Before there could be permanent settlements in the New World, people first had to sail over. These trips were often long and hard trips for the travelers on them, especially for the people that financed the trip. Sometimes there were people who wanted to finance a trip but couldn’t afford to do it by themselves. The solution to this problem was to form a group to finance the journey. These groups were called joint stock companies. These companies then had to receive a charter from the King in order to be able to take the journey.

The First Settlements

There were two major joint stock companies. One was the London Company. They made their settlements in North Carolina and Virginia. The other company was the Plymouth Company. They established their settlements in New England.

Roanoke Island

One of the first settlements was at Roanoke Island. This was not a lasting establishment, however, because the governor left the people for a short while to go to England and when he came back, he found that the people were missing. The only clue to where the people had gone was one word carved on a tree -- CROATOAN.

Sir Walter Raleigh was given a patent from Queen Elizabeth to settle any lands he could. In 1585, he sent 100 people to settle the land, under the command of Ralph Lane. Unfortunately the settlers arrived too late for planting season and were doomed to survive the winter unprepared. It probably didn't help that Lane kept the people away from the natives of the island who could have provided help, and then murdered their chief, Wingina, because of a stolen cup. By 1586, the men had had enough and left the island.

Raleigh was disappointed, but still wanted to start a colony. So, he sent 117 men, women and children over under the command of John White. On August 18, 1587, Eleanor Dare, John White's daughter, gave birth to a baby girl named Virginia. Ten days later, John White set sail for England to get supplies. Upon arriving at the island two years later, on August 18, 1590, he found it deserted, and on a palisade in the deserted city was the word "CROATOAN". This was supposed to mean the settlers would be found on the nearby island, but he never was able to return to America to find them.

The Jamestown Settlement

The first major settlement was Jamestown. It was settled by the London Company. It was the first lasting settlement in the New World. It was called Jamestown in honor of King James of England.

The London Company sent 144 people to settle the area. On the voyage, 41 of them died. When the people arrived in the New world, they wanted to hunt for gold and silver rather than farm and grow crops. This was just one of the many problems the people had in the new world.

Other problems that occurred while they were on the island include that the people were not prepared to make food, they were exposed to new diseases and extreme temperatures which were not known of in England. Also, the Europeans settled in an area where there was brackish water, or the place where salt water mixes with fresh water. All these problems caused two-thirds of the population to die.

John Smith, however, stepped up to lead the people of Jamestown to great success. Smith ordered all the "gentlemen" to work and make crops. Many historians believe that that the colony could not have survived without him. John Smith also discovered that the popular product of tobacco grew very well in the New World. He designated it a cash crop. A cash crop is a crop that is sold to make money instead of being given to the people for daily needs.

The Plymouth Plantation

The Plymouth colony was another early colony of North America. A group of Seperatists, people who wanted to seperate from the Church of England, set out with a charter to the northern part of Virgina to gain religous freedom. However, they did not land in northern Virginia, but in what is now Massachusetts, in 1620.

The people realized this and wrote a compact, an agreement, of rules and regulations that should take place on the colony. After 41 people signed, it became the Mayflower Compact.

The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact is the outline of the government of the colony at Cape Cod. This document forms a civil body politic in which the government was formed by the people, meaning that the people agreed on the laws that should be made.

Life in Plymouth

Plymouth, Massachusetts began as a fishing village.The colony was quite religious and their whole lives revolved around God and their religion. The Pilgrims at Plymouth were also given lots of assistance from the nearby Native Americans, who taught them how to plant their own crops, and helped them through winter. That is when the first Thanksgiving took place. The Native Americans and the Pilgrims were celebrating getting through the winter, and working together successfully.

Regions in the Colonies

As people came to America, distinct regions began to develop. The main regions were New England colonies, Middle colonies, Southern colonies, and the Frontier.

New England Colonies

The New England colonies consisted of Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Most of the economy in New England was based on industries such as fishing, ship building, and factories. This was because the land in the the north was rocky and not very good farmland, so people had to find other jobs.

Another important aspect of New England Economy was the Triangular trade. This was a three way trade route where the West Indies produced molasses, and shipped it to New England where it was turned into rum. The rum was sent to Africa where it was traded for slaves. Then the slaves were shipped to The West Indies where they worked to produce more molasses. People in the New England Colonies were usually against the acts of Great Britain

Middle Colonies

The colonies in the middle colonies are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

The main way people lived in the middle colonies was to farm. The farming that they did mostly produced grains. The land in the middle colonies was more fertile than other parts of the thirteen colonies.

Southern Colonies

The Southern Colonies were made up of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and were dominated by the Church of England. Farming was the most important part of the economy in this region by far.
On the small farms, farmers grew corn, grains, fruits, and vegetables. These farms did not have slaves because they did not need them and they couldn’t afford them. On larger farms, or plantations, masters had slaves to do the work for them. These masters were also rich enough to control importing and exporting of goods they grew such as tobacco, rice, and indigo. Even though these masters were rich, they were usually in debt. People in the southern colonies also tended to be very loyal to Great Britain as opposed to the people of the New England Colonies.

New England Colonies

Rhode Island

Roger Williams founded Providence, Rhode Island in 1636 after being banished from Massachusetts. In 1638 Anne Hutchinson was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and brought over more settlers. Many were attracted to the colony because it promised religious freedom. Roger Williams worked hard to ensure that religious and political freedom were promised in Rhode Island.

The religious freedom made Rhode Island popular, as it was used by persecuted people of many religions. Baptists arrived in 1639, Quakers came in 1657 and were shortly followed by Jewish in 1658. In 1686 French Huguenots arrived as well.

Farming and trading were extremely profitable businesses in Rhode Island. Rhode Island was the first colony to prohibit the importation of slaves, even though they made a large profit from the slave trade.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire colony was founded in 1623 by Captain John Mason. Mason lived in Hampshire County, England. He sent people to settle the land and begin a fishing colony. The captain died in1635, in the midst of preparing for his first trip to the colony. In 1679, New Hampshire became a Royal Colony. New Hampshire grew very slowly because land had been taken from the Mason family over the years and they were unsatisfied.

In 1719, Scotch-Irish immigrants settled in New Hampshire. They founded the town of Londonderry and began an industry. From their homes, they began raising flax and manufacturing linen goods.


Massachusetts was founded in 1620, when the ship the "Mayflower rolled up onto Plymouth's shores, led by William Bradford and John Winthrop with people seeking religious freedom from Great Britain. These people were called the Pilgrims, because of their wanderings. Because the pilgrims were seeking religious freedom, some were called Puritans because they wanted to purify parts of the church that they did not see fit, also the Separatists, who were people who withdrew from the church, with a hope to create a new one. The economy and occupations for this settlement were crop and livestock farming, lumber shops and shipping. Without hard determination and a strong faith, the Pilgrims would have never survived, and Massachusetts would never have flourished.


The colony of Connecticut was founded in 1636, by a man named Thomas Hooker who was a puritan, who did not believe in some of the laws, and types of leadership in Massachusetts. So when he heard about some fertile land to the west, he set out to claim the land. They settled in an old Dutch fort to start the colony in motion, they called their new home Hartford. Hartford combined with two other settlements to form Connecticut in 1639. The economy and occupation of this settlement was mostly farming( crops and livestock), shipping,fishing,and whaling. The puritans were also asked to sign a document called The Fundamental Orders. The Fundamental Orders was needed to be signed if you wanted the right to vote. In 1662, King Charles II granted a charter that gave Connecticut more rights out of all the colonies, except Rhode Island, but soon after the king sent someone to stop the charter, but it was hidden in the trunk of an Oak tree, so this is the symbol of Connecticut's freedom.

Middle Colonies

New York

The colony of New York was founded in 1664, by James, the Duke of York. The duke was formally the owner of the settlement called New Netherlands. To honor the duke, it was named after him. A downside to the new colony was that the duke was very wealthy and gave huge estates along the Hudson River to rich Englishmen. The landowners of these large pieces of land to charge the farmers high rent who were working their land. So that had an effect on the wealth between the land owners and people living there, so it discouraged people from moving to New York. The people wanted freedom to elect their officials and to worship the god they pleased. Of course the duke was against this and abolished it, it was not until the leadership of Jacob Leisler, did they get what they wanted. They rebelled against the laws, and in 1691, the people were given the right to pas laws, set taxes, and elect an assembly. The economy and occupations of New York was fur trapping, lumber, shipping, slave trade, merchants and tradesmen, farming, and iron mining.

New Jersey

Founded in 1664 by English colonists, New Jersey became a state on December 18, 1787. Originally, New Jersey was settled by the Dutch and referred to as New Netherlands. It was renamed New Jersey after Sir George Carteret, who was given a propriety grant for the colony and was the governor of the Isle of Jersey. New Jersey started out as a propriety colony, but in 1702, it was granted a Royal charter. A major occupation in New Jersey is manufacturing (iron working and lumbering). New Jersey was the third state to ratify, or approve of, the U.S. Constitution.


The colony of Pennsylvania was founded in the year 1682, by the well known Quaker William Penn. The Quakers believed in simple living and equality, very much like the Amish of today. Penn asked the king if he could establish a new colony in America, the king gave in to his request because of a debt he owed Penn's father, and to get rid of Penn because of his voice in wanting freedom for his people. To be rid of Penn and to pay off the debt, the king gave a huge amount of land between the colonies of New England and the Anglican colonies of the south to Penn and his Quakers, in honor to Penn's father the settlement was named Pennsylvania. Pen had one major passion, the freedom to be treated equally, and to be able to pray to your own god. For years to come people from all over the world marveled at the peace and happiness of Pennsylvania. Penn named the capital Philadelphia, which means, "City of Brotherly Love".

Southern Colonies


The colony of Maryland was founded in the year 1634, by Sir George Calvert, who was the first Lord Baltimore, as well as a proprietor of the King Charles I of England. Calvert, like so many wanted religious freedom. He was a Roman Catholic, who was treated badly in the Anglican church and wanted a colony to start, founded on religious freedom. In the process of making his new colony, he died, so the king gave a charter to his son Cecilius. As leader of Maryland, Cecilius granted freedom of religion only to Christians. For almost a century the religions fought, and the founding family lost and regained power many times, but Sir George's wish was granted and Catholics and Protestants worked along side by side. Some occupations of Maryland were farming, (crops, beef, and dairy), lumber, shipping, fishing, and iron mining.

In the Civil War, Maryland was a slave state and sympathetic with the Confederates, but still stayed in the Union during the war.


The Virginia colony began with Jamestown and the London Company. The company was run poorly, however, and in 1624, King James I took away the charter and brought Virginia under direct royal control.

North Carolina

When King Charles II became king, he decided to grant land to eight nobles. This proprietary colony was called Carolina and ran from the southern border of Virginia, to the northern border of Spanish Florida. Many Virginians moved into the northern part of Carolina, and soon the colony was separated into two, and both were eventually taken back by the king to be royal colonies.

Many people in North Carolina set up small farms that produced tobacco and rice, just like those of Virginia. Rice became a very important crop and resulted in a large demand of slavery. When the Civil War came around, North Carolina did secede from the Union to become a part of the Confederate States of America.

South Carolina

Many people were sent by proprietors to settle the southern part of Carolina. These people broke away from the original land grant in 1729 and became the royal colony of South Carolina. Trade became very important in South Carolina, and the growing port settlement of Charles Town (later renamed Charleston), named after the king. Trade was conducted between other colonies, England, and the West Indies.


The last established colony in the New World was Georgia in 1732. James Oglethorpe wanted to reform England, so he asked for charter for land in America. Oglethorpe named the new colony Georgia after King George III. The new colony was a refuge for English people who were locked in prison because they couldn't pay their debts. The colony grew slowly, however, because the debtors were not willing to work and ran away. Many plans for crops did not follow through because the Georgians were fighting the Spaniards for most of the time. Finally, in 1752, the king took back the charter and Georgia became a royal colony.