Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Thirteen Original Colonies and The Contradiction of Freedom

(The Stunning Oregon Coast Drive down Highway 101)

The United States was originally made up of 13 colonies all bent on freedom of one kind of another.  They were classified by regions: New England, Middle, and Southern Colonies, and  made of immigrants from all over Europe and Africa.  Driving down the Oregon Coast, my daughters and I were reflecting on the amazing diversity of culture, language, and religion in our land, but also a strong history of contradiction, where freedom for some meant the trampling of rights and exclusion for others.  It has always been this way.
(Mud Flats outside of Coos Bay)

1.  VIRGINIA 1607

The Virginia Colony was founded by John Smith and was chosen to honor Queen Elizabeth I who was referred to as the 'Virgin Queen'.  It was founded at Jamestown and its first export was tobacco which changed European society and class distinction forever.

The Massachusetts Colony was founded by John Winthrop, a Puritan, which meant there was no tolerance for other religions. It was named after an Algonquin tribe.  Massachusetts means 'at the great hill,' and when the Pilgrims first arrived in 1620 it was local Wamapanoag Indians who taught them to plant crops and saved their frozen butts... but didn't open their hearts to others.

(Downton Yachats)
3.  NEW YORK 1626

The New York Colony was originally a Dutch settlement called New Amsterdam but later captured by the English and renamed New York.  It was not dominated by a specific religion and residents were free to worship as they chose, this included Catholics, Jews, Lutherans, and Quakers among others. 

4.  MARYLAND 1633
The Maryland Colony was founded by Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore and others in 1633 at Baltimore. It was named after King Charles I's wife Queen Henrietta Maria.  The Maryland Colony was founded as a refuge for English Catholics.
(Visitor Center, Yachats)

The Rhode Island Colony was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, and was English until 1776 when it joined the other colonies in a rebellion against Great Britain for independence. Rhode Island was give its name by Adriaen Block, a Dutch explorer who named it 'Roodt Eylandt' because of the red clay lining the island's shore.  Rhode Island's motto is 'Hope'.


The Connecticut Colony was founded in 1636 by a colonist named Thomas Hooker. The name Connecticut was derived from an Indian word meaning 'river whose water is driven by tides or winds'. The Connecticut Colony was an English colony until 1776 when it joined the rest of the colonies in the rebellion to gain independence.  It was founded by Puritans and there was no tolerance for other religions.
(Cliffs Near Reedsport)

7.  DELAWARE  1638

The Delaware Colony was founded in 1638 by Peter Minuit and was named after its major river the Delaware.  Religious groups in the Delaware Colony included Quakers, Catholics, Jews, and Lutherans, but there was no dominate religion like in the New England Colonies and religious tolerance made the area attractive to those who were not purists.
(Just outside of North Bend)


Founded in 1622, the New Hampshire Colony was dominated by the Puritans who refused to tolerate any religion outside their own.  In 1641 New Hampshire was claimed by the Massachusetts Colony, but then became known as the Upper Province, until 1679 when it became a Royal Province, but in 1688 it became part of Massachusetts again.  New Hampshire's motto: "Live Free or Die" is in reference to its determination to declare independence from the Massachusetts Colony.
(Waldport in the Distance)

The first settlement in the North Carolina region occurred in 1587. One of these settler's named John White was the father of the first English baby born in the New World, her name was Virginia Dare. These colonists all disappeared by 1590 and the first permanent settler would not arrive until more than 60 years later, in 1653.  There was no dominating religion in the North Carolina Colony. Like most of the Southern Colonies settlers were free to worship as Catholics, Anglicans, Jews, Baptists or whichever they chose to believe.
In 1729 the South Carolina Colony became a royal colony. The name 'Carolina' originated from the Latin word for Charles - 'Carolus'.  The South Carolina Colony allowed for religious freedom, but relied heavily on slavery for its prosperity in plantation farming.
(A Much Needed Break Outside Waldport)

11. NEW JERSEY 1664
The New Jersey Colony was founded by Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley in 1664 and was originally named after the British island Jersey. Prior to 1664 when it was surrendered to the English, the New Jersey Colony region had been ruled by Sweden and the Dutch and was not dominated by the Puritans like in the New England Colonies, but had religious tolerance and freedom for its settlers. Settlers to the New Jersey Colony included Catholics, Jews, Lutherans, and Quakers.
The Pennsylvania Colony was founded by William Penn and others in 1682 and was named by King Charles II after William Penn's father Admiral Sir William Penn, and the Latin word meaning woodland - Sylvania. Together Sylvania and Penn form the name Pennsylvania, which stood for Penn's Woods.  The Pennsylvania Colony was dominated by the Quaker religious beliefs and values. However there was still religious freedom for other beliefs. The Pennsylvania Colony included immigrants from England, German, Scotch-Irish, and African Americans.
(As one can see, America has not always been the home of the free... but when standing in the glory of all this incredible nature, all this magnificent splendor... one can dream, can't we?)

13. GEORGIA 1732
The Georgia Colony was the last of the 13 original colonies to be established in 1732 by several colonists including James Oglethorpe and was obviously named after King George II of England.  Oglethorpe’s original desire was to establish the Georgia Colony based on a need for a refuge for Protestants being persecuted elsewhere and as a place for the less wealthy Europeans and debtors wishing to establish themselves in the colonies.  The only religion not welcome in the Georgia Colony were Roman Catholics.  James Oglethorpe served as the Georgia Colony's governor for 12 years. During which time slavery and alcohol were banned. When he returned to England the alcohol ban was lifted immediately and in 1749 slavery was allowed.

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