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from the coast one hundred miles, and all the islands within one hundred miles of the main land. To the other, called the Plymouth company, were assigned the lands between 38 and 45 degrees of latitude, with all the isles within one hundred miles. The first tract was called South Virginia, and the other North Virginia. By a charter granted in 1609, King James incorporated the London company with full powers of government in America; the boundaries of Virginia were also enlarged, particularly westward, unto the main land “throughout from sea to sea.
The London company, soon after its incorporation, toward the close of the year 1606, sent Capt. Ñewport to Virginia with a company of 104 adventur
As the usual course from England to America at that time was by the West Indies, Newport did not arrive until the end of April, 1607. Entering Chesapeake Bay, he gave name to Cape Henry, sailed into Powhattan or James River, and began a plantation called Jamestown, in which he left 104 persons and then returned to England. Before Newport left for America, a sealed box was placed in his hands, with directions that it should not be opened until twenty-four hours after the emigrants had landed in America. When opened, it was found to contain the names of the council and instructions for their guidance. In the list were the names of Gosnold, Smith, Wingfield and Newport.
Capt. John Smith, one of the above named council, was quite distinguished as a traveler, and celebrated for his daring military exploits while in the service of the Emperor of Austria in his war against the Turks. His superior talents, and the fame which he had acquired, seem to have excited the envy of his companions. While yet at sea he was accused of an intention of murdering the council, usurping the government, and making himself king of Vir. ginia. Upon these absurd charges he was put in confinement, and a vote passed excluding him from the council, after which he was released.
The emigrants appeared to have taken but little care to provide for their future subsistence or preservation. They planted nothing the first year, and the provisions they brought from England were soon consumed. In four months famine and the diseases of a hot and damp climate swept away fifty of their number. These distresses led them to reflect upon their situations and conduct. Having become sensible of their injustice to Smith, they, at his request, granted him a trial, which resulted in an honorable acquittal. His personal talents were now appreciated, and by his advice a fort was erected for defense against the Indians. To procure provisions he made frequent and distant excursions into the wilderness. Sometimes he procured supplies by caresses, sometimes by purchase, and sometimes he resorted to stratagem and violence. While exploring the river Chickahominy he was surprised, attacked and made prisoner by a party of Indians.
The Indians, exulting in their capture of Smith, conducted him in triumph through several towns to their king Powhattan. At the end of six weeks, it was decided that he should die. He was led forth to execution; his head was placed upon a stone, and an Indian stood near with a club, the instrument of death. At this critical moment Pocahontas, the young and darling daughter of Powhattan, rushed between the executioner and the prisoner, folded his head in her arms, and entreated her father to spare his life. The king relented, directed Smith to be conducted to a wigwam or hut, and soon after sent him, under an escort of twelve guides, to Jamestown.
When Smith arrived at Jamestown he found the number of settlers reduced to thirty-eight, and most of these had determined to abandon the coun
try, when, through entreaties and threats, he succeeded in making them relinquish their design. By his influence among the Indians he was able to obtain provisions, which preserved the colony from famine. Pocahontas, who had preserved the life of Smith, still continued her kind offices, and sent him such articles as were most needed. Capt. Newport, who had returned to England, again arrived at Jamestown with supplies and one hundred and twenty additional emigrants. The hopes of the colonists were now revived; but as the newly arrived settlers were mostly gentlemen, refiners of gold, jewelers, etc., a wrong direction was given to the industry of the colonists. Believing that they had discovered grains of gold in a stream north of Jamestown, all other pursuits were abandoned in order to obtain the precious metal. .“Immediately,” says the historian, “there was no thought, no discourse, no hope and no work, but to dig gold, wash gold, refine and load gold;" and, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Smith, a ship loaded with a worthless commodity was sent to England.
Smith finding he could not make himself useful at Jamestown, spent some time in exploring the coasts of the Chesapeake. On his return he found the people turbulent and discontented with their president, whom they charged with squandering the public property, which resulted in their deposing him and choosing Smith in his place. He at first declined, but after a while they persuaded him to accept the office. Under his administration, habits of industry and subordination were formed, and peace and plenty soon followed. He gave the “goldsmiths and gentlemen” their choice, to labor six hours a day or have nothing to eat. He represented to the council in England that they should send laborers instead of gentlemen, that the search for gold should be abandoned, and that “nothing should be expected except by labor.”
The London company having obtained a new charter, conferring greater power and privileges than the former, in 1609 dispatched Sir George Somers and Sir Thomas Gates for Virginia with nine ships and five hundred adventurers. Before they arrived they were overtaken by a tremendous tempest, and the ship in which the officers embarked was driven on the rocks of the Bermudas. The settlers in the seven vessels which arrived in Jamestown were for the most part licentious, profligate and disorderly persons, who undertook the disposing of the government among themselves. Smith, however, by his judicious measures, restored for a time regularity and obedience.
The Indians becoming jealous of the increasing power of the English, formed a plot for their destruction. Pocahontas having knowledge of the conspiracy hastened during a dark and stormy night to Jamestown and informed Smith of his danger, so that measures of precaution were used. The Indians perceiving their design was discovered again brought presents of peace to the English. Smith having by accident received å severe wound was obliged to return to England to obtain the assistance of a surgeon. On his departure subordination and industry ceased, their provisions were soon consumed, the Indians became hostile, and a famine soon ensued. In six months anarchy and vice had reduced the number of the colony from four hundred and ninety to sixty, and these were so feeble and dejected that if relief had not been soon obtained they must have perished. To such extremities were they reduced that they devoured the skins of horses, the bodies of the Indians whom they had killed, and even their own companions who had perished under their accumulated sufferings. These shocking miseries were recollected long afterward with horror, and the period was remembered and distinguished by the name of the "STARVING TIME.”
While the colony was in this situation they were visited by Sir Thomas Gates and others, who had been shipwrecked on the rocks of the Bermudas. Such was the wretched condition and prospects of the settlers that all determined to abandon the country and return to England. For this purpose the remnant of the colony embarked on board of the ships just arrived and sailed down the river; but the next day meeting Lord Delaware with fresh supplies, they all returned and prosecuted the planting of the country. In 1611 Sir Thomas Gates, who succeeded Lord Delaware as governor, arrived with six ships, two hundred and eighty men and twenty women, one hundred cattle, two hundred hogs, military stores and other necessaries. This reinforcement, with that under Sir Thomas Dale a short time previous, gave stability to the colony, and new towns were founded.
At the first settlement at Jamestown it was directed that all the land should be owned in common, and the produce of the labor of all should be deposited in the public stores. In such circumstances, it soon appeared that no one would labor with the same steadiness and animation as if he alone was to possess and enjoy the fruit of his industry. But now different regulations were adopted. To each inhabitant three acres of land were assigned in full property, and he was permitted to employ in its cultivation a certain portion of his time. The good effects of this plan were immediately seen, and soon after another assignment of fifty acres was made, and the plan of working in a common field to fill the public stores was entirely abandoned.
Early in 1614, Sir Thomas Gates embarked for England, leaving the administration of the government in the hands of Sir Thomas Dale, who ruled with wisdom and vigor, and made several valuable changes in the land laws of the colony. In 1616, he appointed George Yeardley deputy-governor and returned to England. During the administration of Yeardley, the culture of TOBACCO, a native plant of the country, was introduced, which soon became not only the principal export but even the currency of the colony. In 1617, Argall became deputy-governor; he ruled with tyranny, and was guilty of such fraudulent transactions that he was soon displaced and Yeardley appointed governor. Under his administration the planters were released from further service to the colony, martial law was abolished, and the first colonial assembly ever held in Virginia was held in Jamestown. The colony was divided into eleven boroughs, and two representatives, called burgesses, were chosen from each. The enactments of the house of burgesses, when sanctioned by the governor and council, and ratified by the company in England, became the law of the country.
Emigrants from England continued to arrive, but nearly all were men who came for the purpose of obtaining wealth, and intended eventually to return. In order to attach them permanently to the colony, 90 young women of reputable character were first sent over, and in the following year 60 more, to become wives to the planters. The expense of their transportation was paid by the planters. The price was, at first, one hundred, and afterward, one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco, then selling at three shillings to the pound; and it was ordained that debts contracted for wives should have the preference to all others.
Beside the transportation of reputable people, the king commanded the treasurer and council of the Virginia company to send to Virginia 100 dissolute persons then in confinement for their offenses. They were distributed through the colony as laborers. The transportation of these vicious persons, though designed as a benefit, yet eventually proved detrimental to the inter
ests of the colony. In 1620, a Dutch man-of-war entered James River, with twenty Africans, whom they SOLD FOR SLAVES. This was the commencement of African, or negro slavery in the English colonies. The colony was now in the full tide of prosperity; its numbers had greatly increased, and its settlements widely extended. At peace with the Indians, they reposed in security, and had bright prospects for the future, when a terrible reverse befell them.
On the 27th of March, 1622, 343 of the Virginia colonists were cruelly massacred by the Indians. Opecancanough, the successor of Powhattan, was a chief of superior abilities, but a secret and implacable enemy of the whites. By his arts and eloquence, he united all the neighboring tribes in the horrible design of destroying every man, woman and child in the English settlement. The plot was matured with great secrecy and dissimulation. While intent on their destruction, they visited the English in their settlements, lodged in their houses, bought their arms, and even borrowed their boats, so that they could the better accomplish their murderous purpose. On the evening before the massacre, they brought them presents of game; and the next morning came freely among them as usual. Suddenly, at mid-day, the savages fell upon the unsuspecting settlers, and men, women and children were murdered precisely at the same time in the various settlements. The massacre would have been more extensive, had not a domesticated Indian revealed the plot to his master, whom he had been solicited to slay. Information was instantly given to some of the nearest settlements, just in time to put them on their guard, and save themselves from the calamity which fell upon others. An exterminating war now followed on both sides. The whites were victorious, destroying many of the Indians, and obliging the remainder to retire far into the wilderness; but their own number melted away before the miseries of war; of 80 plantations which were fast advancing to completion, eight only remained; famine now prevailed, and of the numerous people who had been transported to Virginia at a great expense, only 1,800 survived these disasters.
The settlement of Virginia by the London company proved an unprofitable enterprise, and as the holders of the stock were numerous, their meetings became scenes of political debate, in which the advocates of liberty were arrayed against the upholders of the royal prerogative. King James, disliking the freedom of these debates, revoked the charter which he had granted, and committed the affairs of the colony to the management of a governor and twelve counsellors, who were to be appointed by the king. The dissolution of the London company produced no immediate change in the domestic government of the colony. On the death of James I, in 1625, his son, Charles I, succeeded him, who paid but little attention to Virginia. In 1628, Harvey, an unpopular member of the council, was appointed gov
Such were his oppressive acts, that the Virginians, in a fit of rage, seized and sent him prisoner to England. King Charles, however, was indignant at these violent proceedings, and returned the governor, invested with all his former powers.
In 1639, Sir William Berkeley was appointed governor, who was instructed again to allow the Virginians to elect representatives. Such was their gratitude to the king for this favor, that during the civil wars between him and his parliament, they were faithful to the royal cause, and continued faithful, even after he was dethroned and his son driven into exile. The parliament of Great Britain, irritated by this conduct, in 1652, sent Sir George Ayscue,
with a powerful fleet, to reduce them to submission. Berkeley, after making a gallant resistance, was obliged to yield. For nine years afterward, governors appointed by Cromwell continued to preside over the colony. Arbitrary restrictions were laid upon her commerce, which produced discontent. At length, when Gov. Matthews died, the adherents of the royal cause seized the opportunity to proclaim Charles II and to invite Berkeley to resume the authority of governor. Fortunately for the Virginians, Cromwell died soon after, Charles II ascended the throne, and Sir William Berkeley was confirmed as governor, whereupon Virginia boasted that she was the last to acknowledge the authority of Cromwell, and the first that returned to her allegiance to the throne.
Although Virginia had shown such loyalty to the royal authority, yet her interests were neglected, and several additional restrictions were laid upon her commerce. Charles II even granted to his favorites large tracts of land which belonged to the colony. These injuries produced murmurs and complaints, and finally open and turbulent insurrection. Nathaniel Bacon, a member of the council, young, bold and ambitious, with an engaging person and commanding eloquence, was at the head of the insurrectionary move. ments. At this time an Indian war prevailed, but the measures of defense which Berkeley had adopted were so unsatisfactory, that the people, with Bacon at their head, demanded permission to rise and defend themselves. This the governor refused. The Indian aggressions increasing, Bacon, yielding to the common voice, placed himself at the head of 500 men, and commenced his march against them. He was immediately proclaimed trai. tor by Berkeley, and troops were levied to pursue him. Bacon continued his expedition, which was successful, while Berkeley was obliged to recall his troops to suppress an insurrection in the lower counties.
The great mass of the people having arisen, Berkeley was compelled to yield to the popular voice, and Bacon was appointed commander-in-chief. When he was proceeding against the Indiáns, Berkeley withdrew across the York River to Gloucester, summoned a convention of loyalists, and again proclaimed Bacon a traitor. Enraged at this conduct, Bacon returned with all his forces to Jamestown. The governor had fled, the council dispersed, and he found himself in possession of supreme power. Some districts remained faithful to Berkeley, who made inroads into those sections where Bacon's authority was recognized. This was retaliated, and for months a civil war, with all its horrors, prevailed : Jamestown was burnt, and some of the finest and best cultivated districts were laid waste. In the midst of these disorders, Bacon, who exercised the supreme power for seven months, suddenly sickened and died. His party, now left without a leader, after a few petty insurrections, dispersed, and the authority of the governor was restored.
Governor Berkeley, finding the rebels in his power, pursued them with great rigor. Many were tried by courts martial, and executed. The assembly interfered to stop the work of death, and enacted laws which restored tranquillity. Berkeley soon after returned to England, and was succeeded by Col. Jeffries. Under his administration, peace was concluded with the Indians, and notwithstanding the oppressive restrictions on commerce, the col. ony increased in wealth and population. In 1688, the number of inhabitants exceeded 60,000. Between this period and the French and Indian wars, but few prominent events occurred in the history of Virginia. Its position, remote from the settlements of the French in Canada, and the Spaniards in