of French trade and society, while Québec remained the seat of the colonial government. Unlike the English, the French would not support the protestant Huguenots and that limited French exploration interests to fur-traders and missionaries. From 1639 until their massacre by the Iroquois in 1649, the French Jésuits worked near Midland Ontario in Huronia at a settlement they called ‘Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons’. The missionaries had became associated with death because; they carried the European diseases which decimated the Indian population, they administered last rites, and they wore black robes. If the Hurons were peaceful, the Iroquois were not. The Iroquois destroyed both the Hurons and Jésuits in the 1640’s.

In 1667 the French signed a peace treaty with the Iroquois, which made possible expanded trade. French fur traders had also begun operating along the Missouri River as far south as the Kansas River and beyond. The French explored the Great Lakes region, and in 1672 French explorers travelled down the Mississippi River to the Arkansas River. Louis de Buade Compt de Frontenac, Governor of New France, built up Québec and established Fort Frontenac (at present-day Kingston) in 1673. He installed his friend René Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle at Fort Frontenac and La Salle rebuilt it with stone in 1678. La Salle also built Fort Niagara and explored his way down the Mississippi River to find China. (The closest he got to China was his own property in Québec, which he called Lachine.)

In 1682, René Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle led 33 Frenchmen and 31 Indians in canoes down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and back to Québec. He claimed all the lands drained by the Mississippi for France. La Salle named this vast area Louisiana in honor of Louis XIV and was rewarded with a trade monopoly in the Mississippi Valley. La Salle returned in 1684 with 400 men, to establish a Gulf colony at the Mississippi, but landed instead in Texas. In February 1685, La Salle built Fort St Louis, and claimed Texas for France, but sadly, his men revolted, killed him, and by 1690 nothing remained.[36]

Frontenac had organised a militia in Canada and he used them to defeat Sir William Phipps in his failed attack on Québec in October 1690. Ten years later, Frontenac returned as Governor to destroy Iroquois power and stop the Indian raids which had terrorised the French colonists. The adventurous Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d'Iberville captured Hudson's Bay and led French and Indians to the Dutch town of Schenectady, New York (near Burnt Hills). Frontenac had authorised a surprise attack on 8 February 1690 against New York, but the Indian scouts advised in favour of Schenectady. Colonel Peter Schuyler, then Mayor of Albany, recorded the events. At about 11 pm the mixed force killed 60 people and carried 27 into captivity. Many of the remainder fled to Albany and suffered terribly from frostbite.[37] North America was clearly set as a major locale for a hegemonic world struggle between the English and French.

Much of the early French successes were based on the highly-skilled coureurs de bois. They were men who had grown tired of life on the farm and had left to live with the Indians as fur traders and interpreters. By 1680 there were about six hundred of them out of a population of about 13,000 in New France. The most famous coureurs de bois were brothers-in-law Médard Chouart Sieur de Groseillers and Pierre-Esprit Radisson. Groseillers became frustrated with fur taxes imposed by Paris and he joined the English. They opened Hudson's Bay to fur trading and thus avoided New France and the taxes. In 1668 the Nonsuch sailed into James Bay and the next year successfully brought back a cargo of English furs. This prompted the formation of the 'Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay'. Prince Rupert was the first Governor and gave his name to an enormous empire that encompassed: the Prairies, much of the Northwest Territories, and northern Ontario and Québec.


Montcalm at Québec: 1759


The French had had continual trouble with the Indians after Champlain attacked the Iroquois. In 1634 the French had a trading-post at Trois Rivières and eight years later at Montréal: both were exposed to constant Indian terror attacks and it was only the arrival of the 1,200 men of the Carignan-Salières Régiment in 1665 that prevented disaster. Three years later the Régiment had left a permanent mark on Canadian defence and an indelible impression had been made on the Mohawk resulting in an Iroquois peace. Governor Frontenac created a colonial militia. He also initiated a Canadian tradition of the Governor General also being military Commander-in-chief. The exceptions were Baron Dieskau and the Marquis de Montcalm: both were independent Commanders-in-Chief in 1755 and 1756, respectively. Baron Dieskau was defeated in his attempted New York invasion by Sir William Johnson in the 8 September 1755 Battle at Lake George. Confidence then led the French to challenge Britain's assumption of power in North America.

French colonial strategy was to keep their colonies dependent on French shipping to ensure the continued flow of furs. That worked, but the loss of 300 ships to the English in 1755 alone seriously prejudiced the survival of New France which became ripe for picking. The French strengthened fortifications at Montréal, Québec, Fort Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, and Fort Chambly in the Richelieu River valley, which guarded the route south to the American colonies. The English built Fort Necessity south of Fort Duquesne at Pittsburgh after the 22 year old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington and 40 Virginians attacked a French party of soldiers in May 1755 killing ten out of 31 Frenchmen. Montcalm arrived in 1756 and burned Fort Oswego that year and captured both Forts William Henry on Lake George and Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain.[38] Given the distances, the overwhelmingly critical requirement was the quality of the men who would make the key decisions. After years of fumbling, the British had Sir William Pitt as prime minister and a good set of people in place by 1759.[39]

In 1759, Montcalm knew that he was isolated, his request for help had been denied by Paris the previous year and Québec (le Canada) was left on its own. British attacks in the Seven Years' War had spread Montcalm's 13,900 troops around la Ville de Québec from Beauport to the cliffs along the St Lawrence River, and up to Montréal. Many of the militia were untrained and inexperienced and their quality was clear, when Lieutenant Colonel Robert Monckton and his 385 troops were able to suprise and seize the militia and guns guarding the top of 'Anse au Foulon. This latter is a steep access ravine from the river to the cliff top. The British Major General Wolfe was able to bring 4,800 of his troops up that gully and on to the flat fields of the farmer Abraham, adjacent to Québec's walls.[40]

A rude shock greeted Major General le Marquis de Moncalm when he looked out his window in the morning on 13 September: the British army was formed and waiting. At about 0900 in the light rain Montcalm ordered five battalions forward on the Plains of Abraham.[41] French colonials who dropped to fire or stopped by a bush for cover disrupted the advancing French regular troops. Both Wolfe and Montcalm died within hours, but Wolfe's deployment of a double-rank of men across the entire field drew the French to battle. Montcalm did not wait for Colonel de Bougainville and an additional 1,500 men and the battle was over in minutes. The British soon took the city garrison on 18 September after a short siege with added naval gunfire.

The inevitable surrender of Montréal was delayed until the following year, but by then the British navy's control of the sea made the outcome certain. Bougainville caused trouble and the French success under de Lévis in the Battle of St Foy (Québec City's outskirts) on 28 April 1760, were minor irritations. Perhaps for Wolfe's successor Brigadier Murray, the unkindest cut was the French refusal to trade wintery Canada for sunny Guadaloupe in the 1763 Treaty of Paris.


Giovanni Caboto (born a Genoese and known to English history as John Cabot) sailed for Henry VII and claimed Nova Scotia for England in 1497. The English lost interest in exploration during sixteenth century, because of their concern to placate the all-powerful Spain. However, colonial interest revived after the Armada was defeated by England's improved navy. The first English Colony in the Americas was a failure begun in 1585 at Roanoke Island, south of Chesapeake Bay (in North Carolina). Queen Elizabeth I had granted permission by a patent to Sir Humphrey Gilbert to explore, claim, and colonise North America. The land patent was taken up by Humphrey's brother-in-law, Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh interested men like Sir Francis Drake and Richard Grenville and raised private money to fund the necessary expeditions.[42] The English solved their funding problems by creating commercial limited stock companies to help Raleigh. The result of the financial manoeuver was the formation of the 'Eastland Company' in 1572 to trade with Muscovy, the 'Levant Company', in 1592, and the 'East India Company' in 1600.[43]

Sir Walter Raleigh's 1587 colony at Roanoke Island vanished with no historical explanation and is now known as the 'Lost Colony'. Peace with Spain in 1604 freed English attention to focus on the successful Spanish colonisation, which had provided Europe with a model. Commercial interest in further exploration was spurred, when James I established the private 'London Company' (officially called the Charter of the Virginia Company of London) in 1606. The Roanoke failure inspired Richard Hakluyt to propose a helpful change of colonising strategy in 1589. Hakluyt suggested establishing colonial plantations for the production of naval stores like hemp. Hakluyt foresaw the increased number of ships and seamen required to carry the potential trade; he also anticipated the development of new crops to limit England's dependency on outside produce. These attractions were stimulated by the growth in England’s population and simultaneous unemployment resulting from the growth of cities and the enclosure of traditional fields.

Sugar became a key crop and spurred European competition for Caribbean colonies. These attractions stimulated interest because of the growth in England's population and the rise in unemployment. Unemployment had resulted from the rapid growth of cities and the enclosure of traditional fields. At the same time Martin Luther and Calvin's ideals had led to religious conflict in Europe, and intolerance drove both the Pilgrims and the Puritans from England as well as the later Huguenots from France. The unemployed and religious exiles created sources of colonists. Additionally, with the decline of the feudal state, monarchs were forced to raise money directly from the people and a series of new taxes and regulations created an era of uncertainty and more potential colonists. Finally, aggressive English colonising in Ireland had spurred Irishmen to leave home.

The London Company recruited settlers by promising easy gold. (The same London Company financed the 1620 Mayflower voyage and the Plymouth colony as a commercial undertaking.) This seemed plausible because of the known Spanish successes and intercepted treasure ships. By circumstance, the wool market collapsed at the same time and the surge in unemployment created a pool of interested people. The new king, James I, encouraged commercial interest in America with charters, as a cheap way of challenging Spanish domination. Although Jamestown was founded in 1607, the English were not well prepared and inexperience, disease, perhaps laziness, and conflict with the Indians, nearly finished the colony before it started.[44] Successful tobacco crops saved the Jamestown colony, as tobacco sales began to interest the English government in future profits. Since there seemed no limit to the size of farms (then termed plantations), London investors realised that the need for labour outstripped the available colonists - even with indentured servants and felons. The answer was to copy the Portuguese and Spanish and use slaves; and ship captains were sent to Africa to deal with Arab, African, and Portuguese slave-traders.

Many (crowded) Englishmen became persuaded that their destinies lay in New England and so future America was born with the seeds of independent thought, and distance from London led to independent action. Much of the early history and development in the English Colonies concerned the legal framework, responsibilities, and the authority to direct the colonists lives. The land did not always meet the initial shareholders' expectations for production and growth and profit was difficult to make. Since the shareholders were usually in England the isolated colonists wanted a voice in deciding their own affairs. In 1619 slaves arrived at Jamestown and within twenty years an additional manpower source of indenturing had been established. My relative, Catherine Weisenberg, arrived in America in 1738 as an indentured servant and was purchased for £5 by Sir William Johnson. By 1640, the colonial production value of tobacco had reached £1,000,000 and the population of Virginia had reached 8,000. In 1639 Charles I codified a series of changes by authorising Governor Wyatt "to summon the burgesses" and local representation became accepted in the colonies.[45]

The English were determined to stay and several commercial companies established settlements. Although dates are confused, Virginia was established as a settlement of the Virginia Company in 1607 and as a crown colony in 1624. Similarly, although Maine was established as a settlement in 1622, it joined the Massachusetts Bay Company settlement from 1651 until Britain formally annexed it in 1691. With the Treaty of Utrecht and the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, British North America consisted of the North American eastern seaboard, plus some Caribbean islands. This was divided into a contiguous series of twelve colonies or territories and the separate colonies of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Rupert's Land. These colonies were populated in marked contrast to the struggling New France settlements. The Spaniards held the lands from California to South America.

In 1620, Plymouth was founded and in 1630 the Puritans established Boston and ten other settlements. A series of wrangles then began about company authority in Massachusetts. This was complicated by conservative religious views, notably later in Salem with the execution of Mary Dyer in 1660 for preaching Quaker ideas. Rhode Island was granted a charter by the English parliament in 1644 and settlements grew in both New Hampshire and Maine. Lord Baltimore abandoned the colonisation of Newfoundland and established a Roman Catholic colony of Maryland in 1635. Rhode Island and Connecticut were both founded in 1636. The Dutch fought with the Algonquin Indians from 1643 to 1655. A grant for the Carolinas was made in 1653; and as a 1664 Royal Commission investigated New England, New Holland was captured to become New York.[46] Charles Town, founded in 1670, became the nearby Charleston ten years later. In 1676 William Penn and the Quakers bought part of New Jersey and in 1680 New Hampshire became a Crown Colony. The Dominion of New England was created in 1686, despite widespread civil unrest elsewhere, Phipps failed in his invasion of Canada, and the Salem witchcraft trials took place in Massachusetts. The French finally made peace with the Iroquois, and Delaware was chartered in 1701.


From 1528 the Germans Anton and Bartholomeus Welser obtained Spanish permission, but failed to settle Venezuela, St Thomas, Crab Island, and Tertholen.[47] Ambrosius Ehinger was appointed governor and landed in 1529, with over 281 settlers on the Venezuelan coast Welser established a settlement at Coro, called Klein-Venedig. In August 1529, Welser founded a colony called Neu Nürnberg at Maracaibo on September 8, 1529. By 1541 disputes had arisen with Spain, and the bankers were stripped of control of their colony in 1556. Many of the German colonists died from tropical diseases or hostile Indian attacks during frequent journeys deep into Indian territory in search of gold.


The Act of Union (between England and Scotland to create Britain) was not passed until 1707, and then English colonies became British colonies. Increasingly the colonies focused on economics. In 1690, Massachusetts had already issued its own paper money, and three years later the English Parliament banned the import of colonial wool to protect the English, domestic wool industry. In the early 1700s a series of English regulations were issued, as Pennsylvania also began to issue currency notes. Rice, wheat and indigo were all introduced into the colonies and both Virginia and Maryland passed acts to control tobacco inspection. To protect its own steel production, Parliament passed the Iron Act prohibiting colonial mills. Protectionism became a serious issue in Britain and government regulation increased to finally tip the colonies to revolution. The New England Currency Act was passed in 1751 and in 1755 Virginia issued the first paper money. The effects of these developments matured the colonies economically and because of a three thousand-mile separation their political maturity had already been demonstrated. The British became very nervous about protecting their investments in both the colonies and at home.[48] The South Sea Bubble scandal had caused financial panic in 1720 when stocks were oversold and investors were ruined. Southern plantations required people to be successful and in 1680 there were 3,000 slaves; by 1715 there were 23,000 and by 1756 there were 120,000. Indenturing had not proved a labour solution in America. Sadly, the Indian wars continued through to c1780s.


Harvard: est 1636


With the arrival of the French Huguenots to the Carolinas in 1685, the Palatine Germans in 1710 to New York and in 1720 to Pennsylvania, and in 1717 the Scots and Irish to Delaware and Boston, the English colonial domination began to end. In 1752 Georgia became a Crown colony and by 1752 Philadelphia was the third largest city in the early British Empire. Colonial government began to develop an independent American character and Lord Cornbury the Governor of New York was recalled for bad administration; but there were similar troubles in Virginia, Massachusetts, the Carolinas, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. The English had created an administrative monster but were unaware of an increasing gulf with America.

With the exception of Rupert's Land, occupied by the Hudson Bay Company as a monopoly, British colonial effort was focused in eastern America, close to British trade and support. In contrast to the British, the French had sent their voyageurs, coureurs de bois, soldiers and missionaries across the continent, particularly north of the great lakes. Prior to the 1776 American Revolution, the British colonies swelled enormously in population. In 1700, that population was 257,060, it rose to 635,083 in 1730 and grew to 1,593,625 by 1760.[49] This dramatic population growth led to cheap colonial imports and markets for British goods. Exports rose from ten percent to 37% of the total volume of English exports. The resulting fortunes were made in Britain, largely England, and colonial exploitation began to harden attitudes. The Seven Years' War changed colonial attitudes as William Pitt laid out a grand strategy that led to a series of victories (and a few debacles) and the crushing defeat of the French in 1759 at Québec and 1760 at Montréal. France was defeated in Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, and India.

The St Lawrence was open and on 25 June 1759 Admiral Sir Charles Saunders brought 168 British ships, 13,500 sailors and 8,500 soldiers to attack 16,200 defenders who were thinly spread. Major General James Wolfe made several probing attacks and suffered 643 casualties. He desperately wanted to bring Montcalm to battle, for to delay was to lose. Finally, at four o’clock on a foggy 13 September 1759, Wolfe and a small army of 4,800 troops were landed at the bottom of the 500’ high cliffs and climbed up following a dried riverbed. In the morning, the surprised Montcalm made a quick attack to disrupt a complete British deployment and siege - without his strong French detachments near Montréal and to the east He assembled his 2,900 regulars, 600 local troops and Indians, and three guns. At about nine o’clock in the light rain he ordered five battalions forward on the Plains of Abraham. Colonials who either dropped to fire or stopped by a bush for cover disrupted the advancing French regular troops. At forty yards Wolfe ordered fire and after two volleys with their flintlock muskets (inaccurate over 50 yards) it was over. After ordering his men forward both Wolfe and Montcalm were mortally wounded and the situation remained uncertain.[50]

The arrival of British reinforcements the following spring secured Montréal, Canada, and the final defeat of Colonels Lévis and de Bougainville. The British had become a world power as the Seven Years' War drew to a close in 1763. The British had tied down French power in Europe, used the British navy to project power and over-extend the French, and beaten the French soundly. The French smarted and waited their moment to repay the British. It was a stunning success. Surprisingly, the English colonists were not very grateful, since many saw the removal of the French threat, and the subsequent taxes to pay for the war as the end of their need for the British. To shore up her new colonial empire George III agreed to pass the Québec Act on 22 June 1774. This act changed the name Canada to Québec and added lands east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. This was to try to cement the French colonials' loyalties in the face of increasingly strident voices in the 13 Colonies. Some of the voices even suggested that returning French civil traditions, law, and the Roman Catholic religion would revive a French threat. Events in the adjacent 13 Colonies soon began to spiral out of control into the American Revolution. The term British North America had to be invented in 1783 to denote the remnants of Britain's American possessions.

Although Canada was created as a sovereign state out of a series of northern colonies, beginning in 1867, it remains within the British Commonwealth. An additional 12 countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America are also still British Commonwealth members.


The Dutch were first established on the Hudson River in 1613, after Henry Hudson failed to find a route to the East for the Dutch East India Company in 1609.[51] In 1621 the Dutch established a new company the Dutch West India Company (WIC) with a mandate for trade. The Dutch Estates General took over operation of the colony in 1621. Dutch settlers began to arrive in 1624 at Fort Nassau near Philadelphia and New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island. The first settlers arrived in early 1624, and put down roots in modern New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. New Netherlands was established when Manhattan was bought from the Indians for sixty guilden in 1626. The WIC imported colonists and employees for six years in return for which the colonists had to grow food to become self-sufficient and to buy from the company store. The Dutch colonists developed a lucrative fur trade with the Indians and built villages and farms throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

By 1628 WIC enthusiasm was waning and it began to grant land on the Hudson River to patroons who were obliged to bring in tenants and pay some taxes on goods. Kiliaen van Rensselaer was one of the first such successful patroons. Autocratic Dutch behaviour by the Directors was epitomised by Peter Stuyvesant and as a result New Netherlands grew very slowly to only 1300 people by 1660. Pressure from the New Englanders and Indians, and conflicts with a Swedish settlement at Fort Casimir combined with a growing pressure from the Dutch settlers for representation. These internal issues were overcome by outside events, when England and the Netherlands fought for sea control and trade. The growth of English settlement in neighboring New England and conflict between England and the Netherlands eventually spelled the end of New Netherlands, as Governor Peter Stuyvesant was forced to surrender New Amsterdam. In 1664 the English navy captured the incomplete New Amsterdam fort, the wall of which is still known as Wall Street. The short-lived Dutch colony came to an end. The Dutch colonists stayed in what became the Dominion of New York and even staged a rebellion against the English (1673-1674). However the Dutch settlers were content to farm and trade under English control.

The Dutch briefly claimed a corner of northeastern Brazil around Recife in the 1630s, but they were driven out by the Portuguese 20 years later.


In 1637, Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders formed the New Sweden Company to trade in furs and tobacco in North America.[52] Under the command of Peter Minuit, the company's first expedition reached Delaware Bay in March 1638. The settlers built Fort Christina at the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. The Swedes were not experienced in establishing overseas empires and they did not do well. A total of 11 ships and 600 Swedes and Finns arrived from both Stockholm and Gothenburg. The Swedes spent too much of their time fighting the Dutch and the mosquitoes. In 1654, Governor Johan Rising captured the Dutch Fort Casimir. Unsurprisingly, the Swedish attack provoked the Dutch Peter Stuyvesant to retaliate in 1655 with seven ships and 317 soldiers. The Swedes surrendered their sovereignty and Fort Christina and New Sweden ended in 1655. Swedish autonomy and culture continued until 1681, when the English granted William Penn a land charter, which included Swedish Delaware.

Lithuanian (Courland)

The Duchy of Courland was the smallest nation to colonize the Americas with a colony on the island of Tobago from 1654 to 1659, and intermittently from 1660 to 1689.[53] Courland had a population of only 200,000 and was itself a vassal of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at that time. On 20 May 1654, the ship Das Wappen der Herzogin von Kurland arrived carrying 45 cannons, 25 officers, 124 Courlander soldiers and 80 families of colonists to settle Tobago. Dutch settlers on the island, with a much larger population, put a stranglehold on the growth of the Courish colony. The Courlanders left Tobago in 1666, possibly after a pirate attack which occurred that year.


The Scots were not successful colonisers, despite being successful colonists.[54] The Scots were disadvantaged by their limited size and built-in English competitors. Despite a legend that Henry Sinclair, I Earl of Orkney, explored North America in the fourteenth century, the first documented Scottish colony was briefly settled in Nova Scotia in 1621, by Sir William Alexander. This settlement failed and a colony was not established until 1629. in 1624, James VI created a new order of Baronets tied to overcoming Scottish reluctance in settling Nova Scotia. In 1627, the Scots and English destroyed the main French settlement at Port Royal, where the Scots settled in 1629. However, in 1631 Nova Scotia was returned to the French. In 1625, another charter was granted by James VI for a settlement (never realised) at Cape Breton.

In 1683, Charles II granted a charter for the colony of New Jersey to be split between an English settlement in West Jersey and a Scottish settlement in East Jersey. During the 1680s, around 700 Scots emigrated to East Jersey, mostly from Aberdeen and Montrose, and around 50% of those travelled as indentured servants. Although the Province of Carolina was an English colony Two counties were purchased for Scottish settlement and in 1684, 148 Scots settlers arrived to build a short-lived settlement at Port Royal, a previous site of former French and Spanish settlements. It was briefly renamed Stuarts Town, but was attacked by 150 Spanish troops and Indian allies and wiped out in 1686.

In 1695, the Scots set up the Company of Scotland to raise private money and trade with Africa and the 'Indies'. The finances were an issue, because England and France were at war and the English did not want to goad the Spanish who had already claimed the 'Indies' as New Grenada. Although the Scots had raised funds for a colony in Panama, the English parliament refused to allow English funding. Although the funds were raised in Scotland, the amount represented a significant portion of the national wealth. (This risk became significant when the Darién Colony failed and the funds were lost. Union with England followed in 1707 and was presumed to have been linked to the loss of wealth.) In 1698, 1,200 Scottish settlers, in two expeditions, set out to found a Scottish trading colony at Darién on the isthmus of Panama. These settlers were made up of ex-soldiers, ministers of religion, merchants, sailors and the younger sons of the gentry, and were to receive 50 to 150 acres each. The settlers arrived to find a mosquito-infested land unable to support their intended crops, Spanish attacks, no European trading ships, and 400 dead by June 1699. Two more fleets left Scotland with another 1,300 colonists. The colony received no assistance from either the crown or English colonies in the West Indies or Jamaica. A 500-man Spanish expedition destroyed the colony in 1700, which was then already starving. Only 300 Scots returned to Scotland and the Scots' economy was ruined.[55]

Another Darien colony was established in Georgia in 1736 by 177 Highland Scots. The Scots had been recruited as settler-soldiers by General James Oglethorpe to act as a buffer, protecting the English Georgians from the Spanish. The Scots quickly established a number of military forts in the surrounding area and, after initial poor success in farming, concentrated on cattle rearing and the felling of timber for survival.


The Danish West India and Guinea Company settled a colony on St Thomas island first in 1672, expanded to St John in 1683, and finally bought St Croix from the French West Indies Company in 1733.[56] In 1754, these islands were sold to the Danish king, Frederik V as royal Danish colonies. Sugar cane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The islands were purchased by the United States in 1916.


The first Russian colony in Alaska was founded in 1784 by Grigory Shelikhov.[57] The Russian-American Company was formed in 1799 by Nikolay Rezanov for the purpose of hunting sea otters for their fur. The peak population of the Russian colonies was about 40,000, although most of these were Aleuts. The colony was never very profitable, due to transportation costs. At the instigation of Secretary of State William H. Seward, the U.S. Senate approved the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire on April 9, 1867.


1              For the colonisation map see Image:Colonisation 1754.png at,; and for the geography of the Americas, see Houghton Mifflin map,

2              Reader's Digest, Heritage of Canada, p. 12; Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact, at; and History of the Americas, at

3              Culdee, at

4              See Farley Mowat, WestViking, pp. 117-131; Gunnar Thompson, Ph D, Nordic Heritage of New World Discovery, at; and David Bofinger, A "More Successful Norse Colonisation of America" Timeline, at

5              Gavin Menzies, 1421, The Year China Discovered America, pp. 403-405. See also Andrew Taylor, The World of Gerard Mercator.

6              Richard Middleton, Colonial America, p. 19, the North American population was devastated by smallpox, malaria, measles, yellow fever, typhus and dysentery. For the Caribbean see Jan Rogoziñski, A Brief History of the Caribbean. For an overview see European colonization of the Americas,

7              It is asserted by Dieppese writers that a chart of the Gulf of St Lawrence was made in 1506 by Jean Denys of Honfleur, and that two years later Thomas Aubert ascended the great river for eighty leagues, and brought back to Europe seven tawny natives who were exhibited at Rouen and perhaps elsewhere in 1509.

8              Tadoussac, Québec, at

9              Also at Québec, was an Indian village of several thousand called Stadacona, at the place where the river narrows, called kebec in Algonquin, Reader's Digest, Heritage of Canada, p. 33. Champlain also established Place Royale in 1611, but Jacques Cartier's earlier (1535) name of Mont-Royale stuck. Montréal may have been named for the Bishop of Monreal in Sicily and was built on the site of the Iroquois village of Hochelaga.

10            Samuel de Champlain,

11            Nicolas Landry et Nicole Lang, Histoire de l'Acadie, p. 35, at
=web&ots=kGq3vQtQBF&sig=iJ1drYE7fomCmK80xONLR53cffo&hl=en#PPP1,M1 .

12            George Stanley, Canada’s Soldiers, p. 61, and Reader’s Digest, Heritage of Canada, p. 105.

13            European colonization of the Americas, op. cit.

14            For background and context see: Norse colonization of the Americas,; the Icelandic Saga Íslendingasögur; L'Anse aux Meadows,; RI Page, Chronicles of the Vikings; Jonathan Clements, The Vikings; Ole Klindt-Jensen and Svenolov Ehrén, The World of the Vikings; William W Fitzhugh and Elizabeth I Ward, Vikings, the North Atlantic Saga; Farley Mowat, WestViking.

15            Gunnar Thompson, op. cit.

16            Teotihuacán, at

17            David L Thorn, LITTLEWOLF ANTHROPOLOGY, at

18            Ibid; and David Bofinger, A "More Successful Norse Colonisation of America" Timeline, at

19            Gavin Menzies, 1421, The Year China Discovered America. Menzies postulates that in October 1423, a Chinese colony was established at Sacramento after Admiral Zhou Man's fleet suffered some shipwrecks. Menzies claims that further evidence exists of Chinese colonies (post ship-wrecks) in Florida and Rhode Island. In Massachusetts he says there are a large number of possibly Chinese 'standing stones'. DNA evidence allegedly confirms Chinese ancestry in both the New England and Florida areas, amongst descendent people. (There is apparently no way of knowing how long those people have been in America.) A stone tower at Newport Rhode Island allegedly defies European ancestry, but is consistent with Ming lighthouse construction. Additional DNA evidence allegedly points to Chinese DNA amongst the Aleut Indians in the Alaskan Islands, and the British Columbian Haida Indians. Additional DNA and other evidence allegedly points to colonies as widespread as the Hudson Bay, Yucatan in Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, and Brazil. Early explorers stories reported seeing both Chinese junks, yellow-skinned men, and Chinese-like jade carvings and porcelains. Peru has a mountain-top wall, which resembles the 'Great Wall', and extensive stone roads and ancient, abandoned cities have been found in Brazil's Amazonia. There is also the question of how Mexican maize reached Asia before Columbus reached America, or how Asian chickens got to South America. There is considerable evidence yet to be found to make this claim credible, and much analysis thus remains yet incomplete.

20            Ibid, and Zheng He,

21            Gavin Menzies, op. cit, pp. 403-405.

22            Henry the Navigator, at

23            See Exploration Through the Ages, at; and Caravel, at

24            Brazil,

25             Jan Rogoziñski, A Brief History of the Caribbean; Christopher Columbus, at, and Spanish colonization of the Americas, at See also; and

26            Cochineal is a paste of dried desert insects, which make carmine and a scarlet dye.

27            Stephen Coote, Drake, The Life and Legend of an Elizabethan Hero, pp., 57-59, 71-75.

28            Charles C Mann, 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, p. 104.

29            Blackbeard, at

30            Jacques Cartier,

31            French colonization of the Americas,

32            Tadoussac, Québec, at

33            Samuel de Champlain, at

34            Ibid.

35            George Stanley, Canada’s Soldiers, p. 4 recounts both of the English attacks.

36            René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, at

37            William Smith, Jr, The History of the Province of New York, volume II pp 79-80.

38            See Fred Anderson, Crucible of War, The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, pp. 393-394, 191-200, 240-249; Robert Leckie, A Few Acres of Snow, pp., 300-301; and Reader’s Digest, Heritage of Canada, p. 106.

39            Major Generals Braddock and Webb were earlier losers in the new style of American warfare. The Earl of Loudoun was too hidebound with protocol and inflexible with the tactics required to be a good commander. By his cavalier imposition of garrisoning the British troops he probably helped cause the American Revolution, and he certainly won no colonial friends by insisting that any junior British officer outranked even colonial generals. Major General James Abercrombie managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in 1758 by frontally attacking Fort Ticonderoga with 15,000 men, without any manoeuver or coordinated artillery siege. Abercrombie was not present on the battlefield, gained 2,000 British casualties, and was fired for incompetence. He was replaced by Major General Sir Jeffrey Amherst who finally began to get things right, while Major General James Wolfe succeeded in capturing Québec.

40            See Frank McLynn, 1759, pp., 290-313.

41            Abraham Martin, who had been Champlain's pilot, had a farm there c1650. Reader’s Digest, Heritage of Canada, p. 105-109.

42            Richard Middleton, Colonial America, p. 9.

43            Ibid, p. 12. Middleton also cites Hakluyt’s book The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation.

44            Jamestown Settlement, at

45             Richard Middleton, op. cit, p., 39.

46            In c1650 America consisted of New England, plus New and Oulde Virginia; the latter became the Carolinas. Newfoundland and the Caribbean colonies (Saint Kitts, Barbados, Nevis, Antigua, Barbuda , Montserrat, Bahamas, and Anguilla) were not even then considered to be part of America.

47            German colonization of the Americas,

48            I have deliberately glossed over the causes for the American Revolution, they are complex. See Fred Anderson, op. cit, pp. 557-734, for causal analysis.

49            See Jack P Greene, The Preconditions of the American Revolution, and also Richard D Brown, Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution 1760-1791, p. 63.

50            See Frank McLynn, 1759, pp., 290-313;; See Fred Anderson, op. cit, pp. 344-368. Anderson has been diligent in his research and gives a very different account of the 'dauntless hero's' planning and deployment.

51            The Dutch in America, 1609-1664,

52            The Swedish Colonial Society, at

53            Courland colonization of the Americas,

54            Scottish colonization of the Americas,

55            See Darien scheme, at; and, The Darien Scheme - The Fall of Scotland, at

56            Danish West Indies,; and Danish colonization of the Americas,

57            Russian Alaska, at, and Russian colonization of the Americas, at

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