THE THIRTEEN COLONIES
2/24/12
Rhode Island

Roger Williams was a likeable and brilliant Puritan minister, but he was not without his opponents. Williams preached against taking land from the Indians and thought that church and state should be separate. Both ideas were enough for the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to decide to banish him from the community.
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Before Williams could be captured thought, he escaped. After purchasing land from the Indians, he founded Rhode Island. Soon, other rebels began to move there. Williams generously gave each settler five acres for gardening and six acres for cornfields. He also allowed everyone – not just Christians – to practice their own religions.

1. Rhode Island Colony
2. Roger Williams
3. Rhode Island on History.com

2/23/12
New Hampshire

Two friends, Sir Fernando Gorges and John Mason, were granted the right to establish a colony in northern New England in 1622. This grant was called the “main” because it was the on the main section of coastal land dotted by islands. The two men split up their holdings: Gorges took what would later become Maine (it was taken over by Massachusetts until 1820, when it became the 23rd state of Maine), while Mason kept what would become New Hampshire. In order to attract settlers, Gorges and Mason advertised in England.
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Despite the response, the colony failed to survive as a separate entity, New Hampshire was taken back by the king for a number of years. In 1680, New Hampshire again became a separate colony.
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1. Colonial Life in New Hampshire
2. The Indians of New Hampshire
3. History of Maine


2/22/12
Connecticut

Not everyone liked or agreed with the way Massachusetts Bay was being run, so they decided to establish new settlements. One such dissenter was Reverend Thomas Hooker, a Puritan minister from Boston. Thirty-five families walked for two weeks before reaching the site that is now Hartford. Eventually, three towns joined together to form the colony of Connecticut in 1636.
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1. Connecticut Colonial History
2. Slavery in Colonial Connecticut


Maryland

George Calvert – Lord Baltimore – was the founder and owner of colonial Maryland. Unlike the mercenary London Company, his motives for establishing the colony were religious. Catholics in England could no longer openly attend mass and were fined for not belonging to the Church of England.
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Fearing the power of the Puritans, Baltimore left England for the colonies. Although he died before reaching Maryland, his brother Cecil inherited the 10 million acres that encompassed Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and parts of Virginia. Two ships, the Ark and the Dove, carried 220 colonists, most of them servants who were Protestants.

An old Indian settlement was purchased by this group, and they set about building a fort, mill, and chapel. Although supplies were easily obtained from the Virginia settlements, new colonists already had been told what supplies they would need to bring with them. With the institution of the Toleration Act, Maryland became the first colony to grant religious freedom to its citizens.

1. Exploring Maryland's Roots
2. Maryland Day
3. The Maryland Toleration Act

2/20/12
Massachusetts
At one time, people in England were required to support the Church of England. One group, called Puritans, decided to simplify or "purify" the church. Some Puritans were jailed, and a few were even put to death for their beliefs.

Many left for Holland where they could practice their religion freely. But they worried that their children were learning Dutch ways, and so the group obtained a patent from the London Company to settle in Virginia. Instead, their ship landed somewhere off the coast of New England.

Miles Standish was chosen to lead this band of 50 men, 20 women, and 34 children. That winter, whole families died from cold and illness, but in the spring the Indian named Squanto arrived and helped them. Not only could he speak English, but he showed the settlers how to trap, plant, and fish.

From 1621 to 1630, ships arrived with more settlers as well as the first cattle. By 1640, the New England population had swelled to 20,000.

1. Mayflower Myths
2. The Story of Squanto
3. Thanksgiving Adventure

Mayflower Myths - from the History Channel Online
The Mayflower brought the group of English settlers now known as the Pilgrims to North America. Leaving England in the fall of 1620, the Pilgrims were attempting to land near the mouth of the Hudson River, but instead ended up in Cape Cod Harbor. Plymouth, the colony established there by the Pilgrims in 1621, became the first permanent European settlement in New England. The story of the Pilgrims and their harvest feast has since become one of best-known in American history, but you may not know it as well as you think. Discover the facts behind these well-known Thanksgiving myths!

Myth: The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 and the pilgrims celebrated it every year thereafter.

Fact: The first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition. In fact, the colonists didn't even call the day Thanksgiving. To them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event, such as the winning of a battle. On such a religious day, the types of recreational activities that the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians participated in during the 1621 harvest feast--dancing, singing secular songs, playing games--wouldn't have been allowed. The feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the pilgrims minds.

Myth: The original Thanksgiving feast took place on the fourth Thursday of November.

Fact: The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the 29th of September. After that first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest.
During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941.)

Myth: The pilgrims wore only black and white clothing. They had buckles on their hats, garments, and shoes.

Fact: Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the seventeenth century and black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions. Women typically dressed in red, earthy green, brown, blue, violet, and gray, while men wore clothing in white, beige, black, earthy green, and brown.

Myth: The pilgrims brought furniture with them on the Mayflower.

Fact: The only furniture that the pilgrims brought on the Mayflower was chests and boxes. They constructed wooden furniture once they settled in Plymouth.

Myth: The Mayflower was headed for Virginia, but due to a navigational mistake it ended up in Cape Cod Massachusetts.

Fact: The Pilgrims were in fact planning to settle in Virginia, but not the modern-day state of Virginia. They were part of the Virginia Company, which had the rights to most of the eastern seaboard of the U.S. The pilgrims had intended to go to the Hudson River region in New York State, which would have been considered "Northern Virginia," but they landed in Cape Cod instead. Treacherous seas prevented them from venturing further south.

2/14/12
Virginia
At age 27, Captain John Smith was chosen to head the London Company to settle America. Three ships with 144 men and boys aboard set out from London in December 1606. Five month later, on May 14, 1607, they began the settlement which they called Jamestown.
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It was an ill-fated attempt, however. Despite Smith's efforts to befriend the Indians, the settlers scoffed at his suggestions that they learn how to plant corn. Consequently, their food ran out and all but 38 people died. Four hundred new settlers arrived in 1609, but many were sick from eating spoiled food.

After suffering through the "starving time", the colonists wanted to leave. Soon after boarding a ship for England, 300 new colonists led by Lord De La Warr arrived. De La Warr instituted tough rules and punished anyone who would not work.

The situation finally took a turn for the better when colonist John Rolfe developed a tobacco that sold well in England. His subsequent marriage to Indian princess Pocahontas brought a peace to the settlement for many years.

1. The Jamestown Online Adventure
2. America in 1607: Jamestown and the Powhatan
3. On the Trail of Captain John Smith
4. Jamestown: Where it All Began