National Geographic : 1899 Mar
ORIGINAL TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES 75 his hardy Swedes to the Delaware peninsula. The French went fishing off the foggy coasts of Newfoundland, claimed the gulf and river of St Lawrence for their King, and built their rude huts amid the snows of Acadia. The English settlements were small and feeble communities, trembling between the sea and the wilderness. There is something sublime in the spectacle of this great unexplored continent, guarding the rich treasures of its vast interior by grim sentinels of gloomy forest, confronting with a frown that narrow, halting strip of civilization, whose frail forces, in spite of early poverty and weakness, were destined to become its imperious master. For a hundred years it seemed a most unequal contest. A handful of log-houses clustered about the fortified church, a few acres of cultivated land not far away, little groups of coarsely clad human figures laboring in the fields with rifles near at hand, the infrequent arrival of a storm-beaten ship-these were the only signs of the coming transformation which for generations met the sharp glance of the stealthy savage as he crept to the edge of the forest to observe the course of the white man's life. The map of the Atlantic slope in 16404 reveals the cramped and perilous condition of the English colonies. Considered as a group, they were wholly inclosed between French territory on the one side and the sea on the other. Beginning with Acadia on the north, the French pressed upon the western limits of New England until their frontiers met those of the Dutch; then sweeping around the home of the powerful Iroquois Indians, who occupied the greater part of what is now the State of New York, New France, following the line of the Alleghanies, hemmed in all the seaboard settlements, cutting them off from the West, and stretching along the whole western boundary of Virginia until it ended in French Florida, covering the present states of South Carolina and Georgia, beyond which lay Spanish Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. While France thus stood as a barrier to the further penetration of the continent by the English, leav ing them only a slender strip of coast, the Dutch and the Swedes effectually separated the northern and southern colonies from each other. To crown all, the Indians, affiliated with the French, who fraternized and mingled freely with them, were a constant menace to the safety of the English settlements, and furnished a savage band of mercenaries for advancing the ambitious schemes of France. 4 See map of National Claims to the Atlantic Slope in 1640.