Cameron Referendum Banner

Cameron Referendum Banner

Friday 18 April 2014

13 American Colonies & British North America

Colonial Militiaman
From an entirely modern European perspective, the New World, or the Americas was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, when during a voyage sponsored by the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabella I, he inadvertently landed on the islands that would later become known as the Bahamas, beginning what would eventually evolve into the widespread European colonisation of South, Central and North America, along with the islands of the Caribbean. However, although it was not generally recognised at the time, Columbus and the other western explorers who followed him, were not actually thought to be the first Europeans to have set foot on this new continent, with Norse or Viking explorers being largely credited with that momentous feat, particularly the adventurer Leif Eriksson, who was thought to have discovered Newfoundland around 1000 AD, some five centuries before Columbus even sailed out of European waters.
The question of European discovery aside, the American continent itself, from Canada and Alaska in the north, to Peru and Chile in the south was reported to have already been inhabited by a multitude of native peoples, who according to some sources, were descended from a common mixture of central Asian settlers, who had crossed a long extinct ice bridge to the north and early travellers from the Pacific Ocean, who had used small craft to navigate their way to these new, largely undiscovered lands. Either way, for hundreds of years before either Eriksson or Columbus had ventured across the often wild Atlantic Ocean, the native peoples of these highly diverse lands, were thought to have evolved into their own disparate tribal groups, forming the great human civilisations of south and central America and the largely hunter-gatherer based tribes in the north. Although entirely distinct and separate from one another, all of these “Native American” peoples would ultimately share a common fate, once their lands had first been discovered by the 15th century European explorers, with war, disease and exploitation being introduced in equal measure over successive centuries, bringing death and disease to many of these earlier native American societies.
The subsequent division of the Americas, into its southern, central and northern regions was thought to have been as much a result of timing, as it was about geography, climate or natural resources. When Christopher Columbus first landed in the New World in 1492, he immediately and instinctively claimed these new lands for his employers, Ferdinand and Isabella. This assumed European right to claim any and all such unknown lands was subsequently employed throughout much of the continent, with Spain, Portugal, England and France all simply claiming ownership of the various territories that they landed on, with little thought or consideration being given to the native peoples who happened to live there at the time. For Spain particularly, the discovery of these new lands, some five years before any of its main European neighbours and competitors, proved to be vital, as it gave their explorers and traders sufficient opportunity to identify the most potentially profitable regions which might then be brought under their immediate and absolute control. Reportedly fascinated by tales of the fabulously wealthy civilisations which lay to the south of their new territories, within a relatively short period, the Spanish Conquistadors were said to have searched for, found and conquered the great Aztec Empire, taking control of much of modern day Mexico, along with large parts of Central America and establishing the roots of their later extensive Spanish American colonies.
Although the Spanish and Portuguese were known to have been at the forefront of the colonisation of the Americas, they were thought to have concentrated much of their efforts towards the area of modern day South America and rarely ventured much beyond what is now the US State of Florida. It is also generally accepted that the main drive behind the exploration and settlement of the wider world by these two Iberian neighbours, was the will of their individual monarchs, who were keen to expand their power beyond their own national borders, gain greater personal wealth and spread Christianity throughout the wider, but still largely unknown world. This was a completely different approach to the English, Dutch and French, who were said to have been simply driven almost entirely by trade considerations, rather than any sort of religious or imperial zeal. The Spanish were reported to have been trying to establish settlements in the north of the Americas as early as 1526, when they founded the colony at San Miguel de Guadalupe, although that particular settlement was said to have failed to survive largely due to the harshness of the environment and outbreaks of disease. Two years later they were thought to have tried again, this time in what is now modern day Florida, but that colony was also said to have failed as well, ostensibly because of similar problems and the unfriendliness of the local native tribes. They were then thought to have tried to establish a third colony at Pensacola in 1559, but that particular settlement was reported to have been destroyed by a hurricane in 1561, a natural and recurring phenomena which continues to dog this particular region of the United States even through to today, although with generally less catastrophic results. The fourth historic attempt by the Spanish to establish a presence in North America was said to have been a colony which was established in what later became North Carolina in 1567, but this settlement too was thought to have failed after it was attacked by hostile native Indian tribes in 1569.

Ferdinand II
Even though England, in common with a number of other North European nations, began to explore the wider world sometime after the Spanish and Portuguese explorers, by 1497 and with the authority of the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII, John Cabot was said to have reached the shores of Newfoundland, on the east coast of North America. Although Cabot was said to have simply explored the coastline of these unknown lands, nonetheless he was said to have claimed them for the English king, Henry VII, returning to England with tales of shoaling fish, so vast and deep that a man might walk across them from ship to land. However, despite these initial exploratory forays into the oceans of the world, English territorial ambitions were thought to have remained largely unfulfilled for the next hundred years or more, mainly because of the national and military tensions which existed within Europe itself. Following the death of Henry Tudor in 1506, he was  succeeded by his second son Henry, who ascended the English throne as Henry VIII, one of the most notable monarch’s ever to hold the position and one of the most divisive European kings of the period. A soldier by instinct, on his ascension to the English throne, Henry VIII was said to have continued the enlargement and development of the English navy that had first been begun by his father. Unfortunately, through his own personal philandering and ultimately, his decision to refute the authority of the Pope, England found itself at odds, not only with the great royal houses of Europe, but more importantly, with the Roman Catholic Church, one of the most powerful political forces of the age. By creating himself as head of the church in England, later the Anglican Church, Henry was said to have put himself, his heirs and most of his people, outside of the Roman Catholic faith, the dominant religion in medieval Europe, which essentially isolated England from many of its continental neighbours. For the next fifty years, from 1537 to 1588, England and its monarchy, including Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, remained concentrated on entirely European matters, with only the largely Roman Catholic kingdom of Ireland, becoming the focus for large scale English conquest and colonisation.
It was only during Elizabeth’s reign, from 1558 to 1603 that the English navy once again began to be rebuilt and reorganised to the sort of levels that it had been during the time of Henry VIII, but even then much of its influence was thought to have been due to the semi-autonomous privateers like Sir Francis Drake, who employed their own ships to raid Spanish treasure fleets or their American possessions, without the official sanction of the queen, but with her tacit connivance. However, it was only after the defeat of the great Spanish invasion armada in 1588 that England’s naval power finally became to be seen as a potent maritime threat, allowing English ships to once again resume their exploration of the world’s great oceans and establishing the conditions for the later successful colonisation of the great territories that lay beyond England’s immediate shores. It was said to have been Elizabeth’s successor, James VI of Scotland, later James I of England who ultimately reaped the rewards of his predecessor’s strategy and investment in the English navy. It was also thought to be James I who first suggested the idea of “Great Britain”, a conjoining of the three crowns of England, Ireland and Scotland into one United Kingdom, a grand alliance, which would be ruled over by him and his royal successors. In reality though, such a political entity would not actually exist for another century, with the kingdoms of England and Scotland only formally signing the Act of Union in 1707, creating the Union of Great Britain. For its part, the kingdom of Ireland was only finally brought under full British political control by the second Act of Union, which was reported to have been passed in 1800, thereby creating the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
It was said to be during King James’ reign that widespread English exploration and permanent colonisation was first thought to have begun, although debate continues over exactly where the first English colony, outside of Great Britain and Ireland was actually located. The first successful English colony on the North American continent was reported to have been the settlement at Jamestown in Virginia, which was officially founded in 1607, although there were said to have been two earlier unsuccessful English colonies, one at Roanoke in North Carolina, which was founded in 1587, during the reign of Elizabeth I; and a second one at Popham in Maine, which was founded in 1607, during the reign of James I, but both of these foundered within a year of their first being established in the New World.  

Walter Raleigh
The English settlement, which is often known as the “Lost Colony of Roanoke” was said to have first been established in 1584, as the result of an expedition organised by the Elizabethan sea captain, Sir Walter Raleigh, who had been granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I, giving him permission to colonise North America. The intention had been to establish an English settlement in the New World, so that these new territories might provide the Crown with much needed income, but also more importantly, to provide a base from where English privateers might operate against the Spanish treasure ships that were regularly operating between South America and Europe. The first expedition, which was said to have been led by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow, was said to have identified the best site for an English settlement and made contact with the local native Indians, whose help and expertise might prove to be vital to the new settlers. This part of Raleigh’s plan was said to have been successfully completed by the spring of 1585, when a second, much larger contingent of settlers, under the command of Sir Richard Grenville, was said to have arrived at Roanoke, principally to help build the new settlement buildings; and to prospect for any valuable metals or minerals that might be present in the local area.
However, these first attempts at settling North America were said to have been adversely affected by the partial loss of the group’s food-stores, which forced the settlers to postpone much of this intended work and begin instead to explore the wider area, including the local Indian villages. It was thought to have been there, at some point that a disagreement broke out between the English and their new Indian neighbours which resulted in Grenville’s men burning down one of the villages and killing its tribal chief. It is worth noting perhaps that a number of the English settlers were former soldiers who had fought to impose English rule in Ireland, so were no doubt easily inclined to resolve disputes in a highly combative manner, rather than just ignoring or overlooking them. Despite this incident however, Grenville was said to have decided to leave a sizeable contingent of settlers at Roanoke, whilst he and the remainder of the expedition returned to England to arrange for a fresh supply of stores, which he promised to bring in April of the following year. However, by the April of 1586 Grenville had still not returned with the supplies, so when Sir Francis Drake happened to stop at Roanoke in June of that year, on his way back to England from a successful raiding campaign in the Caribbean, he offered passage to the remaining settlers, which they all eagerly accepted. As it turned out, a little time after Drake had rescued the English colonists, the relief supply promised by Grenville in August 1585 finally arrived in the area, only to find the colonists gone and the buildings abandoned. With no settlers to re-supply and with English possession of the region under threat, Grenville was said to have left a small detachment of English troops at Roanoke, along with sufficient supplies and returned to England with the remainder of his men and stores.
The third and final attempt to establish a colony at Roanoke was thought to have taken place in July 1587, when some one hundred and seventeen men and women landed there, under the leadership of John White, a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh who had accompanied a previous expedition. Almost as soon as the colonists arrived, White was said to have tried to restore the settler’s relationship with the local Croatan Indians, but his efforts were rebuffed and instead one of the colonists was reportedly killed by the local tribe. Fearing for their future safety, the remaining settlers asked that John White return to England and request help from the authorities. 

Captain John Smith
When he departed Roanoke in the latter part of 1587, White was said to have left behind one hundred and fifteen colonists, including a new born baby girl, Virginia Dare, who had been born less than a month after the settlers had first arrived. Unfortunately for those who had been left behind, White’s decision to leave so late in the year, when winter storms turned the Atlantic Ocean into a churning maelstrom, proved to be fatal for the colonists, as did the political situation taking place back in England. Despite having survived the incredibly dangerous journey across the Atlantic and having managed to secure new stores and military support, White then found that he could not find a sea captain brave enough to face the winter storms in the Atlantic Ocean. When he finally did find someone bold enough to undertake the journey, he then found there were no ships to be had, as virtually every seaworthy vessel in England had been appropriated to face the impending menace of the Spanish Armada, which was threatening to land foreign troops on England’s shores during 1588.
It was thought to have been a full two years before the national emergency was completely over and English ships once again began to venture away from the European coastal waters, where they had been engaged for so long. Even then, the by now desperate White was reported to have been forced to accept passage on a privateer’s ship that was sailing to the Caribbean to begin raiding Spanish possessions there, but who agreed to stop at Roanoke, to help determine the fate of the colonists. Arriving there in August 1590, White was said to have found the settlement abandoned, with many of its defences and buildings partially dismantled, suggesting that the colonists had carefully planned to leave the site for an unknown destination. Scratched onto one of the fort’s timber posts was the word “Croatan”, perhaps suggesting that the settlers had relocated to the villages of the native Indians, or possibly that the colonists had been attacked by them, although no evidence of either scenario was subsequently discovered. Pressed by the captain of the English privateer, who was anxious to complete his journey to the Caribbean; and the lucrative Spanish shipping lanes, White was left with little choice but to abandon his search for members of the “lost colony” and leave the area soon afterwards. Even though no definitive explanation regarding the fate of the Roanoke colonists has been offered or indeed accepted, most historians seem to believe that those men, women and children who survived after White’s departure, were either killed or adopted by one of the local native Indian tribes. Many oral histories from various Native American tribes from the region are thought to make mention of the Roanoke colonists, although many have been simply dismissed as complete nonsense. In all probability though, it seems likely that seemingly abandoned by England, the colonists simply decided to relocate to the mainland of North America and formed an as yet unidentified English settlement there, where they continued to live out the rest of their lives in relative obscurity.
Further English colonisation of North America was thought to have been discontinued for the next sixteen years and for the remainder of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which finally came to an end in 1603. It was only under her successor, James VI of Scotland, James I of England, that further permanent settlement was attempted, albeit under the auspices of two English commercial enterprises, the Virginia Company of London and the Virginia Company of Plymouth, both of which were granted identical trading charters for North America by King James in April 1606, with the express purpose of establishing English colonies in the New World.  

Elizabeth I
Allocated individual section of the same eastern seaboard of North America, both of these Joint Stock Companies were reported to have established new English colonies in their individually assigned areas during the following year, the London Company at Jamestown in May 1607 and the Plymouth Company at Popham in August of the same year. However, for a variety of reasons it was the Jamestown settlement that would ultimately prove to be successful, with the rival Popham colony finally being abandoned by its inhabitants, a little over a year after it had first been established, an event that eventually led to the dissolution of the Plymouth Company itself. Competition between the London and Plymouth Virginia companies was said to have been fierce, simply because, whichever of the two companies successfully settled the eastern coastline of North America, would be granted exclusive colonisation and trading rights there by the English monarch, James I.

Although the Plymouth Company was reported to have launched an expedition to its North American possessions as early as August 1606, the company’s ship, “The Richard”, was reported to have been captured by the Spanish as it travelled within their sphere of influence and the ship, its crew and the colonists were subsequently taken prisoner. Despite this setback however, the Plymouth Company then arranged for a second expedition to be sent out in the following year, but this second contingent of settlers was said to have been beaten to the New World, by colonists despatched by the London Company, who landed on the American coast in May 1607, some three months before them.
However, despite having been beaten to their new homelands by the London Company’s settlers, the one hundred strong Plymouth colony, under the command of their leader, George Popham, the nephew of one of the enterprise’s main financial backers, Sir John Popham, quickly set about identifying the best location for their new base and once found, began building the protective fortress that would house them, complete with defensive ditches and cannon, with which to defend themselves.
By October of 1607, the compound was said to have included a large number of buildings, including a Chapel, a guardroom, storeroom and living accommodations, all of which suggested that the colony was beginning to thrive. Unfortunately, the colonists generally late arrival in America and their failure to build successful relations with the native Indian tribes, who had had less than favourable dealings with European explorers in the past, meant that the settlers faced an increasingly arduous time as the American winter approached. Perhaps fearful of what the future held, a number of colonists were said to have decided to return to England on one of the company’s ships that was returning home, leaving the settler numbers dangerously depleted. This situation was then thought to have been worsened further by an extremely rigorous winter, during which many of their supplies and a number of the fort’s buildings were said to have been destroyed by fire, although the cause of these blazes was never fully explained. Finally, during the winter of 1607, dissent broke out amongst the colony, splitting the settlement into two opposing factions, each of which supported one of the two main leaders of the expedition, George Popham and Raleigh Gilbert, who were both thought to have argued over the best way forward for the future of the colony. 

King James I
By the February of 1608, George Popham was reported to have died and had been replaced as leader by Gilbert, who was thought to have led the colony until the late summer of that year, when he received news of his entitlement to his late brother’s titles and estates in England, which caused him to return home on the company’s next supply ship. With both of their leaders gone and facing the prospect of yet another miserable winter alone, the remaining colonists finally gave up on building a permanent settlement and returned home to England as well. Although the abandoned fort was visited occasionally for the next decade or so, there were no subsequent attempts to reoccupy the site by any future English colonies and over time it was thought to have simply crumbled back into the surrounding landscape. The financial backers of the Popham colony, the Plymouth Virginia Company, who had hoped to establish themselves as the principal trading company in North America, never recovered from the failure of the colony in 1608, which was said to have been followed a short time later by its own dissolution, leaving its rival, the London Virginia Company, as the main commercial agent in the region.
Although both the Roanoke and Popham colonies are probably the earliest and best known of England’s unsuccessful North American settlements, a number of others were reported to have been established by various trading companies during the reign of James I, although most of them failed to survive for any extended period of time. Examples include Cuper’s Cove in Newfoundland, which was founded in 1610, but was subsequently abandoned sometime around 1620. Likewise, the settlement of Bristol’s Hope was also established in Newfoundland in 1618, but failed to survive much beyond the early 1630’s, both of these colonies being founded by the same company, the Society of Merchant Adventurers in Newfoundland. Elsewhere in the same region, the London and Bristol Company trading into Newfoundland was said to have established settlements at both New Cambriol and Renews between 1615 and 1617, although both had been abandoned sometime before 1637. In fact, between the 16th and early 19th centuries, any number of colonies and settlements were thought to have been established by the various English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh settlers who left their native homelands to help build the sprawling English, later British Empire.   
The original Jamestown expedition, financed by the London Virginia Company, was said to have been led jointly by Captain John Smith and Captain Edward Wingfield, but unlike the Popham Colony did not have the most promising start. This was principally because the site chosen for the new settlement by Wingfield was poorly situated, plagued by mosquitoes from nearby swamps, had limited access to fresh water supplies, a lack of edible foodstuffs and a minimum amount of good arable land on which suitable crops could be grown. Despite these initial problems though, the colonists were reported to have persevered and the enterprise was finally saved from disaster by the introduction of a tobacco crop that could be successfully grown and harvested in the generally limited land holding, so that by 1612, the community was reported to have exported its first American commercially grown crop. With this success behind them, the community at Jamestown continued to grow and develop throughout the 17th century, eventually emerging as the capital of the Virginia colony, a title it would hold until 1699 when a new capital, Williamsburg, was built and named in honour of the new English king, William of Orange. Unfortunately, the development of the tobacco growing industry was said to have become so successful and widespread that it helped to create the need for indentured servants, initially using those convicted of criminal offences in England, but later being serviced by the transatlantic slave trade in which most of the leading European nations actively participated.  

Edward Wingfield
The next significant influx of English settlers to North America were the colonists who later became known as the Pilgrim Fathers, who arrived off the coast of New England in November 1620. Having travelled across the Atlantic onboard The Mayflower, these new settlers were reported to have anchored off Cape Cod in modern day Massachusetts, prior to landing in the New World. Significantly, one of their advisors for the expedition was said to have been Captain John Smith, the same man who had led the Jamestown colony during 1608 and 1609. Described as a religious sect from England, who were trying to escape persecution in their European homelands, they were said to have set a trend for future religious settlements, by mutually agreeing a common set of rules for the governing of their new colony, which eventually became known as the “Mayflower Compact”.
Within a decade, several more English colonies had been established in North America, including those at Plymouth in 1628 and Salem around 1629. Earlier still, in 1623, two entirely separate groups of English settlers arrived in what is now New Hampshire, transported there by a Captain John Mason and establishing a fishing village near the Piscataqua River. In 1630, a group of colonists led by a John Winthrop arrived as part of the Massachusetts Bay Charter Company and went on to found the city of Boston, whilst in 1632 King Charles I was said to have granted a Royal Charter to Lord Baltimore, authorising him to found the English colony of Maryland, which was to be supervised by Baltimore’s eldest son Cecil, although it was thought to be the nobleman’s youngest son Leonard, who actually travelled to America with the group of English settlers in 1633 to build their new community.
Along with the English, a number of other European nations began to explore and settle the New World, including the French, Dutch, Swedes and Germans, each of them establishing control over various neighbouring areas. The site of modern day New York was reported to have been inhabited by Dutch settlers as early as 1614, although they only officially purchased the land from the Native Americans, or Indians, in 1626, when they paid the seemingly paltry sum of $24 and renamed the site as New Amsterdam, the capital of the Dutch controlled region called New Netherlands. However, in 1664 the English monarch Charles II, decided to reclaim these lands by force and the Dutch leader in America, Peter Stuyvesant, was eventually compelled to hand the lands over to British control.
King Charles subsequently passed his new possession into the hands of his brother, the Duke of York, who renamed the settlement as New York. Although the Dutch were thought to have made several abortive attempts to reclaim their former colony from the English, by 1674 the ownership of the settlement was said to have been beyond doubt and the area remained under English control right through to the American Revolution. These states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were all reported to have become known as the middle states by the English; and despite their military control of them, were known to have been settled and inhabited by a mix of European colonists including the English themselves, the Dutch, Irish and Germans.
Peter Stuyvesant
As the numbers of foreign migrants who had settled America continued to grow, so more and more settlements and colonies were said to have sprung up, as individual groups and people, decided to separate from their original communities. In 1636, an English settler called Roger Williams was said to have been driven out of the community of Salem in Massachusetts, because of his own personal religious beliefs, which seem to have been at odds with the general community there. However, rather than join another well established English community, or return home to England, Williams was said to have done neither, but instead negotiated the purchase of new lands from the native Narragansett Indians and laying down the foundations for the modern day Rhode Island.
Likewise, a second English settler called Anne Hutchinson, was reported to have been expelled from her home community in Massachusetts and went on to help found the colony of Portsmouth in Rhode Island. Although the colony of Connecticut was originally founded by Dutch settlers in 1633, they were later said to have been joined by a group of English colonists in 1636, these people having previously been expelled from Massachusetts. Led by a clergyman called Thomas Hooker, by 1639 their new community was reported to have been established on the basis of formalised and fundamental orders that were used to govern the settlement. In 1638 an individual called Wheelwright, was reported to have founded a settlement called Exeter in New Hampshire, where all members of the colony signed a common compact to guide the day-to-day running of their new community.
The colony of Delaware was thought to have first been settled by Swedish immigrants in around 1631, the European colonists who are largely credited with introducing the log cabin to the New World. In around 1655 the Swedes were then thought to have been displaced in part by the Dutch, who were themselves supplanted by the English in around 1664. The Dutch later briefly re-established control over the region in 1673, but by 1674 the English had once again regained control over the area, later passing it to William Penn and his Society of Friends in 1682, as settlement of a debt owed to Penn’s father. Penn and his community were then reported to have held Delaware until 1701, when it finally gained independence. The other American territories granted to Penn in 1682, continues to carry its founders name through to the present day, in the form of the modern day Pennsylvania. The capital of this new possession, Philadelphia, was thought to have been planned in the same year that these colonists first arrived and in the following year, 1683, a group of German settlers were reported to have established their own colony of Germantown nearby.

William Penn
Elsewhere, the region of South Carolina was said to have been settled by Europeans as early as 1526, when San Miguel de Guadalupe was originally established by colonists from Hispaniola. Unfortunately, due to an exceptionally high death rate amongst the settlers because of disease, most of the surviving colonists decided to return to Hispaniola sometime later. In 1663, the English monarch Charles II, under the terms of a Royal Charter, authorised the establishment of a new colony in the region, naming it Carolina after the Latinized version of his own name “Carolus”. At the time, the region that was incorporated into this new colony was said to have included the lands of the modern day states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Charles’ Royal Charter was granted to a group of English merchants, known as the Lord Proprietors, whose intention was to develop the colony as a commercial rival to Jamestown in Virginia. Unfortunately for them, their new venture was reported to have been extremely slow to evolve into a commercial success, not least because it failed to attract sufficient numbers of English settlers to actually work the land.
However, in around 1670 the Lord Proprietors were said to have financed an expedition, led by one John West, who discovered an area of extremely fertile land, which could be easily defended and on which the regions first major settlement could be built. The capital of this new colonial possession was Charleston or Charles Town, which was reported to have been established by a group of English colonists from Barbados, led by one Sir John Yeamans, a powerful plantation owner from those English held islands. According to most historical sources it was said to have been these settlers who first introduced African Slaves into the area, a labour source for which the southern states would later be condemned. Although the colony itself eventually proved to be a thriving commercial success, a series of military and political conflicts was thought to have caused the Lord Proprietors to sell their interests back to the English Crown, making England completely responsible for the day-to-day running and security of the region once again.
Probably as a direct result of this, in later years, the English King George II was said to have granted these lands, now occupied by the modern day State of Georgia, to James Edward Oglethorpe, an English General and MP, in return for protecting England’s North American possessions from its southern enemies. It was also said to be here that English convict labour was heavily employed by Oglethorpe and his agents to grow much needed crops, with the whole region being run along highly puritan lines. However, these restrictions on slave owning and drinking were thought to have inhibited investment in the colony and once they were removed, the colony as a whole was said to have thrived, becoming one of the most successful and profitable English colonies in all of North America. These lower colonies, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina were reported to have been largely plantation states, which were generally located around the Chesapeake region and as previously noted, were later added to by the state of Georgia.
It is worth noting that the European colonists who came to settle the New World were often a mixture of the rich and the poor, the skilled and unskilled, the educated and uneducated, in fact a microcosm of the societies from which they came, be they Spanish, Portuguese, English, French or indeed Dutch. These countries represented the five major European powers of the age and as such possessed the will, the military might, the manpower and more importantly, the maritime experience and ships to cross the world’s oceans and exploit the wealth of these newly discovered lands. Individual settlers were reported to have been transported to America for any number of reasons, from those that were sentenced to penal “transportation”, or a sentence of indentured service, to those that were simply seeking a new life, free from the poverty, which they had previously suffered in their native lands. Then there were the religious groups who were attempting to escape the persecutions that were thought to have been a common feature of Europe at that time, as well as those who simply wished to escape the wars and regional conflicts, which raged throughout the period. Added to these generally poorer migrants were the land speculators and gamblers, traders and merchants, all of whom were keen to exploit the commercial opportunities that the Americas might offer them, a chance to make them their personal fortunes.
The most prominent and ultimately most successful of the European adventurers were said to have been those that were ordered or supported by the great European Royal Houses, who had the financial and military strength to both support their claims and hold their gains. In addition to these, were the Private Venture Companies or Joint Stock Companies, who established Mercantile Trade companies, often with the support or sometimes the connivance of European monarchs, who tacitly supported their claims and in some cases allowed them to raise private armies to protect their gains, as in the case of the British East India Company.

Following its successful colonisation at Jamestown, in 1609, the London Virginia Company was reported to have been granted a new Royal Charter by the English monarch, James I, which permitted the trading company exclusive rights over the territories of the now defunct Plymouth Virginia Company which had failed so disastrously at the Popham colony in Maine. With these new possessions in mind, in the same year, the London Company was said to have sent a significantly larger fleet of new settlers and supplies aboard nine ships, which were put under the command of Admiral George Somers, who was embarked upon his flagship, the “Sea Venture” ready for the journey across the Atlantic. 

Lord De La Warre
Unfortunately, as the English fleet approached American territorial waters, a huge storm was said to have battered the fleet of ships, separating them and causing Somers’ flagship “Sea Venture” to become dangerously waterlogged. Fearing for his ship and the lives of those onboard, Somers deliberately grounded his ship, on a reef, damaging his vessel, but nonetheless saving the lives of his passengers and their livestock. Somers and the ship’s company were then said to have reconstructed his ship, into two smaller vessels which were subsequently used to deliver his passengers and their possessions safely through to Jamestown, which they reached in May 1610. The unoccupied islands that had provided the stranded English settlers with a safe haven during the ten month interruption to their voyage were subsequently named as the “Somers Isles” after the man who had saved the settler’s lives, although in later years they were thought to have become better known as the English Caribbean possession of Bermuda. Unhappily for many of those who had survived the arduous journey across the Atlantic and their fellow colonists who were already settled in the new territories around Jamestown, the previously friendly relations between the settlers and the native Powhatan people were already becoming fraught. From the Indian’s perspective, they had initially been quite happy to welcome the foreign settlers, but as their numbers increased and they began to establish various settlements throughout the wider region, so their concerns grew. Matters were thought to have been made worse by the actions of some colonists who took it upon themselves to burn down and attack isolated Indian villages which happened to be located on lands that they wanted, as well as destroying native food crops, as a way of forcing the native Powhatan people off their traditional lands. Not only did this cause hardships and food shortages amongst the native Indians, but also hardened attitudes against them, which would inevitably lead to conflict between the two competing sides.
Finally recognising that the English settlers were not simply content to trade, but wanted to take over ownership of the land itself, in 1610, the Indian leaders were reported to have ordered their people to stop trading with the settlers and to offer them no further aid. Concerned by these developments and the increasingly poor relations with the native tribes, the London Company were then thought to have compounded matters by ordering their newly arrived Governor, Lord de la Warre, to suppress local Indian activity by whatever means necessary. Taking his orders quite literally, De la Warre was reported to have arranged for the local Indian tribesmen to be drawn into a carefully planned ambush and then he ordered them killed. Causing the first Anglo Powahatan War and using the life of the captured Indian princess, Pocahontas, to enforce English authority over the local tribes, for the next few years relationships between the two sides were thought to have remained tense, but relatively peaceful. The subsequent marriage of Pocahontas to the English colonist John Rolfe, was also hoped to heal the wounds between the English settlers and the native tribesmen, but ultimately achieved very little by way improving the overall situation.

In reality, the uneasy peace was said to have been brought about through the will of the native chief, Wahunsonacock, who recognised the dangers that such a conflict might bring to his own people, although when he died in 1618, a much more militant native leadership began to come to the fore. The new native chief, Opechancanough, was said to have been bitterly opposed to the English settlers and carried a deep resentment of De la Warre’s slaughter of his fellow tribesmen in 1610, both of which he was determined to avenge. His anger towards the English was said to have been increased in 1622, when one of his most trusted advisers was killed by an English settler, presumably for no real reason. Finally, in March 1622 he was ready to exact his revenge on the colonists and arranged for his men to launch simultaneous attacks on the various English homesteads and settlements that lay along the banks of the James River. Caught completely by surprise, the numerous English farmsteads, settlements and plantations were quickly overrun by the bands of rampaging Indians, who were reported to have killed around four hundred colonists, about one third of their of their total and carried away a number of female hostages, who were either subsequently ransomed or absorbed into the local tribes. Only the main, heavily defended settlement at Jamestown was reported to have escaped the carnage and only then, after the settlement had been forewarned by a local Indian boy, who was reported to have been concerned for an individual settler’s safety. 

For those several hundred colonists who managed to escape the unexpected and widespread attack, their safety was thought to have been assured by the Indian’s failure to follow up on their surprise assault, wrongly believing that the settlers would simply leave, rather than face further violence. However, having worked so hard to develop their lands and with little in England to return to, the vast majority of the colonists were said to have decided to remain in Virginia, although they were also determined to build a much smaller number, of highly defended settlements, which might better protect them in the future. The leaders of the colony were also said to have tried to organise their own defence forces, or militias, which might be used to repel future attacks, although the significant loss of men during the Indian attack, meant that there were far more women and children in the main settlements, preventing this plan from being put into operation.
When news of the attacks finally reached England, the authorities there were said to have been so outraged that they immediately sent military aid to the region to ensure that no such attacks could happen again and to mete out some form of retribution against the local Indian tribes. The colonists too, now reinforced by military forces, were also said to have taken it into their own hands to punish the local Indians, burning their crops, destroying their villages and in one particularly vicious case, even deliberately poisoning local Indians with tainted liquor, which was said to have killed several hundred of the local tribesmen. As a direct result of the Indian attack on the Virginian colonists, the English Crown finally took over formal control of the colony in 1624, essentially passing control of the land and its profits to associates of the monarch, James I, who also dissolved the Virginia Company of London in the same year. For the Powhatan people and their leaders, the future was equally bleak too, as their tribal chief, Opechancanough, who had led yet another raid on colonists in 1644, was subsequently captured, imprisoned and finally murdered by one of the colonist assigned to guard him. In what became a regularly occurring feature of the European’s settlement of the North American continent, the Powhatan and their tribal neighbours subsequently found their native lands increasingly under threat and overtaken by continued colonial expansion, which inevitably led to even more armed conflict between the two sides, along with the associated bloodshed that the native Indian people themselves found to be largely unsustainable.
The English colony of Virginia officially became a Crown Colony in 1624 and although its overall administration and trading rights were thought to have been put into the hands of English aristocrats favoured by the monarch, James I, in reality day-to-day control of the colony remained in the hands of local administrators and elected officials. Within a decade of the Crown having assumed possession of the colony, English settlement was reported to have increased significantly, so much so that by 1634 the colony had been broken down into a number of different Shires, although this title was subsequently renamed County, a form of geographical identification still commonly used within much of the modern day United States.

Oliver Cromwell
Large scale exploration of Virginia’s unknown hinterland was thought to have been limited during the first half of the 17th century, most notably after a second massacre of colonist in 1644, although elsewhere in the region the colony’s former dependency on tobacco was thought to have been reduced following the introduction and development of other valuable cash crops. The population of the colony was said to have swelled significantly, following the defeat of the English monarch, Charles I, by the Parliamentarian forces of Oliver Cromwell during the second half of the 17th century. Even though the Puritan authorities back in England were reported to have appointed their own representatives as governor of the royal colony, some of these former royalist supporters were said to have thrived in the New World and by the time Charles’ son was restored to the English throne, they were thought to be some of the wealthiest and most influential of Virginia’s landed families.
For much of the remainder of the 17th century Virginia and her inhabitants continued to thrive, despite occasional outbreaks of disease and Indian attacks, along with fluctuating financial fortunes, affected by wider economic considerations. The most notable period of instability within the region however, was said to have occurred during the 1670’s, when resurgent Indian raids, coupled with political infighting amongst the colonies leading figures, resulted in armed conflict between rival factions within the colony, which was only finally resolved by direct intervention by the English Parliament. Although Jamestown had remained the nominal capital of Virginia since its foundation and despite the many adversities it had faced over the years, including fire and Indian attacks, it was only in 1699 and following a fairly devastating fire that the capital was relocated to another part of the region and renamed as Williamsburg, in honour of William of Orange, the new English king.
Interestingly, Virginia was also reported to have been one of the first American colonies to question the authority of the British Parliament to rule over the colonist’s lives and lands following the imposition of new and generally punitive taxes and legislation. Beginning in 1763 many of Virginia’s most prominent leaders were said to have been at the forefront of the American settler’s later decision to establish and elect their own congressional movement, in opposition to the British Parliament in London.
Meanwhile, along much of the eastern seaboard of the later United States, the English Crown was thought to have held a majority of the country under its direct control and from 1670 onwards, began to claim sovereignty over the more northerly areas of Hudson Bay, Prince Rupert’s Land and Newfoundland, through its royal agents, the Hudson Bay Company. These lands were said to have formed a significant proportion of the territories already claimed by French settlers as New France, which at the time stretched from Hudson’s Bay in the north, to the Gulf of Mexico in the south, a huge swathe of land, running from north to south and covering the entire central section of the modern day United States.
With English interests effectively restricted to the east coast and with French claims preventing any further expansion west, it became almost inevitable that the two sides would have to settle matters through force of arms. As a result of the two kingdoms competing claims in North America, England and France were reported to have fought a series of wars during the 17th and 18th centuries, which became parts of the much larger conflict known as the Seven Years War, which was fought between 1756 and 1763. As a result of this great Imperial contest; and under the terms of the subsequent Treaty of Paris, which was signed in 1763, France was compelled to cede most of its North American territories, including those in Upper and Lower Canada, to Britain, although those French colonies already established, were said to have been exempted from any British interference in their religious, cultural and political practices by statutes enacted after the conflict.  

George Washington
Unfortunately for British interests, the gains that they had made since the founding of Jamestown in 1607, through to the defeat of French American interests in 1763, proved to be relatively short lived, as within a dozen years of its victory in the Seven Years War, the British Crown had been all but defeated by an irregular army, partially made up of descendants of the first English colonists who had set foot in the New World. Differences between the American colonial leadership and the British government were thought to have arisen following the successful completion of the French and Indian Wars, which was fought in North America between 1754 and 1763. Seen as part of the much larger and much more widespread Seven Years War between Britain and France, the French and Indian War was thought to have represented the North American theatre of this worldwide Imperial conflict and almost inevitably resulted in American colonists being compelled to carry arms in defence of Britain’s American possessions. Not only did this general call-to-arms bring greater British military involvement in the day-to-day lives of the colonists, but amongst those who chose to rally to the British cause, it also helped to generate a sense of common unity and brotherhood which would ultimately re-emerge some dozen or so years later.
When the Treaty of Paris was finally agreed in 1763, it brought an end to the Seven Years War, as well as the associated French and Indian War which had been fought in North America, leaving Britain and its colonial allies in almost complete control of the American continent, from Hudson Bay in the north to Florida in the south. As peace eventually descended on the American colonies and with their national borders effectively secured by treaty, the British government began to steadily withdraw and reduce its military presence in North America.
Although a significant part of the British military presence in North America was thought to have been in the form of regular troops, a much greater number was thought to have come from within the colonies themselves, often in the shape of local  militia’s, which were led and commanded by American born, but British trained officers, such as George Washington. As these military forces were reduced and other regular units were withdrawn, so the British government in London began to count the financial cost of having fought such a wide ranging and expensive war against France and its other European allies. Although Britain’s burgeoning worldwide Empire was more than capable of absorbing the huge costs of such a military conflict, political and financial considerations in Britain itself conspired to create disharmony between the British government and their American subjects, which would not only lead to further military conflict, but also to the total loss of the thirteen American colonies from Britain’s Imperial possessions.
Ultimately, the root causes of these difficulties seems to have centred around money and moral authority, with both the British government and the colonial leadership claiming their own legitimacy over which of the two sides actually held the moral high ground in terms of the basic argument. From the British government’s perspective, the financial cost of the Seven Years War against France, particularly the French and Indian War which had been fought in North America, had been almost entirely paid for by the British treasury, through the income it derived from both the British people and its other great Imperial possessions. It argued that its American colonies had paid disproportionately less to the costs of the conflict than any other British possession had; and was bound and determined to recover some, if not all of these costs from its newly extended and secured American colonies. However, the counter argument from the American colonial leadership, stated that British colonists had in fact, paid a much higher price in human lives than British regular troops and that the British government had also gained huge financial benefits from the new territories that it had gained as a result of their sacrifice.

Sir George Somers
Although such differences of opinions were not serious enough in themselves to cause actual conflict between Britain and its colonial subjects in America, it did represent one of a growing number of individual instances, legislative measures and political directives that almost inexorably began to divide the two great English speaking societies. Beginning in 1764, some dozen or more British Acts of Parliament were reported to have been imposed on the thirteen American colonies, including the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Tea Act of 1773, all of which severely damaged or disadvantaged American colonists and businesses in favour of their British counterparts. In and of themselves, these individual pieces Parliamentary legislation were not thought to have been fatal to Anglo-American relations, but as each subsequent Act was passed and added to the rest, so colonial resentment and antagonism towards the British authorities was said to have grown. Britain’s decision to introduce these highly unpopular and often repressive Parliamentary Acts was thought to have been driven by two main political imperatives, the first to recover some of the financial costs incurred through its American based conflicts with France; and secondly, to impose complete British authority over the new and enlarged American colonies.
For many of the American colonial leaders, British actions were deemed to be undemocratic, given that the British Parliament was passing legislation which affected the lives of all Americans, yet did not have a single American representative within that legislative body, which for most colonial leaders was a complete affront to the whole idea of the democratic process. Adopting the mantra of “No taxation, without representation” by 1772 a number of these American leaders, including lawyers and merchants, were already beginning to question and oppose the very idea of British rule, forming themselves into independent committees, which became part of much larger provincial or regional congresses, designed as alternative legislative assemblies which were fundamentally opposed to British authority and oppression. Over the course of the next two years similar congresses and councils were said to have been established throughout most of Britain’s American colonies, allowing their leaders to formerly reject British Parliamentary authority and to establish their own centralised legislative body, the First Continental Congress, which was held in 1774.
With an alternative legislative body to look to, American merchants and businessmen soon began to ignore British imposed trade regulations, bringing them into direct confrontation with the regulators and tax collectors, who had been appointed on the British Parliaments authority. However, rather than trying to resolve their differences through negotiation, the British authorities in Boston, where such an incident took place, resorted to using regular troops to enforce Parliamentary authority, causing the American colonists to respond in kind by raising their own local militias. With the threat of military conflict between the two sides looming, American congressional representatives were said to have appealed to the British monarch, King George III, to help arbitrate an equitable solution. Unfortunately for the colonial leadership however, George III was reported to have been disinclined to interfere in the dispute, with the result that the American colonies were accused of being in open rebellion and their leaders regarded as being guilty of treason. With few options left to them, the colonial leadership were thought to have had little choice but to call a Second Continental Congress in 1776, following which they issued their historic Declaration of Independence, under which they rejected the authority of the British Parliament and its monarch, George III, effectively putting the two countries at war with one another. 

King George III
Depending on one’s point of view of course, the conflict that followed is either known as the American Revolution, or as the American War of Independence. Either way and regardless of how it is sometimes reported, it was never simply a conflict between the British and American peoples, but was a war which involved Britain, America, France, Spain and Holland, as well as any number of North Americas native tribesmen and many thousands of black African slaves. Neither was the American Revolutionary War simply about the governorship of the North American continent, but was also about historic antagonisms, sheer opportunism, national revenge and personal antipathy. The five year period, from the Declaration of Independence in 1776, to Britain’s last great military surrender at Yorktown in 1781, was said to have been indelibly marked by individual instances of great courage, cruelty, generosity and kindness. There were also numerous incidents of sheer bad luck, amazing good fortune, poor command decisions and even inspired leadership, all of which contrived to end British sovereignty over its thirteen American colonies and eventually led to an independent United States of America. Despite the loss of the thirteen American colonies however, British interests, both to the north and south, in Canada and the Caribbean remained relatively intact, essentially negating the overall effect of her colonial losses as a result of the conflict.
British interests in the far north of the American continent, in the area of modern day Canada, were said to have begun with two French Traders, who saw the opportunity for improving the existing trade routes for the northern fur trade, but having been rebuffed by the French authorities, travelled to Boston in Massachusetts, to put their proposals to American investors instead. As a result, a number of these well connected American merchants were reported to have sent the proposal to England, both for the necessary financial backing and for the acquisition of a Royal Charter from the English monarch, Charles II.
Whilst waiting for the monarch to consider their proposals, the merchants themselves managed to find sufficient financial backing to send two ships to explore the Hudson Bay Area, although only one of the two vessels, the “Nonsuch”, actually completed the journey and arrived in St James’ Bay, where Fort Rupert was established by the explorers. Named Fort Rupert, after the main sponsor of the expedition, Prince Rupert of Bavaria, having conducted a successful season of trading with local fur trappers the “Nonsuch” was then reported to have returned to England in 1669. Finally given Royal approval in the following year, the Hudson Bay Company was said to have been officially incorporated by the English king in 1670, giving the company a complete monopoly over the fur trade in the north of America. 

John Adams
Despite coming into dispute with competing French interests, who also claimed rights over the North American fur trade during the 17th century, which occasionally resulted in fighting between the two sides, by the beginning of the 18th century the Hudson Bay Company was generally regarded as the de facto government body in that part of America, a position accepted by the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht which was signed in 1713. Widely regarded as a contemporary of and similar to the British East India Company which held a similar position in both India and Asia, at its height the Hudson Bay Company was said to have controlled the region known as Prince Rupert’s Land, which consisted of around 30% of modern day Canada and around 60% of modern day North America. On a day-to-day basis, the company was reported to have traded trapped furs for equipment and supplies needed by the European trappers, whilst their Native American competitors were only offered blankets in exchange for their pelts.
It is interesting to note that in this particular region of the North American continent, recent evidence of early Norse settlement is thought to confirm suggestions that Viking explorers were the very first Europeans to reach the American Continent sometime around 1000 AD, although these first visitors were thought to have been subsequently expelled by the native Indian tribesmen who occupied the region. The Portuguese explorer, John Cabot, who was employed by King Henry VII of England at the time, was thought to have been the next European to reach these same eastern shores in 1497, even though it was his native homeland which claimed the same territories under the terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas. Signed in 1494, this treaty divided all of the unknown world between the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain, but as a creation entirely of their own making, was largely ignored by most other European states of the time. For most of the next decade, until around 1506, several Portuguese explorers were said to have made voyages in and around the coast of Newfoundland and North America, reinforcing their own nation’s claim to the land and its territorial waters, which were regularly exploited by Portuguese fishermen, who even established temporary settlements on the coastline, although virtually all of these had been abandoned by the middle of the 16th century.
Around 1535 the French explorer, Jacques Cartier, was reported to have claimed parts of these northern territories for his monarch, King Francis I, who subsequently named these new lands, New France. Although French fisherman and explorers were said to have fished in local waters and made journeys into the hinterland of their new found territories, there were thought to have been few attempts to actually colonise these new lands, until such time as local agreements and alliances had been made with the indigenous peoples who inhabited them. By the beginning of the 17th century though, several thousand, largely French colonists, were thought to have settled in New France, many of whom were employed in the fledgling fur trade which had first begun in 1604. Within four years the capital city of these new French territories, Quebec, was thought to have been founded, resulting in further, more detailed exploration of the wider region, including its great lakes and rivers and the formation of new alliances with the local tribesmen, such as the “Huron”.

Jacques Cartier
However, despite these French explorers and colonists having settled throughout extensive areas of the territories that later became Canada, their numbers were thought to have been relatively small and thinly spread, which prevented them from holding complete control over their vast new possessions. Whilst French interests were thought to have been largely concentrated to the east and south of Hudson’s Bay, various British colonies were said to have been established in both Newfoundland and along the shores of Hudson’s Bay, in areas where ownership was disputed by each of the European powers. From Quebec in the north east to New Orleans in the south, French claims included the later southern states of Louisiana and Illinois, along with all of those territories now occupying the centre of the modern day United States. To the northeast, the region of modern Canada, now marked by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, had originally been occupied by French explorers and settlers, who knew the region as Acadia, which was said to have changed hands between Britain and France during the 17th century. For much of the next century, until 1756 and the start of the Seven Years War, this French held region of Acadia was reported to have been a generally unsettled place, with parts of Nova Scotia passing into British hands in 1713 and the other areas of Acadia remaining the subject of both sides claims right through to the 1756. In 1758 British forces were reported to have attacked the main French military stronghold in the region, Louisbourg and having captured the fortress, completely demolished it, in order to prevent the French from re-occupying it in the future. With their main defensive position destroyed, the remaining French positions quickly fell, leaving Britain in complete control of the northeast region of the American coastline. In the remaining parts of French Canada, the end of the Seven Years War and the Treaty of Paris in 1763, saw France formally cede the remainder of their western territories to Britain, regions that would later form part of British controlled Canada.
Although these new possessions were not thought to have been permanently settled by British colonists until after the Seven Years War in 1763, loyalist immigrants were said to have begun arriving after that date and went on to form the basis for the local population. Their numbers were said to have been substantially increased in the late 18th century by large numbers of immigrants and refugees, who had travelled north from the thirteen former British colonies, which had previously declared themselves as the United States. Following the end of the American Revolution in 1781 and the resulting Treaty of Paris signed in 1783, between Britain and the United States, certain territories of British Canada were subsequently ceded to the new American Republic, including what later became the US states of Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, in return for the establishment of a formal border between the United States and British controlled Canada.

British Redcoats
Being on the border of the newly formed United States though, the southern regions of British Canada were also said to have been heavily involved during the war of 1812, which saw American and British forces confront one another again over their newly formed territorial borders. However, with a significant British naval presence based in Halifax and with the new American Republic lacking the ships and personnel to seriously threaten the region, eventually a peaceful settlement was found that both countries could accept. However, not content with having tried unsuccessfully to invade the British regions of Canada, a number of American republicans were reported to have tried to promote civil discontent in the largely French dominated region of Lower Canada, especially around the city of Quebec, where rebel leaders tried to foment rebellion against the British authorities. Although these revolts were thought to have been largely unsuccessful, nonetheless the British government were said to have sent a delegation to Canada to assess the situation and to determine the best course of action for the authorities to take.
The main delegate, Lord Durham, was reported to have spent some months talking to local representatives, before returning to Britain to advise Parliament that Canada should be offered its own responsible government. Durham suggested that the regions of Upper and Lower Canada should be merged into one United Province of Canada, a suggestion that was incorporated into the Act of Union, which was passed by the British Parliament in 1840. Despite the reservations that were expressed by those Canadians opposed to the scheme, within eight years, systems of both local and national government were said to have been established in the newly united Province of Canada, which continued to operate right through to the 20th century. 
Further political unity between the main part of British Canada in the west and the Maritime colonies in the east was thought to have become a much greater priority following the American Civil War, which occurred between 1861 and 1865. With diplomatic relations between Britain and the United States said to have been uneasy, largely because of tacit British support for the southern Confederacy and with North American connivance over Irish republican raids into British controlled Canada, there were calls for further cooperation between the various northern states that lay outside of American control.
Although not all of these British colonies were amenable to the idea of any sort of political union, ultimately all of them were reported to have attended a conference at Charlottetown in 1864, where the subject of a much larger confederation of northern states was discussed by the various regional delegates. They subsequently agreed to meet in London, where the British North America Act of 1867 was discussed and eventually signed, ostensibly leading to the creation of a united Canada. According to most Canadians this first Act represents the date that their country became independent of the British Empire and although the act itself was subsequently modified in both 1949 and 1982, these later amendments were generally in response to specific French Canadian issues and Parliamentary procedures, rather than dealing with the day to day governance of the country, which had largely come into effect in 1867. During the 19th century the east coast of Canada was also thought to have become the destination for many hundreds of thousands of refugees from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales who were driven from their homes by poverty or famine during the 1800’s and who all added their own particular influences to the creation of the modern day Canadian nation.  

Queen Victoria
From 1867 through to the dawn of the 20th century, Canada was said to have continued its consolidation, with the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island finally choosing to become part of the federated country in 1871, with Prince Edward Island following suit some two years later. Although this thirty-odd year period was generally regarded as one of growth and settlement, there were still occasional disputes with its southern neighbour, America, especially regarding the purchase of Alaska in 1867 and the subsequent gold rush there during the late 1890’s, although both of these issues were said to have been finally resolved through negotiation.
As with many of Great Britain’s self governing colonies and dominions, the outbreak of the First World War proved to be a pivotal moment in the history of these former Imperial territories, marking their change from being an historic dependency of the British Crown, to becoming a recognisable international state in its own right. Through its political decision making, but more importantly through the valour and commitment of its armed forces, Canada was reported to have finally emerged upon the world stage as an independent democratic nation which willingly submitted itself to upholding the ideals of freedom and democracy.
As in the other great British colonies and dominions throughout the globe, including India, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, tens of thousands of young Canadian’s, both men and women, were reported to have rallied to Britain’s cause, willingly committing themselves to her defence. Despite only having a relatively small standing army of some several thousand men, within a matter of months, some thirty thousand Canadians were said to have volunteered to serve in Western Europe and were making their way across the Atlantic to take their place on the Western front. The first Canadian troops were thought to have arrived in France by the beginning of 1915 and elements of their 1st Division were reportedly some of the first allied troops to have been attacked with the poison chlorine gas which was commonly used by the German army. While large numbers of British and French troops were said to have fled the threat of this new weapon, the Canadians were thought to have quickly realised that the effects of the gas could be neutralised by the use of urine soaked rags being placed over their nose and mouths, helping them to hold their positions and preventing the enemy forces from advancing. However, even with their homemade defence against the poisonous clouds that were unleashed on their lines, it was still reported that some six thousand Canadian troops were affected by the gas, of which, a full third were thought to have died as a direct result of it being deployed against them.

Dieppe Troops
Canadian forces were also an intrinsic part of the allied force that was marshalled in 1916 in preparation for the Battle of the Somme, which ultimately resulted in the largest number of allied casualties ever suffered by British and Dominion forces, nearly fifty eight thousand men killed or wounded in a single day. As much the result of poor planning, communications and inadequate leadership, as it was of complete incompetence, such enormous human losses were thought to have become a common feature of the First World War overall, although for the Canadian’s specifically, the Somme campaign alone was thought to have accounted for some twenty five thousand casualties, either killed or wounded. Despite such losses however, Canada’s frontline troops, continued to enhance their military reputation, reportedly being prepared to take on any military assignment, seemingly regardless of the cost and earning the everlasting esteem of their civilian contemporaries, as well as their political masters in equal measure. Vimy Ridge was said to be just one of the many battles which saw the Canadian military divisions take their place in the vanguard of various allied operations, designed to capture the German army’s well established defensive lines. Beginning on the morning of the 9th April 1917, a “creeping artillery barrage” was said to have cleared the way for the following Canadian troops, who then cleared the trenches of their German defenders, slowly, but surely moving the allied lines forward of their previous positions. By the afternoon of the following day the Canadian troops had not only taken a great deal of ground, but also captured several thousand German prisoners and killed many hundreds more. However, the victory had not come without a high price for Canada’s own young troops, who were reported to have suffered some eleven thousand casualties, either dead or wounded, a figure which underpinned their utter determination to achieve the objectives that they had been given.
Seven months later and largely because of their tenacious reputation, Canadian troops were reported to have been redeployed to the Ypres area, in readiness for yet another allied offensive that later became known as the Second Battle of Passchendaele, which was fought between October and November 1917. In conjunction with British and Anzac troops, Canadian soldiers were tasked with pushing the German’s front line back, allowing the allied positions to be advanced, so that the town of Passchendaele could be recovered by the allies.
Although there were several instances of allied reversals and occasional failures to reach individual objectives, the operation itself proved to be successful, although the entire campaign was said to have cost some sixteen thousand Canadian casualties, with at least a quarter of that number being killed. Despite these losses though, Canadian troops were thought to have been so vital to the allied offensive strategy that they were intensively employed throughout much of 1918, most notably during the famous One Hundred Days Offensive, which saw Canadian troops and others, participate in the Battle of Amiens, Cambrai and the vital breaking of the Hindenburg Line which ultimately forced Germany to agree an Armistice on 11th November 1918.
As with a number of other former British colonies, including Australia and New Zealand, by the end of the First World War, Canada’s international reputation as one of the principal victorious allied nations, had been assured and the military worth of its fighting forces had likewise been enhanced. Back in Canada itself, its own people began to see themselves as an integral part of the international community, a country with its own culture, traditions and now with a reputation and standing that was equal to its previously more dominant American and British counterparts. Although Canada was thought to have been largely independent of Britain, since the beginning of the 20th century, its emergence after World War I, was thought to mark the period when most Canadians began to see themselves as Canadians, rather than being historically tied to or associated with Britain or indeed the United States.

W. MacKenzie King
The almost inevitable separation of Canada from the British Empire was said to have been largely confirmed by the Canadian government’s subsequent adoption of the Statute of Westminster 1931, which essentially granted the former dominion full legislative independence from the British Parliament in London. For some Canadians, the formal adoption of this 1931 Statute actually represents the true date of Canada’s independence, as opposed to the North American Act of 1867, though either way this was only a matter of formality, rather than being a substantive issue. Interestingly though, despite Canada’s decision to ratify the 1931 Statute, the neighbouring British dominion of Newfoundland refused to do so, a situation that was only changed in 1949, when political and economic circumstances effectively forced Newfoundland to become a province of Canada, a decision that was thought to have caused much bitterness and resentment within the local population at the time.

Although Canada was entirely independent of Britain by September 1939, when the Second World War erupted, the Canadian government declared war against Nazi Germany on 10th September nonetheless and the following day issued a similar declaration against Mussolini’s Italy. As was the case elsewhere with many of the western allies, during the inter-war years Canada was thought to have put little investment into its armed forces and in common with its pre-First World War status had a relatively small full-time army of several thousand which was supplemented by a part-time militia, both of which were poorly trained and ill-equipped.

In common with most democratic countries of the time, Canada, along with its former allies, Britain, France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, etc.  had believed that the losses of the Great War would prevent such an event ever happening again, but as with all of the other allied nations, they were wrong. Fortunately for the allied cause, in common with the United States, Canada was reported to have had the capacity to become one of the world’s greatest industrial producers and like its southern neighbour was able to mobilise these vast manufacturing facilities to produce materials for the war, including ships, aircraft and wheeled vehicles. 

However, according to some sources, the most important products supplied by Canada during the Second World War were the vast amounts of both aluminium and nickel, both of which were necessary components of the allied war effort. The first military supply convoy reportedly left Canada just days after war had been officially declared and by June 1940, the first Canadian troops were said to have been landed in Europe, in an attempt to reinforce the British and French forces that were being forced back to Dunkirk by the advancing German army. Unfortunately, the Canadian troops were thought to have reached France far too late to prevent the large scale evacuation of the allied expeditionary force and were subsequently forced to withdraw from Europe, back to the isolated British mainland.

Rather frustratingly perhaps, for the Canadian troops, with Britain generally besieged and few foreign theatres in which to operate effectively against Germany and her Axis allies, most of these Canadian forces were thought to have been largely restricted to defending Britain’s mainland from the threat of an impending German invasion, which never actually happened. Thanks largely to a British Air Force which contained numerous Commonwealth pilots from around the world, including many from Canada itself; the German Luftwaffe was prevented from gaining air superiority, which was a prerequisite for the planned military invasion of Britain. With the Battle of Britain won by the RAF and its limited numbers of pilots and planes, Germany subsequently turned its attention to Russia, fatally wounding its own long term military ambitions by fighting on two separate fronts, one to the east and one to the west.
Apart from the ill-fated and largely unsuccessful raid on the French port of Dieppe in August 1942, most Canadian troops had to wait until 1943 before they could become formerly engaged on the European continent, when they were fully employed in both the invasion of Sicily and later the Italian mainland. However, elements of the Canadian army were said to have been involved with one of the conflicts most notable Special Forces units, the Devil’s Brigade, a mixed force made up of both American and Canadian troops.

Although they were reportedly tasked for a number of extremely difficult missions, the unit’s first high profile operation was reportedly against Monte La Defensa in Italy, during December 1943, where they were reported to have scaled a seemingly impenetrable cliff face to overcome German positions that were stationed there. Having overcome their initial target, the Brigade were then said to have been used to attack a number of similarly difficult mountain targets, as a result of which some 70% of the unit was thought to have been either killed or wounded. By January of the following year the Brigade was said to have been reinforced and put back into the frontline at Anzio, where they were first referred to as the “Devils Brigade”, having terrified the life out of the German forces that were opposing them.

Two of Canada's finest
With the approach of the allied invasion of mainland Europe planned for June 1944, the Canadian forces were said to have been allocated their own section of the Normandy coastline, codenamed “Juno” beach, where they suffered heavy casualties as they hurled themselves ashore to begin the long awaited liberation of Europe. Despite incurring heavier losses than any other allied force on the day, with the exception of the American troops on “Omaha” beach, the Canadian troops were reported to have still managed to penetrate deeper into occupied France than any other allied soldiers, save for those paratroopers who had been deliberately dropped inland in order to disable German communication systems, thereby preventing them from reinforcing their coastal defences, which were being attacked and overrun by the allies. 

Canadian forces were also later instrumental in helping to secure the port of Antwerp, leading a mixed British, Polish Belgian and Dutch force to secure the Scheldt estuary, which was still held by the Germans, thereby preventing the allies from using Antwerp as a supply point for their military operations in Europe. Suffering extremely heavy losses, of which some six thousand were reportedly Canadians, this force was said to have spent several weeks helping to secure the area around Antwerp, before turning their attention to the liberation of the Netherlands. Throughout the entire course of the Second World War, the Canadian people were reported to have contributed hundreds of thousands of their young men and women to the allied cause, who subsequently served in virtually every service, from the Army and Navy, to the Air Force and the auxiliary services, including Nursing and the Merchant Marine. Some one hundred thousand Canadian’s were thought to have been killed or wounded during the conflict, amongst which a significant number of gallantry awards were said to have been earned by Canada’s fighting forces, including several Victoria Crosses, the highest award that could be issued by the British military authorities.

No comments: