Further down the coast came New Jersey (1670s); Pennsylvania, founded (1681) by English Quakers but thereafter populated largely by German immigrants (misnamed the “Pennsylvania Dutch”); Delaware (1704); Carolina (1663, later to be divided into two colonies, North and South); and Georgia (1732).Considered as a whole, English men and women constituted more than 90% of seventeenth-century colonists.
In the meantime, other European groups were joining the settlement process: the French in what is now Canada, the Dutch in New Netherlands (founded in 1626 and Anglicized four decades later, with its name changed to New York), scattered bands of Finns and Swedes along the mid-Atlantic coast (in the 1630s and ’40s), the Spanish in Florida (as early as 1565) and also in the far southwest (today’s New Mexico; 1607).
Eventually, all except the small Spanish outposts would be absorbed into a single, English-controlled sphere of colonization.
American colonial history belongs to what scholars call the early modern period.
As such, it is part of a bridge between markedly different eras in the history of the western world.
Portugal and Spain, having launched the so-called Age of Discovery at the end of the fifteenth century, laid claim to most of what is today Central and South America.
The British, and others from northern Europe, were latecomers to the imperial contest.
There would be additional English settlements as well.
Thus several new settlements spun off from Massachusetts: Connecticut (1636); Rhode Island (1644); and New Hampshire (1679).
This focus lay behind the distinctive settlement pattern of the Chesapeake colonies—where numerous, more or less isolated, “plantations” lay stretched out along rivers and ridgelines, with little in the way of village-style contact among them.
Tobacco exhausted soil fertility so rapidly that individual planters felt obliged to engross large quantities of land simply in order to maintain consistent levels of production; when, after a few years, one field would no longer bear a good crop, cultivation was moved to others.