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America in the 17th Century

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

America in the 17th Century

In the 17th century, America was primitive and nearly vacant. A few million Neolithic people were scattered over thousands of miles. Today it is the mightiest, richest, most dynamic civilization in human history. America is an idea—individual rights and democratic self-government, founded upon the twin pillars of Faith and Freedom.

The American colonies dashed many a Utopian dream. These thirteen colonies were planted by England over the course of 125 years.

The founders saw in the American Experiment an opportunity to create a society according to plan. The concept was that ordered liberty would breed economic prosperity. No large nation on earth has provided more stability, prosperity, security, and liberty to more people than has the United States. Americans are freer than other peoples to pursue happiness.




Americans are creative, ambitious, aggressive hustlers: builders, doers, go-getters, dreamers, hard workers, inventors, organizers, engineers, and a supremely generous people. They seek the American Dream, largely embodied in the "rags-to-riches" story.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed: "In a democracy private citizens see a man of their own rank in life who rises from that obscure position in a few years to riches and power; the spectacle excites their surprise and their envy. . . . To attribute his rise to his talents or his virtues is unpleasant, for it is tacitly to acknowledge that they are themselves less virtuous and less talented than he was. They are therefore led, and often rightly, to impute his success mainly to some of his vices; and an odious connection is thus formed between the ideas of turpitude and power, unworthiness and success, utility and dishonor."



English Colonies in America

The colonies planted by England were far different from those of Spain or France. England had invented the first free market capitalist society in the world. It bequeathed to America the English Common Law tradition, unknown in the rest of the world. England had invented the secular professions of lawyer and judge, and a system of civil justice based on contracts, equal access to courts, and a right to private property.

England passed on to America its incredible advances in agriculture: how to match crops with soil and climate; to plant, fertilize, and graft; to dress vines and prune fruit trees; to breed livestock and prescribe for sick animals.

The English were experts at building roads and bridges. The family firm and inheritance across generations were institutions in England. The English proved to be fabulous at mining and textiles, but most of all trade.

England had three main reasons to establish colonies in America. Timber, fish, and furs from America would bring in royal revenues and lessen dependence on imports. America would provide a market for English goods, particularly textiles. Emigration would drain off England's religious dissenters, as well as vagrants, criminals, and the unemployed.



American Indians

In 1630, American Indians numbered 400,000 east of the Appalachian Mountains. 3,800 people from England had joined them. The Indians were crippled by tribal feuds, and then decimated by infectious diseases such as smallpox, chicken pox, measles, and influenza, for which evolution or Providence had afforded them no protection.

Up to 90 percent of these Indians had disappeared from disease by 1670. The Indians had low fertility rates, partly because they breast-fed infants for three or four years. They suffered from very high infant mortality.

In contrast, the English reproduced at the biological maximum—8.3 children per wife. By 1690, the English outnumbered the Indians east of the Appalachians. The English colonists did not come to America to convert, enslave, or kill the Indians.





Colonists in America

In the 1630s, 80,000 people from England came to America. They were mostly poor people hoping for a better life, with the freedom to live as their faith dictated. Colonists came to America to escape the high cost of food in England, which had increased 400 percent in 100 years, and to escape the cities of England, which were sinkholes of filth, crime, and disease.

The England they left behind was full of dishonest shopkeepers, crooked gamblers, gangs of violent vagrants, pickpockets, drunkards, and whorehouses. 20 percent of English brides were pregnant walking down the aisle. 28 percent of the children born were bastards.

These colonists suffered treacherous voyages across the stormy Atlantic Ocean, only to risk early death in America. There was no safety net or social services in those days. They knew the hardships beforehand, but relied on courage and faith. 150,000 of them flooded into America in the 17th century—for land, water, and wood.

Wood was more precious than gold and abundantly available for those with an axe and willing shoulders. America was blanketed by forest, unlike deforested England. Virginia looked "like a forest standing in water" where "we cannot see our neighbor's houses for trees."

Families migrated to New England as units, far different from Virginia where fear of disease from swamps made the first settlers almost all men.





Colonists & Indians

The English settlers were so far advanced compared to the indigenous tribes in technology, agriculture, and plain organizational skills, that if it was a Darwinian contest for an ecological niche, it was no contest.

The colonists did not think themselves racially superior to Indians. They believed Indians were only dark- skinned due to effects of the sun. They thought themselves culturally superior; though it is not clear what you would expect them to think when they met people who had not yet discovered the wheel, possessed no written language, and were essentially living in the Stone Age.

The ideas promulgated by those who are on a mission to deconstruct America—the colonists stole or defrauded Indians of their land and committed genocide—are false.

Indians were thrilled to sell land to colonists—they had an almost unlimited supply of it. The Indians coveted the knives, hoes, clothes, and jewelry the colonists had a limited supply of to trade. Indians often initiated these trades. The Puritans allowed Indians to hunt and fish on lands after they purchased them. Boundary disputes were rare.

Harvard accepted Indian students in its second decade. Individuals were punished by colonial governments for unauthorized encroachments on Indian lands. Colonists could and did receive the death penalty for murdering Indians.












Jamestown was founded in 1607 in Virginia, but proved to be nursery for mosquitoes. Disease and famine reduced the colony to a mere forty souls by 1608, and two years later Jamestown was abandoned. Richmond was chosen as a better site.

Virginia grew as men cut timber, and traded hatchets, swords and muskets to the Indians for corn. They built wharves, warehouses, stables, churches, blockhouses, and forts. Each man planted a private plot of corn, beans, potatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. Soon they began to keep livestock for protein.

John Rolfe discovered that the way to prosperity in Virginia was tobacco—not the acrid tobacco the Indians used; Rolfe imported aromatic Spanish varieties. By 1618, Virginia was exporting 50,000 pounds of tobacco per year.

There was a grave shortage of women until 90 single young women came over in 1619. An iron foundry and a school were established.

On Good Friday, 1622, Indians massacred 347 whites, and condemned another 500 to a slow death by destroying their animals and crops, while besieging them inside a fort. The colonists were outraged and declared their intention to cleanse Virginia of all Indians in retaliation. Before they could get around to that, the Indians massacred 500 more whites in 1644—mutilating the women and children. The whites thus deemed the Indians incorrigibly savage and set out to subdue them.

The white population of Virginia grew from a mere 1,132 in 1624 to 15,000 in 1650.

Virginia was founded by prosperous tradesmen who desired to become country gentlemen. The goal was a spacious manor house on broad acres of land, where one would join the governing class; not to wallow in luxury and indolence, but to work long hours, and accept the burden of public responsibility. Only landowners had the right to vote.

Virginia was attractive to ambitious Englishmen, as they could make seven times the wages in England. Virginia attracted men of extraordinary talents. The Virginia gentleman would become a Justice of the Peace; patron, confessor, and overseer of the poor.

In the 17th century, the principle source of labor was the white indentured servant. After they fulfilled their contracts of seven years unpaid servitude, most moved on to North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland, or Pennsylvania. Around 1700, they began to be replaced by uncouth Negro slaves from the African jungle.

Virginia became an aristocracy. The "best" families tended to intermarry, and 100 families came to control the wealth and government of Virginia. The Virginia gentleman raced horses and hunted deer. The vast majority were of the Anglican denomination of the Christian Faith.



New York

New Amsterdam was founded by Dutch merchants in 1614. They purchased Manhattan Island from Indians for sixty guilders in 1625, and started bowerys (farms). They also established the first brewery in America.

New Amsterdam became a lawless, bustling harbor town of drunken sailors and Indians. In 1643, Indians slaughtered half the white settlers, forcing the Dutch to retreat into their fort, behind what is now Wall Street. The Indians removed the heads of their victims as trophies.

To repopulate, New Amsterdam became the first settlement in America to open its doors to people of all nations. The population boomed to over 10,000 by 1664, thanks to a steady influx of French Protestants (Huguenots), Belgian Catholics (Walloons), and Sephardic Jews.

In 1664, the English took over New Amsterdam and gave it a new name: New York. The main street was Broadway. The Dutch contributed many words to America: boss, cookie, crib, snoop, stoop, spook, and kill (for creek).












The Mayflower landed in 1620 at Plymouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts—300 miles off course. On board were 37 Pilgrims, and about 65 other folks. It had been a terrible voyage, nine weeks through high winds and huge waves. The Mayflower was dark and wet; the air was putrid. Everyone drank beer—even the children. The Pilgrims sang Psalms (spiritual songs) every day.

A Pilgrim is someone who takes a journey for religious reasons. The Pilgrims set out across the Atlantic Ocean and into the unknown. No one knew what was to become of them. They were afraid but they put their faith in God.

The Mayflower Compact, an agreement signed by all men aboard the ship as to the civil order for the new colony, was signed in the "Name of God" by the "Grace of God" for the "Glory of God" in the "Presence of God" and for the "Advancement of the Christian Faith"

The Pilgrims had to build shelter in cold, rainy, windy, icy weather. Though run down from the voyage, they worked constantly in wet clothing, and nearly all of them fell sick. Most of the wives died, as did all but one of the 20 young single men. The Pilgrims suffered, buried their dead, and survived—Together.

The Pilgrims observed the Sabbath. From Saturday afternoon to Monday morning no one did any work—not even cooking. Boys and girls learned to read from the Bible.

Half the Pilgrims died the first winter. The American Indian Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn, trap animals, and tap maple trees for syrup. The first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in 1621—a day to pray and thank God for His blessings.

The colony only survived after it abandoned the communal idea for the idea that everybody was on their own. Each family after 1623 had to feed itself from its own acre of land rather than depend on the labor of others.

Pilgrim leader William Bradford wrote that experience proved "the vanity of that conceit of Plato's . . . that the taking away of property and bringing community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing." In fact, "the young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. . . . Let none object this is men's corruption . . . all men have this corruption in them."

An early challenge to the moral universe of the Pilgrims was posed by Thomas Morton. He founded a little community to the north of Plymouth with a band of godless men. They erected an eighty-foot-tall antlered Pagan Maypole around which they drank, danced, and fornicated with Indian girls. Their motto was "Drink and be merry, merry, merry, boys; Let all your delight be in hymen's joys!"

In 1628, Governor William Bradford dispatched his militia under hired gun Miles Standish to expel the intruders and ship Morton back to England.














The Puritans were a humble, loving people. They established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628. New Hampshire and Maine were also founded in the 1620s.

The Puritans believed that if they established a Godly community, God would look upon them with favor. They would provide a lesson for all men—not by what they said, but by how they lived.

The Puritans were less interested in discussing theology than in applying a simple and pure orthodoxy to everyday life and society. Their lives were threatened daily by the hardships of a savage America. A certain singlemindedness was required to overcome the unpredictable perils of a wilderness. The Puritans saw themselves as reliving the story of Exodus; as the new Children of Israel.

The Puritans strove to live by the Scriptures of the Bible; to build a holy community, with a common quest and common way of living. The Puritans were a community of self-selected conformists. As Dr. Nathaniel Ward said: "The liberty of dissenters is the liberty to keep away from us."

While they enjoyed food, drink, and dancing as much as others, they were definitely against "atheism, witchcraft, blasphemy, murder, sodomy, buggery, adultery, and whoredom;" as well as the raucous and the ribald.

The Puritans lost half their settlers the first winter from starvation, scurvy, or frostbite. But within a few years they had built seven towns, including Boston. There was plenty of empty land around, which the Puritans purchased from Indians. John Winthrop noted that the Indians "enclose no land, neither have they any settled habitation, nor any tame cattle."

To obtain approval to start a new town, fifty or sixty men had to show proof that all Indian claims to the land at the proposed location had been retired; present a plan that showed a church, parsonage, school, and town hall; and endowed each founder with a plot of land.

Modern feminists lambast the patriarchal society of the Puritans, but extant writings by Puritan women show they were more zealous for the Puritan way of life than the men.

The Puritans had no illusions about creating a Utopia. They were Calvinists; they had a vivid discernment of evil. The Puritans believed in positive liberty—liberty to do what is right, good, and proper, not license to be corrupt and wallow in willful sin. As John Winthrop put it: "liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest; maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority."

The colony was not a theocracy; the clergy was separate from the state. But the state outlawed idleness, gambling, and public lewdness (including kissing). Work and travel were forbidden on the Sabbath. As Nathaniel Ward explained: "God does nowhere in His word tolerate Christian states to give toleration to adversaries of His truth, if they have power in their hands to suppress them. . . . Poly-piety is the greatest impiety in the world."

Within ten years of establishing their colony, the Puritans were exporting wheat, fish, cattle, and furs. After 1640, the shipbuilding industry boomed in New England. By 1676, there were 60,000 Europeans living in New England.

The Puritans managed to state their entire legal system as a "The Body of Liberties" in 1641—derived from the Bible and English Common Law. Massachusetts became the most successful of all American colonies. It was the first jurisdiction in history to require universal education. The Puritans founded the first university in America: Harvard.

In 1680, led by Increase Mather, the Puritan leaders clamped down on loose behavior. The new edicts condemned disrespectful language and comportment; public displays of emotion and pride; revealing female attire that might inflame the lusts of men; elegant hair styles meant to call attention to one's self; and dancing.



Meeting House

The 17th century was an age of great sermons. The simple, direct, plain-spoken sermon became the characteristic institution of the Puritans. It served as the orthodox manifesto and a form of community self-criticism. The highly literate congregations held their preachers to high intellectual standards.

In the New England meeting-house, the altar was replaced by the pulpit as the locus of worship service. The meeting-house was modeled on the synagogue, a place of instruction where the community learned its duties. It became the geographical and social center of every town in New England.

The meeting-house had no heat and no artificial light. In the cold winters, the winds howled through cracks in the walls, inside which ice formed. To reach the meeting-house might require a journey of several miles through snowdrifts where there were no roads.





Salem Witch Trials

The one unfortunate blot of the just fame of the Puritan Fathers is the Salem Witch Trials. It was believed that witchcraft involved the devil; it was practiced to arouse lust, and to place evil spells on enemies. The practice of witchcraft was a capital offense under the law of that time.

Salem (now Danvers) was a small farming village north of Boston, so well known for feuds and disputes among its residents that its nickname was "the graveyard for pastors."

A young African woman from the Caribbean enjoyed telling young girls tales of sorcery, probably about voodoo. When confronted, she confessed she was a witch, and that she had seen the devil in person. She also claimed nine other women in town were witches.

In the hearings that followed, blood-curdling stories were told. Some of those on trial proudly admitted they were witches. At one point in the proceedings, a defendant cried out for Satan to come and save her.

Crowd hysteria took over, as it often does. In the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, 53 were killed—three times more than the Salem Witch Trials. Yet some today compare the Salem Witch Trials with the massacres in Rwanda (800,000 dead).

The clergy stopped—not started—the Salem Witch Trials. Boston pastors convinced the civil authorities they had made a grave mistake, and persuaded them to issue a general pardon.



Rhode Island

In 1636, Roger Williams established Rhode Island as a colony in a new town he called Providence. Williams was the first person to establish civil government on the doctrine of liberty of conscience before the law, with religious freedom for all. The government should control crime, but never control the conscience. As Williams said, "No one should be bound to worship . . . against his own consent . . . . Every man should have liberty to worship God according to the light of his own conscience."

Roger Williams was a respected and beloved minister, of unassailable integrity and true benevolence. Williams was a gentle, kind, charismatic preacher. He opposed compulsory tithes and church attendance, and extended the vote to all married fathers.

Rhode Island became known as a refuge for scoundrels, but its true legacy was entrepreneurism. By 1645, Rhode Island abounded with corn, cattle, and sheep. It helped that it was not plagued by wolves, as was the rest of New England.




Hartford, Connecticut was founded in 1637 by Thomas Hooker, with 100 settlers and 160 head of cattle. The Indians living there positively encouraged them to come, in the hopes the colonists would provide a barrier to the hated Pequots.

John Pynchon was America's first cowboy. Cattle were allowed to run free on pasture land. Bulls "bullied" (origin of the word) cows and their owners. Stallions injured each other as they fought over mares.

John Pynchon learned from sailors about the West Indies roughnecks called buccaneers (and their famous beef jerky). They kept their livestock in barns and stables—the males separated except for breeding—and fattened their beasts on fodder. He instituted these methods in Connecticut in 1655, which proved to be a great financial success.

Connecticut soon became famous as the breadbasket of New England, and for exporting horses in specially designed ships called "jockeys."



Maryland, Delaware, & New Jersey

Maryland was founded in 1634 by Catholics. George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore, was granted control of the 10 million acres of land in Maryland.

Delaware was founded by Sweden in 1648, with 400 colonists. Among them were Finns, skilled woodsmen who gave America the log cabin. Delaware became an English colony in 1682.

New Jersey was founded in 1665 by Sir George Carteret, upon his purchase of 400,000 acres from Indians. Quakers bought the western half of New Jersey in 1674, and later purchased much of the eastern half as well.



The Carolinas

North Carolina was settled by people moving south from Virginia in the 1650s. Fifty years later it remained a remote area of scattered hamlets, lacking good harbors, with a reputation as a hangout for rogues.

South Carolina offered a high degree of religious tolerance even for the non-religious. Charles Town (Charleston) was founded in 1670, though it was relocated in 1679. Cattle was king at first. In the 1690s the first staple crop, rice, was introduced.

Indians traded deerskins to settlers for blankets and copper cooking vessels. The demand for deerskins resulted in the near extermination of the deer population in South Carolina. Indians in South Carolina captured Indians from other tribes and traded them for firearms, ammunition, and rum. Indian slaves were then shipped to Barbados.






William Penn received his charter for Pennsylvania in 1681. His idea was to plant a Quaker colony with freedom of conscience; a "Holy Experiment."

Penn had been jailed four times in England for being a Quaker. He believed in equality, was wary of political power, and believed Liberty to be the natural Right of all Men.

The Quakers were a courageous, persistent people who believed in simple, informal dress and language, as opposed to ceremoniousness. Quakers did not have established churches, nor any clergy, liturgy, or hymns. They believed the Holy Spirit dwelled in every person, and all people could converse with, and have a real relationship with God.

William Penn believed in toleration of doctrinal differences, for all "who confess and acknowledge the one Almighty and Eternal God . . . and hold themselves obliged, in conscience, to live peaceably and justly in civil society."

Huguenots and German Pietists came to Pennsylvania in large numbers, along with people from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, and Holland. There was cheap land, good soil, plenty of furs, and tons of wood (hence Sylvania).

William Penn cultivated friendly relations with the Indians through formal purchase of lands, trade for furs and food, feasts, entertainments, and by giving gifts. He also instituted two elected houses of government: the upper to propose laws; the lower to vote on them and administer justice. Trial by jury was guaranteed, and jail was not for punishment but for rehabilitation. Education was to be universal. By 1700, Philadelphia was the second largest city in America, behind Boston.




The Iroquois lived, in extended families of 50 or 60 members, in rectangular "long houses" sheathed in bark. The men hunted deer, bear, and beaver; the women grew corn, squash, and beans. The Iroquois vanquished their competitors in the 17th century—the Erie, Huron, Fox, Sac, and Kickapoo tribes.

Iroquois men were proud, ruthless warriors, who often killed for revenge. They preferred to capture their opponents alive for ritual execution, after villagers of all ages took turns burning them with red-hot objects. They tortured, roasted, and occasionally ate their foes.

In 1689, the Iroquois attacked the French village of Lachine, near Montreal, while its inhabitants were asleep. They first massacred the men, and then tore the unborn babies out of the bellies of pregnant mothers. The children of the village were roasted alive over spits.

America in the 17th Century


For 150 years, the Appalachians were the border of America.  The colonists came from lands where the state controlled the church.  They felt each church congregation should be free to worship as it pleased. 

In all of the American colonies, The Bible was held as the foundation of life, and the source of wisdom.  The Bible was taught at home and in the schools.  Its fruits were thrift, intelligence, purity, and temperance.  And thus these feeble and isolated colonies stunned the world by becoming America, a nation of peace and prosperity; a church without a pope; a state without a king. In 1650 the Massachusetts Colony and the Virginia Colony passed laws creating their first schools for the explicit purpose to promote the reading of the Bible, and teach all children the Christian faith.  


My sources include: The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel J. Boorstin;  Freedom Just Around the Corner by Walter A. McDougall; and America by George Brown Tindall and David E. Shi.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 12, 2019:

Mark G Weller ~ Thank you very much, my friend!

Curiad on September 24, 2016:

A great article on early American history James!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 27, 2012:

Phyllis Doyle— Hello, my friend. I share your passion for reading and writing about American history. And I am grateful to you for your lovely laudations about my work here.

Thank you ever much for encouraging me in my writings. I appreciate your ongoing affirmation and support. I am proud to be your friend on HubPages.

James :-)

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on November 14, 2012:

James, this is an article I wish I had written. One of my greatest passions for writing and reading is the history of America -- both the Native Americans and colonists strongly hold my interest and admiration. One thing that I so admire about the colonists is as you say when you wrote, "They knew the hardships beforehand, but relied on courage and faith. "

I truly admire those who do not need the material wealth yet are rich in courage and faith.

This is another hub I will return to often to read, for it gives me a deeper sense of pride in my country and my ancestors. Well done, James, as usual.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 01, 2012:

fanchenzo— Hello! Welcome to my Hub. I appreciate the visit and your excellent comments. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

I think you probably get the same story as young people do in American schools and colleges. Academia in America was taken over by godless progressive socialists in the 1970s who hate America and all she stands for. They hate her because she was founded by Christians and flourished under Free Enterprise. So, they have rewritten the history books to make America appear so bad that is shocking anyone would want to live here, and especially stunning that a hundred million people have chosen to immigrate here in the last 100 years. What they do is make the Indians into noble savages who just wanted to live off the land in peace—which is not true. The Indians fought each other all the time. The new histories simply make white heterosexual men the villains of world history—particularly if they were Christians.

The story I told here is the verifiable truth of what really happened. It is the truth that would have been told to every schoolchild before the 1970s when political correctness and multiculturalism took over—ideas promulgated by the Frankfort School of atheistic Marxists to bring down the West and see it replaced by a New World Order by making the West appear not worth defending in the minds of the young. I hope your curriculum includes 1984. :D

fanchenzo on October 31, 2012:


I'm a french student doing a master degree in Anglo-American studies, I have to say I don't agree with everything you're saying. It's funny the way we're told a different story outside of America.

After reading you, I get the feeling Indians were the trouble makers, in France we consider them as the victims , they got their lands taken, ok they signed some treaties for it, but they were not always understood the same way by the 2 signing partners. Again when you say Indians were decimated by diseases, you forget to mention that these diseases came from Europe with the settlers...You also insist on the fact that English people went to America for freedom, which is true (especially for religious freedom) but we shouldn't forget that it was especially for profit.

Well, I just think you gave only a positive image of the colonists, that they were the good ones and that Indians were the bad ones, maybe it would have been a good idea to show the negative side of it too...

I don't know who is wrong and who is right, and it's not for me to say, but we differently learn things differently depending in which country we live in

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 19, 2011:

KoffeeKlatch Gals— Thank you ever much for the accolades, as well as the voted up and awesome!

I appreciate your comments. Mass hysteria is still with us. Look at the thousands of innocent people imprisoned during the child abuse hysteria wave after the McMartin Case, for instance. Except for one handful, all have been found innocent in retrospect.

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on April 14, 2011:

James, awesome historical coverage of 17th century. I have enjoyed studying that time period. The Salem witch trials were expecially fascinating. it was amazing to me how a group of people could so quickly become a hysterical group that indiscriminately put people to death on the word of one or two people with no proof. Great job. Voted up and awesome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 09, 2011:

Wintermyst— You are welcome. Thank you very much. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

Wintermyst on January 08, 2011:

Very informative. Thank you very much

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 19, 2010:

itakins— I agree with you that our freedoms are being eroded little by little—so many people don't notice. Our liberty has been curtailed starting maybe 100 years ago here.

There may be only a limited curiousity among some Americans about the rest of the world. But not me! :D

I love studying world history and geopolitics. Also a bit of a geography buff.

Thanks for your thoughtful insights. I enjoyed reading your words. Merry Christmas!!

itakins from Irl on December 19, 2010:


We certainly would not have the extremes that you have in America between abject poverty and phenomenal wealth-but then we are a tiny island with a tiny population ,by most standards.However,mobility from a lower to a higher socio-economic class is always possible,and not uncommon, for those who have the desire and capability to do so-!

Yes,historically personal freedom was suppressed by invaders-but once we gave them the heave -ho -we certainly have had personal liberty .However,this is something ,in my opinion, that is being eroded in the western world at a fast and furious rate.

I do think,living on an island which is steeped in culture going back to ancient times,we have a long strong history of 'a love of learning' and are more ready to educate ourselves on happenings outside of Ireland ,as well as within the country.I often detect,however,a very insular attitude in the people of the USA many of whom seem to believe all the spin the'powers that be' put out about your country,and who have very limited knowledge of the rest of the world(other than a Hollywood take or government spin on them).

just my quick 2c worth on a subject that could be debated 'til the cows come home:)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 18, 2010:

stars439— I am well pleased that you enjoyed this piece, my friend. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Merry Christmas to you, your wife, and your precious daughter. God Bless You and Yours this Holiday Season.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on December 17, 2010:

I enjoyed reading about our American History. I enjoyed the details, and the photographs were very nice. Merry Christmas, and we wish you and your wonderful family a blessed New Year. GBY.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 17, 2010:

J Sunhawk— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your compliments. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 16, 2010:

itakins— You ask a very good question. I think America has more mobility in its socioeconomic classes than other countries have had historically anyway. And though this is about the 17th century, I see that I did put that in the present tense. You look at someone like Oprah Winfrey, who rises from abject poverty and a horrible environment to become one of the most powerful people in the country as a prime example. America is the birthplace of individual liberty. I don't doubt that other countries such as yours may have caught up by now, though I doubt the liberty there was on par with us historically. Yes? No? :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 16, 2010:

Lasca— You are welcome. Thank you for coming! I appreciate the compliment. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 16, 2010:

rwelton— You are welcome, rw. Thank you for taking the time to read my work. I appreciate it.


J Sunhawk from South Carolina on December 16, 2010:

An impressive amount of research, James. Well done.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 16, 2010:

WeNdYpOoPoO— You are most welcome! I am well pleased to find a kindred spirit. Thank you for visiting and for your complimetary comments.

itakins from Irl on December 15, 2010:

Interesting hub James

'Americans are freer than other peoples to pursue happiness.'

Why? How does this manifest itself?

What am I missing as a non-American?

I'm seriously interested in hearing how you have reached this conclusion.

Lasca Pride from United States on December 15, 2010:

Wow ... I am impressed! Thanks!

rwelton from Sacramento CA on December 15, 2010:

Wow- what a history lesson. Thanks.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

Peggy W— Thank you for your keen insights. I agree with you. It is a pleasure to receive you here. I appreciate the visitation. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

Dolores Monet— Yes, it was a tougher life than I could handle. Interesting, what you said about the scary forests. I can see that.

Also interesting about having the church and the state at opposite ends of the town. I did not know Catholic Mass had ever been banned in Maryland. Thank you for adding that.

I very much appreciate the visit and your comments. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

skye2day— Thank you for the love and the blessings. I appreciate you for visiting my Hub and leaving behind your gracious compliments. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. Thanks for the "voted up and awesome!" :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

Dim Flaxenwick— You are welcome. I know it is too long (for a Hub). I cut maybe 20% of it at the last minute. I need to find some easy stuff to write about. I'll work on it.

Thank you for the accolades!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

akirchner— These folks had a lot of fortitude, that's for sure. A determined bunch. Living in those times would not be my thing. I'm not very courageous, I'm afraid.

Thank you for the compliment. I appreciate the visitation. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

tinamarie9884— Well, I am sure grateful for your laudatory remarks. I am glad I am able to arouse interest in you for history. I love history! :-)

Thank you for visiting and commenting.

WeNdYpOoPoO from Hudson Valley NY on December 15, 2010:

I love History thank you for writing this hub awesome information.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 15, 2010:

Hello, hello,— I apologize if I caused any confusion. I don't know how old you are but up until the 1970s history was taught with a Eurocentric bias—the whites were heroes and the Indians the villains. After the advent of politically correct multiculturalism, the pendulum swung way too far the other way. Now the whites are pure evil and Indians were fantastically noble and wonderful. The fact is both were plain old human beings, with a mixture of good and bad. I am trying to find a balance between both myths, in other words the truth. There is much mistreatment of the Indians to come in the 19th century. But we must not be impatient in our fervent desire to demonize the white man. Give him time.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 15, 2010:

Interesting history of early colonists in America and what transpired between the whites, Indians and slaves is a mixed bag regarding good and bad. Opportunity reigned and survival of the fittest as well as a basis in religion was certainly the foundation.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on December 15, 2010:

Boy, it must have been a tough life, coming to a new country. I remember reading that a lot of those folks were intimidated by all those trees, that the virgin forests with all their dark shadows could be quite frightening.

Glad to see that you included Maryland. George Calvert died before he could establish his colony and it was his son, Leonard Calvert who came over to set up in St. Mary's County. His dream was to preside over a colony with religious freedom and he had the church and the state house built at opposite ends of the town to illustrate that point. Unfortunately, the dream was short lived. Protestants gained control and Catholic Mass was outlawed.

skye2day from Rocky Mountains on December 14, 2010:

Brother Well you did it again Up and awesome I only wish you could have been my history teacher. (-; I love what you shared about the Pilgrims. Thank God for all of our History. May God Keep and Bless you James. I really enjoyed your writing. I love ya!

Dim Flaxenwick from Great Britain on December 14, 2010:

wonderful work as always. l enjoyed all of it, but obviously will have to go back, re-read. l´m getting too old to take all that in , in one sitting.

Thank you James for a fantastic hub.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on December 14, 2010:

As always, beautifully presented, James. I always thought I'd want to have lived in this time period as I'm such a hard worker and such a 'make everything from scratch' kinda girl but on second thought, the older I get, maybe not! Although it does have its magic!

tinamarie9884 on December 14, 2010:

James I got to give it to you, oh did I hate history in school ( of course, back in the day ) but, I just go to your hubs and I can really be interested in it. Absolutely impressive, very well written.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 14, 2010:

Splendidly written hub but slowly I don't what to believe anymore. All these year we read that the Indians were driven further and further off the plains and into reservations where there were hardly any food or scope for them. Now we read that the whites treated them respectful and the Indians sold them their lands. Th whites were further in technology but the Indians had far more knowledge of preservation of the land and animals.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 14, 2010:

Marcella Glenn— You are welcome! Thank you for coming by to visit and for your kind comments. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 14, 2010:

kashmir56— You are quite welcome. Faith and Freedom—that's where it's at. Thank you for the compliments, the "Thumbs Up!" and the bookmark. You've made my morning.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 14, 2010:

Kaie Arwen— Well, hello to my favorite Hubber! :D

I am glad you enjoy my work. Thank you for the lovely compliments. I always enjoy hearing your voice. It is good to see you here. And you are most welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 14, 2010:

jvhirniak— Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it. Yes, in the future I intend to continue this story. Stay tuned. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 14, 2010:

ama83— It is good to see you here, my dear. I am glad you enjoy my Hubs.

I agree with your assessment. The cobination of Freedom and Faith has produced incredible prosperity. The Founding Fathers did not think Freedom alone would work without Faith. Thank you. :)

Marcella Glenn from PA on December 13, 2010:

James, thank you for sharing...plenty of useful information.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

CMerritt— Thank you for the laudations, my friend. I am well pleased to provide your lunch break entertainment. :D

Christians are the only group left in America that it is politically correct to openly lambast, make fun of, and exclude from the public square. Good to have you here with me.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

lightning john— Well! It is good to see you again, my friend. Thank you and you are welcome. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

Vladimir Uhri— Yes, they do. One of my daughters keeps the Sabbath from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night. She is SDA. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

American Romance— Yes, I suppose you are right. I appreciate you coming by to read my work. Thank you for your comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

SteveoMc— Thank you for your kind comments. I am glad you found my article interesting. I appreciate this visitation.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on December 13, 2010:

Thanks James for this very interesting hub about America,which was has you said "founded upon the twin pillars of Faith and Freedom". Some people forget that.

Awesome hub!!! Thumbs up!!! I have bookmark this hub!

Kaie Arwen on December 13, 2010:

James- This was FABULOUS ~ I enjoyed every bit of it.................

"Iroquois men were proud, ruthless warriors, who often killed for revenge. They preferred to capture their opponents alive for ritual execution, after villagers of all ages took turns burning them with red-hot objects. They tortured, roasted, and occasionally ate their foes."

YOU GOT ME :-( this I didn't know, but I do now :-D Thanks teacher, I'll be sure to pull this fact up just in time for lunch! Kaie

jvhirniak on December 13, 2010:

James - very nice, I enjoyed reading and look forward to reading future articles of yours, esp. 18th century America, if it's in the works.

ama83 from San Jose, CA on December 13, 2010:

I like how you end up giving me a little history lesson with your hubs. It helps me catch up on the things I've forgotten :)

I like how you described Americans in the beginning. It reminds me of when I was watching a short series on the evolution of the United States, and what stood out to me is how driven the American people have been over the years. I guess it's because people from all over have come here for the freedom to evolve. No wonder we are such an advanced country.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

sheila b.— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

KoffeeKlatch Gals— Thank you so much for the high praise indeed—and the vote up and amazing! I do appreciate it. It warms the cockles of my heart to read your warm words. Good of you to come!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

magnoliazz— You are welcome. It is a pleasure to hear from you again! I am not familiar with the "Clovis Settlements." Clovis (a name which morphed into Louis) was the first King of France, yes?

What you have written here is fascinating. I hadn't heard about this before. Thank you for that.

I am not saying the Indians didn't get a raw deal—later. But in the 17th century, their lands were willingly offered for sale and purchased. What happened in the 19th century is another story altogether.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

HSchneider— There is certainly some truth in what you say. Over the past forty years, politically correct multiculturalists have revised history to paint the English as the devils against those lovely Indians—I am 1/4 Indian myself (Cherokee). My article seeks to bring some balance to this period of time.

Thank you for your excellent comments. I appreciate you taking the time to read my article.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

Micky Dee— Yes, the incident you mentioned indeed happened. I didn't get into King Philip's War (or Bacon's Rebellion) for lack of space.

On July 20, 1675 some young Wampanoags trekked to Swansea, killed some cattle, and scared the white settlers. The next day King Philip's War broke out, and the Wampanoag attacked a number of white settlements, burning them to the ground. The unexpected attacks caused great panic among the English. The united tribes in southern New England were successful as well: of 90 English settlements, 52 were attacked and partially burned down.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 13, 2010:

JudyJudy— You are welcome. I am glad you enjoy my work. I look forward to reading your first Hub. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

I listed the three main books I used, but I also grabbed tidbits from five others I had handy and the answer to your question is one of those: ". . . If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620" By Ann McGovern. It is a child's book actually. :D


Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on December 13, 2010:

This was really great, I love American History. James I think you pointed out some very interesting things. One that caught my attention through this is that, Christians has taken a bad rap for many atrocities that were committed. People handily forget that it was Christians that ended most of the mayhem, such as the witch trials to slavery. Again you made for a very enjoyable lunch break for me.

lightning john from Florida on December 13, 2010:

Another very well written history lesson. Thanks James!

Vladimir Uhri from HubPages, FB on December 13, 2010:

c/o JudyJudy

Even now many Christians in Europe keep Sabbath (rest) from Saturday evening before sunset till Sunday evening sunset. They even cook day before.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

Robert— Hello my friend! You are welcome. I couldn't have loved your comments more than I do. Thank you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

oceansnsunsets— How wonderful to see you again! Faith and Freedom. That's where it's at. I am glad you recognized the pictures! Thank you for your laudatory remarks. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

Pamela99— Thank you for your accolades and the voted up! I think I read your Hub on Squanto—but I'm not certain. I'll go by it again to make sure. I hope I wasn't too wordy. I know it is a huge Hub. I cut hundreds of words at the last minute but it is still over 4,000. I gotta find some easy subjects! :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

drbj— Unbelievable fortitude is right!

You are welcome. Thank you for your gracious compliments. I am grateful for them. I appreciate you taking the time to read my work. Whew! It was laying a huge egg! :D

American Romance from America on December 12, 2010:

America, the gene pool that created her is still alive today!..........in most of us that is!

SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on December 12, 2010:

Nice history lesson and that part of history really is amazing and interesting. How it happened is frightening, and should be remembered.

sheila b. on December 12, 2010:

Great, as usual.

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on December 12, 2010:

James, you have written an absolutely awesome history hub. The pictures are amazing and the research impecable. Voted up and amazing.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

Specialk3749— You are most welcome. I am flattered at your response. Thank you for visiting, and for your warm words. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

Jack West— Thank you for the compliments and the high votes! I appreciate you for this. I am glad you enjoyed my article.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

someonewhoknows— What a pleasure to hear from you again!

Your comments are great! I loved reading them. Yes, as you say: "Superstition or even rumors can certainly create an atmosphere where fear becomes paramount in the hearts and minds of the people."

You wrote: "Even industrious people need the freedom to be industrious."

True! And you wrote:

"New technology has displaced the old over the years.This can be seen as a threat to those old technologies."

Absolutely! Thank you very much for your insights.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2010:

satomko— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my work on the early history of America. I appreciate your compliments. The Boorstin book is my favorite! I love it. It is great!

magnoliazz from Wisconsin on December 12, 2010:

Thank you very much for another great "history hub"!

Today, people want to make us feel guilty for stealing Indian lands, I am happy your cleared that up in this hub.

Have you read anything about the early Clovis settlements on the east coast? During the last ice age they believe that stone age men from France and Spain followed the glacier around Greenland...past the shores of Canada and then finally settled somewhere in Virginia, exactly where the glacier ended! The small boats they used at the time could have made the voyage.

Therefore the Native Americans on the east coast, which look very FRENCH, could have indeed come from that area. I am wondering why they have not used DNA to prove this, but that may be in the works.

Howard Schneider from Parsippany, New Jersey on December 12, 2010:

I agree that our American nation grew to be the greatest up to now especially by establishing a Constitution that helped establish democracy around the world. This occurred even though there was no democracy in the beginning. It was a republic. This Constitution was what allowed us to evolve and change and correct our numerous evils. The primary two evils were the driving of the Native Americans into small unsustainable reservations. The other of course was slavery. You praise so greatly your early Christian settlers and yes they were strong and determined. But they disregarded the prime tenet of Chrstianity which is Love. They certainly did not love the Native Americans or the slaves. These evil sins cannot be overlooked and are a blight on their legacy.

Micky Dee on December 12, 2010:

It's a mixed history we have. "The English colonists did not come to America to convert, enslave, or kill the Indians." It was just a "bi-product". The Puritans continued to wipe out the Wampanoag in the 1660s and 1670s. Indians retreating into their great walled towns soon learned that the Puritans would burn them down and out without a small thought about it. One group of “praying Indians” was murdered when their church was burned down with them still inside. It wasn’t Indian on Indian. It was the Puritans burning “their own”.

JudyJudy from Richmond, VA on December 12, 2010:

I've been enjoying your stuff since I found your blog. I'm doing some research of my own and wonder if you could tell me which of your sources told about the Pilgrims' celebrating Sabbath from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning. Thanks

Robert on December 12, 2010:


A really fine hub filled with the great history of what is the greatest nation on earth. What a tremendous reminder of who were are and where we came from. A story of second chances to be sure. Thanks.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

eovery— Yes it was. I'll keep on Hubbing as long as I can. I will be taking a break soon though, to finish my book. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

H P Roychoudhury— Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

"Quill"— Thank you, Brother, for your gracious compliments; blessings; and hugs. I sincerely appreciate your warm words. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

shape_shifter— Thank you for the great compliments!

You made a great point that I should have: there was little upward mobility in English (and European) society. One was more or less born into a permanent station. A big attraction of America was that you could make yourself anything you possessed the talent and drive to be. It is still that way here.

"A second rinse" "Cream to the top" Yes indeed!

Your comments about Indians and Colonists are excellent. History used to paint the whites as great heroes and the Indians as villains. Now, with politically correctness and multiculturalism, the pendulum has swung so far the other direction it is ridiculous. Now the whites have caused every problem known to man, mistreated and oppressed all their "equals" for centuries (which seems like a contradiction), the ultimate villains of all time, while the Indians were lovely, peaceful, noble savages. The truth is there were heroes and villains on both sides.

Paula from The Midwest, USA on December 11, 2010:

James, this is an incredible hub, wow! I loved it, and there is so much wonderful information here. I love that America was founded on the twin pillars of faith and freedom. Great pictures as well.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 11, 2010:

James, This was a great review of the beginning years of our country. Since I work on my ancestry I have done a lot of reading about that era and you more than covered in thoroughly. I wrote a hub about Squanto last year as he did so much in a short time for the pilgrims. Excellent hub, rated up.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 11, 2010:

This is a fascinating exposition, James, of the trials and tribulations of colonists who settled in America in the early 1700s. What unbelievable fortitude they must have had to come to the unknown New World and make a new start.

And all the Indians were not as friendly as Squanto. Thank you for taking the time and doing the research to fashion this excellent hub.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

sherrylou57— Yes, my dear, those storms will surely come too, won't they?

I am grateful for your gracious comments. Thank you for coming by to read my article. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2010:

Vladimir Uhri! Hello my friend. Thank you for being my first visitor. I am glad you liked my Hub. And you are most welcome.

Karen Metz from Michigan on December 11, 2010:

This is a great hub to use with my homeschool curriculm! Thank you very much!

Jack West on December 11, 2010:

Very informative and interesting. Voted up and useful.

someonewhoknows from south and west of canada,north of ohio on December 11, 2010:

I had no Idea that the Iroquois were canabalistic.

Superstition or even rumors can certainly create an atmosphere where fear becomes paramount in the hearts and minds of the people.Leading them down the path of destruction.

You made a comment about social safety nets not being in existance in the 17th century at the beginning of the colonisation of America.If,they had the laws we have now concerning land and homelessness being a crime it certainly wouldn't have made any easier for them to survive.We think of ourselves as a civilized society,yet,if we are either too lazy to work ,because of handouts,or we are not allowed to be industrious without over regulation.I suppose dying would be better? Even industrious people need the freedom to be industrious.Maybe those who have industrious businesses are afraid of competition?New technology has displaced the old over the years.This can be seen as a threat to those old technologies.

Seth Tomko from Macon, GA on December 11, 2010:

Good hub as usual, James. I noticed that in your references you have Daniel J. Boorstin's book. I'd be interested to hear your opinion on that one in particular because I've read some of his later history books.

eovery from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa on December 11, 2010:

A special time in the history of the USA.

Keep on hubbing!

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on December 11, 2010:

This is great historic and a learning topic as well.

"Quill" on December 11, 2010:

Wonderful history lesson from the south of Canada. Our cultures over the years have taught much to each other. Dad was born in RI, they carried many traditions north with them as the homesteaded in Canada.

Great hub and as always a wonderful read.

Blessings and Hugs

shape_shifter from The Free Waters of Planet Earth on December 11, 2010:

A very informative and well researched hub, as usual, James! I love that you pointed out: "Emigration would drain off England's religious dissenters, as well as vagrants, criminals, and the unemployed." We are, in fact, the sons and daughters of the dregs! Many have used this fact to point out their disdain for Americans in general, but I like to think of this as a "great re-shuffling" of the deck... In the course of Europe's turbulent past, just as today, many are put into horrible positions in life, to no real fault of their own... It's how we climb back out of the mire that makes, or breaks us. In England, at that time, there weren't as many opportunities to get back up once one reached the bottom rung of society... For the brave, as well as the desperate, this represented a chance to roll the dice and come back out on top again. By Darwinian analogy, it "re-leveled" the playing field of the survival of the fittest, giving those who were strong, pure and inventive, but down on their luck, a second chance, while the truly weak, lazy and downtrodden would simply settle back down to the bottom of the keg for good... a second rinse, where the cream at the top would be even stronger for the experience. By all rights, this should help attest to our relative strength, rather than history or tendency toward corruption.

I do wonder, however, what really caused the atrocities of Good Friday, 1644, and had it not been a reactionary strike to something no one remembers or would cop to even then, would the results not have been the same... I understand manifest destiny full well, and I don't think things were handled any better on any other continent, but lets remember who wrote the history books... It certainly wasn't the Indians! Most of the Indian leaders in North America had at least heard about the whites coming, from their neighbors down south, and had very good reason to be worried for the survival of their people. I'm surprised it wasn't all out war from the landfall of the first ship! Anyway, Great hub! God Bless America!

sherrylou57 from Riverside on December 11, 2010:

This is a great hub, James, I love where you state that the bible was held the foundation of life. This is so true, you build your foundation on Jesus Christ and when the storms comes passing through your house will stand!!

Vladimir Uhri from HubPages, FB on December 11, 2010:

James, this is awesome, thank you very much.

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