35. The First Permanent English Settlement. Raleigh had made it impossible for Englishmen to forget America. They sent out ships every year to trader with the Indians. In 1606 a great company was formed of London merchants and other rich men to plant a colony in Virginia.
King James gave them a charter, ministers preached sermons about Virginia, and poets sang her praises. At Christmas time one of Raleigh's old sea captains, Newport, sailed with a colony of more than one hundred settlers. They went by way of the West Indies, and the Spaniards although watching, did not dare attack them.
In the spring, when Virginia is in her gayest dress, the ships sailed up Chesapeake Bay into the James River, and landed on a peninsula. Here they began to plant Jamestown, named in honor of their king, the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
They first built a fort to protect them from any attacks of Indians and Spaniards. But most of the settlers wanted to get rich quick, go back to England, and spend the rest of their days p57and ease. Therefore, instead of building comfortable houses and raising something to eat, they spent their time in searching for gold.
The result was that most of them fell sick and food grew scarce. Within a few months more than half of the settlers were dead, and the others were discouraged and homesick. Would this colony fail, too, as Raleigh's colony had?
36. John Smith. There was one man, however, in the colony who could make Jamestown a success. He bore the plain name of John Smith. But he was no common man. John Smith had already had as wonderful adventures as the knights of old.
While yet a young man he went to the land of dykes and windmills to help the brave Hollanders fight against the Spaniards. But he grew tired of seeing Christians fighting one another, and resolved to go fight the Turks. On his way he was robbed in France and left half dead in a great forest, but was rescued and made his way to the sea. Then he sailed with a colony of pilgrims going to the Holy Land. After many adventures John Smith found himself in eastern Europe. He was made captain of a troop of cavalry and was soon fighting the Turks. In three hand-to‑hand combats, Captain Smith slew his enemies, cut off their heads, and presented them to his commander.
The Christian army looked on Smith as a hero, and the ruler of the land gave him a shield with three Turks' heads painted on p58it as a coat of arms. The Turks afterwards captured Smith and made a slave of him. His master's cruelty was so great that Smith slew him, mounted his horse, and rode away to Russia. He finally returned to England in time to talk with Captain Newport about America. Just such a man was needed in founding Jamestown.
The king had made Smith an officer of the new colony, but the other officers would not permit him to take part in governing Virginia. John Smith was not a man to sulk and idle his time away, but resolved to do something useful, by visiting the Indians, and gathering food for the colony.
While on an expedition up the Chickahominy, Smith's party was attacked by two hundred Indians. Smith seized his Indian guide, tied him in front for a shield, and with his gun was able to hold the Indians at bay until he fell into a swamp and had to surrender.
He immediately showed the red men his ivory pocket compass. They saw the little needle tremble on its pivot, but could not touch it. He wrote a letter to Jamestown. An Indian returned with the articles asked for in the letter. This was still more mysterious than the compass.
The Indians marched him from one village to another to show off their prisoner. This gave Smith a chance to learn a great deal about the Indians. Some of them lived in houses made of the bark p59and branches of trees; others had rude huts to shelter them. Now and then a wigwam was seen large enough to hold several families.
The Indian warriors painted their bodies to make themselves look fierce. They carried bows and arrows and clubs as weapons, for they had no guns at that time. The men did the hunting and fighting, but in other things they were lazy. The Indian women not only cared for the children, did the cooking, and made the clothes, but also gathered wood, tilled the soil, and built the wigwams. The Indian wife was the warrior's drudge.
Smith saw a more wonderful sight still, when he was led to the village where lived Powhatan. The old chief had prepared a real surprise for this Englishman. Powhatan, tall, gaunt, and grim, was wrapped in a robe of raccoon skins. He sat upon a bench before the wigwam fire. His wives sat at his side. Along the walls stood a row of women with faces and shoulders painted bright red, and with chains of white shells about their necks. In front of the women stood Powhatan's fierce warriors. This council of Indians was to decide the fate of Smith.
Two big stones were rolled in front of Powhatan, and a number of powerful warriors sprang upon Smith, dragged him to the stones, and forced his head upon one of them. As the warriors stood, clubs in hand, ready to slay Smith, Pocahontas, the beautiful twelve-year-old daughter of Powhatan, rushed forward, threw her arms around the prisoner, and begged for his life.
Pocahontas had her way. Powhatan adopted Smith as a son and set him to making toys for the little maid. This was strange work for the man who had fought the Spaniards and slain the Turks, and who was to save a colony. This story is doubted by some people, but is believed by many good historians.
After a time Smith returned to Jamestown only to find the p60settlers facing starvation, and the officers planning to escape to England in the colony's only vessels. He promptly arrested the leaders and restored order. In a few days, the hungry settlers saw a band of Indians, led by Pocahontas, enter the fort. They were loaded down with baskets of corn.
The fear of starvation was now gone, because every few days the little maiden came with food for the settlers. Ever afterwards they called her "the dear blessed Pocahontas." She was the good angel of the colony.
When winter came on, Smith resolved to secure another supply of corn. But Powhatan had noticed the increase of settlers and the building of more houses. He feared that his people might be driven from their hunting grounds. Smith knew that Powhatan's women had raised plenty of corn, and immediately sailed up the river to the old chief's village.
Powhatan bluntly told Smith he could have no corn unless he would give a good English sword for each basketful. Smith promptly refused, and compelled the Indians to carry the corn on board his boat. That very night, at the risk of her life, Pocahontas stole through the woods to tell Smith of her father's plot to kill his men. They kept close watch all night, and next morning sailed safely away.
But Smith needed still more corn, and stopped at another Indian town. Suddenly he found himself and men surrounded by several hundred Indian warriors. A moment's delay and all would have been over. Smith rushed into the chief's wigwam, seized him by the scalp, dragged him out before his astonished warriors, p61pointed a pistol at his breast, and demanded corn. He got it; and the English sailed back to Jamestown with three hundred bushels of corn on board.
When spring came Smith resolved that the settlers must go to work. He called them together and made a speech declaring that "he that will not work shall not eat. You shall not only gather for yourself, but for those that are sick. They shall not starve." The people in the colony not only planted more grain, but repaired the fort and built more and better houses. Thus they grew happier and more contented with their home in the Virginia woods.
Unfortunately for the colony, Smith was wounded so badly by an explosion of gunpowder that he had to return to England for medical treatment. The settlers again fell into idleness after he left, and many of them died. Still the colony had gained such a foothold that it was strong enough to live.
Some years later, Smith sailed to America again, explored the coast from Penobscot Bay to Cape Cod, drew a map of it, and named the region New England. This was his last visit to America.
37. Pocahontas. After John Smith left, Pocahontas did not visit the English any more. One time she was seized by an Englishman, put on board a vessel, and carried weeping to Jamestown.
Before long an English settler, John Rolfe, fell in love with her and she with him. What should they do? Did not this beautiful maiden of eighteen years have a strange religion? But she was anxious to learn about the white man's religion, so the minister at Jamestown baptized her and gave her the Christian name of Rebecca.
p62 The wedding took place in the little wooden church. No doubt it was made bright with the wild flowers of Virginia and all the settlers crowded to see the strange event. Powhatan gave his consent, but would not come to the wedding himself. But we may be sure that the sisters and brothers and the Indian friends of Pocahontas were there.
It was a happy day for Jamestown, for all the people, white and red, loved Pocahontas. The marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe was taken to mean the uniting of the Indians and settlers by ties of peace and friendship. For several years white men and red men lived as good neighbors. Rolfe took Pocahontas to England, where she was received "as the daughter of a king." The fine people, lords and ladies, called on her; and the king and queen received her at court as if she were a princess of the royal blood.
How different the rich clothes, the carriages, and the high feasting from her simple life in the woods of Virginia! Here, too, she met her old friend, John Smith. He called her "Lady Rebecca," as did everybody. But the memory of other days and other p63scenes came before her mind. She covered her face with her hands for a moment, and then said he must call her "child," and that she would call him "father." Smith must have thought of the days when she brought corn to Jamestown to feed his starving people.
When about to sail for her native land, Pocahontas died (1617). Her son, Thomas Rolfe, returned to the land of his mother and became the ancestor of many noted Virginians; among these the best known was the famous orator and statesman, John Randolph of Roanoke.
So ended the life of one who had indeed been a good and true friend of the people of Virginia. Her name, Pocahontas, meant "Bright Stream Between Two Hills."
38. Life in the Colony. Two years after the death of Pocahontas the London Company sent a new governor to Virginia, with orders to give the settlers the right to elect their own lawmakers. The Company also sent one hundred fifty women most of whom became wives of settlers.
These two events pleased the people very much. Before this year, they had had little say about their government. Besides, p64Jamestown had been made up mostly of bachelors. Now there were to be homes. Before, the settlers had intended to go back to England, now they were glad to stay in Virginia. This was, indeed, a great year in Virginia's history.
A Dutch trading vessel brought negro slaves to Jamestown and sold them to the planters. Few, if any, thought it wrong to own negroes, for then nearly all Christian nations held slaves.
The Virginia planters were greatly in need of laborers, because tobacco was an unusually good crop to sell in England, and they were planting it in the very streets of Jamestown. Tobacco even became the money of the colony. If a person wanted to buy or sell anything, he gave or took so many pounds of tobacco for it.
To get persons to work for them the planters even paid ship owners for bringing over from England hundreds of people who were too poor pay their own way to America. Such persons had to work a number of years to repay the planter for their passage.
39. Political Troubles in England. In the meantime, the people of England were having a bitter quarrel with King Charles because he took taxes from them contrary to law, and because he turned hundreds of good ministers out of their churches for not preaching to suit him.
p65 Those who opposed the king were called Puritans, and those who stood by him were called Cavaliers. The Cavaliers had high-sounding titles, and were educated for the finest society. The king liked the Cavaliers, but disliked the Puritans. Thousands of the Puritans fled to America and settled in New England. Some, also, settled in Virginia.
King Charles sent the people of Virginia a new governor, Sir William Berkeley. Sir William was a true Cavalier. He was very polite and courtly in his manners. He wore rich clothes, and had great doings in old Jamestown, such as balls and receptions. Here planters and their wives bowed low to Lady Berkeley and the governor. All this pleased many of the Virginians for they thought it made the colony a pleasanter place in which to live.
Although Governor Berkeley was polite, he could be cruel. He did not like the Puritans, and drove a thousand of them out of Virginia into Maryland. Some of the Puritans remained in Virginia, but the governor would not let them worship in the Puritan way.
Soon news came that Oliver Cromwell, the great Puritan general, in England, had defeated the king's army in many p66battles and had taken the king prisoner. The king was tried and put to death. This news caused great sorrow in Virginia for the people remembered only that Charles I had been their king.
40. The Coming of the Cavaliers. Not only had the Cavaliers been defeated in battle, but their homes had been destroyed by war or taken from them because they had fought for the king. If they remained in England they were in danger of being severely punished by the Puritans. Hundreds of them fled to Virginia, where the people received them with open arms. By many a Virginia fireside, the old soldiers told over and over again, to the wondering planters, how they had followed fiery Prince Rupert, fighting fiercely for his uncle, King Charles I, only to find that nothing could defeat Cromwell and his soldiers called the "Ironsides."
Some of the greatest names in American history belonged to these Cavalier families, such as the Madisons, the Lees, and the Washingtons. Governor Berkeley was glad to welcome the Cavaliers and to talk with them about inviting the son of their dead king to come to Virginia and be their king.
Cromwell soon put a stop to such talk by sending war ships to Virginia. But it was agreed not to fight. The governor gave up his office and retired, grumbling, to his great plantation, near p67Jamestown. His plantation reminded the Cavaliers of their old English homes. Around the Greenspring manor house ran a great orchard of two thousand fruit trees. Near by were the cabins of his scores of servants, and the great stables of his seventy-five fine horses.
In the splendid dining room of the manor house, with its tables laid with silver, the Cavaliers often met to drink toasts to the memory of the dead king, and to mutter ill words against Cromwell and his Ironsides.
But in a few years news reached Virginia that Oliver Cromwell was dead and that Charles II was crowned King of England, amid the greatest rejoicing (1660). Nowhere were Cavaliers happier than in Virginia. They threw up their hats and cheered and shouted over a king who cared very little above them.
41. Governor Berkeley's Tyranny. Berkeley was made governor of Virginia again, and soon began to play the tyrant in the colony, just as King Charles II was playing it in England.
He drove out the peace-loving Quakers and the Baptists. He took away the right of voting from all persons who had no land, and even refused to permit the people to elect new lawmakers for fifteen years. As the governor grew old, he became peevish, ill-tempered, and often insulting.
42. Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia (1676). But when he refused to protect the settlers from the Indians, who were burning, scalping, and killing wherever they could, the people would stand it no longer. They believed that the governor acted so because he was making money by trading with the Indians.
In a short time the Indians murdered two men on the plantation of Nathaniel Bacon. Now Bacon was a young man whose family had been great people in England. He was a tall, fine-looking man, and was very popular among his neighbors.
p68 When the people heard the news, they seized their guns, mounted their horses, and hastened to Bacon's home. They begged him to lead them against the Indians. He took command of the men, sent to Governor Berkeley for permission to act as their leader, and hastened to attack the Indians.
Berkeley was furious, and started to arrest him. But the governor was forced to return at once to Jamestown for the people were threatening to rebel. He immediately gave them permission to elect a new set of lawmakers. Bacon was among those elected. The governor was very angry, and compelled Bacon, in the presence of all the lawmakers, to kneel in front of him and beg his pardon for attacking the Indians without his permission.
The governor did not really forgive Bacon, but secretly plotted to seize him. A friend told Bacon that his life was in danger. One night Bacon stole away to his plantation, where six hundred bold men with firearms gathered and followed their young leader to Jamestown.
Berkeley could find hardly one hundred men to fight for him. Bacon and his men surrounded the little two-story brick capitol. The people gathered in crowds, and the lawmakers filled the windows to see what would happen. Berkeley was no coward. Presently the old white-haired Cavalier, trembling with rage, appeared at the p69door. He tore open his bosom, and cried: "Here! Shoot me! . . . . A fair mark — shoot!" Bacon replied: "We will not hurt a hair of your head, nor of any other man's. We are come for a commission to save our lives from the Indians, and now we will have it before we go." Bacon's soldiers lifted their guns and shouted, "We will have it! We will have it!"
The next day the lawmakers compelled the governor to sign a commission which made Bacon an officer. He and his men again marched in hot haste after the Indians. But no sooner had Berkeley sent the lawmakers home than he declared Bacon and his men rebels.
Just as soon as Bacon defeated the Indians he started for Jamestown again, and seized the governor's fine mansion. Berkeley's soldiers, being no match for the bold Indian fighters who followed Bacon, were easily defeated, and the governor fled across the river.
Just as he seemed to have everything his way, Bacon fell sick and died. No leader could be found to fill his place.
The old governor came back vowing revenge. He hanged twenty of Bacon's men, and would not have stopped, but the people were tired of his cruelty. Even King Charles II declared that "the old fool has put to death more people in that naked country than I did here for the death of my father." The king turned him out of office, and the people built bonfires and fired cannon to show how glad they were to be rid of him. The king refused to see Berkeley when he went to England, and the old Cavalier died shortly of a broken heart.
The people of Virginia never forgot Bacon's Rebellion. And just one hundred years later, when another British king tried to rule the thirteen colonies as Berkeley had ruled Virginia, the people of the p70oldest colony were among the first to rise and fight for their rights under the leadership of another great Virginian — Washington.
43. The Jamestown Exposition. Three hundred years have gone by since Virginia was settled. In honor of that event and of the great names in early Virginia, was planned the Jamestown Exposition, held in 1907.
44. A Colony of Catholics and Protestants. When the people of England began to change their religion, some did so very quickly and became Puritans; others more slowly, and became members of the English church; while still others refused to change at all, and remained Catholics. Great disputes arose as to which was the true religion. When the Puritans were persecuted they fled to New England. The Cavaliers, Church of England people who were persecuted by the Puritans, fled to Virginia.
George Calvert was desirous of finding a home for his people, the Catholics. He had studied at Oxford University and traveled in Europe, and had been secretary to one of Queen Elizabeth's great statesmen. When James I became king, he gave Calvert a very high office with a fine title. Calvert served his king and country so well that James made him Baron of Baltimore.
p71 Baltimore, who was a Catholic, was deeply moved by the suffering of the Catholics around him. He saw their property seized and sold by the king's officers. Sometimes they were thrown into the dark and dirty English jails, and now and then they were driven to some other country to escape hanging.
Charles I, the new king, was Baltimore's friend. When, therefore, he asked the king for permission to plant a colony of Catholics in America, not only the king, but the queen, who was herself a Catholic, took great interest in the undertaking. Baltimore purchased a part of Newfoundland, but one winter on that bleak and ice-bound coast was enough for people who had been used to the mild climate of England.
Baltimore would not give up. So he visited Virginia and saw the beauties of the country north of the Potomac, but the Virginians ordered him to leave the colony. However, in spite of the Virginians, he decided that he would found his colony here if the king would give him permission.
Charles I not only gave permission, but also gave the whole of what is now Maryland to Baltimore as his own. The king even made Baltimore almost as much a ruler over this region as the king was over England.
For all this land and all this power, Lord Baltimore, and his sons after him, promised to make no laws contrary to the laws of p72England, and to bring, every year, two arrows to the king in his great castle at Windsor, near London. Charles had no use for the arrows, but he wanted some proof that he still had power over the colony.
The king also declared that colony should bear the name Maryland in honor of his queen, Henrietta Maria.
Lord Baltimore immediately began to make ready a company of emigrants. He gave a hearty welcome to Protestants as well as Catholics, for it was decided that in the colony of Maryland all Christians were to have the same rights. Very few nations in the world, at that time, permitted people to worship as they pleased.
Lord Baltimore died, and Cecil Calvert, his eldest son, according to the custom in England, fell heir to his estates and titles. The new Lord Baltimore sent out under his brother Leonard, who was made governor of Maryland, an expedition of more than three hundred persons, in two ships, the "Ark" and the "Dove." The long voyage had a happy ending, for they reached the mouth of the Potomac in the springtime, when Maryland is at the height of her beauty. Here they set up a large cross and Father White conducted religious services (1634).
p73 Governor Calvert in the "Dove," a small vessel, sailed up the Potomac. The "Dove" excited the wonder of the Indians. They thought it must be a great canoe made like many of theirs, by hollowing out the body of a tree.
The governor decided to locate his little village, St. Marys, on land already occupied by the Indians. He paid them for the land, for on it stood their wigwams and corn fields. The Indians invited the settlers to live with them until their log cabins could be built. How strange it must have seemed to the Englishmen, used to comfortable homes, to live in wigwams with people of another color, who had different clothes and different food.
The best wigwam was made into a church, and in it Father White set up what was probably the first altar consecrated by an Englishman in America. This happy beginning made a very happy ending so far as the settlers and the Indians were concerned. For both escaped those savage wars which so many of the colonists suffered.
But Lord Baltimore and Maryland had troubles enough. For the Virginians, as we know, did not like the first Lord Baltimore, because he was a Catholic. They were still less pleased when they learned that King Charles had given Lord Baltimore permission to plant a new colony in one of the fairest portions of Virginia.
p74 A few years later a high Virginian officer marched a little army into Maryland, and securing the aid of some of the Protestant settlers, defeated the Catholics, arrested Father White, and sent him to England. Following these events, the government in England took away Baltimore's right to Maryland. Later, however, Lord Baltimore's authority was restored, and religious freedom was reëstablished.
Many Puritans came into Maryland and settled a town which was afterwards named Annapolis, where many interesting events took place, and where is now the famous training school for the American navy, the United States Naval Academy.
But the richest and most important town of Maryland was settled in 1720, and was named after the founder of the colony, Baltimore.
The Leading Facts. 1. London merchants carried out Raleigh's idea by planting a colony in Virginia. 2. John Smith saved the colony by putting the settlers to work, by trading with the Indians, and by winning the friendship of Pocahontas. 3. Pocahontas helped feed the starving settlers, and finally married John Rolfe. 4. The London merchants did great things for Virginia in 1619. 5. The Puritans and Cavaliers had trouble in England, and also in Virginia. 6. Berkeley was made governor but became a tyrant and roused Bacon and his men. 7. Bacon won in battle but soon died, and then Berkeley took his revenge. 8. Lord Baltimore, a Catholic, got permission to plant a colony in America, and named it St. Marys.
Study Questions. 1. How long did it take Captain Newport to reach Virginia? How long does it take a ship to cross the Atlantic now? 2. Why were the settlers afraid of the Indians and Spaniards? 3. Why did the Virginia settlers hunt for gold instead of raising something to eat? 4. What did Smith learn about the Indians? 5. Picture the scene in Powhatan's wigwam. 6. Show how Pocahontas was the friend of the colony. 7. Why did Powhatan wish a sword for each basket of corn? 8. What effect on the colony had Smith's rule that every man should work? 9. Tell the story of John Rolfe and p75Pocahontas. 10. How did the king and queen and lords and ladies receive Pocahontas? 11. Make a mental picture of the meeting that took place between John Smith and Pocahontas in London.
12. Why was 1619 a great year in the history of Virginia? 13. How did Virginia planters get laborers to raise tobacco? 14. Why did the Virginians like Berkeley? 15. Tell the story of the Cavaliers who came to Virginia. 16. Make for yourself a mental picture of the Cavaliers at Greenspring manor house. 17. What religious people did Berkeley drive out of Virginia? 18. Tell the story of Bacon. 19. Why did Governor Berkeley call a new Assembly of the people? 20. Picture the scene when Bacon came back to Jamestown with six hundred men. 21. Did the people and the king wish to punish Bacon's friends?
22. Tell the story of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. 23. What did Baltimore give for Maryland? 24. How was the colony different from Jamestown? 25. Picture the settlers at St. Marys. 26. Why was Virginia not satisfied with Baltimore's colony? 27. What town did the Puritans plant? 28. When was the richest and most important town in Maryland settled, and after whom was it named?
Suggested Readings. Smith: McMurry, Pioneers on Land and Sea, 68‑102; Hart, Source Book, 33‑37; Higginson, American Explorers, 231‑246.
Pocahontas: Hart, Colonial Children, 63, 98‑104; Wright, Children's Stories in American History, 14‑26; Bass, Stories of Pioneer Life, 1‑20; Higginson, American Explorers, 249‑263.
Berkeley: Cooke, Virginia, 216‑230.
Bacon: Cooke, Virginia, 230‑249; Magill, Stories from Virginia History, 40‑55.
Baltimore: Pratt, Early Colonies, 132‑137; Smith and Dutton, The Colonies, 39‑50; Sparks, American Biography, 5‑229.
Images with borders lead to more information.
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
Page updated: 11 Sep 06