OVERVIEW / U.S. History I
17th Century Settlements
Part 4: Settling the Colonies
The English colonies along the east coast of North America in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries can be categorized in several ways. Religion was the factor behind the founding of Maryland and the New England colonies, particularly Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and Rhode Island, while the settlers in Virginia and the other southern colonies were more concerned with growing tobacco. Although all eventually came under direct control of the English kings, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and Virginia began as corporate colonies financed by joint‐stock companies.
Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas were proprietary colonies, based on grants of land to individuals or a small group of men by the king. Moreover, colonial boundaries changed; New Hampshire was carved out of land claimed by Massachusetts Bay. New York was originally New Netherland before the English took it over in 1664 and renamed it. Delaware was founded by the Swedes (New Sweden), became a Dutch colony in 1655, and then came under English control in 1664. The English colonies were not confined to the Atlantic coast of North America but were also established in the Caribbean—in the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Barbados—competing there with the Spanish, French, and Dutch.