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The Rise of English America

Spanish influence continued to decline within the New World due to internal conflicts as well as competition from other European powers including the French, Dutch, and perhaps most important to our story, the English.

The French

1524: Giovanni de Verrazano sailed along the eastern coast from Cape Fear to Maine for the French. Did not go ashore or establish any colonies.

1527: Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River region and established a brief colony near modern Montreal.

Samuel de Champlain often referred to as the “Father of New France” established the successful colony of Quebec as a center for the growing, and profitable, fur trade. French colonization efforts will focus less upon religious conversion and more on commercial partnerships with Native Americans.

The Dutch and English

The Dutch and English proved a greater threat to Spanish dominance. By the mid 16th century the Dutch freed themselves from Spanish rule and advanced to a sea power, raiding Spanish treasure ships on the high seas. (Francis Drake)

Meanwhile, England finally became solidified under the remarkable Queen Elizabeth I, who encouraged Dutch pirates and English privateers (Francis Drake) to hassle the Spanish. Elizabeth’s goal was to develop England into a superpower, to this end she set her sights upon a New World Empire.

Early Efforts at English Colonization: The Lost Colony of Roanoke

Sir Walter Raleigh, a member of Queen Elizabeth’s court, will be the force behind England’s first attempt at colonization in North America, the Roanoke Colony. Raleigh dispatched English artist John White to lead a group of colonist (including White’s pregnant daughter and her husband) to settle the Roanoke Colony (an island off the coast of North Carolina). Arriving in 1585, White quickly went to work establishing the colony and also witnessed the birth of his granddaughter, Virginia Dare, the...

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