Virginia under the Stuarts 1607-1688
by Thomas J. Wertenbaker
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Virginia Under the Stuarts


Virginia Under the Stuarts









to my mother_


It was in May, 1910, that the author came to Princeton for an interview with President Woodrow Wilson concerning an appointment as Instructor in the Department of History, Politics, and Economics. He was elated when President Wilson engaged him, though not happy over the $1,000 salary. Yet with this sum to fall back on he borrowed $200, and took a trip to England.

In London he went treasure hunting, the treasure of old documents relating to the history of colonial Virginia. He sought out the British Public Record Office, off Chauncery Lane, and was soon immersed in the mass of letters, official reports, journal of the Assembly, and other papers.

The author was prepared to find valuable historical materials in London, for he had spent the summer of 1908 studying the William Noel Sainsbury and the McDonald abstracts and transcripts of the documents in the Record Office deposited in the Virginia State Library. But he was staggered at the extent of the manuscript collection on Virginia history alone. Among the scores of volumes are thirty-two devoted to the correspondence of the Board of Trade, seventeen to the correspondence of the Secretary of State, twenty-two to entry books, letters, commissions, warrants, etc.

When the summer waned he left for America taking with him many pages of closely written notes. But what he had learned served to whet his appetite for more, so that in 1912 and again in 1914 he was back, going over volume after volume, searching eagerly for fear some important point would escape him. The mass of abstracts and notes which he accumulated formed the basis of this volume.

In fact, any political history of Virginia in the colonial period must be based on the documents in the Public Record Office, since most of the copies left in Virginia have been lost or destroyed. Today, however, colonial historians no longer have to visit London to consult them, since transcripts have been made and deposited in the Library of Congress.

In recent years the American Council of Learned Societies has made available other collections of manuscripts which have thrown new light on early Virginia history. The most important of these are the Coventry Papers at Longleat, the residence of the Marquess of Bath. Many of the letters deal with Bacon's Rebellion, and include the correspondence between Berkeley and Bacon, accounts of the Indian war, complaints of the misgovernment of Berkeley, the account of the evacuation of Jamestown written by Berkeley, accounts of Bacon's death and the collapse of the rebellion.

This new material adds new weight to the conclusions reached in this book—that the causes of Bacon's Rebellion were deep-seated, that it grew out of the discontent caused by the Navigation Acts, the heavy taxes, the corrupting of the Assembly by Berkeley, and the misuse of the courts. It in no way shakes the conviction expressed by Thomas Mathews, who himself was involved in the rebellion, that the Indian war was the excuse for it rather than the cause.

Yet certain recent historians have contended that this violent uprising was not a protest against injustice and misgovernment. One has gone so far as to call it merely a quarrel between a rash young man and an old fool. We could with equal justice call the American Revolution just a quarrel between George Washington and George III. Mathews tells us that it was the general opinion in Virginia at the time that it was not Bacon who was chiefly responsible for the uprising, but Thomas Lawrence. Bacon "was too young, too much a stranger there, and of a disposition too precipitate to manage things to that length they were carried," he pointed out, "had not thoughtful Mr. Lawrence been at the bottom."

But neither Lawrence's hatred of Berkeley, nor Bacon's rashness, nor Berkeley's folly, nor the Indian war suffice to explain the rebellion. When the news of the uprising reached Charles II, he thought it past belief that "so considerable body of men, without the least grievance or oppression, should rise up in arms and overthrow the government." He was quite right. Had there been no grievances and oppression there would have been no uprising.

That Bacon's Rebellion is explained in part by poverty and suffering is clear. Philip Ludwell said that the rebel army was composed of men "whose condition ... was such that a change could not make worse." The men who fought so valiantly against the Indians and Berkeley's forces, braved the King's anger, faced death on the gallows were called in contempt "the bases of the people," "the rabble," the "scum of the people," "idle and poor people," "rag, tag, and bobtail." The Council reported that there were "hardly two amongst them" who owned estates, or were persons of reputation. Berkeley complained that his was a miserable task to govern a people "where six parts of seven at least are poor, indebted, discontented, and armed."

So when Bacon sent out his agents to every part of Virginia to denounce the governor for not permitting an election for a new Assembly, accusing him of misgovernment, and complaining of the heavy and unequal taxes, they "infested the whole country." Berkeley stated that the contaigion spread "like a train of powder." Never before was there "so great a madness as this base people are generally seized with." When, in panic, he dissolved the Long Assembly and called for a new election, all except eight of those chosen were pro-Bacon men.

One cannot but ask why. Surely the voters would not have sided with this young man who had been in Virginia but a few months had he not taken the lead in protesting against the many wrongs to which they had been subjected. And had those who rushed to arms, risking their property, if not their necks, done so merely because of a quarrel between Bacon and Berkeley, they would have been more than base, they would have been fools.

What these wrongs were Bacon and his followers tell us in what they called the Declaration of the People. Berkeley and his favorites they denounced "for having upon specious pretences of public works raised great unjust taxes upon the commonalty for the advancement of private favorites and other sinister ends...; for having abused and rendered contemptible the magistrates of justice, by advancing to places of judicature scandalous and ignorant favorites...."

In a burning manifesto, denouncing the injustice and corruption of the ruling group, Bacon said: "We appeal to the country itself what and of what nature their oppressions have been, and by what cabal and mystery the design of many of those whom we call great men have been transacted and carried on.... See what sponges have sucked up the public wealth and whether it hath not been privately contrived away by unworthy favorites, by vile juggling parasites, whose tottering fortunes have been repaired and supported by the charge." The constant breach of laws, unjust prosecutions, excuses, and evasions, proved that the men in power were conducting public affairs "as if it were but to play a booty, game, or divide a spoil."

In view of these statements recent attempts to prove that Bacon was no true patriot and not interested in righting the people's wrongs seem strange indeed. It is hardly credible that he was merely pretending when he wrote these fiery words, that he posed as the champion of the people to further his personal ambitions, that he trumped up charges against Berkeley because of the disagreement over the Indian war.

But, it has been said, Bacon showed no interest in the passage of the reform laws enacted by the Assembly of June 1676, refused to have them read before his army, and complained that the Burgesses had not lived up to his expectations. Had he been really interested in reform, would he not have gloried in these laws and have praised the Assembly for passing them?

Any such conclusion falls flat when we consider the conditions under which this session was held. The Burgesses had hardly taken their seats when Bacon, who had been elected as one of the members to represent Henrico County, was captured. Though Berkeley pardoned him and restored him to his seat in the Council, he was a virtual prisoner during the first few days of the session. So he looked on with growing resentment as the governor overawed the Burgesses and reform measures were set aside.

Then, suddenly, the entire situation changed. Bacon got permission to return to Henrico because his wife was ill. Once there he placed himself at the head of his army of enraged frontiersmen and marched rapidly on Jamestown. When this news reached the little capital, the governor, his Council, and the Burgesses were panic stricken. Since resistance was useless, every thought was of appeasement. A series of reform laws, which struck at the very roots of Berkeley's system of rule through placemen, was introduced in the Assembly, rushed through, and signed by the governor.

Not knowing what had happened during his absence, on his arrival Bacon mounted the steps to the Long Room of the State House where the Assembly met, to urge them to right the people's wrongs. Thomas Mathews, who was present, says that "he pressed hard, nigh an hour's harangue on preserving our lives from the Indians, inspecting the revenues, the exorbitant taxes, and redressing the grievances and calamities of that deplorable country." It was only when he had finished that someone spoke up to tell him that "they had already redressed their grievances." To contend that Bacon was not interested in laws which he himself had so passionately urged and which had obviously been passed to conciliate him and his followers is merely to attempt to disprove the obvious.

Philip A. Bruce, in a statement published in 1893, in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, points out that Bacon's Rebellion "preceded the American Revolution by a century, an event which it resembled in its spirit, if not in its causes and results. Bacon is known in history as the Rebel, but the fuller information which we have now as to the motives of his conduct shows that he can with more justice be described as Bacon the Patriot. He headed a powerful popular movement in which the sovereignty of the people was for the first time relied upon on American soil by a great leader as the justification of his acts. The spirit breathing through the Declaration of the People is the spirit of the Declaration of Independence." Nothing which has been brought out in the sixty-four years since Dr. Bruce wrote these words has shaken or can shake their truth. Bacon was the torchbearer of the Revolution.

Attempts to defend Sir John Harvey are as unconvincing as those to belittle Bacon. Certainly the Sackville Papers, recently made available to historians, contain nothing to warrant any change in the conclusion, long accepted by Virginia historians, that Harvey's expulsion was richly deserved.

Charles Campbell, in his History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia, thus describes Harvey's administration: "He was extortionate, proud, unjust, and arbitrary; he issued proclamations in derogation of the legislative powers of the Assembly; assessed, levied, held, and disbursed the colonial revenue without check or responsibility; transplanted into Virginia exotic English statutes; multiplied penalties and exactions and appropriated fines to his own use; he added the decrees of the court of high commission of England to the ecclesiastical constitutions of Virginia." Could we have a more perfect description of a despot?

It remains to point out a few errors which crept into the original manuscript. On page 21 "the falls of the Appomattox" should be "the first bend of the Appomattox"; on page 75 "John Pott" should be "Francis Pott"; on page 82 "Matthew Kemp" should be "Richard Kemp".

Princeton, New Jersey Thomas J. Wertenbaker August, 1957



CHAPTER I—The Founding of Virginia 1

CHAPTER II—The Establishment of Representative Government 29

CHAPTER III—The Expulsion of Sir John Harvey 60

CHAPTER IV—Governor Berkeley and the Commonwealth 85

CHAPTER V—The Causes of Bacon's Rebellion 115

CHAPTER VI—Bacon's Rebellion 146

CHAPTER VII—The Period of Confusion 195

CHAPTER VIII—The Critical Period 225



Arb. Smith, Works of Captain John Smith, Edward Arber. Scobell, Scobell's Collection of Acts and Ordinances of General Use. F. R., The First Republic in America, Alexander Brown. Gen., The Genesis of the United States, Alexander Brown. Force, Tracts and Other Papers Relating to the Colonies in North America, Peter Force. Nar. of Va., Narratives of Early Virginia, Lyon G. Tyler. Va. Car., Virginia Carolorum, E. D. Neill. Hen., The Statutes at Large, W. W. Hening. Proceedings of Va. Co., Proceedings of the Virginia Company of London. Cradle of Rep., The Cradle of the Republic, Lyon G. Tyler. Bruce, Inst. Hist., Institutional History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, P. A. Bruce. Bruce, EC. Hist., Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, P. A. Bruce. Miller, The Legislature of the Province of Virginia, E. I. Miller. P. R. O., British Public Record Office. Stith, History of Virginia, William Stith. Osg., American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century, H. L. Osgood. Neill, Va. Co., History of the Virginia Company of London, E. D. Neill. Fiske, Old Va., Old Virginia and her Neighbors, John Fiske. Burk, History of Virginia, John Burk. Va. Hist. Reg., Virginia Historical Register. Beverley, History of Virginia, Robert Beverley. Va. Mag., Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Wise, The Early History of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, J. C. Wise. Southern Lit. Mess., Southern Literary Messenger. Campbell, History of Virginia, Charles Campbell. McD., McDonald Papers, Virginia State Library. Jour. H. of B., Journals of the House of Burgesses. Manuscript copies in the Virginia State Library. Justice in Virginia, Justice in Colonial Virginia, O. P. Chitwood. Sains., Sainsbury Papers, Virginia State Library. Mass. S. IV., Massachusetts Historical Collections, Series IV. T. M., The Beginning, Progress and Conclusion of Bacon's Rebellion. W. & M. Q., William and Mary Quarterly. Inds' Pros., Indians' Proceedings. Bac's Pros., Bacon's Proceedings. Ing's Pros., Ingram's Proceedings. Cotton, Our Late Troubles in Virginia, Mrs. A. Cotton. Va. Vet., Virginia Vetusta, E. D. Neill.



In December, 1606, three little vessels—the Sarah Constant, the Discovery and the Goodspeed—set sail from England under Captain Christopher Newport, for the distant shores of Virginia.[1] After a long and dangerous voyage across the Atlantic the fleet, on the sixth of May, 1607, entered the Chesapeake Bay.[2] The adventurers spent several days exploring this great body of water, landing parties to investigate the nature of the shores, and to visit the Indian tribes that inhabited them. They were delighted with the "faire meddowes, ... full of flowers of divers kinds and colours", and with the "goodly tall trees" of the forests with "Fresh-waters running" between, but they had instructions not to settle near the coast, lest they should fall victims to the Spaniards.[3] So they entered the broad mouth of a river which they called the James, and made their way cautiously up into the country. On the twenty-third of May they found a peninsula in the river, which afforded a convenient landing place and was easy to defend, both from the Indians and the Spaniards. This place they called Jamestown. Landing their men, they set immediately to work building houses and erecting fortifications. Thus did the English begin their first permanent settlement in the New World.

The bold band of adventurers that came thus hopefully into this beautiful and smiling country little realized that before them lay only dangers and misfortunes. Could they have foreseen the terrible obstacles to founding a colony in this land, they would have hesitated before entering upon the enterprise.

Four things conspired to bring misfortune and disaster upon Virginia. The form of government prescribed by the King and the Company was unsuited to the infant settlement, and its defects kept the colonists for many months in turmoil and disorder. The Indians proved a constant source of danger, for they were tireless in cutting off stragglers, ambushing small parties and in destroying the crops of the white men. Famines came at frequent intervals to weaken the colonists and add to their misfortunes. But by far the most terrible scourge was the "sicknesse" that swept over Virginia year after year, leaving in its wake horrible suffering and devastation.

The charter that James I granted to the London Company served as a constitution for Virginia, for it prescribed the form of government and made regulations that none could disregard. It provided for a Council, resident in England, to which was assigned the management of the colony and the supervision of its government.[4] This body was appointed by the King and was strictly answerable to him through the Privy Council for its every act.[5] The immediate government of the colony was entrusted to a local Council, selected by the Council in England, and responsible to it. The Virginia Council exercised extraordinary powers, assuming all administrative, legislative and judicial functions, and being in no way restrained by the wishes or demands of their fellow colonists.[6] Although they were restricted by the charter and by the instructions of the Council in England, the isolation of the settlement and the turbulent spirit of the adventurers made them reckless in enforcing their own will upon the colonists. More than once they were guilty of unpardonable harshness and cruelty.

The charter did not provide for the appointment of a Governor. The nominal leadership of the colony was entrusted to a President, chosen by the local Council from among its members. This officer had no duty distinct from that of the Councillors, other than to preside at their meetings and to cast a double or deciding vote in case of deadlock.[7] He was to serve but one year and if at any time his administration proved unsatisfactory to his colleagues, they could, by a majority vote, depose him. In like manner, any Councillor that had become obnoxious could be expelled without specific charges and without trial.[8] These unwise provisions led naturally to disorder and strife, and added much to the misfortunes of the infant colony.[9]

The selections for the Council were made some days before the fleet sailed, but the Company, fearing a conflict of authority during the voyage, thought it best that they should be kept secret until the colonists had reached Virginia. The names of the appointees were embodied in "several instruments" which were entrusted to the commanders of the vessels, with instructions that they should be opened within twenty-four hours after they had arrived off the coast of America.[10] Upon entering the Chesapeake Bay the adventurers read the papers, and found that Christopher Newport, the commander of the fleet, Edward Wingfield, Bartholomew Gosnold, George Kendall, John Ratcliffe, John Martin and John Smith were those that had been chosen.[11]

After the landing the Council met, were sworn to office, and then elected Wingfield President.[12] Captain John Smith, who had been accused of mutiny during the voyage, was not allowed to take his seat, and was kept under restraint until the twentieth of June.[13]

Hardly had the founding of Jamestown been effected when the weakness of the constitution became apparent. The meetings of the Council were discordant and stormy. The members were utterly unable to act with vigor and determination, or to agree upon any settled course of action in establishing the little colony. The President, because of the limitation of his powers, could do nothing to restore harmony or to enforce his own wishes and policies. Confusion and mismanagement resulted. In less than a month after the first landing the inefficiency of the government had created such discontent that the colonists petitioned the Council for redress.[14] It was only the tact and moderation of Captain Newport that appeased the anger of the settlers and persuaded them to submit to the decrees of the governing body.[15]

On the second of July, Newport, with his little fleet, sailed for England, leaving the ill-fated colonists to their own resources.[16] No sooner had he gone than the spirit of discord reappeared. The quarrels within the Council became more violent than ever, and soon resulted in the complete disruption of that body. Captain Kendall, who seems to have been active in fomenting ill feeling among his colleagues, was the first to be expelled. Upon the charge of exciting discord he was deprived of his seat and committed to prison.[17]

As Captain John Smith had, before the departure of Newport, been allowed to take his place in the Council, there were now five members of that body. The number was soon reduced to four by the death of Captain Gosnold, who fell a victim to the sickness.[18] One would imagine that the Council, thus depleted, would have succeeded in governing the colony in peace, but the settlers were given no respite from their wrangling and disputes. In September, Ratcliffe, Smith and Martin entered into an agreement to depose President Wingfield and to oust him from the Council. Before they proceeded against him, however, they pledged each other that the expulsions should then stop, and that no one of the three should be attacked by the other two.

The Councillors then appeared before Wingfield's tent with a warrant, "subscribed under their handes, to depose the President; sayeing they thought him very unworthy to be eyther President or of the Councell, and therefore discharged him of both".[19] They accused him of misappropriating funds, of improper division of the public stores, of being an atheist, of plotting to desert Virginia in the pinnace left at Jamestown by Captain Newport, of combining with the Spaniards for the destruction of the colony. Wingfield, when he returned to England, made a vigorous defense of his conduct, but it is now impossible to determine whether or not he was justly accused. After his expulsion from office, he was summoned before the court by the remnant of the Council to answer these numerous charges. It might have gone hard with him, had he not demanded a hearing before the King. As his enemies feared to deny him this privilege, they closed the court, and committed him to prison on board the pinnace, where he was kept until means were at hand to send him to England.[20]

The removal of the President did not bring peace to the colony. If we may believe the testimony of Wingfield, the triumvirate that now held sway ruled the settlers with a harsh and odious tyranny. "Wear," he says, "this whipping, lawing, beating, and hanging, in Virginia, known in England, I fear it would drive many well affected myndes from this honourable action."[21] One day Ratcliffe, who had been chosen to succeed Wingfield, became embroiled with James Read, the smith. Read forgot the respect due his superior, and struck the new President. So heinous a crime was this affront to the dignity of the chief officer of the infant colony, that the smith was brought to trial, convicted and sentenced to be hanged. But he saved his life, upon the very eve of his execution, by revealing to Ratcliffe a plot against the government, headed, he declared, by Captain Kendall.[22] Immediately Kendall, who had long been an object of suspicion, was tried for mutiny, found guilty and executed.[23]

In December, 1607, when the colony was suffering severely for the want of food, Captain Smith led an expedition into the territory of the Chickahominies in quest of corn.[24] During his absence the President, despite the protests of Martin, admitted Captain Gabriel Archer to the Council.[25] Archer, who seems to have been a bitter enemy of Smith, had no sooner attained this place of power, than he set to work to ruin the adventurous captain. "Being settled in his authority", he "sought to call Master Smythes lief in question, and ... indicted him upon a Chapter in Leviticus for the death" of two men under his charge, that had been murdered by the Indians. He was to have had his trial upon the very day of his return from his thrilling adventures with the savages. His conviction and immediate execution would doubtless have resulted, had not the proceedings against him been interrupted by the arrival of the First Supply from England.[26] Captain Newport, whose influence seems always to have been exerted in favor of moderation and harmony, persuaded the Council to drop the charges against Smith, to release him from restraint, and to restore him to his seat in the Council.

Of extraordinary interest is the assertion of Wingfield that the arrival of the fleet "prevented a Parliament, which ye newe Counsailour (Archer) intended thear to summon".[27] It is not surprising that the settlers, disgusted as they were with the violence and harshness of their rulers, should have wished to share in the government. But we cannot but wonder at their boldness in attempting to set aside the constitution given them by the King and the Company. Had they succeeded in establishing direct government by the people, it could not be supposed that James would have permitted it to continue. But the attempt is very significant, as indicating that they were desirous, even at this early date, of having a voice in the management of affairs.

Archer and the unfortunate Wingfield sailed with the fleet when Captain Newport returned to England, and a few months later Martin followed them.[28] Since, with the First Supply had come a new Councillor, Matthew Scrivener, the governing body once more numbered three.

During the summer of 1608 Smith was frequently away, chasing the phantom of the passage to the South Sea, but this did not prevent the usual quarrels. If we may believe the account in Smith's history, Ratcliffe was deposed from the Presidency because of "pride and unreasonable needlesse cruelty" and for wasting the public stores.[29] It is probable that for some weeks Scrivener conducted the government, while Ratcliffe was kept a prisoner.[30] In September, Captain Smith, returning from a voyage in the Chesapeake Bay, "received the letters patents, and took upon him the place of president".[31]

Smith was now supreme in the government, for the Council was reduced to two, and his casting vote made his will superior to that of Scrivener. But he was not long to enjoy this power. In October, 1608, Captain Newport, arriving with the Second Supply, brought with him two "antient souldiers and valient gentlemen"—Richard Waldo and Peter Wynne—both bearing commissions as Councillors.[32] Soon afterward Ratcliffe was restored to his seat. The Council, thus recruited, resumed its control over the colony, "so that although Smith was President yet the Council had the authority, and ruled it as they listed".[33]

Two months later, when Newport sailed again, Ratcliffe returned to England. Smith wrote the English Council, "Captaine Ratcliffe is ... a poore counterfeited Imposture. I have sent you him home, least the company should cut his throat."[34] The next spring Waldo and Scrivener, with nine others, were caught in a small boat upon the James by a violent gale, and were drowned.[35] As Captain Wynne soon succumbed to the sickness, Smith became the sole surviving Councillor.[36] During the summer of 1609 the colony was governed, not, as the King and Company had designed, by a Council, but by the will of this one man.

In the meanwhile the London Company was becoming aware that a mistake had been made in entrusting the government of the colony to a body of Councillors. The reports of Wingfield, Archer, Newport and Ratcliffe made it evident that the lack of harmony in the Council had been a serious hindrance to the success of the enterprise.[37] Feeling, therefore, that this "error in the equality of the governors ... had a little shaken so tender a body", the managers held an especial meeting to effect a change.[38] A new charter was drawn up by Sir Edwin Sandys, approved by the Company and assented to by the King.

In this document James relinquished into the hands of the Company not only the direct management of the colony, but the power of drawing up a new and more satisfactory system of government. Acting under this authority, Sandys and his associates abolished the Council and entrusted the entire control of the colony to an all-powerful Governor. The disorder that had so impeded the success of the enterprise was to be crushed under the iron hand of a despot. Doubtless Sandys would have attempted to establish representative government at once in Virginia, had conditions favored so radical a change. But the colony was too young and feeble, and James could hardly be expected to give his consent. Yet the many liberal members of the Company were deeply interested in Virginia and were determined, should a favorable opportunity occur, to establish there an Assembly similar in character to the English Parliament.

The granting of the new charter aroused extraordinary interest in the fortunes of the colony throughout England and stimulated the Company to renewed efforts.[39] Thousands of pounds were contributed to defray the expenses of another expedition, and hundreds of persons responded to the appeals for settlers. The first Governor was a man of ability and distinction—Thomas Lord De la Warr. Sir Thomas Gates was made Lieutenant-Governor, George Summers, Admiral, and Captain Newport, Vice-Admiral.[40] De la Warr found it impossible to leave at once to assume control of his government, but the other officers, with nine vessels and no less than five hundred colonists, sailed in June, 1609.[41] Unfortunately, in crossing the Gulf of Bahama, the fleet encountered a terrific storm, which scattered the vessels in all directions. When the tempest abated, several of the ships reunited and continued on their way to Jamestown, but the Sea Adventure, which carried Gates, Summers and Newport, was wrecked upon an island in the Bermudas.[42] As a result of this misfortune none of the leaders of the expedition reached Virginia until May, 1610, ten months later.

The other vessels, with most of the settlers, arrived at Jamestown in August, 1609. The newcomers told Captain Smith of the Company's new plan of government, and requested him to relinquish the old commission. This the President refused to do. All the official papers relating to the change had been aboard the Sea Adventure, and he would not resign until he had seen them.[43] A long and heated controversy followed, but in the end Smith gained his point.[44] It was agreed that until the arrival of the Sea Adventure the colony should remain under the old charter, and that Smith should continue to act as President until the twentieth of September, when he was to relinquish the government to Captain Francis West.[45]

This arrangement did not restore harmony. West felt aggrieved that Captain Smith should insist upon continuing the old order of affairs despite the known wishes of the Company, and took occasion to ignore and slight his authority. This so angered the President that he is said to have plotted with the Indians to surprise and cut off a party of men that his rival was leading up the James. Before this could be accomplished, however, Smith met with a serious accident, which led to his immediate overthrow. "Sleeping in his Boate ... accidentallie, one fired his powder-bag, which tore the flesh ... in a most pittifull manner; but to quench the tormenting fire ... he leaped over-board into the deepe river, where ever they could recover him he was neere drowned."[46] Three former Councillors—Ratcliffe, Archer and Martin—who had come over with the new fleet, availed themselves of the helplessness of their old foe to rid the colony of his presence. Claiming, with some justice, that if Smith could retain his office under the old charter, they were by the same power still members of the Council, they held a meeting, deposed him from the Presidency and sent him back to England.[47] Having thus disposed of the troublesome Captain, they looked about them for some man suitable to head the colony until the arrival of Gates. Neglecting the claims of West, whom they probably considered too inexperienced for the place, they selected Captain George Percy.[48]

In the meanwhile, the crew and passengers of the Sea Adventure were stranded in the Bermudas, upon what was called Devil's Island. Some of their number were daring enough to venture out into the ocean in the longboat, in an attempt to reach the colony, but they must have perished, for they were never heard from again.[49] The rest of the company, seeing no other way of escape, built two pinnaces and, in May, 1610, sailed away in them for Jamestown. A few days later, upon their arrival in Virginia, Gates received the old patent and the seal from the President and the period of the first royal government in Virginia came to an end.[50]

But the "faction breeding" government by the Council was by no means the only cause of trouble. Far more disastrous was the "sicknesse". When the first expedition sailed for Virginia, the Council in England, solicitous for the welfare of the emigrants, commanded them to avoid, in the choice of a site for their town, all "low and moist places".[51] Well would it have been for the colonists had they obeyed these instructions. Captain Smith says there was in fact opposition on the part of some of the leaders to the selection of the Jamestown peninsula, and it was amply justified by the event. The place was low and marshy and extremely unhealthful.[52] In the summer months great swarms of mosquitoes arose from the stagnant pools of water to attack the immigrants with a sting more deadly than that of the Indian arrow or the Spanish musket ball.

Scarcely three months had elapsed from the first landing when sickness and death made their appearance. The settlers, ignorant of the use of Peruvian bark and other remedies, were powerless to resist the progress of the epidemic. Captain George Percy describes in vivid colors the sufferings of the first terrible summer. "There were never Englishmen," he says, "left in a forreign country in such miserie as wee were in this new discouvered Virginia. Wee watched every three nights, lying on the bare-ground, what weather soever came;... which brought our men to bee most feeble wretches.... If there were any conscience in men, it would make their harts to bleed to heare the pitifull murmurings and outcries of our sick men without reliefe, every night and day for the space of sixe weekes; in the morning their bodies being trailed out of their cabines like Dogges, to be buried."[53] So deadly was the epidemic that when Captain Newport brought relief in January, 1608, he found but thirty-eight of the colonists alive.[54]

Nor did the men that followed in the wake of the Sarah Constant, the Discovery and the Goodspeed fare better. In the summer of 1608, the sickness reappeared and once more wrought havoc among the unhappy settlers. Captain Smith, who probably saved his own life by his frequent exploring expeditions, on his return to Jamestown in July, "found the Last Supply al sicke".[55] In 1609, when the fleet of Summers and Newport reached Virginia, the newcomers, many of whom were already in ill health, fell easy victims to malaria and dysentery. Smith declared that before the end of 1610 "not past sixtie men, women and children" were left of several hundred that but a few months before had sailed away from Plymouth.[56] During the short stay of Governor De la Warr one hundred and fifty, or more than half the settlers lost their lives.[57]

Various visitors to Virginia during the early years of the seventeenth century bear testimony to the ravages of this scourge. A Spaniard named Molina, writing in 1613, declared that one hundred and fifty out of every three hundred colonists died before being in Virginia twelve months.[58] DeVries, a Dutch trader to the colony, wrote, "During the months of June, July and August it is very unhealthy, then people that have lately arrived from England, die, during these months, like cats and dogs, whence they call it the sickly season."[59] This testimony is corroborated by Governor William Berkeley, who reported in 1671, "There is not now oft seasoned hands (as we term them) that die now, whereas heretofore not one of five escaped the first year."[60]

In 1623 a certain Nathaniel Butler, in an attack upon the London Company, called "The Unmasked Face of our Colony in Virginia", drew a vivid, though perhaps an exaggerated picture of the unhealthfulness of the climate. "I found the plantations," he said, "generally seated upon meer salt marshes, full of infectious bogs and muddy creeks and lakes, and thereby subjected to all those inconveniences and diseases which are so commonly found in the most unsound and most unhealthy parts of England, whereof every country and climate hath some." It was by no means uncommon, he declared, to see immigrants from England "Dying under hedges and in the woods", and unless something were done at once to arrest the frightful mortality Virginia would shortly get the name of a slaughter house.[61]

The climate of eastern Virginia, unhealthful as it undoubtedly was in the places where the first settlements were made, cannot be blamed for all the epidemics that swept the colony. Much of the ill health of the immigrants was due to unwholesome conditions on board the ships which brought them from England. The vessels were usually crowded far beyond their real capacity with wretched men, women and children, and were foul beyond description.[62] Not infrequently great numbers died at sea. One vessel is reported to have lost a hundred and thirty persons out of a hundred and eighty-five. On the ships that left England in June, 1609, both yellow fever and the London plague appeared, doing fearful havoc, and making it necessary to throw overboard from two of the vessels alone thirty-two unfortunate wretches.[63] The diseases, thus started, often spread after the settlers had reached their new homes, and under favoring conditions, developed into terrible epidemics.[64]

Less deadly than the "sicknesse", but still greatly to be dreaded, was the hostility of the Indians.[65] The natives, resentful at the attempt of the white men to establish themselves in their midst, proved a constant menace to the colony. Their superstitious awe of the strange newcomers, and their lack of effective weapons alone prevented untiring and open war. Jamestown was but a few days old when it was subjected to a violent assault by the savages. On the twentieth day of May, 1607, the colonists, while at work without their arms in the fields, were attacked by several hundred Indians. In wild dismay they rushed into the fort, while the savages followed at their heels. "They came up allmost into the ffort, shot through the tents, appeared in this Skirmishe (which lasted hott about an hower) a very valient people." The guns of the ships came to the aid of the English and their thunders struck dismay into the hearts of the savages. Yet they retired without panic, taking with them their dead and wounded. Four of the Council, standing in the front ranks, were wounded by the natives, and President Wingfield, while fighting valiently, had an arrow shot through his beard, "yet scaped hurte".[66]

A few days after this event a gentleman named Clovell came running into the fort with six arrows sticking in him, crying, "Arm, arm". He had wandered too far from the town, and the Indians, who were still prowling near, shot him from ambush. Eight days later he died.[67] Thus at the very outset, the English learned the nature of the conflict which they must wage against the Indians. In open fight the savages, with their primitive weapons, were no match for them, but woe to any of their number that strayed far from the fort, or ventured into the long grass of the mainland. So frequently were small parties cut off, that it became unsafe for the English to leave their settlements except in bodies large enough to repel any attack.[68]

The epidemics and the wars with the Indians conspired to bring upon the colony still another horrible scourge. The constant dread of attack in the fields and the almost universal sickness made it impossible for the settlers to raise crops sufficient for their needs. During the summer of 1607 there were at one time scarce five able men at Jamestown, and these found it beyond their power even to nurse the sick and bury the dead. And in later years, when corn was planted in abundance, the stealthy savages often succeeded in cutting it down before it could be harvested. There can be no surprise then that famines came at frequent intervals to add to the misery of the ill-fated colonists. The most terrible of these visited Virginia in the winter of 1609-10. Smith's Historie gives a graphic account of the suffering during those fearful months. Those that escaped starvation were preserved, it says, "for the most part, by roots, herbes, acornes, walnuts, berries, now and then a fish: they that had starch in these extremities, made no small use of it; yea, even the very skinnes of our horses. Nay, so great was our famine, that a Salvage we slew and buried, the poorer sort took him up againe and eat him; and so did divers one another boyled and stewed with roots and herbs: And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was knowne; for which hee was executed, as hee well deserved.... This was the time, which to this day we call the starving time; it were too vile to say, and scarce to be believed, what we endured."[69]

The misery of the wretched settlers in time of famine is vividly described in a letter written in 1623 by a servant to his parents. The people, he said, cried out day and night, "Oh that they were in England without their limbs ... though they begged from door to door". He declared that he had eaten more at home in a day than was now allowed him in a week, and that his parents had often given more than his present day's allowance to a beggar at the door. Unless the ship Sea Flower came soon, with supplies, his master's men would have but half a penny loaf each a day for food, and might be turned away to eat bark off the trees, or moulds off the ground. "Oh," he said, "that you did see my daily and hourly sighs, groans, tears and thumps that I afford mine own breast, and rue and curse the time of my birth and with holy Job I thought no head had been able to hold so much water as hath and doth daily flow from mine eyes."[70]

Thus was the immigrant to Virginia beset on all sides with deadly perils. If he escaped the plague, the yellow fever and the scurvy during his voyage across the Atlantic, he was more than apt to fall a victim to malaria or dysentery after he reached his new home. Even if he survived all these dangers, he might perish miserably of hunger, or be butchered by the savage Indians. No wonder he cursed the country, calling it "a miserie, a ruine, a death, a hell".[71]

It is remarkable that the enterprise, in the face of these stupendous difficulties, should ever have succeeded. The explanation lies in the great enthusiasm of all England for this attempt to extend the British domains to the shores of the New World, and in the devotion of a few brave spirits of the London Company, who would not be daunted by repeated failures. It mattered not to them that thousands of pounds were lost in the undertaking, that many hundreds of men perished, the English flag and the English religion must gain a foothold upon the American continent.

Sir Thomas Gates found the colony in a pitiable condition. The tomahawk of the Indians, famine and pestilence had wrought terrible havoc with the settlers. A mere handful of poor wretched men were left to welcome the newcomers and to beg eagerly to be taken away from the ill-fated country. The town "appeared rather as the ruins of some auntient fortification, then that any people living might now in habit it: the pallisadoes he found tourne downe, the portes open, the gates from the hinges, the church ruined and unfrequented.... Only the block house ... was the safetie of the remainder that lived: which yet could not have preserved them now many days longer from the watching, subtile, and offended Indians."[72]

Nor was it in the power of Gates to remedy these conditions, for he had brought with him from Devil's Island but a limited supply of provisions. So, with great reluctance, the Lieutenant-Governor decided to abandon Virginia rather than sacrifice his people. As the colonists climbed aboard the vessels which were to take them from the scene of their sufferings, they would have set fire to the town had not Gates prevented with his soldiers. He, himself, "was the last of them, when, about noon, giving a farewell with a peale of small shott, he set sayle, and that night, with the tide, fell down ... the river."[73]

But it was not destined that this enterprise, which was of such importance to the English nation, should be thus abandoned. In April, 1610, De la Warr, the Lord Governor, had sailed for Virginia with three vessels, about a hundred and fifty immigrants and supplies for the relief of the colony.[74] Reaching Cape Comfort June the sixteenth, he learned from a small party there of the intended desertion of Jamestown. Immediately he sent a pinnace up the river to meet Gates, advise him of his arrival and to order his return to the abandoned town. Upon receiving these welcome tidings, Gates bore "up the helm" for Jamestown, and the same night landed all his men.[75] Soon after, the Governor reached the town and took formal possession of the government.

De la Warr began his administration by listening to a sermon from the good pastor, Mr. Buck. He then made an address to the people, "laying some blames on them for many vanities and their idleness", and promising, if occasion required, to draw the sword of justice.[76]

The Governor was not unrestrained in his authority over the colonists, for he was to "rule, punish, pardone and governe according to such directions" as were given him by the London Company. In case of rebellion or mutiny he might put into execution martial law. In matters not covered by his instructions he was to "rule and governe by his owne discretion or by such lawes" as he should think fit to establish.[77] The Council, which had formerly been all-powerful, was now but an advisory body, appointed by the Governor and removable at his discretion. De la Warr chose for his Council Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers, Captain George Percy, Sir Ferdinando Weinman, Captain Christopher Newport and William Strachey, Esquire.[78]

Forgetting their former quarrels and factions, the people united in a zealous effort to serve their noble Governor. "You might shortly behold the idle and restie diseases of a divided multitude, by the unity and authority of the government to be substantially cured. Those that knew not the way to goodnes before, but cherished singularity and faction, can now chalke out the path of all respective dutie and service."[79]

For a while peace and prosperity seemed to have come at last to the little colony. All set to work with a good will to build comfortable houses and to repair the fort. The chapel was restored. The Governor furnished it with a communion table of black walnut and with pews and pulpit of cedar. The font was "hewn hollow like a canoa". "The church was so cast, as to be very light within and the Governor caused it to be kept passing sweet and trimmed up with divers flowers." In the evening, at the ringing of the bell, and at four in the afternoon, each man addressed himself to prayer.[80] "Every Sunday, when the Lord Governor went to Church he was accompanied with all the Councillors, Captains, other officers, and all the gentlemen, and with a guard of fifty Halberdiers in his Lordships Livery, fair red cloaks, on each side and behind him. The Lord Governor sat in the choir, in a green velvet chair, with a velvet cushion before him on which he knelt, and the Council, captains, and officers, on each side of him."[81]

But the misfortunes of the colony were far from being at an end. The principal causes of disaster had not yet been removed. Before many weeks had passed the "sickly season" came on, bringing the usual accompaniment of suffering and death. "Not less than 150 of them died of pestilent diseases, of callentures and feavors, within a few months after" Lord De la Warr's arrival.[82] So universal was the sickness among the newcomers that all the work had to be done by the old settlers, "who by use weare growen practique in a hard way of livinge".[83]

The war with the Indians continued without abatement, causing constant alarm to the settlers and keeping them closely confined to their forts. At one time fourteen were treacherously massacred by the Queen of Appomattox. The English revenged themselves by attacking the savages, burning their villages and destroying their crops, but they could not force them into friendly relations.[84]

Lord De la Warr, himself, was assailed by a series of maladies, that came near costing him his life. "Presently after my arrival in James Town," he wrote, "I was welcomed by a hot and violent Ague, which held mee a time.... That disease had not long left mee, till ... I began to be distempered with other greevous sickness, which successively & severally assailed me: for besides a relapse into the former disease; ... the Flux surprised me, and kept me many daies: then the cramp assaulted my weak body, with strong paines; & afterward the Gout afflicted me in such sort, that making my body through weaknesse unable to stirre, ... drew upon me the disease called Scurvy ... till I was upon the point to leave the world."[85] Realizing that it would be fatal for him to remain longer in Virginia, the Lord Governor set sail with Captain Argoll for the West Indies, where, he hoped, he would recover his health.[86] As Gates had left the colony some months before, the government fell into the experienced hands of Captain George Percy.[87]

In the meanwhile the London Company, undismayed by their former failures, were preparing a new expedition, which they hoped would establish the colony upon a firm footing. Three hundred immigrants, carefully selected from the better class of working men, were assembled under the command of Sir Thomas Dale, and, on March the twenty-seventh, 1611, embarked for Virginia. Upon the arrival of the fleet at Jamestown, Dale received the letters patent from Captain Percy, and assumed command of the colony as Deputy for Lord De la Warr.[88]

The new Governor seems to have perceived at once that the chief source of disaster had been the location of the settlement upon the Jamestown peninsula. The small area which this place afforded for the planting of corn, and the unhealthfulness of the climate rendered it most undesirable as the site for a colony. Former Governors had refused to desert the peninsula because of the ease with which it could be defended against the Indians. But Dale at once began a search for a spot which would afford all the security of Jamestown, but be free from its many disadvantages. This he succeeded in finding up the river, some fifty miles from Jamestown.[89] "I have surveyed," he wrote, "a convenient strong, healthie and sweet seate to plant the new towne in, from whence might be no more remove of the principall Seate." This place, which he named Henrico, was located not far from the point of juncture of the James and the Appomattox, at what is now called Farrar's Island. Here the river makes a sweeping curve, forming a peninsula about one square mile in extent.

In August, 1611, Sir Thomas Gates, returning to assume the command of the colony, pushed vigorously the work upon the new settlement.[90] Dale was sent up the river with no less than three hundred men, with directions to construct houses and fortifications. The settlers, working with new life and vigor in the more wholesome air of the upper James, soon rendered the place almost impregnable to attack from the Indians. They cut a ditch across the narrow neck of the peninsula, and fortified it with high palisades. To prevent a sudden raid by the savages in canoes from the other shore, five strong block houses were built at intervals along the river bank. Behind these defenses were erected a number of substantial houses, with foundations of brick and frame superstructures. Soon a town of three streets had been completed, more commodious and far more healthful than Jamestown.[91]

When this work had been completed, Dale led a force of men across to the south bank of the river and took possession of the entire peninsula lying between the Appomattox and the James. An Indian settlement just below Turkey Island bend was attacked and destroyed, and the savages driven away. The English built a palisade over two miles long and reinforced at intervals with forts and block houses, from the James at Henrico to the falls of the Appomattox. These fortifications secured from the attacks of the savages "many miles of champion and woodland", and made it possible for the English to lay out in safety several new plantations or hundreds. Dale named the place Bermuda, "by reason of the strength of the situation".

Here, for the first time, something like prosperity came to the colony. Although the "sicknesse" was not entirely eliminated even at Henrico, the percentage of mortality was greatly reduced. Soon there were in Virginia several hundred persons that had lived through the fatal months of June, July and August and were thoroughly "seasoned" or immune to the native disorders. Not until 1618, when the settlers, in their greed for land suitable for the cultivation of tobacco, deserted their homes on the upper James for the marshy ground of the lower country, and new, unacclimated persons began arriving in great numbers, did the pestilence again assume its former proportions.

Thus protected from the ravages of disease and from the assaults of the savages, Dale's men were able to turn their attention to the cultivation of the soil. Soon they were producing an annual crop of corn sufficient to supply their more pressing needs. And it was well for them that they could become, to some extent, independent of England, for the London Company, at last discouraged by continued misfortune, was often remiss in sending supplies. Clothing became exceedingly scarce. Not only were the gaudy uniforms of De la Warr's time lacking, but many persons were forced to imitate the savages by covering themselves with skins and furs.[92] The Company, however, succeeded in obtaining for them from the King many suits of old armor that were of great value in their wars with the savages. Coats of mail and steel that had become useless on the battlefields of Europe and had for years been rusting in the Tower of London, were polished up and sent to Virginia. Thus, behind the palisades of Henrico or in the fort at Jamestown one might have seen at this time soldiers encased in armor that had done service in the days of Richard III and Henry VII.[93]

The London Company, when they sent Sir Thomas Gates to Virginia with the letters patent of 1609, gave directions that the utmost severity should be used in putting an end to lawlessness and confusion. Gates, who had fought against the Spaniards in the Netherlands and had the soldier's dislike of insubordination, was well suited to carry their wishes into effect. No sooner had he arrived from Devil's Island in 1610 than he posted in the church at Jamestown certain laws, orders and instructions which he warned the people they must obey strictly.[94] These laws were exceedingly severe. It was, for instance, ordered that "every man and woman daly twice a day upon the first towling of the Bell shall upon the working daies repaire into the Church, to hear divine Service upon pain of losing his or her dayes allowance for the first omission, for the second to be whipt, and for the third to be condemned to the Gallies for six Months". Again, it was decreed that "no man shall give any disgracefull words, or commit any act to the disgrace of any person ... upon paine of being tied head and feete together, upon the guard everie night for the space of one moneth.... No man shall dare to kill, or destroy any Bull, Cow, Calfe, Mare, Horse, Colt, Goate, Swine, Cocke, Henne, Chicken, Dogge, Turkie, or any tame Cattel, or Poultry, of what condition soever, ... without leave from the Generall, upon paine of death.... There shall no man or woman ... dare to wash any unclean linnen ... within the Pallizadoes, ... nor rench, and make clean, any kettle, pot or pan ... within twenty foote of the olde well ... upon pain of whipping."[95]

During the administration of Gates and De la Warr these laws seem not to have been enforced vigorously, but were utilized chiefly in terrorem.[96] Under Dale and Argoll, however, not only were they put into merciless operation, but were reinforced with a series of martial laws, drawn from the code in use among the armies of the Netherlands.

The Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, as they were called, undoubtedly brought about good order in the colony, and aided in the establishment of prosperity, but they were ill suited for the government of free-born Englishmen. They were in open violation of the rights guaranteed to the settlers in their charters, and caused bitter discontent and resentment.

At times they were enforced with odious harshness and injustice. Molina declared that the Governors were most cruel in their treatment of the people, often using them like slaves.[97] The Virginia Assembly of 1624 gives a vivid, though perhaps an exaggerated, picture of the severity of the government. "The Colony ... remained in great want and misery under most severe and Cruell lawes sent over in printe," they said, "and contrary to the express Letter of the Kinge in his most gracious Charter, and as mercylessly executed, often times without tryall or Judgment." Many of the people fled "for reliefe to the Savage Enemy, who being taken againe were putt to sundry deathes as by hanginge, shooting and breaking uppon the wheele and others were forced by famine to filch for their bellies, of whom one for steelinge of 2 or 3 pints of oatmeale had a bodkin thrust through his tounge and was tyed with a chain to a tree untill he starved, if a man through his sicknes had not been able to worke, he had noe allowance at all, and soe consequently perished. Many through these extremities, being weary of life, digged holes in the earth and there hidd themselves till they famished."[98] In 1612, several men attempted to steal "a barge and a shallop and therein to adventure their lives for their native country, being discovered and prevented, were shot to death, hanged and broken upon the wheel".[99] There was some criticism in England of the harshness of the laws, but Sir Thomas Smith, then the guiding spirit of the London Company, declared that they were beneficial and necessary, "in some cases ad terrorum, and in others to be truly executed".[100]

As time passed and the population of the colony increased, it became necessary to extend beyond the confines of Jamestown and Henrico. The cultivation of tobacco, which was rapidly becoming the leading pursuit of the people, required more ground than was comprised within the fortified districts. Even the expansion of the settlement upon the upper James to other peninsulas along the "Curls of the River" could not satisfy the demand for arable land. At one time the very streets of Jamestown were planted with tobacco.[101] Soon the people, despite their dread of the savages, were deserting their palisades, and spreading out in search of fertile soil.

This recklessness brought upon the colony a renewal of the disastrous epidemics of the earlier period, and exposed the planters to imminent danger from the savages. Fortunately, however, at this very time the long sought peace with the Indians was brought about by the romantic marriage of Pocahontas, the daughter of the powerful chief Powhatan, with Captain John Rolfe.

In the spring of 1613 Sir Samuel Argoll, while cruising in the Rappahannock in quest of corn, learned from the natives that the princess was visiting Japazaws, a neighboring king, at his village upon the Potomac. Argoll at once resolved to capture the daughter of the greatest enemy of the white men, and to hold her until all the tools and weapons stolen by the Indians had been returned.[102] Hastening into the country of the Potomacs, he demanded the maid of Japazaws. The king, fearing the hostility of the English more than the anger of Powhatan, consented, although with great reluctance, and she was placed aboard Argoll's ship.

The news of the capture of his favorite child filled Powhatan with rage and grief. Imploring Argoll to do Pocahontas no harm, he promised to yield to all his demands and to become the lasting friend of the white men.[103] He liberated seven captives and sent with them "three pieces, one broad Axe, and a long whip-saw, and one canow of Corne".[104] Knowing that these did not constitute all the tools in the hands of the king, the English refused to relinquish Pocahontas, but kept her a prisoner at Jamestown.[105]

The young princess was treated with consideration and kindness by Governor Dale. Her gentle nature, her intelligence and her beauty won the respect and love of the sternest of her captors. Dale himself undertook to direct her education. "I was moved," he exclaimed, "by her desire to be taught and instructed in the knowledge of God, her capableness of understanding, her aptness and willingness to receive any good impression.... I caused her to be carefully instructed in the Christian religion, who, after she had made some good progress therein, renounced publicly her Country's idolatry; openly confessed her Christian faith; and was, as she desired, baptized."[106]

Before many months had passed the charm of this daughter of the American forest had inspired a deep love in the breast of Captain John Rolfe. This worthy gentleman, after struggling long against a passion so strange and unusual, wrote Dale asking permission to wed the princess. I am not ignorant, he said "of the inconvenience which may ... arise ... to be in love with one whose education hath bin rude, her manners barbarous, her generation accursed".[107] But I am led to take this step, "for the good of the plantation, for the honour of our countrie, for the glory of God, for my owne salvation, and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, an unbeleeving creature, like Pokahuntas. To whom my heartie and best thoughts are, and have a long time bin so intangled, and inthralled in so intricate a laborinth, that I was awearied to unwinde myselfe thereout."[108]

Dale, overjoyed at this opportunity to secure the friendship of the Indians, consented readily to the marriage. Powhatan, too, when he learned of his daughter's affection for Captain Rolfe, expressed his approval of the union, and sent Apachisco, an uncle of the bride, and two of her brothers to represent him at the ceremony.

Both English and Indians regarded this wedding as a bond of friendship between the two races. Apachisco, acting as deputy for Powhatan, concluded with Governor Dale a peace which lasted eight years and was fairly well kept by both parties.[109] "Besides this," wrote Captain Ralph Hamor, "we became in league with our next neighbors, the Chicahamanias, a lustie and daring people, free of themselves. These people, as soone as they heard of our peace with Powhatan, sent two messengers with presents to Sir Thomas Dale and offered ... their service."[110] Thus was one of the greatest menaces to the prosperity of the colony removed. Now the settlers could cultivate the soil, or hunt and fish without fear of the treacherous savage, and leave their cattle to range in comparative safety. John Rolfe himself wrote, "The great blessings of God have followed this peace, and it, next to him, hath bredd our plentie—everie man sitting under his fig tree in safety, gathering and reaping the fruits of their labors with much joy and comfort."[111]

In 1616 Sir Thomas Dale, who had been in command of the colony since the departure of Gates in 1614, returned to England, leaving the government in the hands of Captain George Yeardley. Despite the harshness and cruelty of Dale and Gates, they must be credited with obtaining the final success of the colony. These two stern soldiers of the Dutch wars had found the settlers dispirited, reduced in numbers, fighting a losing battle against pestilence, starvation and the savages. By their rigid discipline and able leadership they had brought unity and prosperity, had taught the people how to resist the sickness, and had secured a long peace with the Indians.[112] Dale left about three hundred and fifty persons in Virginia, most of them thoroughly acclimated and busily engaged in building up prosperity for the colony.

Tobacco was already becoming the staple product of Virginia. As early as 1612 Captain Rolfe had been experimenting with the native leaf, in an effort to make it suitable for the English market.[113] In 1613 he sent a part of his crop to London, where it was tested by experts and pronounced to be of excellent quality.[114] The colonists were greatly encouraged at the success of the venture, for the price of tobacco was high, and its culture afforded opportunities for a rich return. Soon every person that could secure a little patch of ground was devoting himself eagerly to the cultivation of the plant. It even became necessary for Dale to issue an order that each man should "set two acres of ground with corn", lest the new craze should lead to the neglect of the food supply.[115] In 1617 The George sailed for England laden with 20,000 pounds of tobacco, which found a ready market at five shillings and three pence a pound. John Rolfe's discovery was opening for Virginia a veritable gold mine.

Fortunately the King, in 1612, had granted the Company an exemption for seven years from custom duties upon goods brought from the colony. So, for a while, at least, the Crown could not appropriate to its own use the profits from the Virginia tobacco. Since, however, the exemption had only a few years more to run, the Company hastened to secure what immediate returns were available. They took from the planters the entire crop, giving them for it three pence per pound, while they themselves were able to obtain a much larger price from the English dealers.

The profits thus secured were at once utilized in new measures for increasing and strengthening the colony. Encouraged by the discovery in Virginia of so profitable a commodity, the Company became convinced that now at last success was at hand. "Broadsides" were sent out to the British people, depicting in glowing terms the advantages of the country, and asking for immigrants and for financial support. Once more a wave of enthusiasm for the enterprise swept over England. Money was contributed liberally. The clergy, interested in the spread of the Anglican Church, and in the conversion of the savages, worked ardently for the success of the colony. Soon vessel after vessel was being fitted out for the voyage across the Atlantic, and hundreds of artisans and laborers were preparing to risk their all in the New World.[116]


[1] F. R., pp. 21, 22.

[2] F. R., p. 23.

[3] Arb. Smith, lxi-lxii.

[4] Gen., p. 55.

[5] Gen., p. 56.

[6] Gen., pp. 55, 70, 73.

[7] Gen., p. 77.

[8] Gen., p. 67.

[9] Gen., pp. 342, 411.

[10] Gen., p. 77.

[11] Arb. Smith, p. 91.

[12] Arb. Smith, p. 91.

[13] Arb. Smith, p. 91; F. R., pp. 27, 32. Smith denied the justice of these charges. "Now Captaine Smith, who all this time from their departure from the Canaries, was restrained as a prisoner, upon the scandalous suggestions of some of the chiefe (envying his repute); who fained he intended to ursurpe the government, murder the Councell, and make himself king; that his confederats were dispearsed in all the three ships, and that divers of his confederats that revealed it, would affirme it: for this he was committed." Arb. Smith, p. 92.

[14] Arb. Smith, liii.

[15] Arb. Smith, liv.

[16] F.R., p. 39.

[17] Arb. Smith, lxxvii.

[18] Arb. Smith, lxxvi.

[19] Arb. Smith, lxxix.

[20] Arb. Smith, lxxxi.

[21] Arb. Smith, lxxxiv.

[22] Arb. Smith, lxxxiv.

[23] Arb. Smith, lxxxv.

[24] Arb. Smith, lxxxv.

[25] F. R., p. 54.

[26] Arb. Smith, lxxxvi.

[27] Arb. Smith, lxxxvi.

[28] F. R., p. 58.

[29] Arb. Smith, pp. 114, 115.

[30] Arb. Smith, p. 119.

[31] Arb. Smith, p. 121; F. R., p. 61.

[32] F. R., p. 68; Arb. Smith, p. 122.

[33] Arb. Smith, p. 122.

[34] Arb. Smith, p. 444.

[35] F. R., 70.

[36] F. R., 71.

[37] F. R., p. 73.

[38] F. R., p. 73.

[39] F. R., p. 80.

[40] F. R., p. 84.

[41] F. R., p. 84.

[42] Gen., pp. 1329, 1330, 346, 400; Force, III; Arb. Smith, p. 635.

[43] F. R., p. 93.

[44] Gen., pp. 331, 347.

[45] Gen., pp. 331, 332; F. R., p. 98.

[46] Arb. Smith, p. 484.

[47] Ratcliffe wrote the Earl of Salisbury, "This man is sent home to answere some misdemenors, whereof I perswade me he can scarcely clear himselfe from great imputation of blame." Gen., p. 334.

[48] F. R., p. 108.

[49] F. R., p. 115.

[50] F. R., p. 117.

[51] Gen., p. 84.

[52] Arb. Smith, p. 5.

[53] Arb. Smith, lxxii.

[54] F. R., p. 55.

[55] Nar. of Va., p. 146.

[56] Many of these, however, died of starvation or were killed by the Indians. Nar. of Va., p. 200.

[57] Nar. of Va., p. 212.

[58] Nar. of Va., p. 220; Gen., p. 648.

[59] Va. Car.

[60] Hen., Vol. I; Gen., p. 499.

[61] Proceedings of Va. Co., p. 171.

[62] Gen., p. 489.

[63] Gen., p. 329.

[64] F. R., p. 98.

[65] Gen., p. 503.

[66] Arb. Smith, lii.

[67] Arb. Smith, liii.

[68] Force, Vol. III, Tract I, p. 17; Gen., p. 405, 419, 456.

[69] Force, Vol. III, Tract I, p. 17; Nar. of Va., p. 295; Gen., pp. 330, 392, 401, 404, 456.

[70] Va. Vet.

[71] Nar. of Va., p. 117.

[72] Gen., p. 405.

[73] Gen., p. 406; Force, Vol. III, Tract I, p. 18.

[74] F. R., p. 127.

[75] F. R., p. 128; Force, Vol. III, Tract I, p. 19; Gen., p. 407.

[76] Gen., p. 407.

[77] Gen., p. 379.

[78] F. R., p. 131.

[79] Force, Vol. III, Tract I, p. 20.

[80] F. R., pp. 129, 130.

[81] F. R., p. 130.

[82] F. R., p. 134.

[83] F. R., p. 134.

[84] F. R., pp. 135, 136.

[85] Gen., p. 479.

[86] Gen., p. 480.

[87] F. R., p. 137.

[88] F. R., p. 137.

[89] Gen., p. 492; Arb. Smith, p. 507; F. R., p. 150.

[90] Gen., p. 474.

[91] Arb. Smith, pp. 509, 510; F. R., p. 157; Cradle of Rep., p. 136.

[92] F. R., p. 226.

[93] F. R., p. 172.

[94] F. R., p. 126; Gen., pp. 342, 345, 528, 529; Force, Vol. III, Tract II, pp. 9-19.

[95] Force, Vol. III, Tract II, pp. 9-19.

[96] Bruce, Inst. Hist., Vol. I, p. 474.

[97] Gen., p. 648.

[98] Nar. of Va., pp. 422, 423.

[99] F. R., pp. 148, 172.

[100] Gen., pp. 529, 530.

[101] Bruce, Ec. Hist., Vol. I, p. 222.

[102] Gen., p. 642.

[103] Gen., p. 643.

[104] Gen., pp. 643, 644.

[105] Nar. of Va., p. 308.

[106] Arb. Smith, p. 512.

[107] Nar. of Va., p. 241.

[108] Nar. of Va., pp. 240, 241.

[109] F. R., p. 205; Arb. Smith, p. 514.

[110] Arb. Smith, p. 515.

[111] F. R., p. 226.

[112] F. R., pp. 230, 236.

[113] Bruce, Ec. Hist., Vol. I, p. 211.

[114] F. R., p. 197; Bruce, Ec. Hist., Vol. I, p. 217.

[115] F. R., p. 228; Gen., p. 782.

[116] F. R., p. 209.



King James I, from the beginning of his reign, was deeply desirous of planting the English nation upon the shores of the New World. It was with envy and alarm that he witnessed the extension of the power of Spain and of the Roman Catholic church across the Atlantic, while his own subjects were excluded from a share in the splendid prize. He must have perceived clearly that if the English wished to maintain their position as a great naval and mercantile people, the establishing of colonies in America was imperative. Peru, Mexico and the West Indies added greatly to the wealth and power of the Spanish King; why should England not attempt to gain a foothold near these countries, before it became too late?

But James had no desire to arouse the hostility of Philip III. Despite religious differences, despite the hatred of the English for the Spaniards, he had reversed the policy of Elizabeth by cultivating the friendship of these hereditary enemies. And so wedded was he to this design, that later, when his son-in-law, Frederick of the Palatinate, was being overwhelmed by a coalition of Catholic nations, he refused to affront Spain by coming to his rescue. Yet he knew that Philip considered America his own, and would resent any attempt of the English to establish colonies on its shores. So the crafty James resolved to disguise the founding of a royal colony under the guise of a private venture.[117] If the Spaniards complained of the occupation of their territory, he could free himself from blame by placing the responsibility upon the London Company. "If it take not success," his advisors told the King, "it is done by their owne heddes. It is but the attempt of private gentlemen, the State suffers noe losse, noe disreputation. If it takes success, they are your subjects, they doe it for your service, they will lay all at your Majesty's feet and interess your Majesty therein."[118]

James was quite liberal in granting charters to those that had undertaken the settlement, and he encouraged them as much as was consistent with his friendship for Spain. It was truly written of him after his death, "Amongst the ... workes of the late Kinge, there was none more eminent, than his gracious inclination ... to advance and sett forward a New Plantation in the New World."[119] That he was deeply interested in the undertaking is shown most strikingly by his consent to the establishment of the Puritans in America. James hated the tenets of Calvin from the depths of his soul, and could have no desire to see them infect the English settlements in America, yet his solicitude for the welfare of the colony induced him to yield to the request of the Pilgrims for permission to settle there. How much greater was his foresight than that of Louis XIV, who, by refusing to allow the persecuted Huguenots to settle in any part of his domains, deprived the French colonies of what might have been their most numerous and valuable recruits! When some of the leading men of the London Company pleaded with James for the Puritans, the King lent a ready ear. He was asked to allow them "liberty of conscience under his ... protection in America; where they would endeavour the advancement of his Majesty's dominions, and the enlargement of the interests of the Gospel". James replied that it was "a good and honest motion". He refused to tolerate them by public authority and would not confirm under the broad seal their petition for leave to worship as they chose, but he let it be understood that they were not to be molested in their new homes in any way.[120] And in this promise they finally decided to put their trust, feeling that "if afterwards there should be a purpose or desire to wrong them, though they had a seale as broad as ye house flore, it would not serve ye turn; for ther would be means a new found to recall or reverse it".[121]

But the chief glory of the establishment of the English in America must be given to the patriotic and persevering men of the Virginia Company. It is erroneous and unjust to accuse them of mean and mercenary motives in founding and maintaining the colony at Jamestown. Some of them, perhaps, were dazzled with visions of a rich harvest of gold and silver, but most must have realized that there was small chance of remuneration. Many were merchants and business men of great foresight and ability, and it is quite evident that they were fully aware of the risks of the undertaking in which they ventured their money. What they did hope to gain from the colony was the propagation of the English Church, the extension of the English nation and its institutions, and the increase of British trade.

Over and over again it was asserted that the first object of the enterprise was to spread the Christian religion. In 1610 the London Company declared it their especial purpose "to preach and baptize ... and by propagation of the Gospell, to recover out of the armes of the Divell, a number of poore and miserable soules, wrapt up unto death, in almost invincible ignorance".[122] The first draft of the Virginia charter of 1606 declared that the leading motive of this "noble work", was "the planting of Christianity amongst heathens".[123] The charter of 1609 asserted that the "principle effect, which we can desire or expect of this action, is the conversion and reduction of the people in those parts unto the true worship of God".[124]

That they were also actuated by a desire to extend the British possessions and trade is attested by numerous documents and letters. The Company declared it their purpose to promote the "honor and safety of the Kingdome, the strength of our Navy, the visible hope of a great and rich trade".[125] One of the leading shareholders wrote that the colony should be upheld for "ye Honor and profitt to our Nation, to make provinciall to us a land ready to supply us with all necessary commodytyes wanting to us: In which alone we suffer ye Spanish reputation and power to swell over us."[126] The colonists themselves declared that one of the objects of the settlement of America was the extension of British territory and the enriching of the kingdom, "for which respects many noble and well minded persons were induced to adventure great sums of money to the advancement of so pious and noble a worke".[127]

The Company, in fact, did no more than take the lead in the work. It was really the English nation that had decided to second their King in gaining a foothold in America, and it was they that insisted that this foothold should not be relinquished. Again and again the London Company appealed to the people for support, and never without success, for all classes of Englishmen felt that they were interested in this new venture. The spirit of the nation is reflected in the statement of the Council for Virginia in 1610, that the Company "are so farre from yielding or giving way to any hindrance or impeachment ... that many ... have given their hands and subscribed to contribute againe and againe to new supplies if need require".[128]

But although James I and his people were agreed as to the necessity of extending the English nation to America, they were not in accord in regard to the form of government which should be established there. The King, who was always restive under the restraint placed upon him by the English Parliament, had no desire to see the liberal institutions of the mother country transplanted to Virginia. He wished, beyond doubt, to build a colonial empire which should be dependent upon himself for its government and which should add to the royal revenues. In this way he would augment the power of the Crown and render it less subject to the restraint of Parliament. But to found colonies that would set up little assemblies of their own to resist and thwart him, was not at all his intention.

On the other hand, many of the leading spirits of the London Company hoped "to establish a more free government in Virginia".[129] Some, perhaps, feared that the liberties of the English people might be suppressed by the King, and they looked hopefully to this new land as a haven for the oppressed. "Many worthy Patriots, Lords, Knights, gentlemen, Merchants and others ... laid hold on ... Virginia as a providence cast before them."[130] In the meetings of the Company were gathered so many that were "most distasted with the proceedings of the Court, and stood best affected to Religion and Liberty", that James began to look upon the body as a "Seminary for a seditious Parliament".[131]

The leader of these liberals was Sir Edwin Sandys. This man, who was widely known as an uncompromising enemy of despotism, was heartily detested by the King.[132] In his youth he had gone to Geneva to study the reformed religion and while there had become most favorably impressed with the republican institutions of the little Swiss state. He was afterwards heard to say that "he thought that if God from heaven did constitute and direct a forme of government on Earth it was that of Geneva".[133] Returning to England, he had entered Parliament, where he had become known as an eminent advocate of liberal principles. He had contended for the abolition of commercial monopolies; had demanded that all accused persons be given the assistance of counsel; had denounced many of the unjust impositions of the Crown; had raised "his voice for the toleration of those with whom he did not wholly agree"; and had aided in drawing up the remonstrance against the conduct of James towards his first Parliament.[134]

But Sandys and his friends were not without opposition in the London Company. Many of the "adventurers", as the stockholders were called, were by no means willing to permit the liberal party to utilize the Company as an instrument for propagating their political tenets. The great struggle between the forces of progress and reaction that was convulsing Parliament and the nation, was fought over again in the Quarter Courts. At times the meetings resounded with the quarrels of the contending factions. Eventually, however, Sandys was victorious, and representative government in America was assured.

Sandys seems to have planned to secure from the King successive charters each more liberal than its predecessor, and each entrusting more fully the control of the colony to the Company. This could be done without arousing the suspicions of James under the pretext that they were necessary for the success of the enterprise. When at length sufficient power had been delegated, Sandys designed to establish in Virginia a representative assembly, modelled upon the British Parliament.

Under the provisions of the charter of 1606 Virginia had been, in all but form, a royal colony. The King had drawn up the constitution, had appointed the Council in England, and had controlled their policies. This charter had granted no semblance of self-government to the settlers. But it was declared "They shall have and enjoy all the liberties, franchises, and immunities ... to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born, within ... this realm of England".[135] This promise was not kept by the Kings of England. Several of the provisions of the charter itself were not consistent with it. In later years it was disregarded again and again by the royal commissions and instructions. Yet it was of the utmost importance, for it set a goal which the colonists were determined to attain. Throughout the entire colonial period they contended for all the rights of native Englishmen, and it was the denial of their claim that caused them to revolt from the mother country and make good their independence. Provision had also been made for trial by jury. James had decreed that in all cases the Council should sit as a court, but in matters of "tumults, rebellion, conspiracies, mutiny, and seditions ... murther, manslaughter", and other crimes punishable with death, guilt or innocence was to be determined by a jury of twelve. To what extent the Council made use of the jury system it is impossible to say, but Wingfield states that on one occasion he was tried before a jury for slander, and fined L300.[136]

The second charter had been granted in 1609. This document is of great importance because through it the King resigned the actual control of the colony into the hands of the Virginia Company. And although this did not result immediately in the establishment of representative government, it strengthened the hands of Sandys and made it possible for him to carry out his designs at a future date. Under this charter the Company might have set up liberal institutions at once in Virginia, but conditions were not ripe, either in England or in America, for so radical a change.

In 1612 the third charter had been granted. This had still further strengthened the Company and made them more independent of the King. It gave them the important privilege of holding great quarterly meetings or assemblies, where all matters relating to the government of the colony could be openly discussed. Still Virginia remained under the autocratic rule of Dale and Gates.

In 1617 or 1618, however, when the liberals were in full control of the Company, it was decided to grant the colonists the privilege of a parliament.[137] In April, 1618, Lord De la Warr sailed for Virginia to reassume active control of affairs there, bringing with him instructions to establish a new form of government. What this government was to have been is not known, but it was designed by Sir Edwin Sandys, and beyond doubt, was liberal in form.[138] Possibly it was a duplicate of that established the next year by Governor Yeardley. Most unfortunately, Lord De la Warr, whose health had been shattered by his first visit to Virginia, died during the voyage across the Atlantic, and it became necessary to continue the old constitution until the Company could appoint a successor.[139]

In November, 1618, George Yeardley was chosen Governor-General of Virginia, and was intrusted with several documents by whose authority he was to establish representative government in the colony.[140] These papers, which became known as the Virginia Magna Charta, were the very corner-stone of liberty in the colony and in all America. Their importance can hardly be exaggerated, for they instituted the first representative assembly of the New World, and established a government which proved a bulwark against royal prerogative for a century and a half.

Governor Yeardley sailed from England January, 1619, and reached Virginia on the 29th of April. After some weeks of preparation, he issued a general proclamation setting in operation the Company's orders. It was decreed, "that all those who were resident here before the departure of Sir Thomas Dale should be freed and acquitted from such publique services and labors which formerly they suffered, and that those cruel laws by which we had so long been governed were now abrogated, and that now we were to be governed by those free laws which his Majesty's subjects live under in Englande.... And that they might have a hand in the governing of themselves, it was granted that a General Assembly should be held yearly once, whereat were to be present the Governor and Counsell, with two Burgesses from each plantation freely to be elected by the inhabitants thereof; this Assembly to have power to make and ordaine whatsoever lawes and orders should by them be thought good and proffittable for our subsistence."[141]

The exact date of the election for Burgesses is not known.[142] The statement that the representatives were to be "chosen by the inhabitants" seems to indicate that the franchise was at once given to all male adults, or at least to all freemen. "All principall officers in Virginia were to be chosen by ye balloting box." From the very first there were parties, and it is possible that the factions of the London Company were reflected at the polls in the early elections. The Magna Charta made provision for the establishment of boroughs, which were to serve both as units for local government and as electoral districts. No attempt was made to secure absolute uniformity of population in the boroughs, but there were no glaring inequalities. With the regard for the practical which has always been characteristic of Englishmen, the Company seized upon the existing units, such as towns, plantations and hundreds, as the basis of their boroughs. In some cases several of these units were merged to form one borough, in others, a plantation or a town or a hundred as it stood constituted a borough. As there were eleven of these districts and as each district chose two Burgesses, the first General Assembly was to contain twenty-two representatives.[143]

The Assembly convened at Jamestown, August 9th, 1619. "The most convenient place we could finde to sitt in," says the minutes, "was the Quire of the Churche Where Sir George Yeardley, the Governor, being sett down in his accustomed place, those of the Counsel of Estate sate nexte him on both hands excepte onely the Secretary then appointed Speaker, who sate right before him, John Twine, the clerk of the General Assembly, being placed nexte the Speaker, and Thomas Pierse, the Sergeant, standing at the barre, to be ready for any service the Assembly shoulde comand him. But forasmuche as men's affaires doe little prosper where God's service is neglected, all the Burgesses tooke their places in the Quire till a prayer was said by Mr. Bucke, the Minister.... Prayer being ended,... all the Burgesses were intreatted to retyre themselves into the body of the Churche, which being done, before they were fully admitted, they were called in order and by name, and so every man tooke the oathe of Supremacy and entered the Assembly."[144]

The body at once claimed and made good its right to exclude Burgesses who they thought were not entitled to seats. The Speaker himself raised an objection to admitting the representatives of Warde's plantation, because that settlement had been made without a commission from the London Company. But Captain Warde promised to secure a patent as soon as possible, and the objection was waived. The Assembly refused absolutely, however, to seat the Burgesses from Martin's Hundred. Captain Martin had been one of the first Council for Virginia, and as a reward for his long services had been granted privileges that rendered him almost independent of the government at Jamestown. He was summoned before the Assembly and requested to relinquish these extraordinary rights, but he refused to do so. "I hold my patent," he said, "for my service don, which noe newe or late comer can meritt or challenge."[145] So the Assembly, feeling that it would be mockery to permit the Burgesses from Martin's Hundred to assist in the making of laws which their own constituents, because of their especial charter, might with impunity disobey, refused to admit them.[146]

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