French and the Canadian Fur Trade:
when: late 1500’s early 1600’s (the French established modern-day Quebec in 1603) who: the French (specifically Samuel de Champlain who established New France, modern-day Quebec). where: North America
Overview: Indians began trading fur (especially beaver fur) to French fishermen in the 1500’s. The fur got back to Europe and became incredibly popular. The prospective wealth of fur profits in the new world attracted many Europeans to North America. Fur trading tensions were partially responsible for the French and Indian War in 1754 as well as establishing the US and Canadian borders. The fur trade is responsible for a great portion of the developments of both British and French empires in North America. Declined in late 1700’s/early 1800’s due to land clearing and fur animals eventually becoming scarce.
Dutch West India Company
Who: Dutch (Netherlands)
Where: Netherlands, Africa, West Indies (Caribbean)
Overview: Formed in 1621 and modeled after the Dutch East India Company, its main focus was to carry out economic warfare on Spain and Portugal. In its early days, the company originally traded gold, sugar, and tobacco - but within ten years became a major player in the trans-atlantic slave trade. Sailed the “triangle route” from Netherlands to the African coast to the West Indies to sell slaves and return their wealth back to the Netherlands when they were finished. Dominated the slave trade in the mid 1700’s, but were eventually dissolved in 1794. Established many Caribbean colonies and what is present day new york.
Virginia House of Burgesses
When: 1619 (beginning)
Who: Members of the House - 22 total
Where: Jamestown, Virginia
Overview: The VA House of Burgesses was the first legislature in any English colony in the new world. Originally they planned to meet at least once a year (often only one time) to discuss local laws and taxes. The house could create and pass laws for the colony subject to the approval of the Virginia Company. It was the first symbol of a representative government in the new world and is partially responsible to the beginning and success of the American Revolution. Famous members include Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Who: Existing residents in VA, new settlers
Overview: The tobacco economy’s boom in the 1600’s saved the Virginia colony of near bankruptcy. Tobacco production was well below what it could be - mainly because the crop needed large numbers of workers and massive land plots to grow successfully. To fix the labor shortage the Headright System was created in 1618. Existing residents received two headrights (50 acres each, 100 total) and new settlers who paid their own way to Virginia received one headright. A headright was given to each new settler - so families generally travelled together to increase their potential profits. Wealthy residents/new settlers often paid for the passage of new settlers who gave them their headright and worked as an indentured servant to them until their passage debt was paid off (usually 5-7 years). The system is a key factor to Virginia’s success and laid the basis for the aristocracy in Virginia.
Slavery in Virginia
When: As early as 1619
Who: Plantation owners, indentured servants, slaves
Where: Virginia (should this be more specific? like Chesapeake, Jamestown ...) Overview: Slavery in Virginia took its roots slowly. In the late 1650’s there were fewer than 400 slaves in the state. However, as the supply of indentured servants decreased and plantation agriculture increased the demand for slaves grew drastically. By 1680 there were over 3,000 slaves in Virginia, and 20 years later that number more than tripled. Interestingly enough, laws specifically targeted to denigrate blacks weren’t passed until the late 1660’s and early 1670’s. Before that many slaves held lives outside the institution of slavery...
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