Today in World History: August 17th

The first colonists from England arrived on Roanoke Island on this day in 1585, under the command of Sir Walter Raleigh. In what is now North Carolina, the colonists established one of the first English colonies in the New World, building a small town near Native American land. The colony was part of a charter by Queen Elizabeth I, which stipulated that Raleigh was to found a colony in North America, or lose his right to colonization. Two years passed, during which Raleigh had moved on from the colony on Roanoke Island, and settlers arrived at a nearby location in 1587, to find the colony abandoned. All that was found of the colony was a skeleton, presumably of one of the settlers. The man in charge of this new expedition, John White, ordered the new settlers to rebuild the town, re-establishing contact with the natives. To this day, the exact causes of the disappearance of the colony remain unknown. Many theorize that the colony’s disappearance was due hostilities between the Roanoke Colony and the nearby Powhatan tribe had led to the destruction of the colony by the Powhatan tribe. Meanwhile, others suggest the integration of the Europeans into Powhatan and other Native American tribes, due to reports of Native Americans claiming to be descended from the colonists, bearing appearances somewhat similar to those of the Europeans. There are others who claim other things still, and to this day no one knows what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke Island.


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