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Joint stock company: a form of business organization devised around
1600 by European nationals to finance business ventures; pooled the
funds of many investors by selling shares in the company.
Christopher Columbus: Italian explorer who, on October 12th, 1492,
discovered the American continent while searching for a profitable new
western trade route to Asia for Spain. He also discovered the West
13 Colonies: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode
Island (New England Colonies); New York, Delaware, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania (Middle Colonies); Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia (Southern Colonies).
Subsistence farming: a level of farming at which farmers produce
just enough to feed their families.
Black robes: Spanish missionaries who arrived in the New World to
convert the Natives to Christianity.
Molasses Act: an act passed in 1733 by Great Britain which imposed
a stiff tax on all molasses or rum imported from the foreign West
Conquistadores: professional Spanish soldiers who explored and
conquered lands in the New World.
Separatists: dissenters who believed that the Church of England was
so impure that true believers should separate from it completely.
Pilgrims: separatists who sailed aboard the Mayflower and landed on
the coast of North America that was outside the authority of the
London Company; they drafted the Mayflower Compact and set up the
Plymouth colony in Massachusetts.
Jamestown: the first permanent English settlement in American,
founded by the London Company in 1607 in Virginia; horrific conditions
caused the deaths of many of the settlers; John Smith led the
Mayflower Compact: an agreement by the first Pilgrims to make
decisions by majority rule.
London Company: a group of merchants who sponsored the
Jamestown settlement.
Presidio: a Spanish settlement in the New World built for military
Navigation Acts: acts passed in 1660 and 1663 by British Parliament
to ensure the colonists traded only with England to ensure the British
of valuable revenues and to maintain their world power; involved three
components: colonial merchants could only ship goods on colonial or
English-owned vessels with three quarters being colonial or English
sailors, a list of colonial products (enumerated commodities) could only

be shipped to England sugar, cotton, indigo, ginger, tobacco, and

woods used for dye had to pass through England before being sent
elsewhere (rice, furs, and naval supplies were added later on), and
colonies were prohibited from importing most products from other
European nations unless those products passed through England first
(the only exceptions were slaves, wines, horses, and salt).
Mercantilism: an economic system prevalent in Europe after the
Middle Ages in which each nation attempted to sell more than it
bought in order to increase its supply of gold.
Encomienda: the right granted to conquistadores to demand a tax
from Native Americans living on a given piece of land.
Magellan: discovered the Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Islands; his
crew was the first to circumnavigate the globe.
Cortes: defeated the Aztec empire and discovered Mexico.
John Cabot: explorer employed by England to search for a waterway
to the east; sailed along the North American coast; gathered valuable
geographic information but ultimately found no passage to the Pacific.
William Pitt: British secretary of state (1756) whose confidence led
the British to reverse their string of defeats during the French-Indian
War; launched three-pronged attack on the French that helped bring
about victory.
John Smith: experienced soldier who led the Jamestown settlement
with efficiency and order; demand for food at his price cooled Indian
relations; chiefs young daughter Pocahontas saved Smith when he
was held hostage, which helped bring about friendly relations between
English and Natives once again.

Conditions in Jamestown
Marshy swamp provided a breeding ground for malaria-carrying
Drinking water was salty, and the unusually damp air sped the decay
of the wooden buildings.
It was past crop season, so the land could not be cultivated.
Residents were beset by disease.
Most colonists were not accustomed to hard physical labour because
they were soldiers and aristocrats. Others could make glass, do
brickwork, or make iron tools, but virtually no one had the basic
farming skills needed to survive.
Little important work was accomplished because the London Company
insisted the colonists to search for gold in hopes of rivalling the
Spaniards mines.
Within a year, nearly half of the original 104 settlers had died.
In 1609, leader John Smith departed the colony for England; the
following winter, food became so scarce that the colonists were
reduced to eating rats, horses, frogs, roots, insects... even each other

(cannibalism). In the years that followed, the unhealthy conditions

persisted and colonists died in large numbers.
By 1617, only 400 of more than 2000 people who had come to
Jamestown had survived.