England in America, 1580-1652
by Lyon Gardiner Tyler
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Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL.D.

J. & J. Harper Editions Harper & Row, Publishers New York and Evanston

1904 by Harper & Brothers.








IV. GLOOM IN VIRGINIA (1608-1617) 55





IX. FOUNDING OF PLYMOUTH (1608-1630) 149

















MARYLAND IN 1652 133

NEW ENGLAND (1652) facing 196

MAINE IN 1652 265


[Transcriber's Note: This text retains original spellings. Also, superscripted abbreviations or contractions are indicated by the use of a caret (^), such as w^th (with).]


Some space has already been given in this series to the English and their relation to the New World, especially the latter half of Cheyney's European Background of American History, which deals with the religious, social, and political institutions which the English colonists brought with them; and chapter v. of Bourne's Spain in America, describing the Cabot voyages. This volume begins a detailed story of the English settlement, and its title indicates the conception of the author that during the first half-century the American colonies were simply outlying portions of the English nation, but that owing to disturbances culminating in civil war they had the opportunity to develop on lines not suggested by the home government.

The first two chapters deal with the unsuccessful attempts to plant English colonies, especially by Gilbert and Raleigh. These beginnings are important because they proved the difficulty of planting colonies through individual enterprise. At the same time the author brings out clearly the various motives for colonization—the spirit of adventure, the desire to enjoy a new life, and the intent to harm the commerce of the colonies of Spain.

In chapters iii. to vi. the author describes the final founding of the first successful colony, Virginia, and emphasizes four notable characteristics of that movement. The first is the creation of colonizing companies (a part of the movement described in its more general features by Cheyney in his chapters vii. and viii.). The second is the great waste of money and the awful sacrifice of human life caused by the failure of the colonizers to adapt themselves to the conditions of life in America. That the people of Virginia should be fed on grain brought from England, should build their houses in a swamp, should spend their feeble energies in military executions of one another is an unhappy story made none the pleasanter by the knowledge that the founders of the company in England were spending freely of their substance and their effort on the colony. The third element in the growth of Virginia is the introduction of the staple crop, always in demand, and adapted to the soil of Virginia. Tobacco, after 1616, speedily became the main interest of Virginia, and without tobacco it must have gone down. A fourth characteristic is the early evidence of an unconquerable desire for self-government, brought out in the movements of the first assembly of 1619 and the later colonial government: here we have the germ of the later American system of government.

The founding of the neighboring colony of Maryland (chapters vii. and viii.) marks the first of the proprietary colonies; it followed by twenty-five years and had the advantage of the unhappy experience of Virginia and of very capable management. The author shows how little Maryland deserves the name of a Catholic colony, and he develops the Kent Island episode, the first serious boundary controversy between two English commonwealths in America.

To the two earliest New England colonies are devoted five chapters (ix. to xiii.), which are treated not as a separate episode but as part of the general spirit of colonization. Especial attention is paid to the development of popular government in Massachusetts, where the relation between governor, council, and freemen had an opportunity to work itself out. Through the transfer of the charter to New England, America had its first experience of a plantation with a written constitution for internal affairs. The fathers of the Puritan republics are further relieved of the halo which generations of venerating descendants have bestowed upon them, and appear as human characters. Though engaging in a great and difficult task, and while solving many problems, they nevertheless denied their own fundamental precept of the right of a man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

Chapters xiv. to xvi. describe the foundation of the little settlements in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Haven, New Hampshire, and Maine; and here we have an interesting picture of little towns for a time standing quite independent, and gradually consolidating into commonwealths, or coalescing with more powerful neighbors. Then follow (chapters xvii. and xviii.) the international and intercolonial relations of the colonies, and especially the New England Confederation, the first form of American federal government.

A brief sketch of the conditions of social life in New England (chapter xix.) brings out the strong commercial spirit of the people as well as their intense religious life and the narrowness of their social and intellectual status. The bibliographical essay is necessarily a selection from the great literature of early English colonization, but is a conspectus of the most important secondary works and collections of sources.

The aim of the volume is to show the reasons for as well as the progress of English colonization. Hence for the illustration Sir Walter Raleigh has been chosen, as the most conspicuous colonizer of his time. The freshness of the story is in its clear exposition of the terrible difficulties in the way of founding self-sustaining colonies—the unfamiliar soil and climate, Indian enemies, internal dissensions, interference by the English government, vague and conflicting territorial grants. Yet out of these difficulties, in forty-five years of actual settlement, two southern and six or seven northern communities were permanently established, in the face of the opposition and rivalry of Spain, France, and Holland. For this task the editor has thought that President Tyler is especially qualified, as an author whose descent and historical interest connect him both with the northern and the southern groups of settlements.


This book covers a period of a little more than three-quarters of a century. It begins with the first attempt at English colonization in America, in 1576, and ends with the year 1652, when the supremacy of Parliament was recognized throughout the English colonies. The original motive of colonization is found in English rivalry with the Spanish power; and the first chapter of this work tells how this motive influenced Gilbert and Raleigh in their endeavors to plant colonies in Newfoundland and North Carolina. Though unfortunate in permanent result, these expeditions familiarized the people of England with the country of Virginia—a name given by Queen Elizabeth to all the region from Canada to Florida—and stimulated the successful settlement at Jamestown in the early part of the seventeenth century. With the charter of 1609 Virginia was severed from North Virginia, to which Captain Smith soon gave the name of "New England"; and the story thereafter is of two streams of English emigration—one to Virginia and the other to New England. Thence arose the Southern and Northern colonies of English America, which, more than a century beyond the period of this book, united to form the great republic of the United States.

The most interesting period in the history of any country is the formative period; and through the mass of recently published original material on America the opportunity to tell its story well has been of late years greatly increased. In the preparation of this work I have endeavored to consult the original sources, and to admit secondary testimony only in matters of detail. I beg to express my indebtedness to the authorities of the Harvard College Library and the Virginia Library for their courtesy in giving me special facilities for the verification of my authorities.






Up to the last third of the sixteenth century American history was the history of Spanish conquest, settlement, and exploration. Except for the feeble Portuguese settlements in Brazil and at the mouth of the La Plata, from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, around the eastern and western coasts of South America, and northward to the Gulf of California, all was Spanish—main-land and islands alike. The subject of this volume is the bold assertion of England to a rivalry in European waters and on American coasts.

How came England, with four millions of people, to enter into a quarter of a century of war with the greatest power in Europe? The answer is that Spain was already decaying, while England was instinct with the spirit of progress and development. The contrast grew principally out of the different attitude of the two nations towards the wealth introduced into Europe from America, and towards the hitherto established religion of the Christian world. While the treasure from Mexico and Peru enabled Charles V. and Philip II. to carry on great wars and to establish an immense prestige at the different courts of Europe, it created a speculative spirit which drew their subjects away from sober employment. For this reason manufacturing and agriculture, for which Spain was once so distinguished, were neglected; and the kingdom, thinned of people and decreasing in industry, grew dependent for supplies upon the neighboring countries.[1]

On the other hand, the treasures which destroyed the manufactures of Spain indirectly stimulated those of England. Without manufactures, Spain had to employ her funds in buying from other countries her clothing, furniture, and all that was necessary for the comfort of her citizens at home or in her colonies in America. In 1560 not above a twentieth part of the commodities exported to America consisted of Spanish-manufactured fabrics: all the rest came through the foreign merchants resident in Spain.[2]

Similar differences arose from the attitude of the two kingdoms to religion. Philip loved to regard himself as the champion of the Catholic church, and he encouraged it to extend its authority in Spain in the most absolute manner. Spain became the favored home of the Inquisition, and through its terrors the church acquired complete sovereignty over the minds of the people. Since free thought was impossible, private enterprise gave way to mendicancy and indolence. It was not long before one-half of the real estate of the realm fell into the hands of the clergy and monastic orders.[3]

In England, on the other hand, Henry VIII.'s quarrel with the pope in 1534 gave Protestantism a foothold; and the suppression of the convents and monasteries in 1537-1539 put the possibility of the re-establishment of papal power out of question. Thus, while the body of the people remained attached to the Catholic church under Edward VI. and Queen Mary, the clergy had no great power, and there was plenty of room for free speech. Under Elizabeth various causes promoted the growth of Protestantism till it became a permanent ruling principle. Since its spirit was one of inquiry, private enterprise, instead of being suppressed as in Spain, spread the wings of manufacture and commerce.[4]

Thus, collision between the two nations was unavoidable, and their rivalry enlisted all the forces of religion and interest. Under such influences thousands of young Englishmen crossed the channel to fight with William of Orange against the Spaniards or with the Huguenots against the Guises, the allies of Spain. The same motives led to the dazzling exploits of Hawkins, Drake, and Cavendish, and sent to the sea scores of English privateers; and it was the same motives which stimulated Gilbert in 1576, eighty-four years after the Spaniards had taken possession, in his grand design of planting a colony in America. The purpose of Gilbert was to cut into Spanish colonial power, as was explained by Richard Hakluyt in his Discourse on Western Planting, written in 1584: "If you touche him [the king of Spain] in the Indies, you touche the apple of his eye; for take away his treasure, which is neruus belli, and which he hath almoste oute of his West Indies, his olde bandes of souldiers will soone be dissolved, his purposes defeated, his power and strengthe diminished, his pride abated, and his tyranie utterly suppressed."[5]

Still, while English colonization at first sprang out of rivalry with Spain and was late in beginning, England's claims in America were hardly later than Spain's. Christopher Columbus at first hoped, in his search for the East Indies, to sail under the auspices of Henry VII. Only five years later, in 1497, John Cabot, under an English charter, reached the continent of North America in seeking a shorter route by the northwest; and in 1498, with his son Sebastian Cabot, he repeated his visit. But nothing important resulted from these voyages, and after long neglect their memory was revived by Hakluyt,[6] only to support a claim for England to priority in discovery.

Indeed, England was not yet prepared for the work of colonization. Her commerce was still in its infancy, and did not compare with that of either Italy, Spain, or Portugal. Neither Columbus nor the Cabots were Englishmen, and the advantages of commerce were so little understood in England about this period that the taking of interest for the use of money was prohibited.[7] A voyage to some mart "within two days' distance" was counted a matter of great moment by merchant adventurers.[8]

During the next half-century, only two noteworthy attempts were made by the English to accomplish the purposes of the Cabots: De Prado visited Newfoundland in 1527 and Hore in 1535,[9] but neither of the voyages was productive of any important result. Notwithstanding, England's commerce made some advancement during this period. A substantial connection between England and America was England's fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland; though used by other European states, over fifty English ships spent two months in every year in those distant waters, and gained, in the pursuit, valuable maritime experience. Probably, however, the development of trade in a different quarter had a more direct connection with American colonization, for about 1530 William Hawkins visited the coast of Guinea and engaged in the slave-trade with Brazil.[10]

Suddenly, about the middle of the century, English commerce struck out boldly; conscious rivalry with Spain had begun. The new era opens fitly with the return of Sebastian Cabot to England from Spain, where since the death of Henry VII. he had served Charles V. In 1549, during the third year of Edward VI., he was made grand pilot of England with an annual stipend of L166 13s. 4d.[11] He formed a company for the discovery of the northeast and the northwest passages, and in 1553 an expedition under Sir Hugh Willoughby and Richard Chancellor penetrated the White Sea and made known the wonders of the Russian Empire.[12] The company obtained, in 1554, a charter of incorporation under the title of the "Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Lands, Territories, Isles, Dominions, and Seignories Unknown or Frequented by Any English." To Russia frequent voyages were thereafter made. A few days after the departure of Willoughby's expedition Richard Eden published his Treatyse of the Newe India; and two years later appeared his Decades of the New World, a book which was very popular among all classes of people in England. Cabot died not many years later, and Eden, translator and compiler, attended at his bedside, and "beckons us with something of awe to see him die."[13]

During Mary's reign (1553-1558) the Catholic church was restored in England, and by the influence of the queen, who was married to King Philip, the expanding commerce of England was directed away from the Spanish colonial possessions eastward to Russia, Barbary, Turkey, and Persia. After her death the barriers against free commerce were thrown down. With the incoming of Elizabeth, the Protestant church was re-established and the Protestant refugees returned from the continent; and three years after her succession occurred the first of those great voyages which exposed the weakness of Spain by showing that her rich possessions in America were practically unguarded and unprotected.

In 1562 Sir John Hawkins, following in the track of his father William Hawkins, visited Guinea, and, having loaded his ship with negroes, carried them to Hispaniola, where, despite the Spanish law restricting the trade to the mother-country, he sold his slaves to the planters, and returned to England with a rich freight of ginger, hides, and pearls. In 1564 Hawkins repeated the experiment with greater success; and on his way home, in 1565, he stopped in Florida and relieved the struggling French colony of Laudonniere, planted there by Admiral Coligny the year before, and barbarously destroyed by the Spaniards soon after Hawkins's departure.[14] The difference between our age and Queen Elizabeth's is illustrated by the fact that Hawkins, instead of being put to death as a pirate for engaging in the slave-trade, was rewarded by the queen on his return with a patent for a coat of arms.

In 1567 Hawkins with nine ships revisited the West Indies, but this time ill-fortune overtook him. Driven by bad weather into the harbor of San Juan de Ulloa, he was attacked by the Spaniards, several of his ships were sunk, and some of his men were captured and later put to torture by the Inquisition. Hawkins escaped with two of his ships, and after a long and stormy passage arrived safe in England (January 25, 1569).[15] Queen Elizabeth was greatly offended at this conduct of the Spaniards, and in reprisal detained a squadron of Spanish treasure ships which had sought safety in the port of London from some Huguenot cruisers.

In this expedition one of the two ships which escaped was commanded by a young man named Francis Drake, who came to be regarded as the greatest seaman of his age. He was the son of a clergyman, and was born in Devonshire, where centred for two centuries the maritime skill of England. While a lad he followed the sea, and acquired reputation for his courage and sagacity. Three years after the affair at San Juan, Drake fitted out a little squadron, and in 1572 sailed, as he himself specially states, to inflict vengeance upon the Spaniards. He had no commission, and on his own private account attacked a power with which his country was at peace.[16]

Drake attacked Nombre de Dios and Cartagena, and, as the historian relates, got together "a pretty store of money," an evidence that his purpose was not wholly revenge. He marched across the Isthmus of Panama and obtained his first view of the Pacific Ocean. "Vehemently transported with desire to navigate that sea," he fell upon his knees, and "implored the Divine Assistance, that he might at some time or other sail thither and make a perfect discovery of the same."[17] Drake reached Plymouth on his return Sunday, August 9, 1573, in sermon time; and his arrival created so much excitement that the people left the preacher alone in church so as to catch a glimpse of the famous sailor.[18]

Drake contemplated greater deeds. He had now plenty of friends who wished to engage with him, and he soon equipped a squadron of five ships. That he had saved something from the profits of his former voyage is shown by his equipment. The Pelican, in which he sailed, had "expert musicians and rich furniture," and "all the vessels for the table, yea, many even of the cook-room, were of pure silver."[19] Drake's object now was to harry the coast of the ocean which he had seen in 1573. Accordingly, he sailed from Plymouth (December 13, 1577), coasted along the shore of South America, and, passing through the Straits of Magellan, entered the Pacific in September, 1578.

The Pelican was now the only one of his vessels left, as all the rest had either returned home or been lost. Renaming the ship the Golden Hind, Drake swept up the western side of South America and took the ports of Chili and Peru by surprise. He captured galleons carrying quantities of gold, silver, and jewelry, and acquired plunder worth millions of dollars.[20] Drake did not think it prudent to go home by the way he had come, but struck boldly northward in search of a northeast passage into the Atlantic. He coasted along California as far as Oregon, repaired his ship in a harbor near San Francisco, took possession of the country in the name of Queen Elizabeth and called it Nova Albion. Finding no northeast passage, he turned his prow to the west, and circumnavigated the globe by the Cape of Good Hope, arriving at Plymouth in November, 1580.[21]

The queen received him with undisguised favor, and met a request from Philip II. for Drake's surrender by knighting the freebooter and wearing in her crown the jewel he offered her as a present. When the Spanish ambassador threatened that matters should come to the cannon, she replied "quietly, in her most natural voice," writes Mendoza, "that if I used threats of that kind she would throw me into a dungeon." The revenge that Drake had taken for the affair at San Juan de Ulloa was so complete that for more than a hundred years he was spoken of in Spanish annals as "the Dragon."

His example stimulated adventure in all directions, and in 1586 Thomas Cavendish, of Ipswich, sailed to South America and made a rich plunder at Spanish expense. He returned home by the Cape of Good Hope, and was thus the second Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.[22]

In the mean time, another actor, hardly less adventurous but of a far grander purpose, had stepped upon the stage of this tremendous historic drama. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was born in Devonshire, schooled at Eton, and educated at Oxford. Between 1563 and 1576 he served in the wars of France, Ireland, and the Netherlands, and was therefore thoroughly steeped in the military training of the age.[23] The first evidence of Gilbert's great purpose was the charter by Parliament, in the autumn of 1566, of a corporation for the discovery of new trades. Gilbert was a member, and in 1567 he presented an unsuccessful petition to the queen for the use of two ships for the discovery of a northwest passage to China and the establishment of a traffic with that country.[24]

Before long Gilbert wrote a pamphlet, entitled "A Discourse to Prove a Passage by the Northwest to Cathaia and the East Indies," which was shown by Gascoigne, a friend of Gilbert, to the celebrated mariner Martin Frobisher, and stimulated him to his glorious voyages to the northeast coast of North America.[25] Before Frobisher's departure on his first voyage Queen Elizabeth sent for him and commended him for his enterprise, and when he sailed, July 1, 1576, she waved her hand to him from her palace window.[26] He explored Frobisher's Strait and took possession of the land called Meta Incognita in the name of the queen. He brought back with him a black stone, which a gold-finder in London pronounced rich in gold, and the vain hope of a gold-mine inspired two other voyages (1577, 1578). On his third voyage Frobisher entered the strait known as Hudson Strait, but the ore with which he loaded his ships proved of little value. John Davis, like Frobisher, made three voyages in three successive years (1585, 1586, 1587), and the chief result of his labors was the discovery of the great strait which bears his name.[27]

Meanwhile, the idea of building up another English nation across the seas had taken a firm hold on Gilbert, and among those who communed with him were his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh, his brothers Adrian and John Gilbert, besides Richard Hakluyt, Sir Philip Sydney, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir George Peckham, and Secretary of State Sir Francis Walsingham. The ill success of Frobisher had no influence upon their purpose; but four years elapsed after Gilbert's petition to the crown in 1574 before he obtained his patent. How these years preyed upon the noble enthusiasm of Gilbert we may understand from a letter commonly attributed to him, which was handed to the queen in November, 1577: "I will do it if you will allow me; only you must resolve and not delay or dally—the wings of man's life are plumed with the feathers of death."[28]

At length, however, the formalities were completed, and on June 11, 1578, letters to Gilbert passed the seals for planting an English colony in America.[29] This detailed charter of colonization is most interesting, since it contains several provisions which reappear in many later charters. Gilbert was invested with all title to the soil within two hundred leagues of the place of settlement, and large governmental authority was given him. To the crown were reserved only the allegiance of the settlers and one-fifth of all the gold and silver to be found. Yet upon Gilbert's power two notable limitations were imposed: the colonists were to enjoy "all the privileges of free denizens and persons native of England"; and the protection of the nation was withheld from any license granted by Gilbert "to rob or spoil by sea or by land."

Sir Humphrey lost no time in assembling a fleet, but it was not till November 19, 1578, that he finally sailed from Plymouth with seven sail and three hundred and eighty-seven men, one of the ships being commanded by Raleigh. The subsequent history of the expedition is only vaguely known. The voyagers got into a fight with a Spanish squadron and a ship was lost.[30] Battered and dispirited as the fleet was, Gilbert had still Drake's buccaneering expedient open to him; but, loyal to the injunctions of the queen's charter, he chose to return, and the expedition broke up at Kinsale, in Ireland.[31]

In this unfortunate voyage Gilbert buried the mass of his fortune, but, undismayed, he renewed his enterprise. He was successful in enlisting a large number of gentlemen in the new venture, and two friends who invested heavily—Sir Thomas Gerard, of Lancaster, and Sir George Peckham, of Bucks—he rewarded by enormous grants of land and privileges.[32] Raleigh adventured L2000 and contributed a ship, the Ark Raleigh;[33] but probably no man did more in stirring up interest than Richard Hakluyt, the famous naval historian, who about this time published his Divers Voyages, which fired the heart and imagination of the nation.[34] In 1579 an exploring ship was sent out under Simon Ferdinando, and the next year another sailed under John Walker. They reached the coast of Maine, and the latter brought back the report of a silver-mine discovered near the Penobscot.[35]

[Footnote 1: Cf. Bourne, Spain in America, chap. xvi.]

[Footnote 2: Cf. Cheyney, European Background of American History, chap. v.]

[Footnote 3: Prescott, Hist. of the Reign of Philip II., III., 443.]

[Footnote 4: Ibid., chaps, xi., xii.]

[Footnote 5: Maine Hist. Soc., Collections, 2d series, II., 59.]

[Footnote 6: Hakluyt, Discourse on Western Planting.]

[Footnote 7: Robertson, Works (ed. 1818), XI., 136.]

[Footnote 8: Nova Britannia (Force, Tracts, I., No. vi.).]

[Footnote 9: Purchas, Pilgrimes (ed. 1625), III., 809; Hakluyt, Voyages (ed. 1809), III., 167-174.]

[Footnote 10: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 171; IV., 198.]

[Footnote 11: Purchas, Pilgrimes, III., 808; Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 31.]

[Footnote 12: Hakluyt, Voyages, I., 270.]

[Footnote 13: Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, III., 7.]

[Footnote 14: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 593, 618.]

[Footnote 15: Ibid., 618-623.]

[Footnote 16: Hakluyt, Voyages, IV., 1; Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, III., 59-84.]

[Footnote 17: Camden, Annals, in Kennet, England, II., 478.]

[Footnote 18: Harris, Voyages and Travels, II., 15.]

[Footnote 19: Harris, Voyages and Travels, II., 15.]

[Footnote 20: Camden, Annals, in Kennet, England, II., 478, 479.]

[Footnote 21: Camden, Annals, in Kennet, England, II., 479, 480; Hakluyt, Voyages, IV., 232-246.]

[Footnote 22: Ibid., 316-341.]

[Footnote 23: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 77.]

[Footnote 24: Cal. of State Pap., Col., 1513-1616, p. 8.]

[Footnote 25: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 32-46; Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 77; Doyle, English in America, I., 60.]

[Footnote 26: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 53.]

[Footnote 27: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 52-104, 132.]

[Footnote 28: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 9.]

[Footnote 29: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 174-176.]

[Footnote 30: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 186.]

[Footnote 31: Cal. of State Pap., Col., 1574-1674, p. 17.]

[Footnote 32: Cal. of State Pap., Col., 1574-1674, pp. 8-10.]

[Footnote 33: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 82, 83.]

[Footnote 34: Stevens, Thomas Hariot, 40.]

[Footnote 35: Cal. of State Pap., Col., 1574-1660, p. 2.]




Preparations for Gilbert's second and fateful expedition now went forward, and public interest was much aroused by the return of Drake, in 1580, laden with the spoils of America. Gilbert invited Raleigh to accompany him as vice-admiral, but the queen would not let him accept.[1] Indeed, she seemed to have a presentiment that all would not go well, and when the arrangements for the voyage were nearing completion she caused her secretary of state, Walsingham, to let Gilbert also know that, "of her special care" for him, she wished his stay at home "as a man noted of no good hap by sea."[2] But the queen's remark only proved her desire for Gilbert's safety; and she soon after sent him word that she wished him as "great goodhap and safety to his ship as if herself were there in person," and requested his picture as a keepsake.[3] The fleet of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, consisting of five ships bearing two hundred and sixty men, sailed from Plymouth June 11, 1583, and the "mishaps" which the queen feared soon overtook them. After scarcely two days of voyage the ship sent by Raleigh, the best in the fleet, deserted. Two more ships got separated, and the crew of one of them, freed from Gilbert's control, turned pirates and plundered a French ship which fell in their way. Nevertheless, Gilbert pursued his course, and on August 3, 1583, he reached the harbor of St. John's in Newfoundland, where he found the two missing ships. Gilbert showed his commission to the fishing vessels, of which there were no fewer than thirty-six of all nations in port, and their officers readily recognized his authority. Two days later he took possession of the country in the name of Queen Elizabeth, and as an indication of the national sovereignty to all men he caused the arms of England engraved on lead to be fixed on a pillar of wood on the shore side.

Mishaps did not end with the landing in Newfoundland. The emigrants who sailed with Gilbert were better fitted for a crusade than a colony, and, disappointed at not at once finding mines of gold and silver, many deserted; and soon there were not enough sailors to man all the four ships. Accordingly, the Swallow was sent back to England with the sick; and with the remainder of the fleet, well supplied at St. John's with fish and other necessaries, Gilbert (August 20) sailed south as far as forty-four degrees north latitude. Off Sable Island a storm assailed them, and the largest of the vessels, called the Delight, carrying most of the provisions, was driven on a rock and went to pieces.

Overwhelmed by this terrible misfortune, the colonists returned to Newfoundland, where, yielding to his crew, Gilbert discontinued his explorations, and on August 31 changed the course of the two ships remaining, the Squirrel and Golden Hind, directly for England. The story of the voyage back is most pathetic. From the first the sea was boisterous; but to entreaties that he should abandon the Squirrel, a little affair of ten tons, and seek his own safety in the Hind, a ship of much larger size, Gilbert replied, "No, I will not forsake my little company going homeward, with whom I have passed so many storms and perils." Even then, amid so much danger, his spirit rose supreme, and he actually planned for the spring following two expeditions, one to the south and one to the north; and when some one asked him how he expected to meet the expenses in so short a time, he replied, "Leave that to me, and I will ask a penny of no man."

A terrible storm arose, but Gilbert retained the heroic courage and Christian faith which had ever distinguished him. As often as the Hind, tossed upon the waves, approached within hailing distance of the Squirrel, the gallant admiral, "himself sitting with a book in his hand" on the deck, would call out words of cheer and consolation—"We are as near heaven by sea as by land." When night came on (September 10) only the lights in the riggings of the Squirrel told that the noble Gilbert still survived. At midnight the lights went out suddenly, and from the watchers on the Hind the cry arose, "The admiral is cast away." And only the Golden Hind returned to England.[4]

The mantle of Gilbert fell upon the shoulders of his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh, whose energy and versatility made him, perhaps, the foremost Englishman of his age. When the Hind returned from her ill-fated voyage Raleigh was thirty-one years of age and possessed a person at once attractive and commanding. He was tall and well proportioned, had thick, curly locks, beard, and mustaches, full, red lips, bluish gray eyes, high forehead, and a face described as "long and bold."

By service in France, the Netherlands, and Ireland he had shown himself a soldier of the same fearless stamp as his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert; and he was already looked upon as a seaman of splendid powers for organization. Poet and scholar, he was the patron of Edmund Spenser, the famous author of the Faerie Queene; of Richard Hakluyt, the naval historian; of Le Moyne and John White, the painters; and of Thomas Hariot, the great mathematician.

Expert in the art of gallantry, Raleigh won his way to the queen's heart by deftly placing between her feet and a muddy place his new plush coat. He dared the extremity of his political fortunes by writing on a pane of glass which the queen must see, "Fain would I climb, but fear I to fall." And she replied with an encouraging—"If thy heart fail thee, climb not at all." The queen's favor developed into magnificent gifts of riches and honor, and Raleigh received various monopolies, many forfeited estates, and appointments as lord warden of the stannaries, lieutenant of the county of Cornwall, vice-admiral of Cornwall and Devon, and captain of the queen's guard.

The manner in which Raleigh went about the work of colonization showed remarkable forethought and system. In order to enlist the active cooperation of the court and gentry, he induced Richard Hakluyt to write for him, in 1584, his Discourse on Western Planting, which he circulated in manuscript.[5] He not only received from the queen in 1584 a patent similar to Gilbert's,[6] but by obtaining a confirmation from Parliament in 1585 he acquired a national sanction which Gilbert's did not possess.[7]

In imitation of Gilbert he sent out first an exploring expedition commanded by Arthur Barlow and Philip Amidas; but, warned by his brother's experience, he directed them to go southward. They left the west of England April 27, 1584, and arrived upon the coast of North Carolina July 4, where they passed into Ocracoke Inlet south of Cape Hatteras. There, landing on an island called Wokokon—part of the broken outer coast—Barlow and Amidas took possession in the right of the queen and Sir Walter Raleigh.[8]

Several weeks were spent in exploring Pamlico Sound, which they found dotted with many small islands, the largest of which, sixteen miles long, called by the Indians Roanoke Island, was fifty miles north of Wokokon. About the middle of September, 1584, they returned to England and reported as the name of the new country "Wincondacoa," which the Indians at Wokokon had cried when they saw the white men, meaning "What pretty clothes you wear!" The queen, however, was proud of the new discovery, and suggested that it should be called, in honor of herself, "Virginia."

Pleased at the report of his captains, Sir Walter displayed great energy in making ready a fleet of seven ships, which sailed from Plymouth April 9, 1585. They carried nearly two hundred settlers, and the three foremost men on board were Sir Richard Grenville, the commander of the fleet; Thomas Cavendish, the future circumnavigator of the globe; and Captain Ralph Lane, the designated governor of the new colony. The fleet went the usual way by the West Indies, and June 20 "fell in with the maine of Florida," and June 26 cast anchor at Wokokon.

After a month the fleet moved out again to sea, and passing by Cape Hatteras entered a channel now called New Inlet. August 17, the colony was landed on Roanoke Island, and eight days later Grenville weighed anchor for England. On the way back Grenville met a Spanish ship "richly loaden," and captured her, "boording her with a boate made with boards of chests, which fell asunder, and sunke at the ships side, as soone as euer he and his men were out of it." October 18, 1585, he arrived with his prize at Plymouth, in England, where he was received with great honor and rejoicing.[9]

The American loves to connect the beginnings of his country with a hero like Grenville. He was one of the English admirals who helped to defeat the Spanish Armada, and nothing in naval warfare is more memorable than his death. In an expedition led by Lord Charles Howard in 1591 against the Spanish plate-fleet, Grenville was vice-admiral, and he opposed his ship single-handed against five great Spanish galleons, supported at intervals by ten others, and he fought them during nearly fifteen hours. Then Grenville's vessel was so battered that it resembled rather a skeleton than a ship, and of the crew few were to be seen but the dead and dying. Grenville himself was captured mortally wounded, and died uttering these words, "Here die I, Richard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, for that I have ended my life, as a true soldier ought to do, fighting for his country, queen, religion, and honor."[10]

Of the settlers at Roanoke during the winter after their landing nothing is recorded, but the prospect in the spring was gloomy. Lane made extensive explorations for gold-mines and for the South Sea, and found neither. The natives laid a plot to massacre the settlers, but Lane's soldierly precaution saved the colonists. Grenville was expected to return with supplies by Easter, but Easter passed and there was no news. In order to get subsistence, Lane divided his men into three parties, of which one remained at Roanoke Island and the other two were sent respectively to Hatteras and to Croatoan, an island just north of Wokokon.

Not long after Sir Francis Drake, returning from sacking San Domingo, Cartagena, and St. Augustine, appeared in sight with a superb fleet of twenty-three sail. He succored the imperilled colonists with supplies, and offered to take them back to England. Lane and the chief men, disheartened at the prospects, abandoned the island, and July 28, 1586, the colonists arrived at Plymouth in Drake's ships, having lost but four men during the whole year of their stay.[11]

A day or two after the departure of the colonists a ship sent by Raleigh arrived, and about fourteen or fifteen days later came three ships under Sir Richard Grenville, Raleigh's admiral. Grenville spent some time beating up and down Pamlico Sound, hunting for the colony, and finally returned to England, leaving fifteen men behind at Roanoke to retain possession.[12] This was the second settlement.

The colonists who returned in Drake's ships brought back to Raleigh two vegetable products which he speedily popularized. One was the potato,[13] which Raleigh planted on his estate in Ireland, and the other was tobacco, called by the natives "uppowoc," which he taught the courtiers to smoke.

Most of the settlers who went with Lane were mere gold-hunters, but there were two who would have been valuable to any society—the mathematician Thomas Hariot, who surveyed the country and wrote an account of the settlement; and John White, who made more than seventy beautiful water-colors representing the dress of the Indians and their manner of living. When the engraver De Bry came to England in 1587 he made the acquaintance of Hakluyt, who introduced him to John White, and the result was that De Bry was induced to turn Hariot's account of Virginia into the first part of his celebrated Peregrinations, illustrating it from the surveys of Hariot and the paintings of John White.[14]

If Raleigh was disappointed with his first attempt at colonization he was encouraged by the good report of Virginia given by Lane and Hariot, and in less than another year he had a third fleet ready to sail. He meant to make this expedition more of a colony than Lane's settlement at Roanoke, and selected as governor the painter John White, who could appreciate the natural productions of the country. And among the one hundred and fifty settlers who sailed from Plymouth May 8, 1587, were some twenty-five women and children.

The instructions of Raleigh required them to proceed to Chesapeake Bay, of which the Indians had given Lane an account on his previous voyage, only stopping at Roanoke for the fifteen men that Grenville had left there; but when they reached Roanoke Simon Ferdinando, the pilot, refused to carry them any farther, and White established his colony at the old seating-place. None of Grenville's men could be found, and it was afterwards learned that they had been suddenly attacked by the Indians, who killed one man and so frightened the rest as to cause them to take to sea in a row-boat, which was never heard of again.

Through Manteo, a friendly Indian, White tried to re-establish amicable relations with the natives, and for his faithful services Manteo was christened and proclaimed "Lord of Roanoke and Dasamon-guepeuk"; but the Indians, with the exception of the tribe of Croatoan, to which Manteo belonged, declined to make friends. August 18, five days after the christening of Manteo, Eleanor Dare, daughter to the governor and wife of Ananias Dare, one of White's council, was delivered of a daughter, and this child, Virginia, was the first Christian born in the new realm.[15]

When his granddaughter was only ten days old Governor White went to England for supplies. He reached Hampton November 8, 1587.[16] He found affairs in a turmoil. England was threatened with the great Armada, and Raleigh, Grenville, Lane, and all the other friends of Virginia were exerting their energies for the protection of their homes and firesides.[17] Indeed, the rivalry of England and Spain had reached its crisis; for at this time all the hopes of Protestant Christendom were centred in England, and within her borders the Protestant refugees from all countries found a place of safety and repose. In 1585 the Dutch, still carrying on their struggle with Spain, had offered Queen Elizabeth the sovereignty of the Netherlands, and, though she declined it, she sent an army to their assistance. The French Huguenots also looked to her for support and protection. Spain, on the other hand, as the representative of all Catholic Europe, had never appeared so formidable. By the conquest of Portugal in 1580 her king had acquired control over the East Indies, which were hardly less valuable than the colonies of Spain; and with the money derived from both the Spanish and Portuguese possessions Philip supported his armies in Italy and the Netherlands, and was the mainstay of the pope at Rome, the Guises in France, and the secret plotters in Scotland and Ireland of rebellion against the authority of Elizabeth.

This wide distribution of power was, however, an inherent weakness which created demands enough to exhaust the treasury even of Philip, and he instinctively recognized in England a danger which must be promptly removed. England must be subdued, and Philip, determining on an invasion, collected a powerful army at Bruges, in Flanders, and an immense fleet in the Tagus, in Spain. For the attack he selected a time when Amsterdam, the great mart of the Netherlands, had fallen before his general the duke of Palma; when the king of France had become a prisoner of the Guises; and when the frenzied hatred of the Catholic world was directed against Elizabeth for the execution of Mary, queen of Scots.

How to meet and repel this immense danger caused many consultations on the part of Elizabeth and her statesmen, and at first they inclined to make the defence by land only. But Raleigh, like Themistocles at Athens under similar conditions, urgently advised dependence on a well-equipped fleet, and after some hesitation his advice was followed. Then every effort was strained to bring into service every ship that could be found or constructed in time within the limits of England, so that in May, 1588, when Philip's huge Armada set sail from the Tagus, a numerous English fleet was ready to dispute its onward passage. A great battle was fought soon after in the English Channel, and there Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, and Raleigh and Drake and Hawkins joined with Grenville and Cavendish and Frobisher and Lane, and all the other glorious heroes of England, in the mighty overthrow of the Spanish enemy.[18]

Under the inspiration of this tremendous victory the Atlantic Ocean during the next three years swarmed with English cruisers, and more than eight hundred Spanish ships fell victims to their attacks. So great was the destruction that the coast of Virginia abounded in the wreckage.[19] But the way to a successful settlement in America was not entirely opened until eight years later, when the English fleet, under Howard, Raleigh, and Essex, completed the destruction of the Spanish power by another great naval victory won in the harbor of Cadiz.

Amid all this excitement and danger Raleigh did not forget his colony in Virginia. Twice he sent relief expeditions; but the first was stopped because in the struggle with Spain all the ships were demanded for government service; and the second was so badly damaged by the Spanish cruisers that it could not continue its voyage. Raleigh had spent L40,000 in his several efforts to colonize Virginia, and the burden became too heavy for him to carry alone. As Hakluyt said, "It required a prince's purse to have the action thoroughly followed out." He therefore consented, in 1589, to assign a right to trade in Virginia to Sir Thomas Smith, John White, Richard Hakluyt, and others, reserving a fifth of all the gold and silver extracted, and they raised means for White's last voyage to Virginia.[20]

It was not until March, 1591, that Governor White was able to put to sea again. He reached Roanoke Island August 17, and, landing, visited the point where he had placed the settlement. As he climbed the sandy bank he noticed, carved upon a tree in Roman letters, "CRO," without a cross, and White called to mind that three years before, when he left for England, it had been agreed that if the settlers ever found it necessary to remove from the island they were to leave behind them some such inscription, and to add a cross if they left in danger or distress. A little farther on stood the fort, and there White read on one of the trees an inscription in large capital letters, "Croatoan." This left no doubt that the colony had moved to the island of that name south of Cape Hatteras and near Ocracoke Inlet. He wished the ships to sail in that direction, but a storm arose, and the captains, dreading the dangerous shoals of Pamlico Sound, put to sea and returned to England without ever visiting Croatoan.[21] White never came back to America, and his separation from the colony is heightened in tragic effect by the loss of his daughter and granddaughter.

What became of the settlers at Roanoke has been a frequent subject of speculation. When Jamestown was established, in 1607, the search for them was renewed, but nothing definite could be learned. There is, indeed, a story told by Strachey that the unfortunate colonists, finally abandoning all hope, intermixed with the Indians at Croatoan, and after living with them till about the time of the arrival at Jamestown were, at the instigation of Powhatan, cruelly massacred. Only seven of them—four men, two boys, and a young maid—were preserved by a friendly chief, and from these, as later legends have declared, descended a tribe of Indians found in the vicinity of Roanoke Island in the beginning of the eighteenth century and known as the Hatteras Indians.[22]

Sir Walter Raleigh will always be esteemed the true parent of North American colonization, for though the idea did not originate with him he popularized it beyond any other man. Just as he made smoking fashionable at the court of Elizabeth, so the colonization of Virginia—that is, of the region from Canada to Florida—was made fashionable through his example. His enterprise caused the advantages of America's soil and climate to be appreciated in England, and he was the first to fix upon Chesapeake Bay as the proper place of settlement.

When James I succeeded Elizabeth on the throne Raleigh lost his influence at court, and nearly all the last years of his life were spent a prisoner in the Tower of London, where he wrote his History of the World. In 1616 he was temporarily released by the king on condition of his finding a gold-mine in Guiana. When he returned empty-handed he was, on the complaint of the Spanish ambassador, arrested, sentenced to death, and executed on an old verdict of the jury, now recognized to have been based on charges trumped up by political enemies.[23]

Raleigh never relinquished hope in America. In 1595 he made a voyage to Guiana, and in 1602 sent out Samuel Mace to Virginia—the third of Mace's voyages thither. In 1603, just before his confinement in the Tower, he wrote to Sir Robert Cecil regarding the rights which he had in that country, and used these memorable words, "I shall yet live to see it an English nation."[24]

[Footnote 1: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 81, II., 10.]

[Footnote 2: Cal. of State Pap., Col., 1574-1674, p. 17.]

[Footnote 3: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 82.]

[Footnote 4: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 184-208.]

[Footnote 5: Stevens, Thomas Hariot, 43-48.]

[Footnote 6: For the patent, see Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 297-301.]

[Footnote 7: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 13.]

[Footnote 8: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 301.]

[Footnote 9: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 302-310.]

[Footnote 10: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 144-145.]

[Footnote 11: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 322, IV., 10.]

[Footnote 12: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 323, 340.]

[Footnote 13: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 106.]

[Footnote 14: Stevens, Thomas Hariot, 55-62.]

[Footnote 15: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 340-345.]

[Footnote 16: Ibid., 346, 347.]

[Footnote 17: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 19.]

[Footnote 18: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 111.]

[Footnote 19: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 20.]

[Footnote 20: Stebbins, Life of Raleigh, 47.]

[Footnote 21: Hakluyt, Voyages, III., 350-357.]

[Footnote 22: Strachey, Travaile into Virginia, 26, 85.]

[Footnote 23: Edwards, Life of Raleigh, I., 706, 721.]

[Footnote 24: Ibid., 91.]




Though a prisoner in the Tower of London who could not share in the actual work, Sir Walter Raleigh lived to see his prediction regarding Virginia realized in 1607. He had personally given substance to the English claim to North America based upon the remote discovery of John Cabot, and his friends, after he had withdrawn from the field of action, were the mainstay of English colonization in the Western continent.

Bartholomew Gosnold and Bartholomew Gilbert, son of Sir Humphrey, with Raleigh's consent and under the patronage of Henry Wriothesley, the brilliant and accomplished earl of Southampton, renewed the attempt at colonization. With a small colony of thirty-two men they set sail from Falmouth March 26, 1602, took an unusual direct course across the Atlantic, and seven weeks later saw land at Cape Elizabeth, on the coast of Maine. They then sailed southward and visited a headland which they named Cape Cod, a small island now "No Man's Land," which they called Martha's Vineyard (a name since transferred to the larger island farther north), and the group called the Elizabeth Islands. The colonists were delighted with the appearance of the country, but becoming apprehensive of the Indians returned to England after a short stay.[1]

In April, 1603, Richard Hakluyt obtained Raleigh's consent, and, aided by some merchants of Bristol, sent out Captain Martin Pring with two small vessels, the Speedwell and Discovery, on a voyage of trade and exploration to the New England coast. Pring was absent eight months, and returned with an account of the country fully confirming Gosnold's good report. Two years later, in 1605, the earl of Southampton and his brother-in-law, Lord Thomas Arundell, sent out Captain George Weymouth, who visited the Kennebec and brought back information even more encouraging.[2]

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth died March 24, 1603, and was succeeded by King James I. In November Raleigh was convicted of high-treason and his monopoly of American colonization was abrogated. By the peace ratified by the king of Spain June 15, 1605, about a month before Weymouth's return, the seas were made more secure for English voyages, although neither power conceded the territorial claims of the other.[3]

Owing to these changed conditions and the favorable reports of Gosnold, Pring, and Weymouth, extensive plans for colonization were considered in England. Since the experiment of private colonization had failed, the new work was undertaken by joint-stock companies, for which the East India Company, chartered in 1600, with the eminent merchant Sir Thomas Smith at its head, afforded a model. Not much is known of the beginnings of the movement, but it matured speedily, and the popularity of the comedy of Eastward Ho! written by Chapman and Marston and published in the fall of 1605, reflected upon the stage the interest felt in Virginia. The Spanish ambassador Zuniga became alarmed, and, going to Lord Chief-Justice Sir John Popham, protested against the preparations then making as an encroachment upon Spanish territory and a violation of the treaty of peace. Popham, with true diplomatic disregard of truth, evaded the issue, and assured Zuniga that the only object of the scheme was to clear England of "thieves and traitors" and get them "drowned in the sea."[4]

A month later, April 10, 1606, a charter was obtained from King James for the incorporation of two companies, one consisting of "certain knights, gentlemen, merchants" in and about London, and the other of "sundry knights, gentlemen, merchants" in and about Plymouth. The chief patron of the London Company was Sir Robert Cecil, the secretary of state; and the chief patron of the Plymouth Company was Sir John Popham, chief-justice of the Queen's Bench, who presided at the trial of Raleigh in 1603.

The charter claimed for England all the North American continent between the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth degrees north latitude, but gave to each company only a tract fronting one hundred miles on the sea and extending one hundred miles inland. The London Company was authorized to locate a plantation called the First Colony in some fit and convenient place between thirty-four and forty-one degrees, and the Plymouth Company a Second Colony somewhere between thirty-eight and forty-five degrees, but neither was to plant within one hundred miles of the other.

The charter contained "not one ray of popular rights," and neither the company nor the colonists had any share in the government. The company must financier the enterprise, but could receive only such rewards as those intrusted with the management by the home government could win for them in directing trade, opening mines, and disposing of lands. As for the emigrants, while they were declared entitled "to all liberties, franchises, and immunities of British subjects," they were to enjoy merely such privileges as officers not subject to them in any way might allow them. The management of both sections of Virginia, including the very limited grants to the companies, was conferred upon one royal council, which was to name a local council for each of the colonies in America; and both superior and subordinate councils were to govern according to "laws, ordinances, and instructions" to be given them by the king.[5]

Two days after the date of the charter these promised "laws," etc., were issued, and, though not preserved in their original form, they were probably very similar to the articles published during the following November.[6] According to these last, the superior council, resident in England, was permitted to name the colonial councils, which were to have power to pass ordinances not repugnant to the orders of the king and superior council; to elect or remove their presidents, to remove any of their members, to supply their own vacancies; and to decide all cases occurring in the colony, civil as well as criminal, not affecting life or limb. Capital offences were to be tried by a jury of twelve persons, and while to all intents and purposes the condition of the colonists did not differ from soldiers subject to martial law, it is to the honor of King James that he limited the death penalty to tumults, rebellion, conspiracy, mutiny, sedition, murder, incest, rape, and adultery, and did not include in the number of crimes either witchcraft or heresy. The articles also provided that all property of the two companies should be held in a "joint stock" for five years after the landing.[7]

The charter being thus secured, both companies proceeded to procure emigrants; and they had not much difficulty, as at this time there were many unemployed people in England. The wool culture had converted great tracts of arable land in England into mere pastures for sheep,[8] and the closure of the monasteries and religious houses removed the support from thousands of English families. Since 1585 this surplus humanity had found employment in the war with Spain, but the return of peace in 1605 had again thrown them upon society, and they were eager for chances, no matter how remote, of gold-mines and happy homes beyond the seas.[9]

Hence, in three months' time the Plymouth Company had all things in readiness for a trial voyage, and August 12, 1606, they sent out a ship commanded by Henry Challons with twenty-nine Englishmen and two Indians brought into England by Weymouth the year before. Two months later sailed another ship (of which Thomas Hanham was captain and Martin Pring master), "with all necessary supplies for the seconding of Captain Challons and his people." Unfortunately, Captain Challons's vessel and crew were taken by the Spaniards in the West Indies, and, though Hanham and Pring reached the coast of America, they returned without making a settlement.[10] Nevertheless, they brought back, as Sir Ferdinando Gorges wrote many years after, "the most exact discovery of that coast that ever came to my hands since," which wrought "such an impression" on Chief-Justice Popham and the other members of the Plymouth Company that they determined upon another and better-appointed attempt at once.[11]

May 31, 1607, this second expedition sailed from Plymouth with one hundred and twenty settlers embarked in two vessels—a fly boat called the Gift of God and a ship called Mary and John. August 18, 1607, the company landed on a peninsula at the mouth of the Sagadahoc, or Kennebec River, in Maine. After a sermon by their preacher, Richard Seymour, the commission of government and ordinances prepared by the authorities at home were read. George Popham was therein designated president; and Raleigh Gilbert, James Davis, Richard Seymour, Richard Davis, and Captain Harlow composed the council. The first work attempted was a fort, which they intrenched and fortified with twelve pieces of ordnance. Inside they erected a church and storehouse and fifteen log-cabins. Then a ship-builder constructed a pinnace, called the Virginia, which afterwards was used in the southern colony. But the colonists were soon discouraged, and more than half their number went back to England in the ships when they returned in December.

The winter of 1607-1608 was terrible to the forty-five men who remained at Kennebec, where land and water were locked in icy fetters. Their storehouse took fire and was consumed, with a great part of the provisions, and about the same time President George Popham died. The other leader, Captain Raleigh Gilbert, grew discouraged when, despite an industrious exploration of the rivers and harbors, he found no mines of any kind. When Captain James Davis arrived in the spring, bringing news of the death of Chief-Justice Popham and of Sir John Gilbert, Raleigh Gilbert's brother, who had left him his estate, both leader and colonists were so disenchanted of the country that they with one accord resolved upon a return. Wherefore they all embarked, as we are told, in their newly arrived ship and newly constructed pinnace and set sail for England. "And this," says Strachey, "was the end of that northerne colony upon the river Sagadahoc."[12]

To the London Company, therefore, though slower in getting their expedition to sea, belongs the honor of the first permanent English colony in America. December 10, 1606, ten days before the departure of this colony, the council for Virginia set down in writing regulations deemed necessary for the expedition. The command of the ships and settlers was given to Captain Christopher Newport, a famous seaman, who in 1591 had brought into the port of London the treasure-laden carrack the Madre de Dios, taken by Raleigh's ship the Roe Buck. He was to take charge of the commissions of the local council, and not to break the seals until they had been upon the coast of Virginia twenty-four hours. Then the council were to elect their president and assume command of the settlers; while Captain Newport was to spend two months in discovery and loading his ships "with all such principal commodities and merchandise there to be had."[13]

With these orders went a paper, perhaps drawn by Hakluyt, giving valuable advice concerning the selection of the place of settlement, dealings with the natives, and explorations for mines and the South Sea.[14] In respect to the place of settlement, they were especially advised to choose a high and dry situation, divested of trees and up some river, a considerable distance from the mouth. The emigrants numbered one hundred and twenty men—no women. Besides Captain Newport, the admiral, in the Sarah Constant, of a hundred tons, the leading persons in the exploration were Bartholomew Gosnold, who commanded the Goodspeed, of forty tons; Captain John Ratcliffe, who commanded the Discovery, of twenty tons; Edward Maria Wingfield; George Percy, brother of the earl of Northumberland; John Smith; George Kendall, a cousin of Sir Edwin Sandys; Gabriel Archer; and Rev. Robert Hunt.

Among these men John Smith was distinguished for a career combining adventure and romance. Though he was only thirty years of age he had already seen much service and had many hairbreadth escapes, his most remarkable exploit having been his killing before the town of Regal, in Transylvania, three Turks, one after another, in single combat.[15] The ships sailed from London December 20, 1606, and Michael Drayton wrote some quaint verses of farewell, of which perhaps one will suffice:

"And cheerfully at sea Success you still entice, To get the pearl and gold, And ours to hold Virginia, Earth's only paradise!"

The destination of the colony was Chesapeake Bay, a large gulf opening by a strait fifteen miles wide upon the Atlantic at thirty-seven degrees, and reaching northward parallel to the sea-coast one hundred and eighty-five miles. Into its basin a great many smooth and placid rivers discharge their contents. Perhaps no bay of the world has such diversified scenery. Among the rivers which enter the bay from the west, four—the Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James—are particularly large and imposing. They divide what is called tide-water Virginia into long and narrow peninsulas, which are themselves furrowed by deep creeks making numerous necks or minor peninsulas of land. Up these rivers and creeks the tide ebbs and flows for many miles. In 1607, before the English arrived, the whole of this tide-water region, except here and there where the Indians had a cornfield, was covered with primeval forests, so free from undergrowth that a coach with four horses could be driven through the thickest groups of trees.

The numerous tribes of Indians who inhabited this region belonged to the Algonquin race, and at the time Captain Newport set sail from England they were members of a confederacy, of which Powhatan was head war chief or werowance. There were at least thirty-four of these tribes, and to each Powhatan appointed one of his own friends as chief. Powhatan's capital, or "werowocomoco," was on York River at Portan Bay (a corruption for Powhatan), about fourteen miles from Jamestown; and Pochins, one of his sons, commanded at Point Comfort, while Parahunt, another son, was werowance at the falls of the James River, one hundred and twenty miles inland. West of the bay region, beyond the falls of the rivers, were other confederacies of Indians, who carried on long wars with Powhatan, of whom the most important were the Monacans, or Manakins, and Massawomekes.[16]

Powhatan's dominions extended from the Roanoke River, in North Carolina, to the head of Chesapeake Bay, and in all this country his will was despotic. He had an organized system of collecting tribute from the werowances, and to enforce his orders kept always about him fifty armed savages "of the tallest in his kingdom." Each tribe had a territory defined by natural bounds, and they lived on the rivers and creeks in small villages, consisting of huts called wigwams, oval in shape, and made of bark set upon a framework of saplings. Sometimes these houses were of great length, accommodating many families at once; and at Uttamussick, in the peninsula formed by the Pamunkey and Mattapony, were three such structures sixty feet in length, where the Indians kept the bodies of their dead chiefs under the care of seven priests, or medicine-men.

The religion of these Chesapeake Bay Indians, like that of all the other Indians formerly found on the coast, consisted in a belief in a great number of devils, who were to be warded off by powwows and conjurations. Captain Smith gives an account of a conjuration to which he was subjected at Uttamussick when a captive in December, 1607. At daybreak they kindled a fire in one of the long houses and by it seated Captain Smith. Soon the chief priest, hideously painted, bedecked with feathers, and hung with skins of snakes and weasels, came skipping in, followed by six others similarly arrayed. Rattling gourds and chanting most dismally, they marched about Captain Smith, the chief priest in the lead and trailing a circle of meal, after which they marched about him again and put down at intervals little heaps of corn of five or six grains each. Next they took some little bunches of sticks and put one between every two heaps of corn. These proceedings, lasting at intervals for three days, were punctuated with violent gesticulations, grunts, groans, and a great rattling of gourds.[17]

Another custom of the Indians is linked with a romantic incident in Virginia history. Not infrequently some wretched captive, already bound, to be tortured to death, has owed his life to the interference of some member of the tribe who announced his or her desire to adopt him as a brother or son. The motives inducing this interference proceeded sometimes from mere business considerations and sometimes from pity, superstition, or admiration. It was Captain Smith's fortune during his captivity to have a personal experience of this nature. After the conjuration at Uttamussick Smith was brought to Werowocomoco and ushered into a long wigwam, where he found Powhatan sitting upon a bench and covered with a great robe of raccoon skins, with the tails hanging down like tassels. On either side of him sat an Indian girl of sixteen or seventeen years, and along the walls of the room two rows of grim warriors, and back of them two rows of women with faces and shoulders painted red, hair bedecked with the plumage of birds, and necks strung with chains of white beads.

At Smith's entrance those present gave a great shout, and presently two stones were brought before Powhatan, and on these stones Smith's head was laid. Next several warriors with clubs took their stand near him to beat out his brains, whereupon Powhatan's "dearest daughter," Pocahontas, a girl of about twelve years old, rushed forward and entreated her father to spare the prisoner. When Powhatan refused she threw herself upon Smith, got his head in her arms, and laid her own upon his. This proved too much for Powhatan. He ordered Smith to be released, and, telling him that henceforth he would regard him as his son, sent him with guides back to Jamestown.[18]

The credibility of this story has been attacked on the ground that it does not occur in Smith's True Relation, a contemporaneous account of the colony, and appears first in his Generall Historie, published in 1624. But the editor of the True Relation expressly states that the published account does not include the entire manuscript as it came from Smith. Hence the omission counts for little, and there is nothing unusual in Smith's experience, which, as Dr. Fiske says, "is precisely in accord with Indian usage." About 1528 John Ortiz, of Seville, a soldier of Pamfilo de Narvaez, captured by the Indians on the coast of Florida, was saved from being roasted to death by the chief's daughter, a case very similar to that of John Smith and Pocahontas. Smith was often inaccurate and prejudiced in his statements, but that is far from saying that he deliberately mistook plain objects of sense or concocted a story having no foundation.[19]

Still another incident illustrative of Indian life is given by Smith. In their idle hours the Indians amused themselves with singing, dancing, and playing upon musical instruments made of pipes and small gourds, and at the time of another visit to Werowocomoco Smith was witness to a very charming scene in which Pocahontas was again the leading actor. While the English were sitting upon a mat near a fire they were startled by loud shouts, and a party of Indian girls came out of the woods strangely attired. Their bodies were painted, some red, some white, and some blue. Pocahontas carried a pair of antlers on her head, an otter's skin at her waist and another on her arm, a quiver of arrows at her back, and a bow and arrow in her hand. Another of the band carried a sword, another a club, and another a pot-stick, and all were horned as Pocahontas. Casting themselves in a ring about the fire, they danced and sang for the space of an hour, and then with a shout departed into the woods as suddenly as they came.[20]

On the momentous voyage to Virginia Captain Newport took the old route by the Canary Islands and the West Indies, and they were four months on the voyage. In the West Indies Smith and Wingfield quarrelled, and the latter charged Smith with plotting mutiny, so that he was arrested and kept in irons till Virginia was reached. After leaving the West Indies bad weather drove them from their course; but, April 26, 1607, they saw the capes of Virginia, which were forthwith named Henry and Charles, after the two sons of King James.

Landing at Cape Henry, they set up a cross April 29, and there they had their first experience with the Indians. The Chesapeakes assaulted them and wounded two men. About that time the seals were broken, and it was found that Edward Maria Wingfield, who was afterwards elected president for one year, Bartholomew Gosnold, Christopher Newport, John Smith, John Ratcliffe, John Martin, and George Kendall were councillors.

For more than two weeks they sought a place of settlement, and they named the promontory at the entrance of Hampton Roads "Point Comfort," and the broad river which opened beyond after the king who gave them their charter. At length they decided upon a tract of land in the Paspahegh country, distant about thirty-two miles from the river's mouth; and though a peninsula they called it an island, because of the very narrow isthmus (long worn away) connecting it with the main-land. There they landed May 14, 1607 (May 24 New Style), and at the west end, where the channel of the river came close to the shore, they constructed a triangular fort with bulwarks in each corner, mounting from three to five cannon, and within it marked off the beginnings of a town, which they called Jamestown.[21]

The colonists were at first in high spirits, for the landing occurred in the most beautiful month of all the year. In reality, disaster was already impending, for their long passage at sea had much reduced the supplies, and the Paspaheghs bitterly resented their intrusion. Moreover, the peninsula of Jamestown was not such a place as their instructions contemplated. It was in a malarious situation, had no springs of fresh water, and was thickly covered with great trees and tall grass, which afforded protection to Indian enemies.

May 22 Captain Newport went up in a shallop with twenty others to look for a gold-mine at the falls of James River. He was gone only a week, but before he returned the Indians had assaulted the fort, and his assistance was necessary in completing the palisades. When Newport departed for England, June 22, he left one hundred and four settlers in a very unfortunate condition:[22] they were besieged by Indians; a small ladle of "ill-conditioned" barley-meal was the daily ration per man; the lodgings of the settlers were log-cabins and holes in the ground, and the brackish water of the river served them for drink.[23] The six weeks following Newport's departure were a time of death and despair, and by September 10 of the one hundred and four men only forty-six remained alive.

Under such circumstances dissensions might have been expected, but they were intensified by the peculiar government devised by the king. In a short time Gosnold died, and Kendall was detected in a design to desert the colony and was shot. Then (September 10) Ratcliffe, Smith, and Martin deposed Wingfield from the government and elected as president John Ratcliffe.

In such times men of strong character take the lead. When the cape merchant Thomas Studley, whose duty it was to care for the supplies and dispense them, died, his important office was conferred on Smith. In this capacity Smith showed great abilities as a corn-getter from the Indians, whom he visited at Kecoughtan (Hampton), Warascoyack, and Chickahominy. At length, during the fall of 1607, the Indians stopped hostilities, and for a brief interval health and plenty prevailed.[24]

In December Smith went on an exploring trip up the Chickahominy, but on this occasion his good luck deserted him—two of his men were killed by the Indians and he himself was captured and carried from village to village, but he was released through the influence of Pocahontas, and returned to Jamestown (January 2, 1608) to find more dangers. In his absence Ratcliffe, the president, admitted Gabriel Archer, Smith's deadly enemy, into the council; and immediately upon his arrival these two arrested him and tried him under the Levitical law for the loss of the two men killed by the Indians. He was found guilty and condemned to be hanged the next day; but in the evening Newport arrived in the John and Francis with the "First Supply" of men and provisions, and Ratcliffe and Archer were prevented from carrying out their plan.[25] Newport found only thirty or forty persons surviving at Jamestown, and he brought about seventy more. Of the six members of the council living at the time of his departure in June, 1607, two, Gosnold and Kendall, were dead, Smith was under condemnation, and Wingfield was a prisoner. Now Smith was restored to his seat in council, while Wingfield was released from custody.[26]

Five days after Newport's arrival at Jamestown a fire consumed nearly all the buildings in the fort.[27] The consequence was that, as the winter was very severe, many died from exposure while working to restore the town. The settlers suffered also from famine, which Captain Newport partially relieved by visiting Powhatan in February and returning in March with his "pinnace well loaden with corne, wheat, beanes, and pease," which kept the colony supplied for some weeks.[28]

Newport remained in Virginia for more than three months, but things were not improved by his stay. His instructions required him to return with a cargo, and the poor colonists underwent the severest sort of labor in cutting down trees and loading the ship with cedar, black walnut, and clapboard.[29] Captain Martin thought he discovered a gold-mine near Jamestown, and for a time the council had busied the colonists in digging worthless ore, some of which Newport carried to England.[30] These works hindered others more important to the plantation, and only four acres of land was put in corn during the spring.[31] Newport took back with him the councillors Wingfield and Archer, and April 20, ten days after Newport's departure, Captain Francis Nelson arrived in the Phoenix with about forty additional settlers. He stayed till June, when, taking a load of cedar, he returned to England, having among his passengers Captain John Martin, another of the council.

During the summer Smith spent much time exploring the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac, and Rappahannock rivers,[32] and in his absence things went badly at Jamestown. The mariners of Newport's and Nelson's ships had been very wasteful while they stayed in Virginia, and after their departure the settlers found themselves on a short allowance again. Then the sickly season in 1608 was like that of 1607, and of ninety-five men living in June, 1608, not over fifty survived in the fall. The settlers even followed the precedent of the previous year in deposing an unpopular president, for Ratcliffe, by employing the men in the unnecessary work of a governor's house, brought about a mutiny in July, which led to the substitution of Matthew Scrivener. At length, September 10, 1608, Captain Ratcliffe's presidency definitely expired and Captain Smith was elected president.

[Footnote 1: Purchas, Pilgrimes, IV., 1647-1651; Strachey, Travaile into Virginia, 153-158; John Smith, Works (Arber's ed.), 332-340.]

[Footnote 2: Purchas, Pilgrimes, IV., 1654-1656, 1659-1667.]

[Footnote 3: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 27.]

[Footnote 4: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 46.]

[Footnote 5: Hening, Statutes, I., 57-66; see also Cheyney, European Background of American History, chap. viii.]

[Footnote 6: Brown, First Republic, 8.]

[Footnote 7: Hening, Statutes, I., 67-75.]

[Footnote 8: Ashley, English Economic History, II., 261-376.]

[Footnote 9: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 50.]

[Footnote 10: Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 127-139.]

[Footnote 11: Gorges, Briefe Narration (Mass. Hist. Soc., Collections, 3d series., VI. 53).]

[Footnote 12: Strachey, Travaile into Virginia, 162-180; Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 190-194.]

[Footnote 13: Neill, Virginia Company, 4-8.]

[Footnote 14: Ibid., 8-14.]

[Footnote 15: Purchas, Pilgrimes, II., 1365.]

[Footnote 16: On the American Indians, Farrand, Basis of American History, chaps, vi.-xiv.]

[Footnote 17: For accounts of aboriginal Virginia, see Strachey, Travaile into Virginia; Spelman, in Brown, Genesis of the United States, I., 483-488; Smith, Works (Arber's ed.), 47-84.]

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