Virginia 1570

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Queen Elizabeth
• Queen Elizabeth lacked the means to finance
  or govern an overseas colony
• Lacked men and ships for risky ventures far
  from England
• Crown subcontracted colonization by issuing
  licenses and monopolies to private
• The earliest English colonial promoters were
  dreamers & gamblers, driven by their
  visionary imaginations
Sir Francis Drake and Sir Richard Greenville
Sir John Hawkins & Sir Walter Ralegh
Sir Humphrey Gilbert
           West Country Men
• Zealous English patriots
• Devout Protestants
• Wanted to advance their fortunes &
  consolidate their political influence at Court
• They regarded colonial trade as the key to
  imperial power
• Sir Walter Ralegh said: he that
  commands the sea, commands the
  trade, and he that is Lord of the
  Trade of the world is lord of the
  wealth of the world
Richard Hakluyt

        • To plant Christian
        • To traffic
        • To conquer
           West Country Men
• Pitched a radical program of overseas
  colonization by appealing to a conservative
  fear: the hierarchical society of England was
• Wealth & power were at the narrow top of a
  steep social pyramid—consisting of less than
  5% of the population
• Queen Elizabeth shared national power with
  aristocracy & gentry, composing the bicameral
  national legislature.
• Aristocracy by right of birth filled the House of
• Gentry dominated the House of Commons by
  winning elections to represent middling sort
  of men
         Enclosure Movement
• Displacement of rural people by aristocratic
  landlords by fencing in large tracts of land
• It was meant to increase profits
• On enclosed estates, flocks of sheep, teams of
  hired laborers, and a few tenants replaced a
  larger number of peasant smallholders
• Landlords also enclosed common lands
Sturdy Beggars
• Newly poor gravitated to the market towns
  and seaport cities, especially London
• London grew from 120,000 in 1550 to 200,000
  in 1600 to 375,000 in 1650
• London became notorious for filth, poverty,
  plagues, fires, crimes, and executions
• Growing numbers of poor reduced wages and
  increased costs of food and housing
            Colonial Promoters
• Solution to problem: a new colony in Virginia where
  the idle and larcenous poor could be put to work
  raising commodities to be sold back in England
• Colonial plantations could improve England’s balance
  of trade with other nations
• Promoters allayed fears of Indian resistance by
  saying: The Indians of Virginia would welcome the
  English as their liberators! (sound familiar?)
• They could not conceive that the native peoples
  might prefer no colonial masters and no new system
  of labor
Roanoke Island
             Roanoke Island
• Small island on the coast of what is now North
  Carolina but was then Virginia
• Sir Walter Ralegh sent about 100 men to
  colonize the island
• While the location protected them from the
  Spanish, it was surrounded by dangerous
  shoals and long sandbanks
Roanoke Colony
• The sandy infertile soil produced scanty crops
• The poor location doomed the settlement
  from the start
• Ralph Lane, veteran of the wars in Ireland was
  the commander
• Colonists behaved no better than the Spanish
  in regards to the Indians
• Lane killed Chief Wingina when he refused to
  give the colonists food
Chief Wingina
      2nd Settlement of Roanoke
• 1587—John White, civilian, tried again to settle a
  colony in Virginia; originally wanted to settle at
  Chesapeake Bay, but mariners dropped them at
• There were 94 colonists, including 17 women and
  9 children—the first English families to settle in
  the Americas
• Needing supplies, White returned home and was
  stuck there until the Spanish Armada was
Missing Colonists
            What happened?
• After retreating to Croatoan and failing to
  contact a passing ship, they probably headed
  north towards Chesapeake Bay
• They probably found haven in an Indian village
• In 1607, when English colonists reached
  Chesapeake Bay some Indians reported some
  white people had recently lived nearby by had
  been killed by Powhatan
             Chesapeake Bay
• Area offered better harbors, navigable rivers,
  and a more fertile land
• 200 miles long and 20 wide, it was a complex
  system of waterways, an meeting place of
  tidewater, estuaries, and freshwater rivers
• Four rivers: the James, York, Potomoc, and
  Rappahannocks; offered ready navigation for
  about 100 miles upstream
Powhatan Village
• 24,000 Indians divided into 30 tribes with one
  language and one chief—Powhaten
• Lived on a mix of horticulture, fishing, hunting,
  and gathering
• Winter—dwelled in many villages in groups of
  100-200, occupying 20-30 houses
• Spring—smaller encampments to fish and gather
• Summer—back to villages to plant fields of
  beans, maize, and squash
• Fall—scattered to hunt while women and children
  gathered edible nuts, roots, and berries
• Tasks were divided by gender: women
  cultivated crops, gathered nuts & fruits,
  tended the village or camp putting up lodgers
  and preparing skins to make clothing; men
  hunted, fished, cleared land for crops, and
  made dugout canoes
• Shamans combined roles of healer, priest, and
  conjurer; tended temples which housed the
  bones of dead chiefs, the tribute paid to the
  living chief, and a statue of Okeus
• The English were not prepared to understand
  or accept a culture so different from their own
• Because the English expected men to cultivate
  crops and women to tend permanent homes,
  they regarded the Indian men as lazy and the
  women as drudges
• Because the natives wore little clothes, they
  were thought to be savages
• Because they did not worship one God, they
  were thought of as pagans or devil-worshipers
• Peace treaty with Spain in 1604 reduced the
  danger of a Spanish attack on the new colony
• The great merchants and lawyers of London
  took an interest in colonizing Virginia. They
  supplants the West County men who had lost
  their power at the court of the new King
  James I
• London Company was incorporated in 1606,
  and they were given a royal charter to
  colonize and govern Virginia
• Colonists died in droves from disease and
• Only 38 of the original 104 colonists were still
  alive nine months later
• The Virginia Company sent hundreds of
  reinforcements, but they barely kept up with
  the deaths at Jamestown
• One starving colonist killed and ate his wife,
  for which he was tried, convicted, and burned
  at the state
• June 1610—survivors abandoned Jamestown,
  but were intercepted by 3 ships at the mouth
  of the river
• They returned to Jamestown, but continued to
  die by the hundreds
• Between 1607 & 1622, the Virginia Company
  sent some 10,000 people to the colony; only
  20% were still alive in 1622
      Problems with Jamestown
• Location was beside a swamp—good for defense,
  bad for health
• Summer—millions of mosquitoes carrying
  malaria would swarm the town
• Shallow wells had brackish water which caused
  salt poisoning
• Stagnant river waters in summer and early fall
  retained garbage and excrement generated by
  the colonists promoting dysentery and typhoid
• Healthy males refused to work at raising corn
  because they wanted to search for gold
• Colonists expected the Indians to feed them
  and did not understand that the Indians had
  scant surplus to share
• When pushed too hard, natives killed 17
  colonists and stuffed their mouths with maize
  and left the corpses for the English to find
• John Smith tried to trick Powhatan into
  coming to Jamestown to kill him
John Smith
         Capture of John Smith
• John Smith was captured after stumbling into
  an ambush
• Powhatan seized the opportunity to ritually
  adopt Smith as a subordinate chief by staging
  a mock executive that would be interrupted
  by Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahantas
• The ritual was supposed to render Smith’s
  people as tributaries to Powhatan
• Powhatan misunderstood Smith’s gratitude at
  survival for consent to his terms
• Smith misunderstood the ritual as no ore than
  an execution stopped by Powhatan’s daughter
• Upon his release, Smith returned to
  Jamestown and resumed bullying the Indians
  to obtain corn
Pocahontas & John Smith
Historically inaccurate!
Paspahegh Indians
   English and Resisting Enemies
• August 1610 Capt. George Percy attacked a
  Paspahegh village, killing 65 inhabitants,
  burning the homes and fields of corn
• He took the chief’s wife and children as
  captives; enroute back to Jamestown, they
  threw the children into the river and shot
  them as they swam for shore
• The Governor rebuked Percy—for not killing
  the woman; he executed her on the spot
• Leaders believed they would get more corn by
  making one horrific examples of what can
  happen to those who fail to obey English
• They applied the same logic to their own
  colonists: a laborer convicted of stealing 2
  pints of oatmeal had a long needle thrust
  through his tongue to keep him from ever
  eating again; chained to a tree, the convict
  slowly starved to death
• Several dozens colonists ran away to join the
  Indians; those who brought metal weapons
  were welcomed, those who brought nothing
  were killed
• In the spring of 1612, the governor recaptured
  most of the fugitives and made examples of
  them: the lucky ones were hanged or shot, the
  unlucky were burned at the stake or had their
  backs broken on the wheel
Rebecca Wolfe