North Carolina is one of the thirteen colonies established by England around 1650. The territory was called Carolina in honor of Charles the First. Queen Elizabeth I of England granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter for the establishment of a settlement in North America. Sir Raleigh and the Queen planned to establish a colony to be able to explore for treasures and to scout for a strategic location where they can raid loaded Spanish ships.
Based on these reasons, an expedition was sent in 1584 to explore for a suitable location and also bring samples of the nature’s bounty on the area. After the successful exploration, the group returned to England. In 1585, the first group of colonists was organized and they arrived at the north end of the Roanoke Island. Ralph Lane with seventy-five men was left in the island while Sir Richard Grenville, leader of the expedition returned to England to get additional food supplies and additional men. Friction with the natives occurred when the settlers attacked a village in response to the stealing of a silver cup by the natives. By April 1586, relations with a neighboring tribe had degraded to such a degree that they attacked an expedition led by Lane to explore the Roanoke
River.1 There was still no sign of Grenville’s fleet and due to hardships encountered, the settlers accepted the offer of Sir Francis Drake to return to England. The second group was led by John White and they arrived in June 1587. White tried to reestablish friendly relations with the neighboring natives. At first, the natives were hostile and aloof. But gradually the English gained their confidence by offering glass beads and dolls as signs of friendships (Hale 128). But the aggrieved tribes whom Ralph Lane attacked were still unfriendly to the new colonists and shortly thereafter, one colonist was killed by these natives. Fearing for their lives, White was elected to return to England to inform of their situation and ask for help. Two significant events occurred shortly after the colonists’ arrival: two “friendly” Indians were baptized and a child was born. Virginia Dare, as the baby was named, became the first child born to English- speaking parents in the new world.2 But White was delayed in coming back to the colony because of the following reasons: the vessel was not in good condition to travel back home and in crossing the Atlantic Ocean; the refusal of the captain to sail back to the colony during winter time and then the war with the Spanish Armada was imminent and all the able ships were tasked to fight. He was able to return in the spring of 1590 and found only the remnants of what was once a settlement.
There were no signs of life, only the word “CROATAN” carved on a nearby tree.3 The second failure can be attributed by factors beyond the control of the settlers. Although Sir Raleigh was given a charter to colonize, attention was focused on the war with Spain. Cole and Warren concluded that, “because England was so completely involved in fighting the Spanish Armada in 1588, no supplies were sent, nor any communications maintained with the settlements”. (403) The colonization might have been successful if the expedition was fully equipped with farm implements, food supplies and able manpower who are trained to do hard work in cultivating the soil. They should have establish friendly relations with the natives to preserve their lives as well as with the natives’. The impact left by Ralph Lane and John White on the area was that they had spread
Christianity and English language to the new world. It is ironic that Stuart Monarch James I rather than the visionary Elizabeth succeeded in finally planting the British flag on the American shores. (Garraty and Gay 663) In 1607, three shiploads arrived at Jamestown sent out by the London Company of Virginia. Captain John Smith imposed a semi-dictatorial attitude to his men to check their incompetence and lack of initiative. His edict, “He who does not work shall not eat” (Cole and Warren 406) was effective that they soon cultivated crops especially staple crops and tobacco. By 1610, more settlers arrived and by 1612, there were exportation of tobacco to other places. Significant too were the introduction in 1619 of representative government – important to the Englishmen who contemplated migration to the New World – and the beginnings of Negro servitude – important despite its inhumanity, to the economic future of North America.(Garraty and Gay 665)
Cole, Fay-Cooper, and Harris Gaylord Warren. An Illustrated Outline of History of Mankind.
Grolier Incorporated: New York, 1963.
Garraty, John A., and Peter Gay. The Columbia History of the World. Harper and Row: New York,
Hale, John R. Age of Exploration. Time-Life International: Nederland, 1974.
“Historical Highlights of North Carolina ”.The State Library of North Carolina. 3 April 2006.
14 Nov. 2006.<http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/nc/history/history.htm>
“Roanoke Island”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 14 Nov. 2006. 15 Nov. 2006.