By the early 1600s, there had been several attempts to establish a permanent British colony in North America for the purpose of securing material riches from the New World. The first of these, the Roanoke colony, chartered by Sir Walter Raleigh in what is now North Carolina in 1584, failed, as had the Popham colony which was established in New England in what is now Maine in 1607 by the Plymouth Company, while the Jamestown Colony, also established in 1607 by the London Company in Virginia survived. Because of the failure of the Popham colony in New England, which had been abandoned by 1608, the shares of the Plymouth Company held by its stockholders had plummeted in value. This situation did not go unnoticed by a certain group of financial opportunists who called themselves the Company of Merchant Adventurers, which by that time had become heavily infiltrated by Jewish speculators who held a hegemony in trading and finance which covered much of Europe and extended overseas.
It was to the Company of Merchant Adventurers that the group of religious dissenters known as the Pilgrims went looking for financial backing, indenturing themselves to them as colonial laborers in return for the Merchant Adventurers covering the cost of their chartered passage to the New World, where the Pilgrims hoped to settle on a tract of land that they had obtained a charter for in the colony of Virginia from the London Company. Having at their disposal a group of earnest and willing laborers who had indentured themselves as colonists, the Company of Merchant Adventurers saw the opportunity to buy up stock in the failed Plymouth Company of New England at a bargain, and then develop a colony in New England by using the Pilgrims as the colony’s laborers, which meant that the Pilgrims ended up being settled not in their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River in what was then part of the Virginia colony, but much further to the north on the cold and stony shores of Massachusetts. Thus New England was established by means of the unscrupulous conniving and deception of ruthless, manipulative, Jewish financial speculators.
When the Pilgrims first arrived, they came ashore to a colony established not for the cause of religious liberty and personal freedom that they sought, but one that was being developed in the name of commercial enterprise by the investors and speculators who saw the Pilgrims as niave but useful contracted laborers. The Pilgrims first contact with the Native American tribes came on March 16, 1621, shortly after their arrival, when Samoset, a chieftain of the Abenaki tribe, casually strolled up into the middle of their encampment and greeted them in English. Samoset, who was visiting the area while travelling from his home in what is now the state of Maine, had learned to speak English from his coming into contact with British commercial fishermen who were already fishing the waters off the coast of New England even before the arrival of the Pilgrims.
Samoset soon introduced the Pilgrims to another English-speaking Native American by the name of Tisquantum or “Squanto”, a member of the Wampanoag tribe that had lived in the area. Squanto had lived in England after escaping from a Spanish captor, to whom he had been sold as a slave by an English explorer who had kidnapped him in 1614. On escaping from Spain, Squanto made his way to England where he lived in the home of one of the founding partners of the Newfoundland Company who taught him to speak English. In 1617 Squanto returned to North America, arriving in Newfoundland, where he met another English explorer named Thomas Dermer, who became interested in the commercial potential of the New England region which Squanto had described to him. Squanto then returned to England with Thomas Dermer who sought permission to explore the area, which they were granted. They then returned to North America in 1619 aboard a ship bound for New England. On their arrival along the North American coast, Dermer decided to explore the area along the route to Jamestown, while Squanto was granted leave to return to New England to visit his people. When Squanto arrived in the area where he was born and had grown up in, he found that his tribe had nearly all died off from disease after succumbing to an epidemic, and Squanto was not seen again until his meeting with the Mayflower colonists in 1621.
In 1621 a Jew by the name of Elias Legarde arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, aboard the ship Abigail, having been brought over from France by Anthonie Bonall to assist in the wine-making industry begun by some of the early colonists of Virginia. In 1649 a Sephardic Jew named Solomon Franco arrived in Massachusetts from the Netherlands as an agent for Immanuel Perada, a Jewish merchant based in Holland. Franco had been sent to Boston to deliver supplies ordered by Edward Gibbons, a major general in the Massachusetts militia. When Franco attempted to collect payment from Gibbons for delivering the ordered goods, Gibbons refused saying that he had already paid Franco’s employer, Immanuel Perada, for both the merchandise and the cost of shipping. The Massachusetts General Court ruled on May 6, 1649 that Franco was to be expelled from the colony, granting him “six shillings per week out of the Treasury for ten weeks, for sustenance, till he can get his passage to Holland.”
Apart from their involvement in the Company of Merchant Adventurers, Jews owned controlling stock in the Dutch West India Company, which sent 200 Jews to colonize Brazil in 1642. By 1646, approximately fifteen hundred Jewish inhabitants resided in the areas of northeastern Brazil controlled by the Dutch, where they established two congregations and employed the first rabbi in the Americas. Among the members of the governing body of the Dutch West India Company were a number of wealthy Sephardic Jewish merchants who had become shareholders in the venture, having contributed more than thirty-six thousand guilders to the colony’s initial capital. By 1658 these included: Abram Isaac Perera, Andres Cristoffel Nunes, Abrara Isaac Bueno, Bento Osorio, Joseph d’Acosta, Louys Rodrigues de Sousa, and Ferdinando Dias de Britto. By April 1658 they were joined by their fellow Jews: Francisco Vaz de Crasto, Francisco lopo Henriques, Balth’r Alvares Naugera, Josepho de los Bios, Ruij Gommes Frontiera, Aron Chamis Vaz, Dionis Jennis, Diego Vaz de Sousa. The foregoing names are indicated as Jewish by a different style of writing than the other names in the lists, the 1656 list having the word “Jooden” or “Joode” opposite the names of Perera, Nunnes, Bueno and Osorio, and a later list in 1671 mentioning some of the other names as those of Jews. For March 1671 the following names occur under the heading of “Hebreen,” or “Hebrews”: Abraham Isaac Perera, Simon Louis Rodrigues de Souza, Aaron Chamiz Vaz, Jacob de Pinto, Jeronimo Nunes da Costa, Jacomo Fernando Ozorio, and Abraham Cohen.
When their colony in Recife, Brazil, fell to the Portuguese, the Jews fled from the Portuguese Inquisition in Brazil and headed for the Dutch West India Company’s colony of New Amsterdam in what is now New York, in 1655. The Dutch governor of New Amsterdam wrote to the board of Directors asking for permission to expel the Jews from the New Amsterdam colony because of their unscrupulous trade practices which were hurting gentile-owned businesses in the colony, and the directors of the Dutch West India Company told Stuyvesant that there was nothing they could do, that the Jews were to be allowed to stay there because the Dutch West India Company was controlled by Jewish stock-holders.
Having been prevented by ordinances issued by Governor Stuyvesant from engaging in the domestic economy, the Jews quickly discovered that the territory inhabited by the Indians would be a fertile field. There were no laws preventing the Jews from trading with the Indians. In 1656 a Sephardic Jew named Jacob Lumbrozo arrived in Maryland and established himself as a plantation-owner, merchant, Indian-trader, and a medical doctor. By 1661 Asser Levy, a Dutch Jew who arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654, established a trading post in Albany, New York, where he engaged in commerce with the Indians and other colonists.
In the 1650s, Menasseh Ben Israel, a rabbi and leader of the Jewish community residing in the Netherlands, approached Oliver Cromwell with the proposition that in exchange for covering Cromwell’s debts incurred over the English Civil War, that the Jews should at be readmitted to England. Cromwell agreed, and in 1657 the Edict of Expulsion was repealed and Jews were readmitted to England. By 1690 about 400 Jews had settled in England, bearing such names as Aguilar, Botha, Costa, de Sola, d’Almeida, Gideon, Guedalla, Henriques, Lindo, Lousada, Mendes, Mendoza, Mocatto, Nabarro, Nieto, Pereira, Rey, Ricardo, and Sarmento. In 1662, Englishman John Greenhalgh, having visited the synagogue of the Jews recently settled in London, described them to his friend John Crompton in a letter, saying:
“When I was in the Synagogue I counted about or above a hundred right Jews….they were all merchants, I saw not one manual laborer of them; most of them rich in apparel, divers with jewels glittering (for they are the richest jewellers of any)….They are generally black so as they may be distinguished from Spaniards or native Greeks, for the Jews hair hath a deeper tincture of a more perfect raven black, they have a quick piercing eye, and look as if of strong intellectuals.
As early as 1658 some of the Jews who had gone to England began migrating to the North American colonies, settling in Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, New York and Philadelphia, as well as Richmond, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina. Fifteen Jewish families arrived in Rhode Island from Holland, in 1658, bringing with them the first three degrees of Freemasonry. A congregation was organized in Newport that same year under the name “Jeshuat Israel.” In 1684 the General Assembly of Rhode Island, in reply to a petition of the Jews, affirmed the right of the latter to settle in the colony, declaring that “they may expect as good protection here as any stranger being not of our nation residing among us in his Majesty’s Colony ought to have, being obedient to his Majesty’s laws.”