In the 15th century, European explorers reached the Americas. Until that time, no one in Europe knew whether the Americas existed or not.
Once the Americas, which include modern-day North and Latin America, were discovered, European settlers, explorers and conquerors began arriving.
The Spanish were the first to establish colonies in America. By the 17th century, a large number of colonies existed in America, populated by many settlers. Some of these were under Spanish control, others under British and French control.
The first 'permanent' English settlement in North America was Called Jamestown after King James I in modern-day Virginia... Read more about the Jamestown >>
Jamestown was officially officially established on May 14th, 1607. Read more about the Jamestown – Fast Facts >>
The settlers came from different parts of Europe. The first wave of settlers came from Spain. These were followed by settlers from Britain and France. Since all of them arrived on the eastern coastline of America, they established colonies on this side.
Europe was certainly a better place to live than America at that time. But the settlers who came to America were either escaping religious persecution in Europe, or they simply didn’t find good opportunities in Europe and decided to test their luck in America.
Although initially the settlers had to face many problems, the colonies soon began to prosper and grow wealthy.
America had been newly discovered by Europeans. It was a huge area, comprising of two modern-day continents. So it was believed that there would be a lot of land to till, many opportunities, freedom and the possibility of getting wealthy.
Some settlers were attracted by these prospects to America. Other settlers were facing persecution in Europe because of their religious beliefs. So they thought that by coming to America, they could live in peace without leaving their religion.
Once the colonies were established by the settlers, others back in Europe realised that going to America didn’t sound very dangerous despite the long journey over sea. So this encouraged even more European settlers to come.
Native Indians already lived in America when the first European settlers began to arrive. When these settlers arrived, the Indians helped them grow crops, build houses and settle themselves along the coast.
Once the colonists had settled, they began to grow crops. Over time, they established contacts with their homes back in Europe.
The colonies with British settlers traded with Britain over sea. Those with Spanish or French settlers traded with home countries in a similar manner.
So the settlers grew cash crops such as tobacco, sent them to Europe over ships and in return, imported things they couldn’t find in America such as tools, livestock, ammunition and other things.
This established strong trade links between mainland Europe and the European settlers in America.
Most of the settlers didn’t like governments, which was one of the reasons why they came away from Europe. Once in America, they established simple administrations and communities of their own.
But before soon, they began to rely more and more on their home countries for aid, food, ammunition and other supplies. Ultimately, France, Spain and Britain started imposing direct rule on their colonies. Resistance to this direct rule was what ultimately led to the American Revolution in 1775.