Colony (Lat. colonia, from colere, to cultivate), a word originally applied to a body of people established in a foreign country, whether remaining subject to the government of the mother country, or having an independent government of their own. It is now used as a designation of the territory inhabited by such persons. The Phoenicians first set the example of colonization. Their colonies, established upon the islands of the Mediterranean, and the coasts of Africa and Spain, were founded for the purpose of promoting commerce, but contributed powerfully to the progress of civilization. Carthage, itself a colony of the Tyrians, in turn sent forth colonies in the prosecution of its commerce, which were remarkable for their number rather than for their importance. Her colonies, unlike those of Tyre, remained in political dependence upon the mother country. The Greeks founded colonies upon the coasts of Macedonia, Thrace, and Asia Minor, upon the islands of the Archipelago and the Ionian sea, in Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus, southern Italy, Sicily, and Cyrene, and on even remoter shores of the Mediterranean. The colonies were generally distinguished as Dorian, Ionian, or AEolian, according to the Grecian tribe from which they originated, and soon surpassed even their mother countries in poetry, philosophy, and art.
Their prosperity was promoted by political independence. Miletus possessed four ports and more than 100 vessels, and in its turn became a colonizing power. Ephesus, Syracuse, Rhodes, and Cyrene were all rich and powerful cities. In many cases the political institutions of the colonies resembled those of the mother country, but there were some whose institutions were a great improvement upon those which prevailed in Attica and Peloponnesus. - As fast as the Romans extended their conquests they established colonies in the countries conquered, for the purpose of consolidating their power. The Roman colonies were parts of the Roman state, their members retaining all the rights of Roman citizens, including that of suffragium or voting, and that of the honores or of holding office. Land was assigned to them from the conquered territory. The original inhabitants among whom these colonists were sent, though subjects of Rome, were not Roman citizens in the full meaning of the word. The privileges allowed them varied according to circumstances. After the decline and fall of the Roman power, there were no new colonies established up to the time when Genoa and Venice became powerful states.
The Genoese colonies were on the shores of the Hellespont, of the Black sea, and of the sea of Azov. Those of the Venetians were in Candia and Cyprus. - When the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope changed the direction of commerce with the East, the Portuguese established colonies along its route, upon the coasts of Africa and the shores of the Persian gulf. Among their colonies in India were those at Goa, Diu, and Damaun on the Malabar coast, Negapatam on the Coromandel coast, and Malacca. They had also colonies in Java, Sumatra, Celebes, Borneo, and the Spice islands. Upon the annexation of Portugal to Spain, many of the Portuguese colonies passed into the hands of the Spaniards, from whom they were taken by the Dutch. Brazil, the greatest of the Portuguese colonies, declared itself independent in 1822. The more important colonies belonging to Portugal at the present day are the Azores, the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, the archipelago of Cape Verd, some settlements in Senegambia, Angola (including Benguela, &c), Congo, Prince's island, Mozambique, Goa, Diu, Macao, Dili, and Kambing. - Spain began to send out colonies after the discovery of the new world.
Her first colony was that of Hispaniola (Hayti), which was founded by Columbus in 1492. Those of Cuba, Porto Rico, and Jamaica were next founded. When Mexico was conquered by Cortes (1519-"21), and Peru, Quito, and Chili by Pizarro and his associates, colonies were established in those countries. One of the points kept in view by the Spaniards in the establishments of their colonies was the propagation of the Catholic religion; but the principal object was to secure for Spain the possession of their gold and silver mines, and the government therefore reserved to itself the exclusive control of commerce with them. Squadrons set sail twice a year from a designated port (at first Seville, afterward Cadiz) for Porto Bello and Vera Cruz, which upon their return voyage brought back treasure to the same port. The interests of the natives were sacrificed to those of the colonists, and those of the latter to the home government. At the same time the interests of the people of Spain were favored by securing them the exclusive right of supplying the colonies with certain European productions, such as wine, hemp, flax, ships, powder, and salt. The practical operation of this system was in the long run unfavorable to Spanish commerce.
Its activity was increased upon the removal in 1778 of the restrictions upon it. The colonies on the American continent declared themselves independent early in this century. The more important of those belonging to Spain at the present day are the Philippines, the Mariana and Caroline islands, Ceuta, Pefion de Velez, Melilla, Alhucemas, the Canaries, Cuba, Porto Kico, Mona, Tortugas, and Los Roques. In some of these colonies slavery is still maintained, though the principal Spanish statesmen favor its early extinction. - In combating for its independence the Dutch republic undertook to place its navy in a condition that might enable it to cope with that of Spain. Not satisfied with fighting the Spaniards upon land, the Dutch pursued them on the seas; and after the colonial possessions of the Portuguese passed under Spanish dominion, they attacked the Portuguese and Spanish settlements indiscriminately. The expedition which sailed in 1595, under the command of Cornells Houtman and De Moli-naer, was the first which was sent to the Indies by the Dutch. Early in the 17th century they had deprived the Portuguese of all their settlements in India, with the exception of Goa. In the middle of that century their power was at its height.
They obtained exclusive possession of the commerce with Japan, and established a colony at the Cape of Good Hope. The capital of their empire in the East was Batavia, on the island of Java. They had establishments in St. Eustache, in Guiana, and for a time in Brazil. The discovery of New Holland, Carpenter's Land, Van Diemen's Land, and New Zealand was due to them. Their only attempt at colonization in North America was made in the territory discovered by Henry Hudson in 1609, which they called New Netherlands, but which was taken from them by the English in 1664 and named New York. The object of the Dutch in the establishment of their colonies was the promotion of commerce, and their government was confided to trading companies. No attempt was made to change the religion of the people among whom they were founded. Their importance declined with that of the Dutch commerce. Among the more important of those of which Holland still retains possession are the islands of Bonair, Curacoa, St. Eustache, Saba, half of St. Martin and part of Guiana, Java, Sumatra, Bencoolen, Madura, Celebes, Borneo, the archipelago of Sumbawa, Timor, the Moluccas, and Papua. Slavery was abolished in the Dutch colonies in 1861. - Denmark, under the reign of Christian IV., in 1618 established a colony at Tranquebar on the Coromandel coast, and afterward others upon the coast of Malabar and in Bengal. Trading companies were organized for the management of these enterprises, but they interfered with each other and were abandoned.
A new company was organized in 1732, which was more successful. The Danish possessions in India were sold to the English East India company in 1845, and in 1849 the Danish colony in Guinea was sold to Great Britain. Denmark retains the colonies of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix in the West Indies; and Danish merchants have a trading station, with the encouragement of the government, in Greenland. The island of St. Bartholomew belongs to Sweden. - Austria founded the Os-tend company in 1722, for the purpose of opening commerce with the East Indies, but has never accomplished anything of importance in the way of colonization. - The policy of colonization was introduced and maintained in France by Richelieu and Colbert. Possession was obtained of Canada, Acadia, of part of Newfoundland, Hayti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Grenada, and Cayenne. A factory was established by the French East India company at Pondicherry, and colonies were founded upon the isles of France and Bourbon. At the beginning of the 18th century the French colonies in the different quarters of the world were in a flourishing condition.
The French settlements in the East, while Dupleix was governor at Pondicherry, had at their command large fleets and were strong and successful; but under the reign of Louis XV. the French colonies did not receive adequate protection from the home government, and they fell one after another into the power of other countries. France was deprived of her settlements in Newfoundland by the British in 1713, and surrendered Canada, Cape Breton, and some of.the West India islands at the close of the seven years' war in 1763. She lost Hayti by revolt during the revolution. Louisiana was ceded to Spain, afterward resumed by France, and then sold (1803) to the United States. But in more recent times French colonies have begun again to acquire importance. The colony which was founded in Algeria in 1830 is the most important one which ever belonged to her. Under Napoleon III. particular attention was paid to the French colonies in the East. Establishments were made upon the islands of New Caledonia and of Pines, at Saigon in Cochin China, in Senegambia, and elsewhere.
Among the most important colonies of France at the present day are Algeria, Cochin China, Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Senegal, Pondicherry, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Cayenne, Tahiti, New Caledonia, and the settlement on the Gaboon. - England began to establish colonies under Queen Elizabeth. They were sent chiefly toward the East, where they came in conflict with the establishments which had been previously founded by the Portuguese and the Dutch. In 1623 the English were driven from the islands which they had occupied, and confined to their settlements at Madras and on the Coro-mandel and Malabar coasts. The English colonies in India were under the administration of the East India company, which received its charter from Queen Elizabeth Dec. 31, 1600. Its charter was renewed, and a new company was chartered with similar powers. These companies were afterward united, and their union was ratified by act of parliament in 1708. The East India company was secured in the enjoyment of all benefits directly obtained from the English colonization of India. (See East India Companies.) The British colonization of North America was conducted upon different principles.
Though the settlement made at Jamestown in 1607 was a matter of private enterprise, it was taken under the protection of the British government in 1624. Neither that colony nor the one planted by the Puritans in New England in 1620 was ever subjected to the exclusive control of a privileged trading company. The great success attained by the colonies in America which threw off their allegiance to Great Britain, tended to show that the prosperity and development of a colony is promoted by the absence of control and regulation on the part of the mother country. This principle has been introduced into the British colonial system, and although the particular forms of administration vary in the different colonies, they are in general encouraged as far as possible to provide for their own government. Compulsory transportation to remote colonies was long a means adopted by the British government for the punishment of criminals. James I. in 1619 authorized the sending of 100 dissolute persons to Virginia; and the practice was continued afterward. It was found that the criminals were gradually absorbed into society, and the working of the system was upon the whole satisfactory.
But a similar success never attended the transportation for crime to Australia, which took the place of that to America; and the system was finally abandoned in 1857. The British colonies and foreign possessions at the present day are India, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Aden, St. Helena, Ascension, Cape Colony, Natal, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Labuan, Sarawak, Malta, Gibraltar, Heligoland, the Dominion of Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador, British Honduras, British Guiana, the Bermudas, the Bahamas, the Leeward islands, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Barbadoes, Grenada, Tobago, Trinidad, Falkland islands, and several small islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. - The course of proceeding which is followed by the United States in reference to the settlement of unoccupied territory is a system of colonization. The land is granted to actual settlers gratuitously, or on favorable terms, and the territory is governed by the United States until its population reaches a number sufficient to form a state, when the territory is admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the other states.