Which Settlements Followed Jamestown Into The 17th Century?

The average American fifth grader would probably know that Jamestown was the first major attempt at settlement of the New World by the English, who were becoming quite good at empire building. But how many of them would know the order of operations thereafter? There were dozens of settlements, some smaller, some larger, that came after Jamestown. Many of these early settlements failed, while others thrived.

Technically, Christopher Columbus and his men began a settlement where they landed in 1493, after their second voyage across the sea. They named it Isabella. It was consistently on the verge of destruction until he moved to a new town near present-day Santo Domingo.

The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in December 1620. Not exactly the best time — or place — to arrive in the New World, but they made do. Without the help of the Native Americans, these settles almost certainly would have starved to death during the harsh New England winter.

We most often think about those settlements established by the English, but the French were colonizing as well. New France was permanently established in 1616 Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia) after Jesuit missionaries arrived in 1611. Believe it or not, but the American focus on English colonies makes little sense considering how meticulous the Jesuits were in documenting every single detail of the New World experience. Much of what we know about the English colonies is thanks to Jesuit efforts.

New England was founded by 1630. John Winthrop propelled this colony forward by authoring a famous pamphlet with arguments why it should be founded despite the strong objections of English authority back home. One of those reasons was because the Native American presence in Massachusetts was extremely small — thanks to the spread of illness and disease brought by the English.

New Netherland was established by the Dutch Republic with a large amount of territory in 1614, some of which included present-day Cape Cod. The colony included a number of settlements — which would find conflict not only with nearby Native Americans, but also with the settlers of other colonies established by the Swedish South Company. They pushed into New Netherland from the south, while the New England Confederation pushed in from the north. Even so, the colony swelled for the next fifty odd years.

The vast majority of these settlements were built and organized similar to Jamestown: indentured servants were brought over from the Motherland, and then forced to work for a period of years to pay off what they owed. There was no credit card debt relief for these poor souls. They worked in the fields until the books were balanced properly. Eventually, slaves would be brought over as well — which meant indentured servitude occurred less and less. This was great for business owners, but not so great for everyone else.

By the way, these colonies and settlements were hardly the first. The Norse began to colonize North America as early as the tenth century — although they probably didn’t make it much farther than Newfoundland and Greenland.