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PREVIOUS to entering upon a detailed history of the
origin, progress, and present state of the great American Commonwealth, it will be necessary to take a concise view of the first discoveries in North America, and its early settlement by various European colonies; the principal of which were composed of adventurers from Great Britain.
The glory acquired by the immortal Columbus on discovering South America in the year 14:92, spread rapidly throughout Europe, and inspired many persons of learning and genius with an ardent spirit of enterprize. As early as the year 1196, only four years after the first discovery of America, John Cabot, by birth a Venetian, but a subject of the King of England, having obtained a commission from Henry VII. to discover unknown lands, and annex them to the British crown, sailed for China, accompanied by his three sons. On this voyage he fell in with the coast of Labrador, along which he proceeded as far as 67 deg. N. latitude. The year following in company with his son Sebastian, he undertook a second voyage, and on the 24th of June, 1497, discovered the Island of Newfoundland, and before his return traversed the Coast from Davis's Straits to Cape Florida.
In 1502, Sebastian Cabot again fell in with Newfoundland, and, on his return, carried three of the natives of that Island to England, and presented them to his patron, Henry VII. In the spring of 1513, John Ponce sailed from Port Rico in the West Indies, and discovered the Continent of America in 30 deg. N. lat. a short distance
from where the town of Pensacola now stands. Here he landed ; and finding the country overspread with a delightful verdure, and the trees and herbs in full bloom, named it Florida ; which for long after was the common name of both North and South America
It was not until the year 1524 that France attempted to make discoveries in America. For this purpose, John Verazanno, a native of Italy, was sent out by Francis I. and having traversed the coast from lat. 28 deg. to 50 deg. N. returned to Europe ; in a second voyage some time after he was lost at sea. The next year, Stephen Gomez sailed from Spain to Cuba and Florida, and from thence as far as 46 deg. N. lat. in search of a north west passage to China.
In 1534, a fleet was sent from France, under James Cartier, for the purpose of making discoveries in America.—He arrived at Newfoundland in May, and on the 10th of August found himself in a broad gulf, which, with the river that falls into it, he named St. Lawrence, in honour of the day. In this voyage he coasted as far north as lat. 51 deg. expecting in vain to find a passage to China. The next year he sailed 200 leagues up the river St. Lawrence, named the country New France, where he built a fort, in which he resided during the winter, and in the ensuing spring returned to France.
In 1542, the French King sent three ships to Canada, carrying 200 men, women, and children. They built a fort, and wintered there, but returned home in the spring.
In 1510, Alverdo, à Spaniard, who had sailed from Cuba with a view to conquer Florida, on the 30th of May arrived at Spirito Santo, in South America, from whence he travelled 150 leagues from the sea. Here he discovered a river a quarter of a mile wide and nineteen fathoms deep, on the banks of which he built seven small vessels ; with these he proceeded down the river 400 leagues, and arrived in the gulf of Mexico. This river must be that which is now called Mississippi.
In 1562, St Mary's river in Georgia, which forms a
part of the southern boundary of the United States, was explored by John Ribalt, who was sent from France to pursue discoveries in America. To another river he
gave the name of Port Royal, and built a fort, which he called Charles. Here he left a colony under Captain Albert; but the tyranny of Albert's conduct having occasioned a mutiny, the colony was ruined and the commander slain. Two years after, the French king sent threeships to Florida, under the command of Laudonier. In June he arrived at St. Mary's river, where he built a fort, and in honour of bis master, Charles IX. called it Carolina. In August this year, Captain Ribalt arrived a second time at Florida, with a fleet of seven vessels to recruit the colony which he had left under the ill-fated Albert. But a few weeks afterwards Pedro Melandes, with six Spanish ships, pursued Ribalt up the river, overpowered him with numbers, and cruelly massacred him and his wholecompany.—Melandes now erected three forts, and garrisoned them with 1200 soldiers. The French commander on St. Mary's river, Laudonier, having heard of the fate of Ribalt, took the alarm, and escaped with bis colony to France.
In 1576, Captain Martin Frobisher, a native of Doncaster in Yorkshire, was sent by Queen Elizabeth to find out a north-west passage to the East Indies. The first land he made on the American coast, was a cape; which, in honour to his mistress, he called Queen Eliz. abeih's Foreland. He afterwards discovered the Straits which bear his name, situated between Hudson's Bay and Davis's Straits; but being prevented by the ice from prosecuting his search for a passage to the East, he returned to England.
In 1579, Sir Humphry Gilbert obtained a patent from the Queen, for lands not yet possessed by any Christian Prince, provided he took possession within six years. – With this encouragement he sailed for America, and in August, 1583, anchored in Conception Bay. He afterwards discovered and took possession of St. John's harbour, in New Brunswick, and all the adjacent country;
but in pursuing his discoveries, one of his ships foundered; and on his return home, he was unfortunately lost.
In 1584, two patents were granted to Sir Walter Raleigh and Adrian Gilbert, similar to that obtained by Sir Humphrey Gilbert five years before. Accordingly two ships were sent out under the command of Philip Amidas and Arthur Barlow, who landed twenty miles west of Roanoke river. On the 13th of July, they formally took possession of the country, and in honour of their virgin Queen Elizabeth, called it Virginia. Before this time it was known by the general name of Florida,
In the following year, Sir Walter Raleigh fitted out, seven ships under Sir Richard Grenville, who arrived in Virginia in the month of June. Having stationed a colony of about 100 persons at Roanoke, under the
government of Captain Ralph Lane, he traversed the coast as far north-east as Chesapeak Bay, and then returned to England.-Captain Lane's colony having suffered the utmost hardships, would certainly have perished, had not Sir Francis Drake, after having made many conquests, fortunately landed in Virginia, and carried them to their native country. A fortnight after, Sir Richard Grenville arrived with more adventurers; and though the colony which he before stationed could not be found, nor did he know but they had all died of famine, yet he had the temerity to leave fifty persons on the same spot.
In the year 1587, Sir Walter sent out another supply of recruits to Virginia, under Governor White. He arrived at Roanoke in the month of July ; but none of the fifty men left by Grenville then remained. Notwithstanding this misfortune, he resolved to hazard a third colony; and accordingly left 115 persons and returned to England.
In 1590, Governor White arrived at Roanoke, with a supply of recruits and provisions for his colony ; but to his great surprise and affliction, not an individual was to be found.
In the year 1602, Captain Gosnold, with thirty others, discovered and gave names to Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, then known by the general name of North Virginia ; and also to Elizabeth Island, and Martha's Vineyard, two islands upon the coast; in the former of which they intended to establish their first colony. Not having sufficient resolution to make the atttempt, they all reembarked and returned to England.
In 1603, Sir Walter Raleigh despatched Martin Pring and Wm. Brown, in two small ships, to make further disoveries in North Virginia. In lat 43 deg. 30 min. N. they fell in with a multitude of Islands; and having coasted southward round Cape Cod, they anchored in a good harbour in lat. 41 deg. 25 min. where they landed; and after remaining seven weeks, loaded one of their vessels with sassafras and returned home. This year Bartholomew Gilbert sailed for South Virginia in search of the third colony, left there by Governor White sisteen years before. After having visited several islands in the West Indies, he landed in the Bay of Chesapeak, where he and four of his men were slain by the natives. The remainder of his people, without searching further for the colony, sailed for England.
In 1604, the King of France granted a patent to De Mons, of all the lands in America, from the 40th to the 46th degree of N. lat. under the name of Acadia. He accordingly traversed the coast from the river St. Lawrence, to Cape Sable, the most northerly point of Nova Scotia, and from thence round to Cape Cod.
In May, 1605, Captain George Weymouth discovered George's Island and Pentecost Harbour. He afterwards entered a river in N. lat. 43 ueg. 20 min. which from its situation, appears to have been the Piscataqua in New Hampshire. From this place he carried five of the natives with him to England.
In the spring of the year 1606, King James I. by patent, divided Virginia in two colonies, under the names North and South Virginia. The southern including all