England Establishes Its First Permanent American Settlement
Bartholomew Gosnold was a navigator who worked with Richard Hakluyt (HACK-loot), a geographer who wrote books on explorations, to gain support for a colony in North America. Hakluyt had worked with Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh had attempted to establish three settlements in the new world. Each had failed. This did not inhibit Gosnold.
King James was opposed to the Spanish settlement of North America. He wanted to establish settlements there before they could. On April 6, 1606, King James granted permission for English colonization to take place from “the 34th to the 45th latitude—which meant from about Wilmington, North Carolina of our own day up to Canada.
“However, the king’s charter only extended inland 100 miles. Four years later the James issued another proclamation stating that the new charter would extend from “sea to sea,” meaning from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. Amazingly, geographers of that time thought this extended the chartered territory inland by about 200 miles. Because the English had made no exploration of North America beyond the Atlantic Seaboard, the mapmakers of that day assumed that the east coast which extended up to Canada was merely a long, narrow strip about as wide as Central America in the region of Panama. They actually believed the Pacific Ocean was only about 200 miles away!” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, (1996), p. 334)
The London Company
The venture was supported by the London Company. It took about one hundred dollars for each settler to be equipped for the journey. Gosnold and others raised the money. Then it took another year to find enough colonists to volunteer for the adventure.
Just before Christmas in 1606, three ships departed for the new world. The Sarah Constant had seventy-one passengers, the Discovery had twenty passengers and the Goodspeed had fifty-two, Gosnold being numbered in this group. All aboard were men. With a total of one hundred forty-three aboard the ships, one hundred and five would settle in the colonies. At one hundred dollars per head, the initial investment was at least $10,500.
On one of the ships, the London Company had sent a box that was to be opened upon arrival. The secret box contained instructions from the council in London as to the manner in which the settlement should be set up, and it also contained the names of the leaders who were to govern the settlement after they arrived in Virginia. (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:84-98)
Captain John Smith was one of the men on board. His name was eventually to be found in the secret box, but halfway through the voyage, he was put into chains for mutiny. The story is as follows. Captain Christopher Newport decided to take the route that Columbus had taken to the new world. He traveled south to the Canary Islands, then he turned west. This was no longer the most direct route to the Americas. It was nearly double the distance of the new route and took four times as long. Captain Gosnold had made the trip the year before in one month. He had left from the English Channel to Cape Cod, but on this trip he was second in command. He allowed Newport to determine the route. This was too much for Captain Smith. He had traveled extensively and his experience would not allow him to remain silent. He knew during the extra three months of travel, they were wasting valuable winter food storage.
Captain Edward Wingfield, who was one of the officials of the London Company, interpreted John Smith’s criticism of captain Newport as “mutinous.” When Dominica was reached, he had Smith arrested and put in chains. John Smith was locked up below deck for the remainder of the journey. (Ibid., 4:107-108.) Well-known historian, John Fiske, would later describe Smith as one of the greatest Englishmen of that generation. (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:185-188.)
They arrive in ‘Virginia’
They sighted Virginia on 26 April 1607, at 4 am. It was to be the first English colony to survive in what is now the United States. After returning to England, John Smith wrote a history entitled, Generall Historie of Virginia. In it he stated:
That night was the box opened and the orders read, in which Bartholomew Gosnold, John Smith, Edward Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Ratliffe, John Martin, and George Kendall, were named to be the Councell, and to choose a President amongst them for a yeare, who with the Councell should governe. . . . Until 13 of May they sought a place to plant in, then the Councell was sworne, Mr. Wingfield was chosen President, and an oration made why Captaine Smith was not admitted of the Councell as the rest. (Donzella Cross Boyle, The Quest of a Hemisphere, Robert Welch University Press, Appleton, Wisconsin, 2002, p. 52)
The colonists entered the James River, which had been named after the King. The settlement was in Virginia, which had been founded in 1585 by Sir Walter Raleigh and had been named after Queen Elizabeth I, known as the Virgin Queen.
Some of those on the ships ventured onto land. They met some Indians and were attacked. Two were shot with arrows. They got back on the ships and went further upriver. Eventually, they came to a site they felt would work to establish Jamestown, in honor of the king.
The Jamestown Settlement
They set up their camp on May 13, 1607. “For a church they nailed a board between two trees to serve as a reading desk and stretched a canvas awning over it. There Reverend Hunt solemnly read the Episcopal service for the first time in Virginia and then preached the first sermon.” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, (1996), p. 340)
Unfortunately the spot was surrounded by hostile Indian tribes. It was an unhealthy, swamp region that was very hot and humid. Almost each day in the summer of 1607 a new grave was dug. On 22 August, Captain Gosnold died.
John Smith eventually demanded a jury trial. He was found not guilty when the evidence was presented and debated. Smith took his place on the council. Wingfield and several others still had reservations.
“Food for the colonists was kept in a general storehouse, and each man received the same daily rations. The toiler had no more to eat than did the loafer. As a result, many men spent their time in hunting and fishing instead of plowing and planting. They showed little concern for the interests of the company that had paid for these supplies and the expense of the voyage.” (Donzella Cross Boyle, The Quest of a Hemisphere, Robert Welch University Press, Appleton, Wisconsin, 2002, p. 52)
“The London Company had agreed to provide the means for the launching of the Virginia colony; however, it was stipulated that no wages would be paid. The Company promised that houses would be built for everyone but stipulated that when the crops were harvested they would be divided among the settlers equally. The Company was to receive its share of the profits and after several years the settlers would receive a division of the proceeds and enough land for farming and the building of private dwellings.
Today we would call this scheme ‘voluntary’ communism. However, it did not take long to discover that human nature does not adapt itself to working voluntarily when it is known that all will share equally in the harvest whether they worked or not. Not only is this arrangement an open invitation for the lazy to engage in malingering, but those who actually do the work feel cheated when they see the lazy settlers getting as much as those who performed the labor. Before long this voluntary communism became compulsory communism.” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, (1996), p. 341)
The fort was finished on the 15 June 1607. On the 22 June Captain Newport started the return voyage. This time he took the direct route. He promised to return as soon as possible with supplies and more settlers. He had left them with as many supplies as he could spare. There was never enough food. The residents were put on strict rations. Each person was allowed a pint of wheat and barley, which is equal to two cups. There was no salted meat to go with it. The grain had been stored for 26 weeks on the ship. Complaints arose when the settlers discovered it ‘contained as many worms as grains.’ (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:113.) . John Smith wrote about the grain: “In searching our casked corne, we found it halfe rotten, and the rest so consumed with so many thousands of rats that increased so fast, . . . as we knew not how to keep the little we had. This did drive us all to our wits ends, for there was nothing in the countrie but what nature afforded.” (Donzella Cross Boyle, The Quest of a Hemisphere, Robert Welch University Press, Appleton, Wisconsin, 2002, p. 53)
“There was little or no game to be had and even the attempt to catch fish produced only a few crabs and an occasional sturgeon from the river. The poor diet, unfamiliar kinds of labor for many of the settlers and the stifling heat of an American summer began to take its toll. Furthermore, malarial fever broke out and by the end of September . . . fifty of the settlers had died and been consigned to their graves. All the rest were sick and if the Indians had chosen to attack, John Smith speculated there would not have been even five men strong enough to man the bulwarks. (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:114-115.)
At this point John Smith began making overtures to the Indians and developing a friendly dialogue which allowed him to beg sufficient corn from them to keep the survivors alive. He thought that if they could eke out an existence until fall the cooler weather would bring back the wild fowl and they could then have enough meat to save their lives.” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, (1996), p. 342)
There were two Indians who stayed with them. The company didn’t have enough food to feed them, so they had to send them away. John Smith wrote: “But so well they liked our companies they did not desire to go from us. And to express their loves, for 16 days continuance, the Countrie people brought us 100 a day of Squirrels, Turkeyes, Deere and other Wilde beasts. (Donzella Cross Boyle, The Quest of a Hemisphere, Robert Welch University Press, Appleton, Wisconsin, 2002, p. 53)
Pocahontas Saves John Smith
5 January 1608, John Smith was negotiating with Indians for corn when he was taken captive. They were taken before Powhatan. He was the chief of all the tribes in that region. The decision was made that Smith must die. They placed two stones close together and his head was placed in the middle of them. Warriors of the tribe stood around him with clubs. They were to beat his head until he was dead. The thirteen-year-old daughter of the chief, Pocahontas, threw herself across him and begged for him to be spared. (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:121.) Chief Powhatan later told Smith he would like to adopt him as a son.
John Smith Returns to Jamestown
John Smith returned three days later to Jamestown. On the same day Captain Newport arrived from England with supplies and more settlers. Only thirty-eight of the original one hundred and five were still alive. (Ibid., 4:132.)
In the first company there had been thirty gentlemen, four carpenters and twelve laborers. The London Company determined that the failure of the colony was based on this fact. Therefore, in advertising for new colonists they worded the advertisement in plain words. They did not want “such an idle crew as did thrust themselves in the last voyage, that will rather starve for hunger than lay their hands to labor.” (Donzella Cross Boyle, The Quest of a Hemisphere, Robert Welch University Press, Appleton, Wisconsin, 2002, p. 53)
At this point, John Smith was put in charge of the settlement. Only about forty men worked, while two hundred shirked. To produce enough to barely live, he had to place the whole settlement under martial law. He called them all together and with musket in hand, he told them if they did not work they would not eat. (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:167.)
Smith was preparing to move Jamestown to a more healthy site in September 1609. There was a gunpowder explosion and he was wounded. He had to be returned to England for surgery and recuperation. He took a map that he had drawn of Virginia. He later had it published. Modern students marvel at the skill he possessed. (Ibid. 4:138)
Continued Communism equates to Continued Failure and Greater Starvation
Jamestown now had a population of five hundred. London Company expected the colonists to be self-sustaining, but they were to be disappointed. This period of time became known as “the starving time.” In May of 1610, the supply ships arrived to find sixty people left alive. It had been a very hard winter. Most had frozen to death. They had been too weak to get food and wood. Some of the survivors had resorted to cannibalism. Thirty others had been massacred by Indians. The survivors decided to abandon Jamestown and return to England. They were to leave on the 7 June 1610. As they sailed out of the James River they saw the first of three ships who had come to bring them food. There were also more settlers. The sixty survivors returned with them to make one more attempt with Jamestown. More people and more supplies kept arriving, but hunger and disease claimed more of the colonists. By spring, 150 more graves had been dug. (Ibid. 4:179, 181-183, 191)
The colony still failed to produce a profit. Additional advertisements were placed by the London Company. Why was the colony failing? They thought the failure of the colony should be placed on the colonists. They needed to work harder. The following example was printed in 1611: “It is not intended any more to burden the colony with vagrant and unnecessary persons. This is to give notice to so many honest and industrious men, as carpenters, brickmen, gardeners, smiths, coopers, fishermen, tanners, shoemakers, shipwrights, brickmen, farmers and laboring men of all sorts, that if they repair to the house of Sir Thomas Smith in Philpot Lane in London, before the end of the present month of January, the number not full, they shall be entertained for the voyage, upon such terms as their quality and fitness shall deserve.” (Donzella Cross Boyle, The Quest of a Hemisphere, Robert Welch University Press, Appleton, Wisconsin, 2002, p. 54)
The colony made slow progress, if any. The leaders of the colony asked the London Company for help and more help. The Company began to be weary of giving and getting nothing in return. In England there was great concern over the success of Virginia. It would be a national embarrassment if the colony did not remain.
“As more settlers arrived and just as the money and patience of the investors was running out, John Rolfe, who had learned to smoke in England, found that a fine quality of sweet tobacco thrived in the Virginia climate. A market for this brand of tobacco was an overnight success in England and gave the settlers their most important economic base. John Rolfe married Pocahontas in 1614 and took her to England in 1616. King James looked upon her as true royalty and was angry that she should have married John Rolfe, a commoner! Pocahontas was a sensation in England but just before she was to return to Virginia in March, 1617, she contracted small pox and died. However, she had given birth to an infant son, Thomas, who became the progenitor of a long line of distinguished Virginians.” (W. Cleon Skousen, The American Heritage and Constitution Study Course, The Freeman Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah (1975), ch 3)
Communism Ends and the Society Prospers
Another major solution came to the colony in 1611. The London Company decided to let each settler work three acres of land. Each would then be responsible to pay six bushels of corn as payment for the property. Six months after the new arrangement began, some more settlers arrived. The total number of settlers was now over eight hundred. (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:197) Once the men were to work for their own land, martial law was ended. They no longer had to be forced to work.
In April of 1619 a new governor arrived, Sir George Yeardley. The population of Jamestown was around 2,000. He had another charter from the London Company. Corporations were created in order to trade goods.
“In 1619 the people of each political division in Virginia were allowed to elect representatives and on the 30th of July, 1619, the first legislative body of free Englishmen in America was called together in the wooden church in Jamestown. Eleven local constituencies were represented under the various designations of city, plantation, or hundred, and each constituency was allowed to elect two representatives who were called “burgesses.” They continued to meet as Virginia’s House of Burgesses until 1776.” (John Fiske, Historical Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1902, 4:219)
It was also in 1619 that the Company began inviting boatloads of young women over to Virginia. Prospective husbands were required to pay 120 pounds of tobacco to cover the cost of the voyage from England. This delightful procedure immediately reflected itself in the growth of Virginia’s population. By 1622 the population of Virginia was up to 4,000. (Ibid. 4:223)” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, (1996), pp. 347)
The settlement is an example of ‘voluntary’ communism. Even when practiced voluntarily, communism does not work. Everyone must be responsible to labor for their own support. If they are unable to labor for their own support, they must be allowed to do all they can, and then the charity of others make up the rest.
The year 1619 brought several changes for good, the total end of communism for Jamestown, wives for the men, which meant population growth, and a house of representatives. One other important thing started that year as well. One that would alter the course of the country’s future. “A Dutch boat arrived with its hold occupied by twenty negro slaves. Since manpower was so scarce these Africans were considered valuable for the large, new plantations so a good price was paid for each of them and thus began the slave trade business.” (W. Cleon Skousen, The American Heritage and Constitution Study Course, The Freeman Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah (1975), ch 3)
The Settlers and the Indians
Cleon Skousen describes a tragic event that the settlers had hoped would never happen:
It was at this point in the history of Virginia that the optimistic spirit of good relations between the Indians and the English came to a blood-curdling halt. Many had hoped that the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe signalled the birth of a new age when the natives would accept the English as friends and carefully consider their message of Christianity. But it was not to be.
Stirred up by haunting visions of the white man spreading his fields and towns throughout their ancestral hunting grounds, the Indians took to their war paint and wild dances. It may have been sparked earlier in 1622 when an Indian chief named Jack of the Feather killed a white man and was captured and killed in return. Whatever the cause, a short time later the whole Indian population descended on the white settlements from Chesapeake Bay to the present site of Richmond.” (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, (1996), pp. 347-348)
The father of Pocahontan, Powhatan had died. His brother, Opechancanough, did not have the same feelings for the white settlers as his brother. He secretly arranged an attack on the settlers. An Indian who had been converted to Christianity warned Jamestown, thus saving it from destruction. The outlying areas weren’t so fortunate.
“Many of the women and girls were raped, children were tomahawked and scalped, men were scalped and sometimes tortured to death by roasting. Altogether 347 Virginians were killed. If this had happened two years earlier it would have no doubt closed down the entire settlement, but by the spring of 1622 the survivors were sufficiently strong to rise in a rage and begin hunting down the Indians as though they were predatory beasts. Nothing would satisfy the agonizing of the whites over the massacre of their people but the complete eviction or extermination of all the Indians in Virginia.
This was a tragic scenario that was eventually repeated in nearly all of the thirteen colonies. Every formula for peaceful coexistence between the Indians and the whites failed to endure. As an extreme experiment the Quakers in Pennsylvania allowed hundreds to be massacred without retaliation in hopes that kindness and capitulation would satisfy the savage lust for blood, but finally the non-Quakers had to rise up and purge the entire colony of the Indian population just as Virginia had done. (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, (1996), pp. 347-348)
Virginia Becomes a Royal Colony
It is sometimes mistaken that all settlements in the founding of America were based upon religious freedom. This is not true and Jamestown proves it. Though many Christians lived in Jamestown and they set up a “church” when they first arrived, the settlement was established as a financial venture.
“Following this massacre, internal dissension both in Virginia and London resulted in the dissolving of the company charter and Virginia was taken over as a crown colony. Altogether, the investors in London had spent over a million dollars and transported more than 9,000 persons to Virginia in an effort to make it a success. Financially, it was a failure but it had established the first permanent English colony on the western hemisphere. The king appointed a new governor but the House of Burgesses was allowed to continue meeting thereby insuring considerable local autonomy. Some of the London stockholders cashed in their virtually worthless stock for tracts of land, some of which became plantations of from two to five thousand acres. Younger sons of aristocratic families in England also purchased large estates. Even the settlers from Jamestown and surrounding communities found that since they were no longer working for the stockholders in London they could go forth and purchase their own farms which personal incentive soon transformed into thriving properties with comfortable homes and a goodly supply of livestock. It was the destiny of Virginia, however, to remain for many years an aristocratic society with many large and rich plantations but with few major settlements. The real development of strong local government and widespread citizen participation was to be developed further north. (W. Cleon Skousen, The American Heritage and Constitution Study Course, The Freeman Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah (1975), ch 3)
From this land-owning class, in this colony George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would come forth. The seeds of liberty and freedom had been planted.