The Dutch Door To America

“One nation is a copy of the other,” said John Adams on his first visit to the Netherlands; two centuries later an American visitor to Holland can still trace the connection

We are well weaned from the delicate milk of our mother country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange and hard land,” wrote John Robinson and William Brewster in 1617. They were negotiating a land grant in the New World with England’s Plymouth Company, for their followers, the Pilgrims. The strange and hard land they spoke of was Holland, where the Pilgrims were living. Read more »

“God…would Destroy Them, And Give Their Country To Another People…”

The mysterious diseases that nearly wiped out the Indians of New England were the work of the Christian God-or so both Pilgrims and Indians believed

In December of 1620, a group of English dissenters who “knew they were pilgrimes,” in the words of William Bradford, stepped ashore on the southern coast of Massachusetts at the site of the Wampanoag Indian village of Pawtuxet. The village was empty, abandoned long enough for the grasses and weeds to have taken over the cornfields, but not long enough for the trees to have returned. The Pilgrims occupied the lonely place and called it Plymouth. Read more »

Of Raleigh And The First Plantation

The Elizabethans and America: Part II -- The fate of the Virginia Colony rested on the endurance of adventurers, the financing of London merchants, and the favor of a courtier with his demanding spinster Queen.

In the marvelous 1580s everything was beginning to ripen together in the heat of the tension between England and Spain. Poetry and the drama that had been so sparse and backward were coming to a head with Sidney and Spenser and Marlowe; the first Elizabethan madrigals appear in the very year the war against Spain begins. And this is the moment when the idea of American colonization takes shape and wing—or, perhaps I should say, takes sail.