1507–1773

European Colonization in North America

Traduction en Français

The first Europeans landed on the North American continent from the far North. These pioneers, still a mystery today, were Vikings, under the direction of a bold leader, Leif Erikson, who founded a small colony on the Labrador Coast, Vinland, in the year 1000. The venture, short-lived, would soon fall into oblivion.

Jeanne Laffont
A Very Progressive Occupation

Half a millennium later, other Europeans touched the coast of the future Canada.

— French Explorations

The first was an Italian explorer in the service of King Henry VII of England named John Cabot. He reached the islands of Cape Breton and Newfoundland at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River on June 24, 1497, just five years after Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to the West Indies.

To tell the truth, he paid little attention to colonization and conquest. He was looking for a maritime shortcut to China and India, the mythical Northwest Passage. The same was true of the navigator Giovanni da Verrazano (1524), in the service of the King of France Francis I.
 
Following Jacques Cartier (1534), the French took possession of the mouth of the St. Lawrence, New France, but it was only in the following century that they established settlement colonies there.
— Spanish Explorations
On March 27, 1513, Spanish navigator Juan Ponce de León landed on a flowery shoreline in the northern Caribbean, which made him the first European to tread the ground of the future United States.
 
This former companion of Christopher Columbus believed he was dealing with a legendary island where a 'fountain of youth' would be located. As it was the day of Easter, he christened it 'Pascua Florida' (meaning 'flowery festival' or 'feast of flowers'). It would later be discovered that it was a peninsula and not an island. Half a century later, the first Spanish settlers established themselves in this place, still known as Florida.
— English Explorations
The English were slow to set foot in North America. During a famous sailing tour of the world (the second after that of Magellan and del Cano), the navigator Francis Drake docked on the Californian coast (on the Pacific side) on June 17, 1579. He named the place Nova Albion, but this name would not survive the Spanish colonization.
 
More lucky was his rival Walter Raleigh. This courtier organized an expedition at his own expense in order to colonize the North American coast. On April 27, 1584, mariners docked on what would in 1607 become the colony (and then state) of Virginia, so named in honor of Elizabeth I, the 'virgin queen' (supposed as such because she was unmarried).
— Dutch Explorations

In 1609, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) entrusted an exploration mission to the English captain Henry Hudson. The latter returned to Amsterdam with a project of colonization at the mouth of the river that would later bear his name. This would be New Amsterdam, better known today as . . . New York.

— Swedish Explorations

In April 1638, about fifty Swedish settlers settled at the mouth of Delaware, around a fort called Christina in honor of the future Queen Christine, daughter of King Gustavus Adolphus. But this colony was soon conquered by the Dutch.

And the Native Americans?

More than a hundred years had elapsed between the time when a European first reached North America (in 1497) and the moment when English and French settlers established themselves there for good (in 1607 with Sir Newport on the coast of Virginia; and in 1608 with Samuel de Champlain on the banks of the St. Lawrence).

This vast territory was then populated by American Indians; those to the South, in the drylands, mainly cultivated corn, while those to the North, in the Great Plains, lived off of innumerable bison. In total, there were about one million souls over an area of ​​more than 16 million km2 (three times the size of Europe).

The United States in the Making

Stimulated by the dynamism of their navy in the 17th and 18th centuries, the British quickly drove the Dutch from the North American coast and founded a total of Thirteen Colonies along the seaboard. These colonies all had their own personalities because of the circumstances of their foundation and their histories, starting with the first, Virginia.

It was together, however, that they gained independence in 1783, after a long war of independence, becoming the United States of America.
Publié ou mis à jour le : 2018-11-27 09:50:14

 
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