John Winthrop – Puritan leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
John Winthrop (12 January 1587/8– 26 March 1649) obtained a royal charter, along with other wealthy Puritans, from King Charles for the Massachusetts Bay Company and led a group of English Puritans to the New World in 1630. He was elected the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony the year before. Between 1639 and 1648, he was voted out of the governorship and then re-elected a total of 12 times. Although Winthrop was a respected political figure, he was criticized for his obstinacy regarding the formation of a general assembly in 1634, and he clashed repeatedly with other Puritan leaders like Thomas Dudley, Rev. Peter Hobart and others.
Plymouth Colony (sometimes New Plymouth) was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691. The first settlement was at New Plymouth, a location previously surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement, which served as the capital of the colony, is today the modern town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. At its height, Plymouth Colony occupied most of the southeastern portion of the modern state of Massachusetts. Continue reading Today – December 21→
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the colonists, later together known to history as the Pilgrims, who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Almost half of the colonists were part of a separatist group seeking the freedom to practice Christianity according to their own determination and not the will of the Anglican Church. It was signed on November 11, 1620 (OS*), by 41 of the ship’s 101 passengers, while the Mayflower was anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor within the hook at the northern tip of Cape Cod.
*The Compact signers dated the document using the “Old Style” Julian Calendar. The Gregorian calendar, in use today, would place the date as November 21, 1620.
The vicinity of St. Augustine was first explored in 1513 by Spanish explorer and governor of Puerto Rico, Ponce de Leon, who claimed the region for the Spanish crown. Prior to the founding of St. Augustine in 1565, several earlier attempts at European colonization in what is now Florida were made by both Spain and France, but all failed.
The Founding – Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land on August 28, 1565. As this was the feast day of Augustine of Hippo, the territory was named San Agustín. The Spanish sailed through St. Augustine inlet into Matanzas Bay and disembarked near the Timucua town of Seloy on September 7. Menéndez’s goal was to dig a quick fortification to protect his people and supplies as they were unloaded from the ships, and then to take a more proper survey of the area to determine the best location for the fort. The location of this early fort is unknown, but may be at the grounds of what is now the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. It is known that the Spanish occupied several structures in Seloy, the chief of which, known as Chief Seloy, was friendly with the Saturiwa, Laudonnière’s allies. It is possible, but undemonstrated, that Menéndez fortified one of the occupied Timucua structures as this first fort at Seloy.
Virginia Dare (born August 18, 1587, date of death unknown) was the first white child born in the Americas to English parents, Eleanor (or Ellinor/Elyonor) and Ananias Dare. She was born into the short-lived Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina, USA. What became of Virginia and the other colonists has become an enduring mystery. The fact of her birth is known because the leader of the colony, Eleanor Dare’s father, John White, returned to England to seek assistance for the colony. When White returned three years later, the colonists were gone.
Anne Hutchinson – Religious dissident banned from the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Anne Hutchinson (baptized July 20, 1591 – August 20, 1643) was a pioneer settler in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Netherlands and the unauthorized minister of a dissident church discussion group. Hutchinson held Bible meetings for women that soon appealed to men as well. Eventually, she went beyond Bible study to proclaim her own theological interpretations of sermons, some, such as antinomianism, offended the colony leadership. A major controversy ensued, and after a trial before a jury of officials and clergy, she was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Jamestown (or James Towne or Jamestowne) was a settlement located on Jamestown Island in the Virginia Colony. Founded as “James Fort” on May 14, 1607, it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States of America, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. It was founded by the London Company (later to become the Virginia Company), headquartered in England. Jamestown was the capital of the colony for 83 years (from 1616 until 1699). The town was located in James City Shire upon its formation in 1634 as one of the original eight shires of Virginia. Within a year of Jamestown’s foundation, the Virginia Company brought Polish and Dutch colonists to help improve the settlement. In 1619, the first African slaves were brought to Jamestown by Dutch traders, marking the beginning of slavery in the future United States.
Seeking refuge for persecuted Quakers, Penn pressed his case to the King to extend the limited Quaker lands already secured in Jersey. Whether from personal sympathy or political expediency, to Penn’s surprise, the King granted an extraordinarily generous charter which made Penn the world’s largest private (non-royal) landowner, with over 45,000 square miles (120,000 km2). Penn became the sole proprietor of a huge tract of land south of New Jersey and north of Maryland (which belonged to Lord Baltimore), and gained sovereign rule of the territory with all rights and privileges (except the power to declare war).
The land of Pennsylvania had belonged to the Duke of York, who acquiesced, but he retained New York and the area around New Castle and the Eastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. In return, one-fifth of all gold and silver mined in the province (which had virtually none) was to be remitted to the King and the Crown was freed of a debt to the Admiral of £16,000.
Penn first called the area “New Wales”, then “Sylvania” (Latin for “forests or woods'”), which Charles changed to “Pennsylvania” in honor of the elder Penn. On March 4, 1681, the King signed the charter and the following day Penn jubilantly wrote, “It is a clear and just thing, and my God who has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.” 1682 in England, he drew up a Frame of Government for the Pennsylvania colony. Freedom of worship in the colony was to be absolute, and all the traditional rights of Englishmen were carefully safeguarded. Penn drafted a charter of liberties for the settlement creating a political utopia guaranteeing free and fair trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment and free elections.