“Blessed is the Nation Whose God Is YHWH”
Introduction: For the Colonies to gain independence, they would have to fight, but victory would have eluded them if they had had to oppose more than one country. Hence, God had to bring our nation under one flag, and He did.
We’ve already seen how God blocked the northern advance of the Conquistadors. His holy blockade handled them.
King John II never forgave himself for not financing Columbus. His country did eventually discover and settle Brazil, but that was all the small nation could handle in the New World.
Portuguese interest centered mainly on the trade route around the Cape of Good Hope, discovered by Vasco Da Gama in 1497. They tried to emphasize trade with the Indies.
In 1638 the Swedes tried to colonize portions of Delaware. However, in 1655 the Dutch drove them out and ended their hopes of colonization.
IV. THE NETHERLANDS
The Dutch enjoyed their golden age in the early 1600’s. They were fighting a war for independence from Spain and had built the world’s largest naval fleet. At one time they supplied half the world’s shipping. Amsterdam became Europe’s leading financial city.
In 1609 the Dutch began explorations and laid claims to lands included in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. That same year the French moved into northern New York from Quebec and tried to claim it. The Dutch arrived just in time to help the Iroquois Indians keep out the French.
In 1626 the Dutch bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for $24 worth of goods. ( It is still debated as to who got the best end of that bargain.)
In the 1660’s the Dutch lost a war with England and surrendered all of their lands in America to Britain. But the Dutch had an important role in God’s plan for us:
A. They had kept the French and Swedes out.
B. They were a people that granted religious toleration. The Pilgrims fled to Holland before coming to America. This attitude of religious freedom had been fostered in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.
C. They never forgot the humiliation they suffered at the hands of the British. The Dutch later used their wealth as a revenge against the English. It was Dutch money that helped finance the Revolutionary War in America.
With the four previously mentioned countries checkmated in North America, the contest boiled down to one between Britain and France. For over a century these two nations struggled for the possession and mastery of North America.
England took the Atlantic seaboard, around the Great Lakes, and down the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. The two nations had conflict after conflict in their bloody struggle against each other.
Finally the British prevailed. They decisively beat the French in what’s known as the French and Indian Wars. By 1763 Britain owned all the land from the Colonies to the Mississippi River.
But God’s hand was obvious even in the French occupation.
A. The British removed the French from the Ohio and Mississippi Valley. Had that not happened the U.S. would have been either restricted to the east coast or would have had to fight another war to expand.
B. The French never forgot their humiliation at the hand of the British. Lafayette and his naval forces gladly helped the Colonies during the Revolution.
Yes, the British prevailed, but not because they were better than anyone else. They had also been cruel and underhanded. They were just as mercenary as anyone else had been. However, they did have certain philosophies in their judicial system that God wanted in our country. It was free of Catholicism and placed importance on basic human dignities.
At first they did suppress religious freedom, but by 1691 they had made religious tolerance a fact. Also, the Colonies were treated with much latitude in the early days. Hence, the Colonies became used to freedom, and troubles began when Britain tried to tighten its hold on them.
Yes, the British prevailed, but only to lose 20 years later. Their greed lost them their “goldmine.” God had tried to warn them from the first that this was to be a land of freedom and righteousness, not a land for greedy gain. They had to learn the hard way, at two different places.
ROANOKE ISLAND (Off the present North Carolina coast)
In the 1580’s Queen Elizabeth decided to put Sir Walter Raleigh in charge of colonizing Virginia, as England’s possessions in the New World were called. The idea was probably an attempt to establish a base for raiding the wealthy Spanish empire in America. But God would not allow such a place to be the first successful British settlement in the New World.
Raleigh was in charge, but he was forced to use helpers because Elizabeth wanted him nearby. The result was a travesty.
In April 1585 an expedition left under the command of Sir Richard Grenville. Over 100 settlers remained while Grenville headed for supplies.
In the Spring of 1586 Sir Francis Drake and his fleet made an appearance. Grenville had not come back and the people had become impatient. This, coupled with sickness and fear, caused the Colonists to go back with Drake to England in June. These people may have been the first to bring potatoes to England.
Just a few days after the settlers left, Grenville arrived with fresh supplies and a few more settlers. This second wave of settlers decided to stick it out.
In 1587 a third group left England. They found the second group dead, massacred by Indians. Nevertheless, the immigrants decided to stay. There were more than 100 men, women, and children.
Their leader, Governor John White, returned to England right away to recruit reinforcements to help protect the Colonists from possible Indian attacks. However, when he arrived in England, his country was awaiting a Spanish invasion. Spain’s “Invincible Armada” was defeated in 1588. White was delayed in returning because of the war.
Once he got back to Roanoke he was confronted by what has become one of the most intriguing puzzles of American history. The whole Colony had disappeared. There were no signs of fighting or bloodshed. Everyone had disappeared. The Colonists were never found, and no one knows what happened to them.
Governor White searched for a while, but finally gave up and returned to England believing everyone had died. That ended the Roanoke experiment. All that was gained from it was a massacre, a missing Colony, and one other negative factor: tobacco.
These people probably were the ones that introduced smoking to England. Raleigh took it from there and made smoking fashionable. However, according to legend, when he smoked for the first time his servants, thinking Raleigh was on fire, poured a bucket of water on him.
When Columbus and his men first saw the Indians smoking, they were fascinated and amazed. No one in Europe had ever thought of ingesting smoke for pleasure. But the Indians said that “drinking smoke” kept the body warm and healthy.
The white men caught on quickly. Tobacco succeeded in spite of the later protests of King James, who reported that the autopsy of a chain smoker had revealed his body contained a bushel of soot.
Considering how many have died with lung and heart problems caused by smoking, we should rank it along with syphilis as another Indian revenge against the whites.
The lost Colony of Roanoke dampened enthusiasm in England for New World adventures. But in December 1606 the Virginia Company, a commercial enterprise, sent out 3 ships to the Colony. They were to establish a trading post and search for gold and silver.
Foul weather drove them back, but six weeks later they tried again. After a stormy trip they entered the protected waters of Chesapeake Bay. On May 14, 1607, after having sailed some 40 miles up a river, they landed. They named the river and settlement for King James I.
Jamestown was beautiful at the time, but by mid-summer its real face was showing. It was low and perpetually damp. The marshes around it produced swamp fever (malaria) and other ills. By mid-summer only 5 of the original 144 men were able to man the defense posts.
To complicate matters, half of the settlers were “Gentlemen,” whose code of conduct forbade them to do any physical labor. They would not chop, dig, plow, build B they would rather die, and many did.
Nobody was interested in planting. They lived on what corn they could buy, beg, or steal from Indians. It would be 20 years before the Virginia Colony would finally plant a crop large enough to sustain itself.
By 1608 the death rate at Jamestown reached 90%. But the worst was yet to come. In April 1609 they discovered all their food reserves had been eaten by thousands of rats. Fall of 1609 is known as “the starving time.”
All the livestock was consumed. First they ate hogs, sheep, goats, horses; every bit, even the hides. Then they turned to dogs, cats, rats, field mice, and snakes. Next they resorted to tree roots, and bushes, shoe leather and book covers. Several grew so weak that they were too feeble to move and froze to death in their beds.
Finally they began digging up fresh corpses, which they cut up into stew meat and boiled. One man even killed his own wife, salted her down, and began to eat her. He was discovered and executed. (I wonder if they ate his body.)
In May 1610 a ship arrived with food. The crew was met by 60 stick figures moaning, “We are starved! We are starved!”
God punished the English settlers for their greed, but nevertheless, allowed them to survive. A foretaste of “why” He let them survive can be seen in what happened there in 1619.
The Virginia Company disbanded and turned the Colony over to some adventurers. These men granted the Colony what amounted to self-rule. They established a government consisting of two Burgesses (representatives from each of the 10 major plantations that comprised the Colony. This was the first representative assembly on North America. It set the model for the kind of government Colonists went to war for a century and a half later.
Now the “how” of their survival. Tobacco was the crop that established the Colony financially. However, their survival was actually due to the territory in which they settled. The British had landed in the only place on the Atlantic seaboard where any European nation had a chance of multiplying settlements.
The Atlantic coast was populated by some of the most hostile Indians in the hemisphere. The ferocity of the Seminoles thwarted the Spanish in Florida. The savage Iroquois plagued early development in the northern inland regions. Other warlike tribes covered the Atlantic.
However, the Chesapeake region was under the sway of moderate Chief Powhatan. He ruled a confederation of 30 tribes with a combined population of 20,000. He could have easily destroyed the Colonists. But instead, he showed peace and even generosity to the settlers. He may have been the only Indian Chief in this continent that would have received the white settlers in large numbers. God blessed America: The British prevailed.
Americana Encyclopedia and World Book (related articles)
Marshall, Peter and David Manuel, The Light and The Glory (Revell: Old Tappan NJ, 1977) pp. 1060121