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General View of the Discoveru and Settlement of North America, particularly of the British American Colonies, which now constitute the United States; brought down to the present time.

North AMERICA was discovered in the reign of Henry VII. a period when the arts and sciences had made very considerable progress in Europe. Many of the first adventurers were men of genius and learning, and were careful to preserve authentic records of such of their proceedings as would be interesting to posterity. These records afford ample documents for American historians. Perhaps no people on the globe can trace the history of their origin and progress with so much precision, as the British North American Colonies, particularly those who first planted New-England. These were a peculiar people, enlightened by the best education of those times, and distinguished for their wisdom and piety.

One of their eloquent descendants” thus characterizes them :

The fathers of New-England “came hither to a land, from which they were fever to return. Hither they had brought, and here they were to fix, their hopes, their attachments, and their objects. Some natural tears they shed, as they left the pleasant abodes of their fathers, and some emotions they suppressed, when the white cliffs of their native country, now seen for the last time, grew dim to their sight. They were acting however upon a resolution not to be changed. With whatever stifled regrets, with whatever occasional hesitation, with whatever appalling apprehensions, which might sometimes arise with force to shake the firmest purpose, they had yet committed themselves to heaven, and the elements ; and a thousand leagues of water were interposed to separate them from the region which gave them birth. A new existence awaited them here ; and when they saw these shores, rough, cold, barbarous, and barren as they were, they beheld their country. That mixed and strong feeling, which we call love of country, and which is, in general, never extinguished in the heart of man, grasped and embraced its proper object here. Whatever constitutes country, except the earth and the sun, all the moral causes of affection and attachment, which operate upon the heart, they had brought with them to their new abode. Here were now their families ; their homes, and their property. . Before they reached the shore, they had established the elements of a social system, and at a much earlier period had settled their forms of religious worship. At the moment of their landing, therefore, they possessed institutions of government, and institutions of religion : and friends and families, and social and religious institutions, established

*Hon. DANIEL WEastER—Discourse delivered at Plymouth, on the Anniversary of *:::: Landing of the Forefathers,” Dec. 22, 1820, just two centuries after their first 2nding.


by consent, found~l on choice and preference. How nearly do these fill u our whole idea of country . The morning that beamed on the first night ( their repose, saw the Pilgrims already established in their country. Ther were political institutions, and civil fiberty, and religious worship. Poet

has fancied nothing, in the wanderings of heroes, so distinct and characteristi

Here was man, indeed, unprotected, and unprovided for, on the shore of

rude and fearful wilderness ; but it was politic, intelligent, and educated ma

Every thing was civilized but the physical world. Institutious containing substance all that ages had done for human government, were established i a forest. Cultivated mind was to act on uncultivated nature; and, more tha all, a government, and a country, were to commence, with the very firs foundations laid under the divine light of the Christian religion. Happy aus pices of a happy futurity | Who would wish that his country's existence had otherwise begun ?–Who would desire the power of going back to the ages o fable 2–Who would wish for an origin obscured in the darkness of antiquity Who would wish for other emblazoning of his country’s heraldry, or other ornaments of her genealogy, than to be able to say, that her first existence was with intelligence ; her first breath the inspirations of liberty ; her first principle the truth of divine religion ?”

The Editors of the Quarterly Review give the following testimony to their character:–

“There are few states whose origin is on the whole so respectable as the American—none whose history is sullied with so few crimes. The Puritans who had fled into Holland to avoid intolerance at home, carried with them English hearts. They could not bear to think that their little community should be absorbed and lost in a foreign nation : they had forsaken their birth place and their family graves ; but they loved their country, and their mother iongue, and rather than their children should become subjects of another state, and speak another language, they exposed themselves to all the hardships and dangers of colonizing in a savage land. No people on earth may so justly pride themselves on their ancestors as the New Englanders.”

The inhabitants of New England, educated under its wise, civil, religious and literary institutions, whose sons, in great numbers in every generation, have spread themselves in every part of the United States, have had their full share of influence in forming and establishing our national character and government. But we return to the general design of this chapter. e fame which Columbus had acquired by his first discoveries on this western continent, spread through Europe, and inspired many others with the spirit of enterprize. As early as 1495, John Cabot, a Venetian, and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian and Sancius, obtained a commission from Henry VII. to discover and settle unknown lands and countries westward of Europe, and to annex them to the Crown.” These adventurers ranged the Continent of North America, before Columbus discovered any part of the Continent of South America, for the Court of Spain.


*See Hazard's “Historical Collections,” vol. i. page 9, where this grant is recited a; large. It is dated A. D. 1495.

In the spring of 1496 they sailed from Bristol, England, with two ships. In this voyage, which was intended for China, in the belief that there was a north-west passage to this country, they fell in with the north side of Labrador, and coasted northerly as far as the 66th degree of N. latitude, where they were stopped by the ice, changed their course, and went S. to the 34th degree of N. latitude. They made no settlements during this voyage, but agreeably to the custom of those times, took a general possession of the country in behalf of their king. The next year, 1497, they made a second voyage to America. His son, Sebastian, afterwards proceeded in discoveries, which his father had begun. On the 24th of June he discovered Bonavista, on the north-east side of Newfoundland. Before his return, he traversed the coast from Davis' Straits, to Cape Florida. Sebastian Cabot, in 1502, was at Newfoundland; and on his return, carried three of the natives of that island to King Henry VII. In the spring of 1513, John Ponce sailed from Porto Rico, northerly, and discovered the continent in N. latitude 30 deg. 8 min. He landed in April, a season when the country was covered with verdure, and infull bloom. This circumstance induced him to call the country Florup A, which, for many years, was the common name for the whole of North America. In 1516, Sir Sebastian Cabot and Sir Thomas Peet, explored the coast, as far as Brazil, in South America. This vast extent of country, the coast of which was thus explored, remained unclaimed, and unsettled, by any European power, (except by the Spaniards in South America) for almost a century from the time of its discovery. It was not till the year 1524, that France attempted discoveries on the American coast. Stimulated by his enterprizing neighbours, Francis I. who possessed a great and active mind, sent John Verrazano, a Florentine, to America, for the purpose of making discoveries. He traversed the coast from latitude 28 deg. to 50 deg. north. In a second voyage, sometime after, he was lost. The next year, 1525, Stephen Gomez, the first Spaniard who came upon the American coast for discovery, sailed from Groyn, in Spain, to Cuba and Florida; thence northward to Cape Razo or Race, in latitude 46 deg. north, in search of a northern passage to the East Indies. In 1528, Pamphilo de Narvaez, in the service of Spain, sailed from Cuba with 400 men, to conquer Florida; but he was wrecked on the coast by a tempest, and his purpose defeated. In the spring of 1534, by the direction of Francis I. a fleet was fitted out at St. Malo’s, in France, with design to make discoveries in America. The command of this fleet was given to James

Cartier.” He arrived at Newfoundland in May of this yea Thence he sailed northerly ; and on the day of the festival of S Lawrence, he found himself in about latitude 48 deg. 30 min- nort in the midst of a broad gulf, which he named St. Lawrence. H gave the same name to the river which empties into it. In th voyage, he sailed as far north as 51 deg., expecting in vain to find passage to China. The next year, 1535, he sailed up the river St. Lawrence 30 leagues, to the great and swift Fall. He called the country Nev France ; built a fort near the west end of the Isle of Orleans, whic he called Port de St. Croix, in which he spent the winter, and return ed in the following spring to France, carrying with him some of th natives. On the 12th of May, 1539, Ferdinand de Soto, with 900 men besides seamen, sailed from Cuba, having for his object the conques of Florida. On the 30th of May he arrived at Spirito Santo, from whence he travelled northward to the Chickasaw country, in abou latitude 35 deg. or 36 deg. He died, after having spent threeR. in this country, and was buried on the bank of the Mississippi River May, 1542, aged 42 years. Alverdo succeeded him. Cartier made a third voyage to Canada, in 1540, built a fort, and began a settlement, in 1541, or 1542, which he called Charlebourg, four leagues above Port de St. Croix. He soon after broke up the settlement, and sailed to Newfoundland. In 1542, Francis la Roche, Lord Robewell, or Roberval, was sent to Canada, by the French king, with three ships, and 200 men, women and children. They wintered here in a sort which they had built, and returned in the spring. About the year 1550, a large number of adventurers sailed for Canada, but were never after heard of. In 1598, the King of France commissioned the Marquis de la Roche to conquer Canada, and other countries not possessed by any Christian Prince. We do not learn, however, that la Roche ever attempted to execute his commission, or that any further attempts were made to settle Canada during this century. In the succeeding 30 years, the passion for discovery took another direction. Adventurers from Europe were seeking a passage to India and China by the North-East, but were prevented from accomFo their views by the cold and ice of those inhospitable regions. n this interval, the French of Brittany, the Spaniards of Biscay, and the Portuguese, enjoyed the fishery on the banks of Newfoundland, without interruption.f

*In Hazard's Historical Collections, vol. i. page 19, is a commission from Francis I. to James Cartier, or Quartier, for making an establishment in Canada, dated Oct. 17. 1540. Probably this commission was given him in consequence of his former discoveries. tRelknap.

In January, 1549, King Edward VI. granted a pension for life to Sebastian Cabot, in consideration of the important services he had rendered to the kingdom by his discoveries in America.” Very respectable descendants of the Cabot family now live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Admiral of France, Chatillon, early in the year 1562, sent out a fleet under the command of John Ribalt. He arrived at Cape Francis on the coast of Florida, near which, on the first of May, he discovered and entered a river which he called May River. It is more than probable that this river is the same which we now call St. Mary’s, which divides Georgia from Florida. As he coasted northward, he discovered eight other rivers, one of which he called Port Royal, and sailed up it several leagues. On one of the rivers he built a fort and called it Charles, in which he left a colony under the direction of Captain Albert. The severity of Albert’s government excited a mutiny, in which, to the ruin of the colony, he was slain. This happened in 1964. Two years after, Ghatillon sent Rene Laudonier, with three ships, to Florida. In June, he arrived at the River May, on which he built a fort, and, in honour to his king, Charles IX., he called it CAROLINA. In August, this year, Capt. Ribalt arrived at Florida the second time, with a fleet of seven vessels, to recruit the colony, which, two Xi. before, he had left under the direction of the unfortunate Capt. ert. The September following, Pedro Melandez, with six Spanish ships, pursued Ribalt up the river on which he had settled, and overpowering him in numbers, cruelly massacred him and his whole company. Melandez, in this way, having taken possession of the country, built three forts, and left them garrisoned with 1200 soldiers. Laudonier and his colony on May River, receiving information of the fate of Ribalt, took the alarm and escaped to France. In 1567, a fleet of three ships was sent from France to Florida, under the command of Dominique de Gourges. . The object of this expedition, was to dispossess the Spaniards of that part of Florida which they had cruelly and unjustifiably seized three years before. He arrived on the coast of Florida, April, 1568, and soon after made a successful attack upon the forts. The recent cruelty of Melandez and his company excited an unjustifiable spirit of revenge. and retaliation in the breast of Gourges. He took the forts ; put most of the Spaniards to the sword ; and, having burned and demolished all their fortresses, returned to France. During the 50 years next after this event, the French attempted no settlements in America. All the enterprizes to find a N. E. passage to India being frustrated, Capt. Frobisher, in 1576, was sent to renew the attempts to find

*Hazard's His. Coll, vol. i. page 23. Hackluyt calls this “The large pension granted by King Edward VI. to Sebastian Calot, constituting him Grand Pilot of England.”

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