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Virginia 1570-1650. Queen Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth lacked the means to finance or govern an overseas colony Lacked men and ships for risky ventures far from England Crown subcontracted colonization by issuing licenses and monopolies to private adventurers

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Virginia 1570-1650

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  • Queen Elizabeth lacked the means to finance or govern an overseas colony

  • Lacked men and ships for risky ventures far from England

  • Crown subcontracted colonization by issuing licenses and monopolies to private adventurers

  • The earliest English colonial promoters were dreamers & gamblers, driven by their visionary imaginations

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Sir John Hawkins & Sir Walter overseas colonyRalegh

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Sir Humphrey Gilbert overseas colony

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West Country Men overseas colony

  • Zealous English patriots

  • Devout Protestants

  • Wanted to advance their fortunes & consolidate their political influence at Court

  • They regarded colonial trade as the key to imperial power

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Richard Hakluyt the trade, and he that is Lord of the Trade of the world is lord of the wealth of the world


  • To plant Christian religion

  • To traffic

  • To conquer

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West Country Men the trade, and he that is Lord of the Trade of the world is lord of the wealth of the world

  • Pitched a radical program of overseas colonization by appealing to a conservative fear: the hierarchical society of England was eroding

  • Wealth & power were at the narrow top of a steep social pyramid—consisting of less than 5% of the population

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Enclosure Movement gentry, composing the bicameral national legislature.

  • Displacement of rural people by aristocratic landlords by fencing in large tracts of land

  • It was meant to increase profits

  • On enclosed estates, flocks of sheep, teams of hired laborers, and a few tenants replaced a larger number of peasant smallholders

  • Landlords also enclosed common lands

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Sturdy Beggars gentry, composing the bicameral national legislature.

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  • Newly poor gravitated to the market towns and seaport cities, especially London

  • London grew from 120,000 in 1550 to 200,000 in 1600 to 375,000 in 1650

  • London became notorious for filth, poverty, plagues, fires, crimes, and executions

  • Growing numbers of poor reduced wages and increased costs of food and housing

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Colonial Promoters cities, especially London

  • Solution to problem: a new colony in Virginia where the idle and larcenous poor could be put to work raising commodities to be sold back in England

  • Colonial plantations could improve England’s balance of trade with other nations

  • Promoters allayed fears of Indian resistance by saying: The Indians of Virginia would welcome the English as their liberators! (sound familiar?)

  • They could not conceive that the native peoples might prefer no colonial masters and no new system of labor

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Roanoke Island cities, especially London

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Roanoke Island cities, especially London

  • Small island on the coast of what is now North Carolina but was then Virginia

  • Sir Walter Ralegh sent about 100 men to colonize the island

  • While the location protected them from the Spanish, it was surrounded by dangerous shoals and long sandbanks

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Roanoke Colony cities, especially London

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  • The sandy infertile soil produced scanty crops cities, especially London

  • The poor location doomed the settlement from the start

  • Ralph Lane, veteran of the wars in Ireland was the commander

  • Colonists behaved no better than the Spanish in regards to the Indians

  • Lane killed Chief Wingina when he refused to give the colonists food

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Chief Wingina cities, especially London

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2 cities, especially Londonnd Settlement of Roanoke

  • 1587—John White, civilian, tried again to settle a colony in Virginia; originally wanted to settle at Chesapeake Bay, but mariners dropped them at Roanoke

  • There were 94 colonists, including 17 women and 9 children—the first English families to settle in the Americas

  • Needing supplies, White returned home and was stuck there until the Spanish Armada was defeated

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Missing Colonists cities, especially London

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What happened? cities, especially London

  • After retreating to Croatoan and failing to contact a passing ship, they probably headed north towards Chesapeake Bay

  • They probably found haven in an Indian village

  • In 1607, when English colonists reached Chesapeake Bay some Indians reported some white people had recently lived nearby by had been killed by Powhatan

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Chesapeake Bay cities, especially London

  • Area offered better harbors, navigable rivers, and a more fertile land

  • 200 miles long and 20 wide, it was a complex system of waterways, an meeting place of tidewater, estuaries, and freshwater rivers

  • Four rivers: the James, York, Potomoc, and Rappahannocks; offered ready navigation for about 100 miles upstream

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Powhatan cities, especially London

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Powhatan Village cities, especially London

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  • 24,000 Indians divided into 30 tribes with one language and one chief—Powhaten

  • Lived on a mix of horticulture, fishing, hunting, and gathering

  • Winter—dwelled in many villages in groups of 100-200, occupying 20-30 houses

  • Spring—smaller encampments to fish and gather shellfish

  • Summer—back to villages to plant fields of beans, maize, and squash

  • Fall—scattered to hunt while women and children gathered edible nuts, roots, and berries

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  • Tasks were divided by gender: women cultivated crops, gathered nuts & fruits, tended the village or camp putting up lodgers and preparing skins to make clothing; men hunted, fished, cleared land for crops, and made dugout canoes

  • Shamans combined roles of healer, priest, and conjurer; tended temples which housed the bones of dead chiefs, the tribute paid to the living chief, and a statue of Okeus

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  • The English were not prepared to understand or accept a culture so different from their own

  • Because the English expected men to cultivate crops and women to tend permanent homes, they regarded the Indian men as lazy and the women as drudges

  • Because the natives wore little clothes, they were thought to be savages

  • Because they did not worship one God, they were thought of as pagans or devil-worshipers

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Jamestown culture so different from their own

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  • Peace treaty with Spain in 1604 reduced the danger of a Spanish attack on the new colony

  • The great merchants and lawyers of London took an interest in colonizing Virginia. They supplants the West County men who had lost their power at the court of the new King James I

  • London Company was incorporated in 1606, and they were given a royal charter to colonize and govern Virginia

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  • Colonists died in droves from disease and hunger Spanish attack on the new colony

  • Only 38 of the original 104 colonists were still alive nine months later

  • The Virginia Company sent hundreds of reinforcements, but they barely kept up with the deaths at Jamestown

  • One starving colonist killed and ate his wife, for which he was tried, convicted, and burned at the state

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Wife-eater Spanish attack on the new colony

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  • June 1610—survivors abandoned Jamestown, but were intercepted by 3 ships at the mouth of the river

  • They returned to Jamestown, but continued to die by the hundreds

  • Between 1607 & 1622, the Virginia Company sent some 10,000 people to the colony; only 20% were still alive in 1622

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Problems with Jamestown intercepted by 3 ships at the mouth of the river

  • Location was beside a swamp—good for defense, bad for health

  • Summer—millions of mosquitoes carrying malaria would swarm the town

  • Shallow wells had brackish water which caused salt poisoning

  • Stagnant river waters in summer and early fall retained garbage and excrement generated by the colonists promoting dysentery and typhoid fever

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  • Healthy males refused to work at raising corn because they wanted to search for gold

  • Colonists expected the Indians to feed them and did not understand that the Indians had scant surplus to share

  • When pushed too hard, natives killed 17 colonists and stuffed their mouths with maize and left the corpses for the English to find

  • John Smith tried to trick Powhatan into coming to Jamestown to kill him

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John Smith wanted to search for gold

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Capture of John Smith wanted to search for gold

  • John Smith was captured after stumbling into an ambush

  • Powhatan seized the opportunity to ritually adopt Smith as a subordinate chief by staging a mock executive that would be interrupted by Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahantas

  • The ritual was supposed to render Smith’s people as tributaries to Powhatan

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Pocahontas & John Smith consent to his terms

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Historically inaccurate! consent to his terms

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Paspahegh Indians consent to his terms

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English and Resisting Enemies consent to his terms

  • August 1610 Capt. George Percy attacked a Paspahegh village, killing 65 inhabitants, burning the homes and fields of corn

  • He took the chief’s wife and children as captives; enroute back to Jamestown, they threw the children into the river and shot them as they swam for shore

  • The Governor rebuked Percy—for not killing the woman; he executed her on the spot

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  • Leaders believed they would get more corn by making one horrific examples of what can happen to those who fail to obey English orders

  • They applied the same logic to their own colonists: a laborer convicted of stealing 2 pints of oatmeal had a long needle thrust through his tongue to keep him from ever eating again; chained to a tree, the convict slowly starved to death

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  • Several dozens colonists ran away to join the Indians; those who brought metal weapons were welcomed, those who brought nothing were killed

  • In the spring of 1612, the governor recaptured most of the fugitives and made examples of them: the lucky ones were hanged or shot, the unlucky were burned at the stake or had their backs broken on the wheel

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Rebecca Wolfe who brought metal weapons were welcomed, those who brought nothing were killed