A ship full of a hundred and fifty souls split at sea, in the midst of the most terrible storm, and yet every person lived! This was England's most shocking, unbelievable news. More than a year earlier, on the fifteenth of May, , the Sea Venture set sail from London, the "admiral" of an impressive fleet.
The Diamond, the Falcon, the Blessing, the Lion, and the Unity, as well as a pinnace a shallow-draft boat designed for coastal exploration too small to be named, sailed behind her, headed to Virginia, the third and by far largest resupply of two-year-old, fledgling Jamestown, England's tiny, rough-hewn, and hungry little campsite, its only toehold on the vast American continent.
The flotilla was the largest and most expensive and most promising overseas expedition that England had ever organized, and the six hundred people crowded into the vessels would triple or quadruple the population of the colony. It seemed that all England applauded their departure. Seen from the land's end, they disappeared into oblivion, as if a curtain shut upon them. No one in England would hear from the fleet for ages.
No one expected to. Ships that sailed west into the Atlantic reappeared, if they ever did, almost miraculously, many months or even years later. This time the Atlantic was quiet. Each morning from the second of June to July twenty-third, , the sun rose in a clear sky off the stern, and it chased the squadron all morning long, till in the afternoon and evening the ships chased the setting sun toward Virginia.
The seas were calm. It was a relief to Sir George Somers, admiral of the fleet, who did not know what to expect. Previous English expeditions followed the winds south, island-hopping to the Canaries, then the West Indies, and thence to Jamestown. But the Virginia Company had recently scouted a quicker, "more direct line," a northern passage that avoided the Caribbean's hazard of Spanish ships, and Somers followed this unfamiliar route. The month and a half of fair breezes and clear skies seemed to justify the gamble.
They made such good time that one of the pinnaces could not keep up. The flagship, the Sea Venture, had to tow it across the Atlantic. The Sea Venture was a three-hundred-ton merchant ship about a hundred feet long that had been designed to carry English wool to Dutch dyers. It was broad and "chubby," which suited Holland's trade but made it ungainly on the wide Atlantic Ocean. Fore and aft, high superstructures — wooden castles piled in the style of the carrack, the most common type of oceangoing vessel in the sixteenth century — rose above the deck. These structures made such ships top-heavy, and the tall forecastle prevented carracks from sailing very efficiently when facing contrary winds.
The Spanish and the English both had fixed the defect by developing the galleon, which lowered the forecastle, but the Sea Venture was built according to the older design. Further harming her balance were the sixteen cannons mounted on the upper deck. Normally these heavy weapons would have been below the open-air deck and above the hold, but that in-between area housed many of the colonists and their gear in tightly crowded makeshift cabins.
The fleet was just over a week's sailing from Virginia when the sunny days disappeared. In the midst of the Atlantic's emptiness, alone in the world, not another human being anywhere for a thousand miles, dark and terrifying clouds sped in from the northeast. It was the front edge of a gale, a storm that blew worse and longer than even the maddest storms in the familiar waters of northern Europe, the Barbary Coast of Africa, the Levant, or the Adriatic.
The fleet was overtaken by a hurricane. Most ships were demasted. They limped into Jamestown one by one, their holds leaky and their supplies sodden and of little use to the colony. All the ships survived save the flagship, the Sea Venture, the biggest and best supplied of them all, containing not only George Somers but also Sir Thomas Gates, the new governor, and the lion's share of provisions.
She had disappeared without a trace, swallowed by the storm and presumed to have been swallowed by the sea. So came the news from Virginia. The wives and parents and children of the dead had their mourning. The directors of the Company reckoned their losses. The morale of the nation suffered its blow and moved on. A year later, a miraculous rumor started to circulate around the docks of England's port cities. Everyone on the Sea Venture had been saved. Had no one drowned? All were plucked somehow from a sinking ship in the middle of a hurricane in the middle of the wide Atlantic.
The fantastic story sped through the chattering streets of London.
Jamestown and Beyond: The World of 1607
Shakespeare did not get the story from rumors. He had the most credible source: a narrative letter dozens of pages long and hand-penned by an eyewitness, a survivor of the Sea Venture foundering. It told a harrowing tale of heroic deeds and base mutinies.
Written by a gentleman named William Strachey, this remarkable document was, ostensibly, a private missive to some unidentified "Excellent Lady," but it quickly circulated among London's literary crowd in manuscript — as Strachey knew it would — and through the finer houses and government offices of England. Shakespeare read it. The famous playwright was Strachey's friend. They had probably shared drinks at the Mermaid Tavern, if not jokes and jibes. And so at the very end of his career, on the edge of retirement, England's greatest playwright found himself with what we would call today a "scoop": the story of the founding of a brave new world.
We typically think of myths as the superstitions of ancient societies, like the Olympian gods of Greece, Rome's pantheon, the Vikings' Thor, and the faerie people of Ireland. But modern nations need myths too. About fifty years ago, Warren Susman, who described himself as a historian of "the enormous American middle class," explained how myths unify complex modern societies, justify the existing social order, and reinforce basic values.
One could hardly imagine a more prosaic people than the American middle class. And yet it, too, uses myth to sanctify communal goals. This is what Joseph Campbell calls the "sociological function" of myth. The most important modern myths narrate the nation's founding, and in the American consciousness that has meant the Pilgrims. If you studied history at an American high school or in your college days you read any of the half dozen big anthologies of American literature, you will probably contend that the United States of America started at Plymouth Rock. But the Pilgrims' story has not always been our founding myth.
Northern states began disseminating the Pilgrim myth right about the time of the Civil War, and the last hundred years have cemented the Pilgrims into the shape of our forefathers. Thanksgiving themes about religious fidelity in the face of ocean storms and winter starvation, about racial generosity and the reward of good harvests, gourds of plenty on outdoor tables heaped with food, go back only to about World War I.
About a hundred years ago, the Pilgrims became the myth of our beginning. Snoopy and Linus and Lucy explain the familiar motifs: persecuted Pilgrims flee from England as the Israelites fled from Egypt; during the Atlantic passage, storms try their faith and endurance; disease and hunger stalk their first winter.
The TV program also features the generosity of Native Americans and the racial harmony of the Thanksgiving feast, themes absent and even contradicted by some pre—civil rights era narratives. Underlying all, like a droning rhythm, is the suggestion that the settlers' progress was a series of "miracles," an understated but unequivocal indication that the Pilgrims, and by extension all Americans, are God's chosen people. Historians, businessmen, and world-leaders were invited to participate in the American Evolution Forum on the Future of Representative Democracy, which has produced fascinating discussions covering the wide variety of issues that have affected and still affect representative government today.
I attended only the th Commemorative Assembly activities, which held 3 sessions.
The idea took root that people wanted to be governed by laws of their own making. He also mentioned who was not part of that First Assembly, women and newly arriving Africans. But followers of this podcast understand that there were a few women and Africans in Virginia pre Beckley by delivering an interpretation while dressed to play Speaker John Pory. Speaker Cox followed Mr. One such highlight, the First Thanksgiving, brought loud applause.
In fact, Graham Woodlief sat in the row just ahead of me. He was gratified by the attention, as he mentioned to me afterward. And in that history, history rooted here in this place, lies our hope. If one would like to find Mr. Speaker Cox brought the Assembly back to order before offering his own remarks and welcoming distinguished guests. Senator Hutchinson reflected on overcome challenges; challenges that could derail representative government if Americans are not on guard —.
For it is as strong and as fragile as democracy itself. In a historic twist on an already historic day, President Trump addressed the General Assembly. Together, the settlers forged what would become the timeless traits of the American character. They worked hard, they had courage and abundance, and a wealth of self-reliance. They strived mightily to turn a profit, they experimented with producing silk, corn, tobacco, and the very first Virginia wines. At a prior settlement at Roanoke, there had been no survivors, none at all.
But where others had typically perished, the Virginians were determined to succeed. They endured by the sweat of their labor, the aid of the Powhatan Indians, and the leadership of Captain John Smith. It all began here. In time, dozens of brave strong women made the journey and join the colony and, in , the Great Charter and other reforms established a system based on English common law.
For the first time, Virginia allowed private land ownership.
Pre Columbian Era Apush
It created a basic judicial system. Finally, it gave the colonists essay in their own future, the right to elect representatives by popular vote. Regarding the Arrival of the First Africans. In August , the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies arrived in Virginia. It was the beginning of a barbaric trade in human lives. Today, and honor, we remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage. It spread up and down the Atlantic coast. One fact was quickly established for all time, in America, we are not ruled from afar, Americans govern ourselves.
And so help us, God, we always will. That is what self-rule is all about. Every day Americans coming together to take action, to build, to create, to seize opportunities. To pursue the common good and to never stop striving for greatness. It is among the greatest human accomplishments in the history of the world what you have done is the greatest accomplishment in the history of the world.
And I congratulate you.
It started right here. There were those who did not welcome his attendance, and they expressed as much. Before that time, even in Virginia, such opposition would at least earn prison, torture, and usually death. Perhaps the demonstration was misplaced during such a historic occasion, but that still does not take away from the fact that one has the freedom to conscientiously object.
Individual liberty continues to grow today as it faces new challenges. The inheritors of such a legacy must continue to champion that individual liberty on a local, personal level. That is the sentiment upon which Virginia and later the United States was built. That sentiment began years ago on a hot, often disease plagued island, and we still celebrate that event today. Pearson, Jr. The Commonwealth came to Virginia in Berkeley was out.
But that call took slightly longer to answer than expected. Once Berkeley surrendered his position, Bennett had little trouble in steering an increasingly-distant-from-England Virginia under the Protectorate. There were outliers, such as the Eastern Shore; however, who wanted to be separated from the colonial mainland. Most did indeed prosper during this time, largely because of increasingly decentralized government that gave power into the smaller, local courts.
But there were some who suffered. Indians, mostly those who were out of state that began moving into lands left uninhabited by the shrinking Powhatan Confederacy, came into contact with English settlers on the frontiers during this period, and violence plagued both English and Indian settlements. The Assembly wanted to ensure peace, but they had little power to enforce their authority on the frontier lands so distant from Jamestown.
In time, the Assembly lifted many trade restrictions formerly existing between the English and Indians, which would go a long way to lessening tensions — though not completely. The second part of his commission was to subdue Maryland, a colony in which Bennett was quite familiar, since he and other Puritans fled there in the late s. Bennett and William Claiborne successfully removed Stone, and fended him off after the Battle of Severn in , which allowed Parliament to reign supreme over the Chesapeake colonies.
The Interregnum was over, and a familiar face soon returned to govern Virginia once again. That Confederation greatly influenced 17th Century English settlements throughout the century and beyond as some of the Tribes in that alliance still dwell in Virginia today. And I believe no one could better illustrate their lives and society than Ashley Spivey, herself a Pamunkey Tribe member. Ashley Spivey joins me in this episode to discuss Indigenous Virginian history, the changes they felt, and the concerns facing modern Virginian tribes today.
Ashley Spivey taken on the Pamunkey Reservation. The English Civil war claimed victims in Virginia, and the most prominent casualty was William Berkeley. For at least these major reasons Berkeley earned high praise from his Virginian constituents. But though high praise often followed Berkeley, there were still those who fell afoul of the Governor. Much opposition accounts also had what seemed to be valid issues. The most prominent of those issues centered around religious freedom. Berkeley was a staunch Royalist, who supported the Anglican Church, but his increasingly powerful opponents were Puritans that sided with the Parliamentarian cause.
That being the case, when King Charles I lost his head in the English government had to address their Royalist supporting Virginia governor. In the end, Berkeley could not withstand his enemies combined weight, nor would Berkeley lead the colony into a bloody war. Knight says that one key issue that did not begin in was slavery. Some of them, like Anthony Johnson, even owned slaves themselves. Kathryn puts together an astounding narrative weaving extant court and genealogical records together to prove that the immoral institution evolved over time, before it became legally organized by the late s and early s.
Exact beginning dates are hard to pin down, largely due to lost records. John Rolfe returned to Virginia alone once again, leaving their son Thomas Rolfe , then a small child, in England to obtain an education. Once back in Virginia, Rolfe married Jane Pierce and continued to improve the quality of his tobacco with the result that by the time of his death in , the Colony was thriving as a producer of tobacco.
Orphaned by the age of 8, young Thomas later returned to Virginia, and settled across the James River not far from his parents' farm at Varina , where he married Jane Poythress and they had one daughter, Jane Rolfe , who was born in Virginia's population grew rapidly from until , rising from a few hundred to nearly 1, people. Wheat was also grown in Virginia starting in On June 30, Slovak and Polish artisans conducted the first labor strike first "in American history"   for democratic rights " No Vote, No Work "   in Jamestown.
One of their first laws was to set a minimum price for the sale of tobacco and set forth plans for the creation of the first ironworks of the colony. This legislative group was the predecessor of the modern Virginia General Assembly. This is the earliest record of Black people in colonial America.
Records from and listed the African inhabitants of the colony as servants, not slaves. In the case of William Tucker, the first Black person born in the colonies, freedom was his birthright. Yet, court records show that at least one African had been declared a slave by ; John Punch. He was an indentured servant who ran away along with two White indentured servants and he was sentenced by the governing council to lifelong servitude. This action is what officially marked the institution of slavery in Jamestown and the future United States.
By , more German settlers from Hamburg , Germany, who were recruited by the Virginia Company set up and operated one of the first sawmills in the region. The Italians included a team of glass makers. During fifty-seven unmarried women sailed to Virginia under the auspices of the Virginia Company, who paid for their transport and provided them with a small bundle of clothing and other goods to take with them. A colonist who married one of the women would be responsible for repaying the Virginia Company for his wife's transport and provisions.
Many of the women were not "maids" but widows. Some others were children, for example Priscilla, the eight-year-old daughter of Joanne Palmer, who travelled with her mother and her new stepfather, Thomas Palmer, on The Tyger. Some were women who were traveling with family or relatives: Ursula Clawson, "kinswoman" of ancient planter Richard Pace , traveled with Pace and his wife on the Marmaduke. Ann Jackson also came on the Marmaduke, in the company of her brother John Jackson, both of them bound for Martin's Hundred.
Ann Jackson was one of the women taken captive by the Powhatans during the Indian Massacre of She was not returned until The Council ordered that she should be sent back to England on the first available ship, perhaps because she was suffering from the consequences of her long captivity. Some of the women sent to Virginia did marry. Most disappeared from the records—perhaps killed in the massacre, perhaps dead from other causes, perhaps returned to England. In other words, they shared the fate of most of their fellow colonists. The relations with the natives took a turn for the worse after the death of Pocahontas in England and the return of John Rolfe and other colonial leaders in May Disease, poor harvests and the growing demand for tobacco lands caused hostilities to escalate.
After Wahunsunacock 's death in , his younger brother, Opitchapam , briefly became chief. However, he was soon succeeded by his own younger brother, Opechancanough. Opechancanough was not interested in attempting peaceful coexistence with the English settlers. Instead, he was determined to eradicate the colonists from what he considered to be Indian lands. As a result, another war between the two powers lasted from to This event came to be known as the Indian Massacre of , and resulted in the deaths of colonists including men, women, and children and the abduction of many others.
Some say that this massacre was revenge. A letter by Richard Frethorne , written in , reports, "we live in fear of the enemy every hour. However, Jamestown was spared from destruction due to a Virginia Indian boy named Chanco who, after learning of the planned attacks from his brother, gave warning to colonist Richard Pace , with whom he lived. Pace, after securing himself and his neighbors on the south side of the James River, took a canoe across river to warn Jamestown, which narrowly escaped destruction, although there was no time to warn the other settlements. Apparently, Opechancanough subsequently was unaware of Chanco's actions, as the young man continued to serve as his courier for some time after.
Some historians have noted that, as the settlers of the Virginia Colony were allowed some representative government, and they prospered, King James I was reluctant to lose either power or future financial potential. In any case, in , the Virginia Company lost its charter and Virginia became a crown colony. In , the English Crown created eight shires i. James City Shire was established and included Jamestown. The original Jamestown fort seems to have existed into the middle of the s, but as Jamestown grew into a "New Town" to the east, written references to the original fort disappear.
By , a palisade stockade was completed across the Virginia Peninsula , which was about 6 miles 9. The new palisade provided some security from attacks by the Virginia Indians for colonists farming and fishing lower on the Peninsula from that point. On April 18, , Opechancanough again tried to force the colonists to abandon the region with another series of coordinated attacks, killing almost colonists.
However, this was a much less devastating portion of the growing population than had been the case in the attacks. Furthermore, the forces of Royal Governor of Virginia William Berkeley captured the old warrior in ,  variously thought to be between 90 and years old. In October, while a prisoner, Opechancanough was killed by a soldier shot in the back assigned to guard him. Opechancanough was succeeded as Weroance Chief by Nectowance and then by Totopotomoi and later by his daughter Cockacoeske. In , the first treaties were signed between the Virginia Indians and the English.
The treaties set up reservations, some of the oldest in America, for the surviving Powhatan. It also set up tribute payments for the Virginia Indians to be made yearly to the English. This situation would last until and the Treaty of Middle Plantation , which established Indian reservations following Bacon's Rebellion. Bacon's Rebellion was an armed rebellion in by Virginia settlers led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley.
In the s, the governor was serving his second term in that office. Berkeley, now in his seventies, had previously been governor in the s and had experimented with new export crops at his Green Spring Plantation near Jamestown. In the mids, a young cousin through marriage, Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. Although lazy, Bacon was intelligent, and Berkeley provided him with a land grant and a seat on the Virginia Colony council. However, the two became at odds over relationships with the Virginia Indians, which were most strained at the outer frontier points of the colony. In July , Doeg Indians crossed from Maryland and raided the plantation of Thomas Mathews in the northern portion of the colony along what became the Potomac River , stealing some hogs in order to gain payment for several items Mathews had obtained from the tribe.
Mathews pursued them and killed several Doegs, who retaliated by killing Mathews' son and two of his servants, including Robert Hen. A Virginian militia then went to Maryland and besieged the Susquehanaugs a different tribe in "retaliation" which led to even more large-scale Indian raids, and a protest from the governor of Maryland colony. Governor Berkeley tried to calm the situation but many of the colonists, particularly the frontiersmen, refused to listen to him and Bacon disregarded a direct order and captured some Appomattoc Indians, who were located many miles south of the site of the initial incident, and almost certainly not involved.
Following the establishment of the Long Assembly in , war was declared on "all hostile Indians" and trade with Indian tribes became regulated, often seen by the colonists to favor those friends of Berkeley. Bacon opposed Berkeley and led a group in opposition to the governor. Bacon and his troops set themselves up at Henrico until Berkeley arrived which sent Bacon and his men fleeing upon which Berkeley declared them in rebellion and offered a pardon to any who returned to Jamestown peaceably. Bacon led numerous raids on Indians friendly to the colonists in an attempt to bring down Berkeley.
The governor offered him amnesty but the House of Burgesses refused; insisting that Bacon must acknowledge his mistakes. At about the same time, Bacon was actually elected to the House of Burgesses and attended the June assembly where he was captured, forced to apologize and was then pardoned by Berkeley. Bacon then demanded a military commission but Berkeley refused.
Bacon and his supporters surrounded the statehouse and threatened to start shooting the Burgesses if Berkeley did not acknowledge Bacon as "General of all forces against the Indians". Berkeley eventually acceded, and then left Jamestown. He attempted a coup a month later but was unsuccessful.
In September, however, Berkeley was successful and Bacon dug in for a siege which resulted in his burning Jamestown to the ground on September 19, Bacon died of the flux and lice on October 26, and his body is believed to have been burned. Berkeley returned, and hanged William Drummond and the other major leaders of the rebellion 23 in total at Middle Plantation. With Jamestown unusable due to the burning by Bacon, the Governor convened a session of the General Assembly at his Green Spring Plantation in February, , and another was later held at Middle Plantation.
However, upon learning of his actions, King Charles II was reportedly displeased at the degree of retaliation and number of executions, and recalled Berkeley to England. He returned to London where he died in July Despite the periodic need to relocate the legislature from Jamestown due to contingencies such as fires, usually to Middle Plantation , throughout the seventeenth century, Virginians had been reluctant to permanently move the capital from its "ancient and accustomed place. It had a state house except when it periodically burned and a church, and it offered easy access to ships that came up the James River bringing goods from England and taking on tobacco bound for market.
In , Jamestown's status as mandatory port of entry for Virginia had been ended. On October 20, , the statehouse capitol building in Jamestown burned for the fourth time.
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Once again removing itself to a familiar alternate location, the legislature met at Middle Plantation , this time in the new College Building at the College of William and Mary, which had begun meeting there in temporary quarters in While meeting there, a group of five students from the college submitted a well-presented and logical proposal to the legislators outlining a plan and good reasons to move the capital permanently to Middle Plantation. The students argued that the change to the high ground at Middle Plantation would escape the dreaded malaria and mosquitoes that had always plagued the swampy, low-lying Jamestown site.
The students pointed out that, while not located immediately upon a river, Middle Plantation offered nearby access to not one, but two rivers, via two deep water ' depth creeks, Queen's Creek leading to the York River , and College Creek formerly known as Archer's Hope which led to the James River. And, there was of course, the new College of William and Mary with its fine new brick building. Other advocates of the move included the Reverend Dr. In , the capital of the Virginia Colony was officially relocated there. Thus, the first phase of Jamestown's history ended.
By the s the land was owned and heavily cultivated, primarily by the Travis and Ambler families. A military post was located on the island during the Revolutionary War and American and British prisoners were exchanged there. During the U. Civil War the island was occupied by Confederate soldiers who built an earth fort near the church as part of the defense system to block the Union advance up the river to Richmond.
Little further attention was paid to Virginia until preservation was undertaken in the twenty first century. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article needs additional citations for verification.