2King James I, in 1606, granted charter to a joint-stock company headed by Richard Hakluyt. The Virginia Company of London divided the British claims in North America with a rival company, the Virginia Company of Plymouth.The original charters had no western boundaries; hence in theory, they ran from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The London Company was made up of merchants and gentry from the west of England and from London, itself.On December 20, 1606, three ships, the Susan Constant (120 tons), the Godspeed (40 tons), and the Discovery (20 tons) sailed with 144 passengers, under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. The ships briefly laid over at the Canary Islands and the Bahamas, before arriving in Virginia at Chesapeake Bay on April 26th with 104 survivors.
3Following the orders of the London Company, and after facing a brief conflict with the local Indians, the Powhatan, the ships landed up the newly-named James River and encamped at what became Jamestown on May 13, Of the 104 survivors, 39 had noble titles and 36 more were described as gentlemen. The others were attendants, soldiers, and artisans skilled at metalwork—that is to say, they were goldsmiths and jewelers.Among the soldiers was a boorish troublemaker of immense ego, Captain John Smith. Smith’s mouth more than once got him into trouble with his commanders, as near the Canaries he was accused of trying to foment a mutiny and so was locked up for the rest of the voyage. When the settlers unsealed their orders, however, they found that Smith was named to the Council of the Colony and put in command of the day-to-day running of the settlement.
4From the outset, the settlement was in trouble From the outset, the settlement was in trouble. Located on the site of an abandoned Indian village and in the Powhatan hunting grounds, it continually faced Indian attack. Many of the settlers refused to work. Instead they searched for gold and left the chore of building shelter to the soldiers. Instead of gathering or hunting for food, many stole it from the Indians, causing no small amount of hostility. The Indians raided Jamestown to steal weapons and gunpowder. Smith tried to force all to work and, failing that, traded for Indian maize. The English also gave Chief Powhatan a formal coronation and made him an ally of King James. This briefly improved relations with the Indians, but did little to guarantee the success of the colony, neither did the arrival of some women to the community.Conditions hit bottom during the winter of , after Smith returned to England as a result of an illness. That winter was known as “the Starving Time.” Crop yields were miniscule because of a drought, but there was still game in the woods and fish in the river. Despite that, however, starvation reduced the settlement’s population from nearly 500 down to 54 by the time a ship came with fresh provisions and new settlers in May Shockingly, settlers resorted to cannibalism to survive. They dug up graves to eat the remains. Equally shocking, the new Assistant Governor recorded the settlers’ activities as he sailed in. They were not out foraging for food in the spring forests. They were bowling in the street! Obviously, this settlement needed a reworking.
5“Now we all found the losse of Captain Smith, yea his greatest maligners could now curse his losse: as for corne, provision and contribution from the Salvages, we had nothing but mortall wounds, with clubs and arrowes; as for our Hogs, hens Goats, Sheepe, Horse, or what lived, our commanders, officers & Salvages daily consumed them, some small proportions sometimes we tasted, till all was devoured.. . . Of five hundred within six moneths after Captain Smiths departure, there remained not past sixtie men, women and children, most miserable and poore creatures; and those were preserved for the most part, by roots, herbes, acornes, walnuts, berries, now and then a little fish: they that had startch in these extremities, made no small use of it; yea even the very skinnes of our horses. Nay, so great was our famine, that a Salvage we slew, and burried, the poorer sort tooke him up againe and eat him And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was knowne, for which he was executed, as hee well deserved; now whether shee was better roasted, boyled or carbonado’d, I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of. This was that time, which still to this day we called the starving time; it were too vile to say, and scarce to be beleeved, what we endured.”Q1. How does this vivid account by John Smith compare with your previous sense of early life in colonial Virginia?Q2. Who or what do you think was to blame for the situation known as the “Starving Time”?
6In June 1610, Governor Lord De la Warr restored order through a new code, the Lawes Divine, Moral, and Martiall. All settlers were required to work in work gangs under military discipline. The day was divided by drumbeats: 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. they worked in the fields. During the heat of the day, they ate, did household chores, and rested. They were back in the fields again from 2 p.m. ‘til 4 p.m. If they still did not work hard then they would be punished. Punishments were also meted out for crimes, such as: rape, adultery, theft, lying, sacrilege, blasphemy, killing a domestic animal, weeding a garden, taking of a crop, and private trade. Anyone who ran away from the settlement and was caught was executed. The new rules helped save the colony, but they still could not feed themselves.The colony had still not found its purpose and the London Company’s investors were beginning to wonder whether it had been worth it, particularly after a new round of conflict with the Powhatan emerged about 1611.
7Eventually, an enterprising settler named John Rolfe did find a profitable crop. Rolfe arrived in Jamestown in May 1610 aboard Gates’ ship. Rolfe had brought with him to Virginia some Spanish tobacco plantings, hoping successfully to cultivate them. By 1612, he gave his friends a small sampling of his produce to see if it suited their tastes. While not of the quality of Spanish tobacco at the time, it was still palatable enough for larger-scale cultivation. By 1617, Virginia shipped 20,000 pounds of tobacco to England and the crop became so profitable that it became known as “brown gold.”
8Rolfe also brought peace with the Indians Rolfe also brought peace with the Indians. In 1614, the First Powhatan War ended when Rolfe married the daughter of Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas. In 1616, Rolfe, Pocahontas, and their son traveled to England and Pocahontas met the King. Tragically, just before they set sail to return to the New World, the 22-year-old Pocahontas died, likely of pneumonia. She is buried in a churchyard at Gravesend.
9With the colony saved, under new Governor Edwin Sandys, the London Company created a new policy for land distribution and to entice more settlers. The headright system promised that every new shareholder who settled in Virginia would get 50 acres of land for himself and 50 acres for each “family member” he brought over, including servants. Further to entice settlement, the company also created a new constitution for the colony, granting settlers the “Rights of Englishmen.”In July 1619, Virginia created the House of Burgesses, America’s first legislative assembly. Its twenty-two members represented their settlements and governed along with a Governor and executive council.Two other events in 1619 expanded the colony: (1) more women arrived as the company sponsored the sale of women for wives – 90 women were bought for the princely sum of 125 pounds of tobacco – creating a better gender balance in the colony; (2) the first Africans arrived – they came on a Dutch trade ship, but were indentured servants, not slaves.An indenture is a contract. In return for the master’s paying their passage to America, an indentured servant contracted to work for a specific term, usually seven years. During that time the servant had no rights to property. Upon completion of the term, the servant was free and under Virginia law would receive a headright of 50 acres.
10The shift from a commodity-based company to a realtor changed the London Company’s relationship with the colony. The company’s new goal was to get as many people to Virginia as possible. It cared less about the condition of the settlers when they got there and so the condition of the colony suffered. Making matters worse, an Indian war arose.Powhatan’s brother, Opechancanough, seems never to have accepted the settlers or his brother’s peace. Upon his brother’s death, in March 1622, he led raids on the settlement that turned into nearly two years of warfare and killed 347 settlers, including John Rolfe. The turmoil finally caused King James to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the Company. It found that between 1607 and 1622 more than 14,000 people had emigrated to Virginia, but in 1624 only 1,132 of them still lived there. James I revoked the Company’s charter and made Virginia a Royal Colony.Under the king’s authority for most of the remainder of the 1620s, Virginia stabilized and slowly began to prosper.
11MarylandWith settlements established in Virginia, other Britons began to look at the Chesapeake region for opportunities. As intolerance toward Catholics increased in England, one family led the charge for escape to religious freedom. In , George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, visited the region to check out its prospect as a refuge for persecuted Catholics. His son, Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, carried out the project. In 1632, King Charles I granted all lands from the Potomac River north to the Delaware River and a few hundred miles west to the Appalachians to Calvert. In return for a pledge of allegiance and a token payment of two Indian arrowheads and a royalty of one-fifth of any gold or silver discovered in the region, Calvert could create whatever type of government he chose, so long as any legislation was passed with the “Advice, Assent, and Approbation of the Free-Men.”Maryland was the successful first proprietary colony. Whereas the original colonies were run by a joint-stock company, and Virginia had become a royal colony run by the king, Maryland was given to a single man to do with whatever he chose.Saint Francis Xavier Church, Leonardtown, MDRebuilt on original site (1766)
12Things went fairly well in the early years of the colony, but because Catholics did not come in numbers hoped for Calvert reformed the government, basing it on religious toleration. Religious questions would not be part of public discourse. Land was to be divided up based on a manorial model. Calvert’s relatives were granted “manors” of 6000 acres. Lesser manors would consist of 3000 acres. Manor lords acted as judges in local manor courts. The rest of the population was divided into tenants and a small property-owners. Tenants paid rent, either with labor or crops, and thereby sustain the lords. Small farmers profited on their own output.The land distribution plan did not survive the first few years because there was too much land and too few workers. A few years after the establishment of the colony, manor lords were ordered by law to import labor: at first lords had to import five, then ten, and eventually twenty laborers. In 1640, a Virginia-style headright plan was imposed.
13As Calvert expected, the settlers were not Catholics As Calvert expected, the settlers were not Catholics. Indeed the hope of a religious sanctuary was a failure.Puritans from Virginia moved into the colony in large numbers. In the 1640s, as the Civil War raged between Puritans and the Catholic King in England, religious warfare erupted in Maryland. With Calvert's death, the Puritan William Stone became governor. Tensions continued until passage of the Maryland Act Concerning Religion (often called, incorrectly, the Maryland Religious Toleration Act) in The law guaranteed religious toleration to all followers of Jesus Christ who believed in the Trinity.It is important to note, however, that the law promised toleration only for Trinitarian Christians. Under the Act, Jews and non-Trinitarian Christians (Quakers, Unitarians) were not permitted freedom of religion. The Act did, however, put an end to the broader religious strife.With the good chances for prosperity in tobacco production, settlement increased. By the 1670s, the population of Maryland neared 13,000, including: Catholic planters, Protestant farmers, indentured servants, and a small but increasing number of black slaves.
14An Act Concerning Religion, Maryland 1649 Forasmuch as in a well governed and Christian Common Wealth matters concerning Religion and the honor of God ought in the first place to bee taken, into serious consideracion and endeavoured to bee settled, Be it therefore ordered and enacted by the Right Honourable Cecilius Lord Baron of Baltemore absolute Lord and Proprietary of this Province with the advise and consent of this Generall Assembly:That whatsoever person or persons within this Province and the Islands thereunto belonging shall from henceforth blaspheme God, that is Curse him, or deny our Saviour Jesus Christ to bee the sonne of God, or shall deny the holy Trinity the father sonne and holy Ghost, or the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use or utter any reproachfull Speeches, words or language concerning the said Holy Trinity, or any of the said three persons thereof, shalbe punished with death and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands and goods to the Lord Proprietary and his heires.And bee it also Enacted by the Authority and with the advise and assent aforesaid, That whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth use or utter any reproachfull words or Speeches concerning the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of our Saviour or the holy Apostles or Evangelists or any of them shall in such case for the first offence forfeit the summe of five pound Sterling or the value thereof [in] goods and chattells, but in case such Offender or Offenders, shall not then have goods and chattells sufficient [to pay] shalbe publiquely whipt and bee imprisoned And that every such Offender or Offenders for every second offence shall forfeit tenne pound sterling or the value thereof to bee levyed as aforesaid, or in case such offender or Offenders shall not then have goods and chattells within this Province sufficient for that purpose then to bee publiquely and severely whipt and imprisoned as before is expressed. And that every person or persons before mentioned offending herein the third time, shall for such third Offence forfeit all his lands and Goods and bee for ever banished and expelled out of this Province
17In 1541, the Reformation in Europe to a new twist when John Calvin created his church in Geneva, Switzerland. Calvin attracted “religious dissenters” from all over Western Europe, including John Knox who took Calvinism to Scotland creating the Presbyterian Church. Several Englishmen also went to Geneva, learned Calvin’s ideas, and brought them back to England. In 1564, the English dissenters coined the term “Puritan,” meaning a person who wanted to purify the Church of England of its Catholic rituals.Specifically, they wished to reform the church organization and refocus church doctrine away from “works” and toward the belief that salvation comes by God’s grace alone. Organizationally, they wanted the church organized from the bottom up—the reverse of the Catholic Church. They wanted the congregation to be the primary force in decisions as to church personnel, calendar, and focus of lessons. For this reason, in America the descendant of Puritanism is called Congregationalism.
18During the reign of Elizabeth I, Puritans were not totally free to worship as they chose, but neither were they persecuted. King James I was less hospitable, and the Puritans split into two groups: Puritans (who would reform the English church from within) and Separatists (who said England is lost beyond redemption; let’s find somewhere else to live). So they left the town of Scrooby in England and moved to the town of Leyden in the Netherlands in After years in Holland, the Scrooby Separatists feared the moral decay of their community amid the permissive Dutch culture.In 1619, the Separatists contracted with the London Company to settle in Virginia and the crown ensured that they could practice their religion freely there. With financial help from a group of merchant adventurers, they set up their voyage.St. Wilfrid's Church in Scrooby
19In July 1620, the Separatists, led by William Bradford, sailed aboard Speedwell to Southampton to meet more Separatists and the 180-ton Mayflower. After two false starts, including a forced docking at Plymouth after the Speedwell turned out to be too leaky, the saints and strangers set sail aboard the Mayflower for Virginia.The Separatists called themselves Saints – as in visible saints, those elected to heaven; the others, a majority of passengers who were going to Virginia to strike it rich, they called strangers. Two months later, they landed along Cape Cod, some 500 miles off course.Since they were outside the jurisdiction of the London Company, the men aboard wrote up a new contract for the settlement. Called the Mayflower Compact, it represented the first example of self-government in the New World. The settlers agreed to create a system of laws, to elect leaders, and to obey those laws and leaders.
20“The Mayflower Compact”: IN THE name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the 11 of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domine 1620.
21A month later, on December 20th, after several reconnaissance missions, the settlers chose an abandoned Wampanoag village as the place to build their Plimoth Plantation. Out of food and exhausted, they discovered that they had made the right choice; for in the abandoned village they found buried a large store of maize, enough, when replenished with fish and game, to see the settlement through the winter.
22In March of 1621 a truly strange coincidence further proved to the pilgrims that they were destined to come to Plymouth. A Mohegan Indian named Samoset arrived at the plantation to inform them that Massasoit, the Wampanoag chief, intended to visit. Another Indian, named Tisquantum, arrived with Samoset. Remarkably, Tisquantum began talking to the pilgrims in English and told them that he had seen London. Calling him Squanto, the pilgrims learned that he had been captured by European fishermen and sold into slavery to Spain.He had been in the West Indies and the Canaries and had escaped his Spanish captors and fled to England. While in England he learned English and then he arranged to board an English ship and sail back to America; just in time for him to be here when the pilgrims arrived. Squanto taught the pilgrims how to grow maize, fertilizing the ground with rotting fish. By the autumn, the pilgrims harvested their first crop and gave thanks to God for the bounty.