OVERVIEW / U.S. History I
17th Century Settlements
Part 3: Restoration Colonies
English settlement of North America was seriously curtailed by the conflict between king and Parliament that led to the English Civil War and the rule of Oliver Cromwell (1649–60). Once the monarchy was restored under Charles II, however, colonization resumed. The Restoration Colonies were all proprietorships granted by Charles to men who had helped him reclaim the throne.
The Carolinas (from the Latin version of Charles, Carolus), which originally included the land from the southern border of Virginia to Spanish Florida, were given to eight proprietors in 1663. Settlers from Virginia came into the northern part of the territory in the 1650s, bringing with them the tobacco culture. Small‐scale farming and the export of lumber and pitch (tar), much in demand by English shipbuilders, were the basis of the economy. North Carolina became a separate colony in 1691. In the south, where the proprietors focused their interest, things took a different turn. Rice became the staple crop by the 1690s. Because its production was extremely labor intensive, African slaves were imported to drain the swamps and work the fields. The reliance on slaves is not surprising. Not only was the supply of indentured servants limited, but many of the early settlers came from the English colonies in the Caribbean, most notably Barbados, where slavery was well established.
Like many Restoration Colonies, South Carolina attracted diverse religious and ethnic groups. In addition to colonists from Barbados, who were mostly Anglicans, there were German Lutherans, Scotch‐Irish Presbyterians, Welsh Baptists, and Spanish Jews. This mix did not promote stability. Relations with the Indians often turned violent as whites enslaved native tribes as well as blacks. The inability of the proprietors to maintain order led to South Carolina's becoming a royal colony in 1729.
FROM NEW NETHERLAND TO NEW YORK
The Dutch established two trading posts in 1614: one on Manhattan Island and one to the north on the Hudson River at Albany's present location. A decade later, the newly formed Dutch West India Company set up the first permanent settlements, the most important of which was New Amsterdam on Manhattan; it became the capital of New Netherland. Although the fur trade stimulated Dutch expansion into Delaware and the Hudson River Valley, farming was considered vital to making the colony self‐sufficient. Under the patroon system, individuals who brought fifty settlers along with livestock and farm implements to the colony received large tracts of land.
Administration of New Netherland was in the hands of governors appointed by the Dutch West India Company. The colonists had little loyalty to these often corrupt and dictatorial officials, and when the English fleet appeared off Manhattan in 1664, no resistance was offered. This was not a sign that the Dutch welcomed English takeover, however. The two countries had been engaged in a series of wars for commercial supremacy; in fact, the Dutch won the colony back briefly during the Third Anglo‐Dutch War in 1673. Nevertheless, New York, renamed for its new proprietor, James, Duke of York, became an English royal colony in 1685.
New Jersey was based on land grants made in 1664 by the Duke of York to Sir John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, two of his favorite supporters. Small farming settlements that were in fact religious and ethnic enclaves of Anglicans, Puritans, Dutch Calvinists, Scottish Presbyterians, Swedish Lutherans, and Quakers predominated. The colony was divided into West and East Jersey by the proprietors in 1676 and was not reunited until 1702, when it reverted to direct royal control.
PENNSYLVANIA & DELAWARE
William Penn received his proprietorship from Charles II in 1681, quite possibly as repayment of the debt the royal treasury owed his father. A member of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, he saw the grant as an opportunity to create a colony in North America—a “Peaceable Kingdom”—as a religious experiment.
The Quakers were looked upon with some suspicion in England because of their religious beliefs, but the sect thrived in spite of official persecution. They were pacifists, preached to the poor, refused to take oaths or tip their hats or bow to their social superiors, and gave women a role in the church. To encourage settlement, Penn actively promoted the attractions of Pennsylvania, not the least of which were religious toleration and good relations with the Indians based on Quaker pacifism and his willingness to buy rather than take Indian lands. The strategy worked, and the colony's population ballooned to more than eight thousand by 1700.
The first important settlement in Delaware was founded in 1638 by the New Sweden Company, a joint‐stock company with Swedish and Dutch investors. But this Swedish outpost in the New World was short‐lived. The colony first passed to the Dutch (1655), who could trace their claims to Henry Hudson's voyage, and then to England (1664). In 1682, Delaware was made part of William Penn's proprietorship and remained under the political control of the governor of Pennsylvania until the American Revolution.
GEORGIA, THE LAST ENGLISH COLONY
Georgia (named for George II) was carved out of territory originally part of South Carolina as a buffer against the Spanish in Florida and as a place where the poor of Europe could get a new start. The trustees to whom the land was granted, most important James Oglethorpe, envisioned a colony of prosperous small farmers and imposed regulations to bring this about. The land was given away, but no one could own more than five hundred acres, and the sale of land to other colonists or the bequeathing of farms to women heirs was prohibited. Slavery was also banned. While the trustees brought over anyone willing to work, making Georgia England's most cosmopolitan colony with German, Swiss, Austrian, Italian, and Jewish settlers, strong opposition to the land‐holding restrictions inevitably arose. All limitations were abolished by 1759, by which time Georgia was already a royal colony.