The Southern Colonies

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What happened to the Roanoke colony?

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The simple answer is that no one knows for sure. The true fate of the Roanoke colony is of the great mysteries of American history. Founded in 1587 on Roanoke Island, off the coast of modern-day North Carolina, the colony consisted of 115 English settlers, led by John White, who became Roanoke's governor. Later that year, White set sail for England to stock up on much-needed supplies. Unfortunately, his return to the colony was delayed by an outbreak of war between England and Spain and he was unable to reach Roanoke for another three years.

When he eventually arrived back in America, White could find no trace of the colony or its inhabitants. All that was left behind was the mysterious word "Croatoan" carved into a wooden post. This was the name of an island to the south of Roanoke which was home to a Native American tribe of the same name. A number of historians have speculated that the English settlers were abducted and killed by the Roanoke, or perhaps slaughtered by marauding Spaniards. Whatever the truth of the matter, future colonists such as the founders of Jamestown learned valuable lessons from the failure of the mysterious "Lost Colony" of Roanoke.

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