World map illustration from Petrus Apianus, Cosmographie, 1581
From the visit to his cousin, Hakluyt completed his studies in London and was ordained as a minister in the Church of England. His passion, however, did not stop at preaching the Word of God. In time, he translated books of exploration from several countries, especially those of England’s mortal enemy, Spain. He embarked on a personal crusade to persuade England to join the race to transplant Christian civilization in the New World — establish trade routes, evangelize the natives, discover new lands and people on behalf of English Protestantism.
Sir Walter Raleigh, from “an ancient family, but penniless,” agreed with the goals expressed by Hakluyt and gathered investors to fund expeditions to the New World. Historian Paul Johnson described Raleigh as a “proto-American . . . energetic, brash, hugely ambitious, money-conscious, none too scrupulous, far-sighted and ahead of his time, with a passion for the new and, not least, a streak of idealism which clashed violently with his overwhelming desire to get on and make a fortune.” Armed with a royal charter issued by Queen Elizabeth I, permitting him to explore, colonize, and rule “any remote and barbarous lands, countries, and territories not actually possessed by any Christian prince,” Raleigh sponsored successive expeditions to America. The second one, in 1587, included entire families of Englishmen who beached on the outer banks of what one day would become North Carolina — a colony known as Roanoke.