Richard Hakluyt used this document to persuade Queen Elizabeth I to devote more money and energy into encouraging English colonization. In twenty-one chapters, summarized here, Hakluyt emphasized the many benefits that England would receive by creating colonies in the Americas.
A particular discourse concerning the great necessity and manifold commodities that are like to grow to this Realm of England by the Western discoveries lately attempted, Written In the year 1584 by Richard Hakluyt of Oxford at the request and direction of the right worshipful Mr. Walter Raleigh now Knight, before the coming home of his Two Barks: and is divided into xxi chapters, the Titles whereof follow in the next leaf.
- That this western discoverie will be greatly for the enlargement of the gospel of Christ whereunto the Princes of the reformed religion are chiefly bound amongst whom her Majestie is principally.
- That all other English trades are grown beggerly or dangerous, especially in all the king of Spain his Dominions, where our men are driven to fling their Bibles and prayer Books into the sea, and to forswear and renounce their religion and conscience and consequently their obedience to her Majestie.
- That this western voyage will yield unto us all the commodities of Europe, Africa, and Asia, as far as we were wont to travel, and supply the wants of all our decayed trades.
- That this enterprise will be for the manifold employment of numbers of idle men, and for breeding of many sufficient, and for utterance of the great quantity of the commodities of our Realm.
- That this voyage will be a great bridle to the Indies of the king of Spaine and a means that we may arrest at our pleasure for the space of time weeks or three months every year, one or two hundred sail of his subjects shipped at the fishing in Newfoundland.
- That the mischiefs that the Indian Treasure wrought in time of Charles the late Emperor father to the Spanish king, is to be had in consideracion of the Queens most excellent Majesty, least the continually coming of the like treasure from thence to his son, work the unrecoverable annoyance of this Realm, whereof already we have had very dangerous experience.
- What special means may bring kinge Phillippe from his high Throne, and make him equal to the Princes his neighbours, wherewithal is showed his weakness in the west Indies.
- That the limits of the king of Spain’s dominions in the West Indies be nothing so large as is generally imagined and surmised, neither those parts which he holdeth be of any such forces as is falsely given out by the popish Clergy and others his suitors, to terrify the Princes of the Religion and to abuse and blind them.
- The Names of the rich Towns lying along the sea coast on the north side from the equinoctial of the mainland of America under the kinge of Spaine.
- A Briefe declaration of the chief Islands in the Bay of Mexico being under the king of Spain, with their havens and forts, and what commodities they yeide.
- That the Spaniards have executed most outrageous and more than Turkish cruelties in all the west Indies, whereby they are everywhere there, become most odious unto them, who would join with us or any other most willingly to shake of their most intolerable yoke, and have begun to do it already in diverse places where they were Lords heretofore.
- That the passage in this voyage is easy and short, that it cutteth not near the trade of any other mighty Princes, nor near their Countries, that it is to be performed at all tymes of the year, and needeth but one kind of wind, that Ireland being full of good heavens on the south and west sides, is the nearest part of Europe to it, which by this trade shall be in more security, and the sooner drawn to more Civility.
- That hereby the Revenues and customs of her Majestie both outwards and inwards shall mightely be enlarged by the toll, excises, and other duties which without oppression may be raised.
- That this action will be greatly for the increase, maintenance and safety of our Navy, and especially of great shipping which is the strength of our Realm, and for the supportation of all those occupations that depend upon the same.
- That speedy planting in diverse fit places is most necessary upon these lucky western discoveries for fear of the danger of being prevented by other nations which have the like intentions, with the order thereof and other reasons therewithal alleged.
- Means to keep this enterprise from overthrow and the enterprisers from shame and dishonor.
- That by these Colonies the Northwest passage to Cathay and China may easily quickly and perfectly be searched out as well by river and overland, as by sea, for proof whereof here are quoted and alleged diverse rare Testimonies out of the three volumes of voyages gathered by Ramusius and other grave authors.
- That the Queen of England title to all the west Indies, or at the least to as much as is from Florida to the Circle arctic, is more lawful and right then the Spaniards or any other Christian Princes.
- An answer to the Bull of the Donation of all the west Indies granted to the kings of Spain by Pope Alexander the VI who was himself a Spaniard borne.
- A brief collection of certain reasons to induce her Majestie and the state to take in hand the western voyage and the planting there.
- A note of some things to be prepared for the voyage which is set down rather to draw the takers of the voyage in hande to the present consideration then for any other reason for that diverse things require preparation long before the voyage, without which the voyage is maimed.
Richard Hakluyt, A Discourse Concerning Western Planting, Written in the Year 1584, Charles Deane, ed. (Cambridge: 1877), 1-5.