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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersAmerican Beginnings: 1492-1690
American Beginnings: 1492-1690
Topic: ContactTopic: ExplorationTopic: SettlementTopic: PermanenceTopic: Power
Topic: Settlement
Toolbox Overview: American Beginnings: 1492-1690
Resource Menu: Settlement
Text 1. First Arrivals
Text 2. Hardships
Text 3. Q&AS for Potential Settlers
Text 4. Instructions for Leaders
Text 5. Missions to the Indians
Text 6. Enslaved Peoples
Text 7. Go Ahead?

Reading Guide
The new and unknown world, 1671
The new and unknown world, 1671
Q&As for Potential Settlers
- English: Reasons to plant a colony in New England, ca. 1628
- French: Advice and replies for emigrants to New France, 1636 (PDF)
- Dutch: Dialogue on the advantages of New Netherland, 1655 (PDF)
- English: Opposing views for prospective settlers, 1624/1670 (PDF)
- Online exhibition with enlargeable images: Cultural Readings: Colonization & Print in The Americas, from the University of Pennsylvania Library

In 1450 the printing press arrived on the scene in Europe, just in time to provide a marketing tool for New World promoters after 1492. Already the top bestsellers were travel and exploration narratives. A 1486 account of the Holy Land went through twelve editions in five languages in twenty years. Columbus's 1493 letter describing his first voyage to the Caribbean went through seventeen editions in just five years. A century later Theodore de Bry began publishing his massive collection of exploration narratives, the Grands Voyages (America) and Petits Voyages (elsewhere), which had more influence, it can be argued, than any other texts on Europeans' vision of the New World (see EXPLORATION: Illustrating the New World II).

Here we consider the next phase of New World publicity—the essays, "true relations" and mass-produced pamphlets written to entice Europeans to join the New World venture. Some, like the Hakluyt and Peckham works in Topic 2: EXPLORATION, were directed at financiers and "adventurers." Others, such as the five included here, were aimed at potential settlers. The first three include Q&A-type sections that address specific concerns of potential settlers. The fourth selection pairs the opposing advice offered by English settlers of New England and New-York.
  • NEW ENGLAND. John Winthrop, the longtime governor of the Puritan colony at Massachusetts Bay, is the probable author of this widely circulated pamphlet, written just before colony was founded in 1630. In addition to listing nine "reasons to be considered" for founding a new colony, Winthrop rebuts ten frequent objections, four of them theological. His famous justification for taking land "unsubdued" by the Indians is Answer #1 to Objection #1. (Anyway, he adds, there are so few Indians left after the great plague.) Almost 14,000 English Puritans emigrated to New England in the Great Migration of the 1630s.
    [John Winthrop, General Observations for the Plantation in New England, 1628]

  • NEW FRANCE. In contrast, there were about one hundred French colonists in Canada in 1630, men living near the small fort of Quebec built by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. The "settlers" of New France were fur traders and Catholic missionaries, and the "settlements" were fortified trading posts or small missions in the woodlands. From this 1636 report to the Jesuits' home office in France written by the mission superior Paul LeJeune, we excerpt three important sections: (1) LeJeune's rhapsodic account of the growth of New France which had "multiplied far beyond our hopes" and now included men with families; (2) his Q&A section addressing concerns about settling in New France (all practical and secular); and (3) his advice to the two kinds of people who "desire to come and increase this Colony"—rich people and poor people. He concludes with a plea that all emigrants "come with a desire to do good [so] New France will some day be a terrestrial Paradise." By 1650 the French population had more than doubled to 700. Meanwhile, the population of the English colonies was approaching 50,000 people.
    [Paul Le Jeune, S.J., Relation de ce qui s'est passé en La Nouvelle France en L'Année 1636 (Account of what transpired in New France in the year 1636)]

  • NEW NETHERLAND. Imagine the Atlantic coastal colonies in 1650: French to the north, Spanish to the south, and the English on the interior peripheries of each. In the middle were the small and ill-fated colonies of New Netherland and New Sweden. They would not appear on a 1700 map of the region, having become English by surrender and cession. But in 1655 when this promotional piece was written, the colony of New Netherland was thirty years old, commercially and socially successful, and aggressively recruiting settlers. In nine years New Netherland grew from 2,000 settlers in 1655 to 9,000 in 1664, when it surrendered to the superior military might of the English.
    [Adriaen van der Donck, "A Dialogue between a Patriot and a New-Netherlander upon the Advantages which the Country Presents to Settlers, &c.," 1655]

  • NEW-YORK AND NEW ENGLAND. "Diametrically opposed" describes the messages of these two English settlers to their readers back in the home country. From Edward Winslow in the Plymouth colony (when it was four years old) we are urged to "rest where thou art" if we don't have the mettle and would become like those who "are at their wit's end and would give ten times so much for their return." Then from Daniel Denton we are told to run, not walk, to the heaven that is New-York (then six years old as an English colony, having been New Netherland from 1609 to 1664). "If there be any terrestrial Canaan," he writes, "'tis surely here, where the Land floweth with milk and honey." He enumerates the many blessings beyond milk and honey that await Englishmen, especially the poor, who would settle in this colony.
    [Edward Winslow, Good News from New England, 1624; and Daniel Denton, A Brief Relation of New-York, 1670]
In addition, view the online exhibition of illustrations, title pages, and frontispieces from European publications on the New World entitled Cultural Readings: Colonization and Print in the Americas (especially the section "Promotion and Possession") in order to compare the written and visual components of these promotional works. (23 pages, excluding the website.)

Discussion questions
  1. In general, how do the writers promote their colonies and persuade their readers?
  2. Compare the selections by writer and by audience, e.g., those written by laymen and clergy (Winthrop and LeJeune), and those written to superior officials or a general audience.
  3. What are the subtexts in these selections? How are the Q&A's structured to maximize their rhetorical power?
  4. How do the promoters address the rich and the poor in their home countries?
  5. What issues and concerns appear in most of the selections? Which did you expect, and which surprised you?
  6. To what extent are the concerns related to personal goals? group cohesion and survival? national wealth and dominance?
  7. For what purpose do the writers refer to the fate of previous settlements?
  8. Compare the works directed at potential settlers with those written to encourage investors (see Hakluyt and Peckham in EXPLORATION). What reasoning is presented to each group?
  9. Choose two lines of argument in these selections that would most influence your decision to emigrate to a new colony.
  10. How do the title pages, frontispieces, and illustrations in European publications on the New World (online exhibition) enhance the message of their authors and publishers?

Topic Framing Questions
  •  What motivated the Europeans in their initial settlements?
  •  How did the European nations differ in their vision of a successful settlement?
  •  How did they differ in the institutions they created to maintain their settlements?
  •  What factors led to the survival or abandonment of a settlement?
  •  What relationships evolved among European settlers, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans?
  •  What did "America" signify to Europe in 1630? What did "Europe" signify to Native Americans and enslaved Africans?

New England:  8
New France:  7
New Netherland:  5
New York & New England:  3
23 pages
Supplemental Sites
America as a Religious Refuge: The 17th Century, in Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, from the Library of Congress

English Exploration and Settlement, in John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations, from the Library of Congress

The Atlantic World: America and the Netherlands / De Atlantische Wereld: Amerika en Nederland, from the Library of Congress and the National Library of the Netherlands

A Virtual Tour of New Netherland, from the New Netherland Institute

*PDF file - You will need software on your computer that allows you to read and print Portable Document Format (PDF) files, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have this software, you may download it FREE from Adobe's Web site.

New England (Winthrop):
The Winthrop Society
Other texts: National Humanities Center

Image: Arnoldus Montanus, frontispiece of John Ogilby, De Nieuwe en onbekende weereld: of Beschryving van America en 't zuid-land [The new and unknown world, or description of America and the South-land], Amsterdam, 1671. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Rare Book & Special Collections Division: E143 .M76.

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