Chapter 7a, Part 1 of Book 4

Motives for Establishing Colonies Icon

March 23, 2020

1 The interest which created the first European settlements in America and the West Indies was not so plain and distinct as the interest which established ancient Greek and Roman colonies.

2 All the ancient Greek states possessed a very small territory.

When the people multiplied beyond what that territory could maintain, some of them searched for new habitation in remote parts. The warlike neighbours who surrounded them made it difficult enlarge their territory at home. The Dorian colonies resorted chiefly to Italy and Sicily.

Italy and Sicily were inhabited by barbarous nations before the foundation of Rome.

The Ionians and Eolians were the two other great Greek tribes.

Their colonies were in Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean Sea. Those lands were also inhabited by barbarous nations.

The mother city considered her colony as a child.

At all times, the colony was entitled to great favour and assistance. In return for much gratitude and respect, the mother city considered the colony as an emancipated child over whom she pretended no direct authority or jurisdiction.

The colony=

settled its own form of government enacted its own laws elected its own magistrates made peace or war with its neighbours as an independent state did not wait for the approbation or consent of the mother city.

The interest in establishing such colonies was most plain and distinct.

3 Like most ancient republics, Rome was originally founded on an agrarian law.

The law divided the public territory in a certain proportion among the citizens. This original division was deranged by=

marriage succession alienation

These frequently threw the lands into the possession of a single person.

To remedy this disorder, a law restricted the quantity of land which any citizen could possess to 500 jugera or about 350 English acres. This law was neglected or evaded.

The inequality of fortunes went on continually increasing. Most of the citizens had no land.

Without land, the manners and customs of those times made it difficult for a freeman to maintain his independence.

Presently, though a poor man has no land of his own, if he has a little stock he may farm the lands of another or do some little retail trade.

If he has no stock, he may find employment as a country labourer or as an artificer.

But among the ancient Romans, the lands of the rich were all cultivated by slaves.

The slaves worked under an overseer who was also a slave. A poor freeman had little chance of being employed as a farmer or as a labourer.

All manufactures and trades, even the retail trade, were done by slaves for the benefit of their masters.

The wealth, authority, and protection of their masters made it difficult for a poor freeman to compete against them.

The citizens who had no land could only subsist on the bounties of the candidates during annual elections.

The tribunes animated the people against the rich by reminding them of the ancient division of lands. They said that the fundamental law of the republic was to restrict this private property. The people became clamorous to get land. The rich were perfectly determined not to give them any. To satisfy the people. the rich frequently proposed to send out a new colony.

But Rome was under no need of turning out her citizens to seek their fortune without knowing where they were to settle.

She assigned them lands in the conquered provinces of Italy. They could never form an independent state as those lands were within the republic. Those settlements were a sort of corporation which had the power of enacting bylaws for its own government. However, they were at all times subject to the authority of the mother city.

The sending out of this kind of colony gave some satisfaction to the people.

It often established a sort of garrison in a newly conquered province to impose obedience.

A Roman colony therefore was different from a Greek colony in terms of the nature or motives of its establishment.

The original words for those establishments had accordingly very different meanings. The Latin word (Colonia) signifies a plantation. The Greek word (apoikia), on the contrary, signifies= a separation of dwelling a departure from home a going out of the house.

The interest which established Roman colonies was as plain and distinct as those of Greek colonies.

Both derived their origin from irresistible necessity or from clear and evident utility.

4 The establishment of the European colonies in America and the West Indies arose from no necessity.

Their utility was very great but not understood at their first establishment. Utility was not the motive of the colonies nor of the discoveries occasioned by it. The nature, extent, and limits of that utility are not well understood to this day.

5 During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Venetians had a very advantageous commerce in spiceries and East India goods.

They purchased them chiefly in Egypt and distributed them to other European nations. Egypt was then under the Mammeluks, the enemies of the Turks. The Turks were the enemies of the Venetians. This union of interest, assisted by the money of Venice, formed such a connection that gave the Venetians almost a monopoly of the trade.

6 “The great profits of the Venetians tempted the avidity of the Portuguese.”

During the 15th century, the Portuguese tried to find a way by sea to the countries where the Moors brought ivory and gold dust across the desert to the Venetians. They discovered:

  • The Madeiras
  • The Canaries
  • The Azores
  • The Cape de Verde Islands
  • The coast of Guinea
  • The coast of Loango
  • Congo
  • Angola
  • Benguela and, finally,
  • the Cape of Good Hope.

Their discovery of the Cape of Good Hope opened a prospect of sharing the profitable traffic of the Venetians. In 1497, Vasco de Gama sailed from Lisbon with four ships. After 11 months, he arrived in India. He completed a course of discoveries which was pursued with great steadiness and very little interruption for nearly a century.

7 Some years before this, the success of the Portuguese projects appeared doubtful.

While Europe was in suspense about those projects, a Genoese pilot formed the more daring project of sailing to the East Indies by the West. At that time, the location of those countries was very imperfectly known in Europe. The few European travellers who had been there magnified the distance, perhaps through simplicity and ignorance. The great distance was made it appear almost infinite by= those who could not measure it those who wanted to increase the marvel of their own adventures Columbus very justly concluded that the longer the way was by the east. He proposed to take the way west as the shortest and surest. He was fortunate to convince Isabella of Castile of the probability of his project. He sailed from Palos in August 1492, nearly five years before the expedition of Vasco de Gama from Portugal. After a voyage of 2-3 months, he discovered= The Bahamas or Lucayan islands The great island of St. Domingo


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