INTRODUCTION (The Planting of the First Colonies)
After the discoverers and explorers of the sixteenth century came (chiefly in the seventeenth) the founders of settlements that grew into States—French Huguenots in Florida and Carolina; Spaniards in St. Augustine; English Protestants in Virginia and Massachusetts; Dutch and English in New York; Swedes in New Jersey and Delaware; Catholic English in Maryland; Quaker English and Germans in Pennsylvania; Germans and Scotch-Irish in Carolina; French Catholics in Louisiana; Oglethorpe's debtors in Georgia.
To some of these came disastrous failures—to the Huguenots and Spaniards in Florida, to the English in Roanoke, Cuttyhunk and Kennebee. Others who survived had stern and precarious first years—the English in Jamestown and Plymouth, the Dutch in New York, the French in New Orleans. Chief among leaders stand John Smith, Bradford, Penn, Bienville and Oglethorpe, and chief among settlements, Jamestown, Plymouth, New York, Massachusetts Bay, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Savannah. The several movements, in their failures as in their successes, were distributed over a century and three-quarters, but since the coming of Columbus a much longer period had elapsed. From the discovery to the arrival of Oglethorpe lie 240 years, or a hundred years more than the period that separates our day from the years when America gained her independence from England.
Each center of settlement had been inspired by an impulse separate from that of others. Alike as some of them were, in having as a moving cause a desire to escape from persecution, religious or political, or otherwise to better conditions, they were divided by years, if not by generations, in time; the settlers came from lands isolated and remote from one another; they were different as to race, form of government, and religious and political ideals, and, once communities had been founded, each expanded on lines of its own and knew little of its neighbors.
The Spaniards who founded St. Augustine continued long to live there, but of social and political growth in Spanish Florida there was none. Spain, in those eventful European years, was fully absorbed elsewhere in Continental wars which taxed all her strength, especially that furious war, waged for forty years against Holland, and from which Spain retired ultimately in failure. In those years also was overthrown Philip's Armada, an event in which the scepter of maritime-empire passed from Spain to England.
Of the French settlements the chief was New Orleans, French from the beginning, and so to remain in racial preponderance, religious beliefs, and political ideals, for a century and a half after Bienville founded it—so, in fact, it still remains in our day. But elsewhere the French gave to the United States no permanent settlements. Numbers of them came to Florida, only to perish by the sword; others in large numbers settled in South Carolina, only to become merged with other races, among whom the English, with their speech and their laws, became supreme....