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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What happened to the Lost colony of Roanoke?

The simple answer is that no one knows for sure. The governor of the colony, John White, went back to England to pick up some much-needed provisions for the struggling settlement. But when he returned to America, he was astonished to discover that there was virtually no trace of the colony he'd left behind.

Initially, it was suspected that native tribes were somehow responsible for the mysterious disappearance of over one hundred men, women, and children, but as there were no obvious signs of a struggle or any kind of violence, there was not much evidence to support this hypothesis. The only tangible sign of anyone having lived at Roanoke was the word "CROATOAN" carved into a fence.

Historians speculate that this could be a reference to Croatoan Island, about fifty miles away from the Roanoke settlement. It's thought that perhaps the Roanoke settlers moved there in the belief that conditions on the island were more propitious for establishing a thriving settlement. In any case, a later search of Croatoan Island found no trace of any settlers, and so their true fate remains a mystery to this day.

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