Spaces and exchanges : Colonisation of Nothern America : The First Settlers - Anglais - Terminale STMG

Spaces and exchanges : Colonisation of Nothern America : The First Settlers - Anglais - Terminale STMG

digiSchool vous propose un cours d'Anglais de Terminale STMG pour votre notion Spaces and exchanges.

Le document porte sur le thème The colonisation of Nothern America : The First Settlers. Vous pourrez découvrir dans un premier temps "the first colony", puis les difficilutés de la nouvelle colonie. Enfin, il y aura une partie sur la colonisation et la religion, ainsi que les origines de Thanksgiving.

Téléchargez gratuitement ce cours d'anglais sur la notion Espaces et échanges pour votre Bac STMG.

Spaces and exchanges : Colonisation of Nothern America : The First Settlers - Anglais - Terminale STMG

Le contenu du document




The colonisation of northern America (on the territory that would later become the United States) dates back to the early 17th century. The existence of the Americas had been discovered a few centuries earlier, and the Southern part of America had already been explored, notably by Christopher Colombus and the Spanish and Portuguese. However, the first American citizens only arrived later on, as we are going to study.

In 1607, a group of English settlers (approximately 100) reached the coast of Virginia, and established themselves there. Acclimating to this new and unfamiliar territory was difficult, but over the years new groups arrived, making Jamestown, in that part of Northern America, the “birthplace” of the US territory.

Later on, in 1620, the famous Mayflower ship became the symbol of these first settlers, who wanted to start a new life away from England, on that untouched territory. We are going to study how and why this colonisation took place.




After the discovery of the Americas, the territory there was coveted by all the main countries in Europe. Colonisation was a goal for all big nations to get some new territory and extend their power. At the beginning of the 17th century in England, king James I ordered the creation of a group, the Virginia Company, to organise the journey to America and settle in Virginia. Virginia is a territory of East-Northern America (today’s territory of the north of Florida), and had been named in honour of Elizabeth I, who was known as “the Virgin Queen” because she never married.

A group of a hundred settlers left for Virginia in December 1606, and reached the coast of Northern America a few months later, in 1607. That was the first group that settled in that territory of the New World. The reasons were strategic and colonial, and not religious, as opposed as what we’ll see with the Pilgrim Fathers.

When they arrived in Virginia, the settlers created a basic structure made of wood, in the settlement called Jamestown (presumably in honour of King James I). The little number of settlers lived all together in separate houses, and had brought some provisions of food and weapons. One of the objectives there was also to find gold.





The settlement of Jamestown, a triangular territory delimited by wood structures




The settlers had to face multiple difficulties, once they were living in Virginia :

- They didn’t have enough supplies of food : as a consequence almost all of them suffered from hunger. Being hungry also led to a weakness in body and mind, so they were more exposed to illnesses. In the time following their arrival in America, some of the settlers returned to England, to tell the King about what they had managed to do and how the situation was. During these journeys back and forth, the travellers came back to Jamestown with new supplies but the quantities of food were never enough. While a good number of the settlers were away back to England, the people who stayed in Jamestown were starving. A lot of people died, and there were several waves of famine.  The weather didn’t help the situation : in the winter of 1609, called the Starving Time, the majority of the inhabitants died because of the cold and the living conditions. England had to send out new people to increase the population of Jamestown and balance the number of dead, to make sure the colony would still go on and not naturally disappear.

- The rivalry with the Algonquian tribes : these tribes were Native American tribes led by Chief Powhatan (whose daughter was the famous Pocahontas, even though the story of her life is different from the well-known Disney film). There were a lot of tensions between the Native Americans and the settlers, and the threat of attacks on Jamestown were frequent. At first, Chief Powhatan and leader John Smith came to an agreement, in which the tribe and the settlers established a trade and exchanged goods (corn exchanged for metal objects or weapons).



The settlers and the Native Americans trading an animal


However this trade didn’t last, and in 1610, under a new governor, a law was established to forbid all contacts with the Native Americans. The settlers organised raids to burn the houses and the crops, and kill people from the tribes. Jamestown was slowly expanded in other settlements around the river of that territory. They learned techniques from the Native Americans which allowed them to build better structures, more resistant to the weather.

Eventually, the colony managed to develop and improve. The cultivation of a new sort of tobacco gave a boost to the economy, and a social and economic structure started to form itself, with the creation of a General Assembly with elected members (wealthier men who owned land), and the arrival of African people who were employed as indentured servants (beginning of the slavery system).




In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower brought new settlers to Northern America : they are called the Pilgrim Fathers. They were a group of 100 people who decided to leave England and go to the New World. In this group, a lot of them were Puritans. Puritans are a religious group who separated from the regular Church of England (the Protestants) to create a Separatist Church movement. They were in favour of a very strict religious life, and didn’t want to be submitted to the authority of men in their religious structure. They believed that Christians should assemble together to form their churches, and not follow a hierarchy as the Church of England did, with parishes and congregations.


The Puritans were persecuted in England. In the 1610s, they escaped persecution and went to the Netherlands, where the situation was more favourable to them, but after a few years they decided that the only way they could live their religious beliefs as they wanted was to establish themselves somewhere else. Thus they decided to form a group and go to Northern America. In September 1620, they left from Plymouth, in England, and made the journey on a ship called the Mayflower. The trip was dangerous, and storms prevented the Pilgrims to reach their initial destination, which was Virginia (the presence of the colony there since 1607 made it easier for new settlers to arrive). They finally arrived at Cape Cod (present-day Massachusetts), which was not the territory they had planned to colonise.





The Pilgrims arriving in America

After exploring a little and finding the right territory to settle in, the Puritans started building a few houses and organising a communal life in the new colony. They decided to call it Plymouth, just like the town they departed from in England. On the Mayflower, before they arrived in America, the Mayflower Compact was created : it was a document signed by the male Pilgrims, to establish a government and rules for their colony.

Of course, the first months in Northern America were difficult, a lot of people stayed living on the ship during the first winter to avoid the harsh weather. During the period of adaptation to their new life and environment, some people caught diseases and some died (mainly women).




The American celebration of Thanksgiving (every year on the fourth week of November) originated from the Pilgrim Father's colonisation. They created their settlement near the territory of the Wampanoag, a tribe of Native Americans. Two of them, Squanto and Samoset, helped the settlers to learn Indian techniques for cultivating corn and fishing. The Native Americans shared their knowledge with the Puritans, and the two people created an alliance to live in harmony together. To thank them, William Bradford, the governor, organised a big feast that the Puritans and the Native Americans shared together. This was one of the only times when relations between American settlers and the Natives were peaceful and without any tensions.





The first Thanksgiving meal, the Puritans sharing their cultivations with the Indians


Useful words :

- Coveted : convoité

- To settle : s’installer

- Supplies : provisions

- Hunger : la faim

- Threatened : menaces

- Corn : maïs

- Crops : les cultures, les récoltes

- Dissenters : dissidents, contestataires

- Parishes : paroisses

- Religious beliefs : croyances religieuses

- Storms : tempêtes





La découverte de l’Amérique entraina une volonté d’exploration et d’acquisition de nouveaux territoires dans toute l’Europe. Si l’Espagne a principalement concentré ses intérêts en Amérique du Sud, la Grande Bretagne a rapidement voulu explorer les terres situées plus au nord du continent. Au début du XVIIe siècle, une expédition à la demande du roi James Ier est à l’origine de la colonisation de Jamestown, un campement crée en Virginie (un territoire qui avait été découvert auparavant). Les premiers colons ont dû faire face à de nombreuses difficultés : un voyage long et dangereux, une installation compliquée (conditions météorologiques difficiles et un manque constant de nourriture) et des frictions avec les populations Amérindiennes présentes aux alentours de la colonie. Malgré tout, Jamestown finit par prospérer et former sa propreéconomie. 


En 1620, une autre vague de colonisation fut organisée, et la colonie de Plymouth fut créée. Les colons voyagèrent à bord du célèbre Mayflower, et nombre d’entre eux étaient des Puritains, un groupe religieux qui, refusant certains principes de l’église anglicane, a décidé de quitter l’Europe, où il était marginalisé, pour commencer une nouvelle vie en Amérique. Encore une fois, les voyageurs ont dû s’adapter à un nouveau territoire parfois hostile, et ont élaboré une colonie, en lui fixant des règles et principes, et en apprenant, grâce à l’aide des Amérindiens, à cultiver la terre et à subvenir à leurs besoins.

Ces colonies sont les premières étapes d’une colonisation globale du territoire américain, et la création de nouvelles villes sur des territoires vierges a participé à la vision de l’Amérique comme une terre de multiples opportunités et favorable à une vie nouvelle.

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