The essence of government is power, and power, lodged as it is in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. — James Madison

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Around the World

After the voyages of the Cabots in 1497-1498, the English for some time took little interest in the New World. But in the middle of the sixteenth century several noted seamen visited America. One of these men was Hawkins, who brought over from Africa a cargo of negroes. He sold these as slaves to the Spaniards in the West Indies.

Until then prisoners of war had often been sold as slaves, and the Indians on the newly discovered islands had, as we have seen, found cruel taskmasters in the colonists. But as these savages were not used to hard work, they soon died.

Hawkins fancied he was doing a very wise thing in bringing negroes over from Africa to replace them. Indeed, he was so proud of this idea that he had a slave painted on his coat of arms, and said, like Columbus, that it was much better for the negroes to be slaves among Christians than free among heathens.

It was thus that the negro slave trade began, and for two hundred and fifty years slave ships plied to and fro across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing over countless colored people, who were sold first to the Spaniards and later to the Americans.

The English were so anxious to discover a northwest passage to India (that is, a way to sail through or around the northern part of America) that they sent Frobisher out to search for it in 1576. He sailed northward until he came to the bay which still bears his name. He landed there, and, to his delight, found some yellow ore, which he carried home. This was what is now known as fool's gold, or pyrites; but the English, thinking it was real gold, quickly sent out a ship to bring home a whole cargo of the worthless stuff.

Some time after this visit of Frobisher's, Davis sailed still farther north, only to be driven back by the ice in the strait which still bears his name. Although he did not know it, Davis had discovered the entrance to the long-sought northwest passage; but it could never be used to reach Asia, as people hoped, on account of the great icebergs which block it up nearly all the year.

Another great English seaman of this time was Francis Drake, who first sailed with the slave trader Hawkins. When he came to the Spanish settlements in the West Indies and Mexico, and saw how much gold was shipped to Spain, he wanted to get some of it for his country, too. He therefore set out with several vessels, and although war had not yet been declared between England and Spain, he boldly attacked the Spanish colonies and ships, and secured much booty.

When war broke out Drake became more daring than ever, and running unexpectedly into the Spanish ports, he began plundering. Then, setting fire to the shipping, he sailed off again, after thus "singeing the King of Spain's beard," as he called it. During one of his many journeys, Drake landed on the Isthmus of Panama, where, climbing the mountains, he was the first Englishman to behold the Pacific ocean, about fifty years after it had been seen by Balboa.

In the course of his piratical expeditions Drake sailed through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean, and, after securing much booty from the Spaniards in Peru, coasted about until he came to the Californian bay which still bears his name. He called this part of the country New Albion, and made such friends with the Indians there that they invited him to stay and be their king.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber

But Drake was anxious to carry his treasures home, and as he knew a Spanish fleet was lying in wait for him near the Strait of Magellan, he boldly crossed the Pacific, and went back by way of the Cape of Good Hope. He was thus, as he said, the first Englishman who "plowed a furrow around the globe." Queen Elizabeth was so proud of this fact that she knighted Drake on board of his own ship, the Pelican, and graciously accepted all the stolen jewels he gave her (1580).

The Pelican  was carefully preserved for about one hundred years, and when it fell to pieces a chair was made from its timbers, and given to the Oxford University, where it can still be seen. As for Drake, he lived to continue his journeys some time longer, and to take part in the great naval battle against the Spanish Armada; and he finally perished while on his way to make an attack on the West Indies.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell