The Foundations of American Nationality

By Evarts Boutell Greene | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
NEW ENGLAND PIONEERS

IN most of the English colonies in America, the chief promoters did not themselves become permanent colonists, but contented themselves with furnishing capital, sending out settlers, managing affairs from England, and drawing such profits as they could from their investments. This was at first true even in the case of New England. In the end, however, that section was left open for enterprises of a different kind, in which the leaders actually crossed the sea with their followers to build new homes and commonwealths.

Promoters and colonists.

The New England seaboard was fairly well known to English seamen by the beginning of the seventeenth century and a number of exploring voyages during the next few years helped to stimulate interest in it, especially as a profitable base for the fur trade and the fisheries. Out of this interest grew the Plymouth Company, which, under the first Virginia charter, made an unsuccessful attempt to plant a colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River. An important event in the development of English knowledge about New England was John Smith's voyage of 1614, in which he explored the seaboard with considerable care. In a book published shortly afterwards, he set forth in glowing terms the possibilities of this region. After Smith's voyage, Sir Ferdinando Gorges and some of the other men who had been interested in the old Plymouth Company determined to take advantage of these opportunities. Accordingly they secured from the King a charter which incorporated

Early plans for New England.

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