The Lost Colony of Roanoke Part 1


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Few realize or remember that the very beginnings of English colonization in North America were fraught with tremendous hardship, peril, and connected to an enduring mystery. A charter was granted to Sir Walter Raleigh by Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1584 to explore and colonize lands unclaimed by Christian kingdoms, south of Newfoundland, and north of Spanish Florida. With hopes of finding vast riches as the Spanish Empire had done in Central and South America and a possible Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean, Raleigh had initiated two attempts at establishing an English settlement along the coast of present-day North Carolina. The first colony was set up by Governor Ralph Lane in 1585 on Roanoke Island, located in the Outer Banks. This enterprise would end in failure and evacuation from scare resources and hostile relations with the local Native American tribes. A second attempt at a colony came in 1587 with Governor John White and around 115 men, women, and children who had agreed to settle in this wondrous but challenging new country. Unfortunately, a curious order left these hapless planters on Roanoke Island, which had now become dangerous from the actions of the former colony. The colonists persuaded White to return to England to plead for help, but due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances, he was not able to return to Roanoke until 1590. When White and the relief mission finally made their way to their last known location, the settlers had vanished, including White's daughter and his infant granddaughter. White's granddaughter Virginia Dare would be known as the first English child born in a New World English possession, but what happened to her remains unknown. The only clue as to their whereabouts were the letters "CRO" carved into a tree and the word "CROATOAN" carved into the fort's palisade. These enigmatic carvings and the strange disappearance of the Lost Colony at Roanoke would ensure that their fate would become one of the first and lasting mysteries of the English occupation in the New World.

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