The Forty Years that Created America

The Story of the Explorers, Promoters, Investors, and Settlers Who Founded the First English Colonies

By (author) Edward M. Lamont

Publication date:

03 October 2014

Length of book:

296 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442236592

The names “Jamestown” and “Plymouth” have become synonymous for most students of American history with “founding,” and “birth”—both, of the American nation, and of freedom and democracy themselves. In this book, author Ted Lamont asks us to reconsider our country’s formative years, and explore the stories, lives, achievements, and failures of America’s earliest founding fathers: those who paved the way for the Colonial Era, and the American Revolution. They were explorers, investors, passionate religious leaders, and determined developers who struggled for generations to successfully plant the English flag in this strange new soil. Lamont deftly details the ways in which the stories and struggles of figures like Sir Walter Raleigh, Bartholomew Gosnold, Richard Hakluyt, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, and Captain John Smith were not just related, but connected in ways that help us better understand the colonies and culture born of their efforts. The infancy of America— from Roanoke’s founding in 1585 through the firm establishment of Jamestown and Plymouth in 1625—is where we first see planted the seeds of the rest of America’s colonial, economic, political, and cultural history, that was the immensely difficult, and often overlooked, first step toward the New World we are still working to perfect.
Lamont examines English colonization of the New World from 1585-1625 while taking a close look at the activities of Captain John Smith of Jamestown and Governor William Bradford of Plymouth. Between the uneven trajectory of colonization and the various obstacles settlers had to overcome along the way, Lamont arrives at the conclusion that to be motivated by profit was by no means a harbinger of success for colonists. Indian skirmishes, disease, and various disasters made it a wonder any of them survived at all. Lamont covers a lot of literal ground (from Quebec to Florida and beyond) and enlivens his narrative through diaries, letters and publications, and historical legends. John Smith plays a prominent role, particularly in his role as a promoter of English settlement. Many parts of Lamont’s story will feel familiar, but readers will learn a great deal more about Sir Walter Raleigh, Pocahontas, and the investors in the settlements. Lamont offers a concise but thorough profile of a period through the eyes of those who lived it.