The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America--The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675

The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America--The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675

Bernard Bailyn

Language: English

Pages: 640

ISBN: 0375703462

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

Bernard Bailyn gives us a compelling, fresh account of the first great transit of people from Britain, Europe, and Africa to British North America, their involvements with each other, and their struggles with the indigenous peoples of the eastern seaboard.

The immigrants were a mixed multitude. They came from England, the Netherlands, the German and Italian states, France, Africa, Sweden, and Finland, and they moved to the western hemisphere for different reasons, from different social backgrounds and cultures. They represented a spectrum of religious attachments. In the early years, their stories are not mainly of triumph but of confusion, failure, violence, and the loss of civility as they sought to normalize situations and recapture lost worlds. It was a thoroughly brutal encounter—not only between the Europeans and native peoples and between Europeans and Africans, but among Europeans themselves, as they sought to control and prosper in the new configurations of life that were emerging around them.

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exemptions—that would be accorded the colonists: perhaps the most generous enticements ever offered prospective settlers. The response was immediate. On Christmas Day 1656, four shiploads of subsidized independent farmers and peasants, 167 people in all, recruited from Gulick (Jülich) in the duchy of Cleves on the Dutch-German border, and committed to at least four years of residence in the colony, sailed off. They arrived on the Delaware, after vicissitudes that included a shipwreck on Long

increases, or personal struggles in politics. And throughout these years there was something subtler and more general at work: a deepening introversion, an intensifying insularity and sense of parochial self-consciousness.17 Thus greater East Anglia, from which the largest number of emigrants came, while it shared certain general characteristics of the southeastern region, had its own economic and cultural diversity. The core counties of Norfolk and Suffolk were given over to grassland and

wipe out every living soul of their “nation.” “You promised to fraught [freight] my ship ere I departed,” he declared, “and so you shall, or I meane to load her with your dead carcasses.” The threat subsided, and Smith obtained the supplies he had come for.39 5 By such means a marginal survival was preserved, reinforced by the arrival in August and October 1609 of a contingent of the “third supply”—probably around three hundred people, who were part of a storm-tossed complement of five

Unmasked, 102; and John Childe, New-Englands Jonas Cast up at London… (London, 1647), 21, 24, as reprinted in Peter Force, ed., Tracts and Other Papers Relating Principally to … the Colonies in North America… (Washington, D.C., 1836–46), IV; Kittredge, “Child,” 49. For Vassall’s role in the Remonstrance, see Wall, Crucial Decade, chap. 5. On Winthrop’s view of Vassall: Winthrop, Journal, 624. 55. Newell, “Child,” 227, 254. 56. For Child’s later career, see [Turnbull], “Child,” 20–53. 57.

the extensive riverside lands and were widely separated: in fact the company required the new settlements to be spaced ten miles apart.18 Some were staked out at immense scale. The patent for Berkeley Hundred, a speculative venture sponsored by five of the company’s major investors and designed, ultimately, to provide homes for “many land-hungry people” in Gloucestershire, contained twelve and a half square miles, with four miles of frontage on the James. Martin’s Hundred, an “enormous corporate

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