America Is Settled
Of all the European nations facing the Atlantic Ocean, none would ordinarily have seemed to have greater advantages for entering the race for North American exploration than England—better than the Spanish, better than the French, better than the Dutch. The English enjoyed a westerly location in the Atlantic Ocean and had a long history of seafaring. In fact, a handful of English adventurers did follow in the wake of Christopher Columbus. However, sixteenth-century England was involved in battles between Catholicism and the Protestant reformation movement. When England finally turned Protestant for good in 1558, the country became the ally of Protestants and the enemy of every Catholic in Europe. Thus, between 1582 and 1602 the Protestant Queen of England, Elizabeth, sanctioned raids upon the great treasure fleets of Europe’s greatest Catholic power, Spain, which were extracting riches from the Americas. This kind of freebooting was expensive; therefore, it made sense for English raiding parties to establish a supply base on the North American coastline.