| American History Stories, Volume I|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Stories of early exploration and founding of American colonies, conflicts over religion, and troubles with the Indians, culminating in the French and Indian War. Ages 8-12 |
SIR WALTER RALEIGH
 There was another gallant Englishman who made a
great name for himself upon the sea.
Did you ever hear of the young Englishman who, when
one day Queen Elizabeth, taking her daily walk, came to
a muddy place in the road, threw down his rich plush coat,
and with a profound bow begged her Queenship to do him
the honor to cross upon it?
Well, that young Englishman was the Sir Walter Raleigh of
whom we hear in the stories of the earliest discoveries.
Sir Walter had made a voyage with his older brother, Sir
Humphrey Gilbert, who had tried again and again to find the
 Passage of which the Cabots so long before had talked and
And now a time had come when England was very anxious to
get a colony founded in North America before the Spanish
should take possession of the whole country.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH
Several attempts were made, but none of them were
successful. One colony, called in history "The Lost
Colony," was made up of a hundred families. They settled
upon the beautiful island of Roanoke in Albemarle Sound,
When their rough houses were built and the people had
planted their fields and seemed comfortable and
prosperous, their governor, John Whyte, returned to England
to report their success and to bring back provisions for
The governor did not like to leave the
col-  ony, for there were hostile Indians round about. His people
depended on him for guidance, and then, too, there was a
little baby girl, his grand-daughter—little Virginia
Dare, the first English baby born on American soil—who
had a wonderful hold on the heart-strings of the rough
old governor, and made him wish that he might stay there on
the beautiful island to protect her from all danger.
But the colonists needed provisions, so the brave governor
On reaching England he found the country in such commotion
and the queen so busy with the war going on between Spain
and England, that it was three long years before he
could get together the provisions and the help he needed
to carry back to the little colony.
When at last he did set sail, it seemed to him that the
ocean must have grown
thou-  sands and thousands of miles wider, the voyage
was so long and he was so
anxious about the little colony and so eager to see the
little baby colonist.
At last the vessel neared the island.
Eagerly Governor Whyte looked up and down
the shores for some sign of welcome.
But only the stillness and the gloom of the forest
greeted him. Not a sign of life. The huts
were deserted, not a sound was to be heard
save the cry of the birds and the moaning of
On a tree were cut the letters, CROATAN. What did that
mean? Was it the name of some place to which the colonists
had moved? No one knew. No one ever knew; and not one
trace of this lost colony, not one trace of the little
English baby, Virginia Dare, has been found to this day.
ON A TREE WERE CUT THE LETTERS CROATAN
 It was at this time that many reports came of the
enormous amounts of gold to be found in Guiana. "Why,"
said one adventurer, "it lies in lumps about the
streets; and in the forests it lies like fallen trees
across one's path."
"England must have some of that gold. She needs it to
carry on the war," said Raleigh. "It will never do to let
Spain capture it all." And so he set forth for the
wonderful gold country. Of course, he found no such
quantities of gold, but he explored the rivers and brought
home most valuable reports of the new world.
Later, in a great battle with the Spanish
vessels, Raleigh so contrived to set his own
vessel across a narrow channel that the whole
Spanish fleet was crippled, and had no
choice but to blow up their own vessels
 or see them captured by Raleigh. This
victory was a terrible blow to the Spanish
power on the sea. Never again did she
dare defy the powers of other countries as she
had done, or proudly proclaim herself "mistress"
of the seas." From that day the power of
Spain was broken.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH BLOWING UP SHIP
Queen Elizabeth was proud indeed of her
brave knight, and all England rang with praises of
their bold deliverer.
But, by and by, the Queen died. King
James of Scotland became King of England. Now the skies
grew black indeed for Sir Walter. King James hated him,
of him, and felt he was a man to be feared.
Accordingly he had him shut up in prison,
and later condemned him to death. It is a
sad, cruel story and we will not repeat it here.
Only you may be sure, good, brave man that
 Sir Walter was, that he died nobly; and that, as the years
rolled on, the world grew more and more to appreciate and
The French, too, and the Hollanders were at this same time
sending explorers across the sea to find a short route to
India. That was how it happened that Jacques Cartier
discovered the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and Henrick
Hudson the mouth of the Hudson. Cartier's heart beat
fast when he found this
great river, and saw it led directly west.
Hudson, too, though
his river ran so far to the north, still hoped it might
somewhere turn towards the west. For, you see, the
people of those days did not yet realize
that they had discovered a new continent
thousands of miles wide, and that no river or system of
rivers could extend from shore to shore.
 This idea of a vast country came to
the people slowly; for first, when Columbus
discovered the island of Hispaniola, the people
thought of this new western land as merely a
series of islands. Then, when Balboa crossed
the Isthmus of Panama, he reported the new
land as only a narrow strip. But, gradually,
when Magellan sailed so far south and Cartier
so far north, the people began to realize that
the new land was not an island nor even a
narrow strip of land. And so the truth of the
discovery grew, until, by and by, it was known
that great continents had been
discovered—continents as large as all
Europe and Asia
put together. And they named these two great
continents North America and South America.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics