Jul

23

 In referring to the failure of the Roanoke colony, founded by Ralph Lane in 1585 in Virginia, Paul Johnson in his History of the American People says that it was a blessing in disguise because if had been successful, Spain, which was then more powerful than England, would have send out an invading force, destroyed Roanoke, set up forts and claimed the entire Eastern seaboard.

Johnson's history has a nice blend of entrepreneurial, commercial, freedom-loving and religious explanations for what happened to America, and has many anecdotes about the greats who made it happen and the role chance played in the path it took.

Stefan Jovanovich remarks:

The Spanish did claim the entire seaboard. By 1570 they had already landed a Jesuit mission on the James River. According to D. W. Meinig, the Spanish ended their push north from St. Augustine not because of the failure of the first English Virginia colony but because of the increasing need to secure their treasure fleet against the buccaneering of the French, Dutch and English privateers. See Atlantic America 1492-1800, the first volume in Meinig's life work, The Shaping of America. Meinig thinks the Huguenots set in motion the chain of events that led to the loss of Spanish hopes for dominance in the mid-Atlantic region. His radical thesis — for which he has a good deal of evidence — is that the French Protestant mariners 'taught the English how to sail beyond Ireland and the Dutch how to sail to the Indies and (later) up the Thames.'


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