1521 - Francisco de Gordillo, from Spain, landed off the coast of today’s South Carolina. 1525 - Portuguese ship pilot named Estevan Gomez landed on the east coast of Canada, north of Maine. 1526 - A justice of the Spanish supreme court named Allyon conducted an expedition from Florida up the eastern seaboard of the United States. What later became known as Jamestown, Virginia, he tried to establish a colony. Fever and attacks by natives weakened the colonists and they gave up trying. The exploits of these three explorers enabled Spain to claim the entire eastern seaboard of what now is the United States. 1528 - Panfilo de Navarez and eighty others reached present day Texas. 1538 - Spanish reached the Pacific Ocean in California. Hernando de Soto discovered, explored, and made expeditions up the Mississippi river. 1540 - Francisco de Coronado and 300 others with him covered territory that is now Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas. 1552 - Walter Raleigh was born this year in the English county of Devon. 1556 - Spain claimed the land all the way from the Strait of Magellan at the tip of South America, north to central Mexico, and all land of the present day United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The English were upset, because Spain and England were old enemies. 1577 - Walter Raleigh fought against the Spanish in the Netherlands. Since he did well in battle, and since he had a “personal charm”, he became a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. 1580s - Spain was under the rule of Catholic King Philip. Protestants were persecuted and tortured. England was under Protestant Queen Elizabeth’s rule. Catholics were persecuted and tortured there. Spain’s navy was the strongest in the world at this time. 1584 - The Queen knighted Walter Raleigh, making him Sir Walter Raleigh. Not long after that, she granted him the right to explore, claim, and exploit the natural resources of the New World. Sir Walter Raleigh became a colonizer of North America. He was already a poet, politician, writer, and privateer (or pirate). He began an exploratory expedition in the spring of 1584. He and his travelers landed off the coast of present-day North Carolina.
THE FIRST ATTEMPT AT COLONIZING ROANOKE 1585 - The Queen started to lose interest in Raleigh’s efforts and plans. So, in April of 1585, only seven ships left England, bound for Virginia’s Outer Banks, which were islands that ran along the coast. The expedition was held by Sir Richard Grenville, a navy man and cousin of Raleigh. Ralph Lane, who was also a favorite of Queen Elizabeth and excellent at fort making, was going to be governor of the colony once they arrived in Virginia. Simao Fernandes was in charge of piloting the principal ship of the expedition. John White, an artist and mapmaker, went along, too. The ships met a small storm off the coast of Portugal. A smaller ship sunk; and Fernandes, Grenville, and Lane didn’t know if it did or not, since there were no means of communication. Eventually, the surviving ships met at Puerto Rico (this is where they decided to meet in case they got separated). Since they didn’t know how long they were going to stay in Spanish territory, Lane built a fort, and inside, they built a replacement ship for the one that had been lost in the storm. Grenville’s group bumped into a small Spanish force, but outnumbered it. The Spanish weren’t going to be a threat as long as English reinforcements arrived soon. After about three weeks, all but one of the missing ships were reunited, and on May 19, 1585, the English burnt down their fort and left the island. They crossed through more Spanish territory and saw the perfect opportunity for privateering. Finally, they reached an area right off the coast of Virginia. A search party including Grenville and Lane took a small ship (a pinnace) to look for a suitable place to establish their colony. They passed through a lot of native villages where they were welcomed. At one village, Aquascogoc, the English were being entertained when one of their silver cups turned up missing. Grenville ordered that the cup be returned by the time he and his search party got back. It was not returned. Grenville ordered that the town and the crops be burnt down. The natives had learned two things: That the English intended to dominate the area, and that the English were not their friends. After the encounter at Aquascogoc, the entire English fleet moved up the coast. A long-time friend of theirs, Granganimeo, (a native who hadn’t yet heard of the attack on Aquascogoc) offered the English a part of the island Roanoke as a site for their colony. Grenville and Lane liked it after an inspection, and they began to unload all of their supplies off their ships. Then they realized they had to get more supplies from England. So, Grenville left one hundred and eight men to begin the colony. This was a very insufficient number. In August of 1585, Grenville left with the rest of his fleet except for one small ship. He promised to return by the next Easter. Lane and the other one hundred and seven men built a small fort and dormitory-style huts in the area between the fort and the nearby native village. Everything was well hidden from the Spanish. Since the colonists were soldiers, and not farmers, no one made preparations for the winter. They all relied on the seemingly endless goodwill of the natives. This was a cause of tension between the natives and the colonists after the colony’s food was quickly consumed. The natives way of eating was growing crops in the growing season - but not storing the excess crops - and eating animals and shellfish during the winter. The colonists were not used to this. Often, when the English would visit a native community, the natives would later come down with an illness. This made the natives think that the white people were of divine origin. The natives respected the English, but hostility was mixed in, too. 1585 - When Lane and his colonists wanted to go exploring for gold, the chief of the Croatoan tribe, Chief Wingina pretended to be as helpful as always. He provided his usual guides, too. But, he secretly sent ahead messengers to warn the natives along the river that the white visitors were not friendly, and they meant to take their food - which was very little - since it was the end of winter. Lane and his group only took a little bit of food with them, figuring that the neighboring villages would supply them. Lane found no food as he sailed up the river. Chief Wingina told the colonists back at Roanoke that the other Englishmen died of starvation, as he had figured they had. He tried to convince his people to stop supplying the white people with food so that they would die of starvation, too. Lane and his crew were one hundred and fifty miles away when they ran out of food. As they sailed along in their boats, the natives from the shores started to shoot arrows at the intruders. The English were not hurt by the arrows, and their gunfire scared the natives away. That night, guard dogs secured the safety of the English from the natives. The next morning, the starving travelers ate the dogs. Lane and his followers then returned to the colony. By now, Lane figured that Wingina had tricked them. The Chief had moved his village inland, and stopped supplies to the colonists. A captured native told the English that Wingina had planned to kill Lane, John White, and the other leaders of the colony by setting their huts on fire and then beating them to death when they came out, confused and sleepy. So, Lane decided to attack first. They went to Wingina’s inland camp and fired on the natives, killing many. Wingina pretended to be shot, but then jumped up and ran into the woods. Edward Nugent, Lane’s personal servant, shot Wingina from behind and chased after him. Nugent later came out with Wingina’s head in his hands. From now on, relations between the colonists and the natives could never be the way they were. The trust was gone. Meanwhile, another successful privateer was in Spanish territory in the Caribbean enjoying a lot of success. Sir Francis Drake realized that there were benefits of having an English colony on the east coast of North America. He heard of the colonists on Roanoke Island, and decided to pay them a visit and offer his help if it was needed. When the colonists at Roanoke spotted Drake’s fleet, they weren’t sure if it was English or Spanish. They did not care if it was Spanish, though. They would rather have been captured by the Spaniards than to starve to death. Drake offered them ships and supplies to go back to England. The colonists turned them down, even though the future of the colony was bleak. Drake agreed, and left a couple of small ships, with supplies, at the shore for the colonists. There was a fierce storm three days long, and the ships were wrecked. The colonists rethought their decision, and took Drake up on his offer. They were demoralized by starvation and by war with the natives. The lack of communication and support by Raleigh and Grenville didn’t help them, either. The colonists decided to return to England. 1586 - Only a few days after they left, a supply ship arrived that was sent by Raleigh. Finding the colony deserted, they returned to England. In the middle of July, Grenville returned to the colony with thirty ships. He questioned some natives, and learned what basically happened to the colonists. Even after this, he didn’t want to give up the English claim, so he returned to England to organize another attempt at colonizing the New World.
THE SECOND ATTEMPT AT COLONIZING ROANOKE 1587 - Another group of colonists were organized to go to for Roanoke Island under the leadership of John White. To make the colony feel more comfortable, families were put on the list to make being in the New World feel more like home. The colonists also determined that Roanoke Island had treacherous seas surrounding it. So, they used what is now Chesapeake Bay for their ships. On January 7, 1587, a document was signed creating a governing body in the colony. John White was appointed as governor. There were assistants who were leaders, too. Simao Fernandes, the Portuguese pilot of Grenville’s expedition, and Ananias Dare, who was married to John White’s daughter. Another person who came over with them was the native Manteo. He was still friends with the English, even after the slaughter at Aquascogoc. On May 5, 1587, eighty-five men, seventeen women, and eleven children boarded the ships heading for the New World. There were fourteen families, and two of the women, including Governor White’s daughter, were pregnant. This shows how these people intended to stay in the New World permanently. About a week after they set out, the two main ships were separated from the smaller ship during a bad storm, right off the coast of Portugal. The pilot of that ship had never been to the New World, so they were worried that he would not find the way. Conditions on the ships were bad. Both were crowded, and during storms, everyone crowded in the bottom, where cockroaches and rats crawled all over them. When they arrived in the Caribbean, relations between White and Fernandes were strained. White wanted to stop at one of the smaller islands to collect salt. Fernandes refused, saying that one of the ships might become damaged in the process. Then, White wanted to stop at Puerto Rico to take some fruit plants for transplanting at the colony. Fernandes, again, refused to stop. On July 22, 1587, the two ships arrived at Roanoke Island. The original plan was to stop at Roanoke Island and pick up the fifteen colonists left there the previous summer by Grenville, then to continue onto Chesapeake Bay, their new site. So, White and forty other colonists were dropped off at the island to get the fifteen men. Then, all of a sudden, they realized that the ships were leaving. Fernandes had ordered that the forty-one people be dropped off and then that the ships leave for Chesapeake Bay. The others would establish their site at the Bay, since it would take weeks to unload the ships, and the cold season was coming up. Fernandes wanted to set sail back to England as soon as possible. He found that privateering was more profitable than colonization. So, he and the others raided Spanish ships on their way back to England after leaving the remaining colonists at Chesapeake Bay. Meanwhile, White and his forty colonists had no choice but to settle down. They looked for the fifteen other men, but found no signs of any except for bones of what looked like a slain man, probably killed by the natives. White and the others started to rebuild Lane’s old fortress and buildings. They planned to move to Chesapeake Bay the next spring, just as scheduled. They also built small homes for the families. This all began the establishment of the second attempt of colonization at Roanoke. Two days later, the third ship, thought to be lost at Portugal, landed on Roanoke Island with needed supplies and settlers. Manteo, acting as an interpreter, tried to understand what happened to Grenville’s fifteen men. He spoke with natives; other than his own tribe, the Croatoans; known as the Roanoacs. He learned that the Croatoans had moved to lands a few miles south after their encounters with the white people. The Roanoacs told Manteo that they had killed one intruder and chased away fourteen others. No one knew what happened to these men, so, technically, they were the first lost colonists at Roanoke. So, after hearing that Manteo had spoken with the natives peacefully, White’s colonists figured that they were in no danger. So, George Howe, one of White’s twelve assistants, went fishing alone. The Roanoac natives saw him, and killed the defenseless man. The colonists wanted no more hostilities. White and a man named Edward Stafford went along with Manteo to journey south to talk with the Croatoans. Manteo was a Croatoan. At the first meeting, the natives were scared of the white people and ran off. Manteo brought them back, and White promised them he had no intention of taking their food. He remembered what happened with Chief Wingina. The natives trusted them, and the old trust returned for a short while. White wanted to make sure that everyone knew he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, so he asked the Croatoans to bring together all of the chiefs, so White could speak with them. The Croatoan chief agreed to do so in seven days. White was impatient, and after a week went by, he figured that friendliness had not worked. So, he planned to attack the Roanoacs to demonstrate that the slaying of Howe would not be condoned. The plan was to send Captain Stafford, with Manteo serving as a guide, across the water passage between the island and the mainland under cover of darkness to launch a surprise attack on the Roanoac town of Dasamonguepeuc. Their plan went as they expected, and they killed all the natives they could that were in sight. Those not killed fled into the nearby high reeds. In the middle of the attack, they heard one of the natives call out Captain Stafford’s name. It was a young mother with a child in a sling. It turned out that these were not the Roanoacs. They were the Croatoans, who had traveled north from their home to join John White for the meeting he had called. The Roanoacs had fled much earlier, fearing revenge by the English. Here, the Croatoans were gathering food left behind by the quick retreat of the Roanoacs. Manteo had unknowingly participated in the slaughtering of his own people. Shortly afterwards, Queen Elizabeth titled Manteo “Lord of Roanoke” because of his loyalty to the English. The Croatoans were generous enough to see the mistake, and forgave the English. Still, the full trust factor was gone. On August 18, a happy event shattered the tension. The first English child born in the New World was Virginia Dare. She was named “Virginia” in honor of that fact. She was John White’s granddaughter. On August 27, 1587, White sailed in the smaller ship for England. He had to go back to England to secure additional supplies. He traveled in the smaller ship because he did not want to spend the two month journey with Fernandes. White was optimistic about the colony’s first winter. He looked forward to his returning in the spring. But White barely made it to England alive. An accident at sea injured twelve of his crew men, which made the ship hard to manage. In October, the ship was blown far off course. The journey took longer than expected, and food and water became scarce. Finally, they landed off the coast of Ireland. White told Sir Walter Raleigh about the colony, and he was extremely happy about its success. They set off, collecting supplies for the journey back. 1588 - But the journey was postponed. Tensions with the Spanish had been increasing steadily during the time of England’s colonization efforts. Then the English got notice that the Spanish Armada was sailing to England. This was the huge Spanish fleet that took many years to construct. Queen Elizabeth ordered that all English ships discontinue their business and join the effort to fight. The survival of England was doubted. Raleigh had to put aside his concerns for the colony. Queen Elizabeth ordered that he see that the English coast was defended. After all that had happened, it looked like John White would arrive at the colony when he said he would. Unfortunately, the captain of the ship that White sailed on was interested in raiding ships twice the size of his own. They had to surrender their ships, and all of the supplies were looted. White returned to England again, barely alive. Only a short while after he arrived in England, a great naval battle took place. The Spanish Armada was thought to be invincible. The Spanish ships were huge, with heavy guns. The English ships were smaller with guns. The English ships were able to dart in and out of small areas. So, England’s fleet could rush in, shoot at their targets, and move out quickly without being harmed. Spain’s ships were much slower. In the summer of 1588, the English had won against the Spanish Armada. If the outcome had been different, North Americans might be speaking Spanish instead of English today. Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake played key parts in defeating Spain’s fleet. It seemed like they forgot about their colony on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. 1589 - Sir Walter Raleigh was still in England. He was enjoying his wealth after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, writing poetry, and courting his future wife. Later on, he started to raise the money for ships and supplies. He had to buy these on his own. 1590 - Raleigh finally set sail in February. Again, he was a privateer, and stayed in the Caribbean looting ships for several weeks until August. Then they set out for Roanoke Island. The only thing they found was the word “Croatoan” etched into a tree. This brought up many questions and theories (see “theory” part of this tour to read the possible theories that try to answer the whereabouts of the colonists right after the disappearance). 1607 - In May, there was another colony being established. This was the Virginia Company, which was north of Roanoke in Jamestown. A member of that colony, George Percy, spotted a native boy with “yellow hair and white skin”. This might have meant that the Europeans had been assimilated into the neighboring native tribe.
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