ENGLAND had sent generations of cod-fishers to the Newfoundland Banks and had sought the North-East and North-West passages to the Spice lands: when Raleigh founded Virginia in 1584, one of his avowed objects was to find a route through the continent to the Pacific. Virginia failed, but was revived in 1607 while Raleigh languished in the Tower of London. The hardships of the early settlers were dreadful, but they finally became prosperous on the cultivation of tobacco. To the south there were Spaniards in Florida. Further north the Dutch and Swedes made settlements, and in 1620 Plymouth in Massachusetts Bay was founded by Puritans who left England to escape petty persecution. Many settlers followed, who, from economic motives more than anything else, migrated to this " land of sand and sickness and sorrow Short allowance of victual and plenty of nothing but Gospel."
Colonies grew up-Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire-known collectively as New England. Unlike the Anglican planters of Virginia, who were very soon importing slaves from Africa, these settlers cultivated small farms of the English type and had no slaves. From early days they were keenly interested in education, printing, and litigation, and in the first two respects, at least, they differed from the Virginians. Their Puritanism was not coupled with toleration for rival sects, and they continued to stone moral offenders and burn alleged witches until the end of the seventeenth century. One colony, Rhode Island, was founded as a haven for religious refugees of every creed, and another, Maryland, to tolerate even Roman Catholics, a condition which did not last. There was money in colonies, and Charles II. and James II. encouraged the seizure of Dutch New Amsterdam (New York) and ex-Swedish Delaware in the 1660's; they set on foot the organisation of the Carolinas, and Penn's humanitarian colony of Philadelphia (1681). Georgia was founded under George II. as a refuge for debtors.
Thus there grew thirteen British colonies along the east coast, covering thinly the territory from the sea to the Alle-ghanies. Each had a royal governor with moderate powers, a parliament with control of taxation, and a few officials. There was no common government except the Lords of the Plantations in London, and it was impossible to make the colonies co-operate against the Indians and French. By the middle of the eighteenth century they contained over three million inhabitants-Dutch, German, French, Huguenot, and Presbyterian Irish, in addition to the predominant British. The planters continued to import both black slaves and white, the latter consisting of political prisoners, convicted criminals, and kidnapped wretches.
British interest in the West Indies began when in 1609 a ship was wrecked on the Bermudas a little before the date of Shakespeare's Tempest, which is held to contain allusions to this event; a permanent settlement was first made in 1623 on St. Kitts. During the eighteenth century statesmen held sugar-growing Guadeloupe, for instance, to be more valuable than Canada. Throughout the seventeenth century there flourished a cosmopolitan community of buccaneers who hunted the wild oxen of Tortuga, hewed logwood in the marshy jungle of Campeachy, and preyed on Spanish ships and ports.