Instead of becoming havens for the English poor and unemployed, or models of interracial harmony, the southern colonies of seventeenth-century North America were weakened by disease, wracked by recurring conflicts with Native Americans, and disrupted by profit-hungry planters’ exploitation of poor whites and blacks alike. Many of the tragedies of Spanish colonization and England’s conquest of Ireland were repeated in the American South and the British Caribbean. Just as the English established their first outpost on Chesapeake Bay with a set of goals and strategies in mind, so too the native Indians of that region pursued their own aims and interests. They …show more content…
The spread of English plantations encroached on tribal lands. Mounting tensions finally exploded in 1622 into full-scale hostilities between whites and Indians, resulting in appalling casualties on both sides, as well as a determination, on the part of the English, to destroy the “savage” Indians. Another casualty of the conflict was the Virginia Company itself, the joint-stock company that had overseen the early settlement of the colony. The king dissolved the company after an investigation revealed that mortality rates from disease and the abuse of servants far exceeded the casualties of the Indian war. Virginia then became a royal colony. As the price of tobacco leveled off, a more coherent social and political order took shape in Virginia. Even so, tensions remained high, fueled by resentment at the settlement of Maryland, a proprietary colony ruled by the Calvert family. Maryland’s tobacco economy competed with Virginia’s and led to the outbreak of another Indian war in 1644. Meanwhile, England did little to ease friction or direct the development in the region because it became distracted by domestic political upheavals that culminated in their civil war. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, however, Charles II launched a more consistent colonial policy. Parliament obliged by passing the first in a series of Navigation Acts to regulate colonial trade in ways that benefited England.