History of Jamestown, Virginia

The Story of Jamestown
Excerpted from:
JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA - The Town Site and Its Story by Charles E. Hatch, Jr. 
Source: National Park Service Historical Handbook Series Number Two Washington, D.C., 1952

On  May  13, 1607, three small English ships approached Jamestown Island in Virginia—the Susan Constant of 100 tons commanded by Capt. Christopher Newport  and carrying 71 persons; the Godspeed of 40 tons commanded by Capt. Bartholomew  Gosnold and carrying 52 persons; and the Discovery, a pinnace, of 20 tons under Capt. John Ratcliffe, carrying 21 persons. During the day (as George Percy, one of the party on board, relates) they maneuvered the ships so close to the shore that they were "moored  to the Trees in six fathom [of] water." The next day, May l4, he continues, "we Landed all our men, which were set to worke about the fortification, others some to watch and ward as it was convenient." Thus, the first permanent English settlement in America was begun on the shores of the James River, in Virginia, about 20 years after the ill-fated attempts to establish a colony on Roanoke Island and 13 years before the Pilgrims made their historic landing at Plymouth, in New England.

Sir Humphrey lost his life in 1583 when returning from his attempted settlement of St. John's Port, Newfoundland. Sir Walter Raleigh diligently sought to establish the English flag to the south. He sent out two colonial expeditions to found a settlement on Roanoke Island in present eastern North Carolina. Both failed in their over-all purpose. It was the expedition of 1587 (the last) which set sail for the Chesapeake Bay country and landed on Roanoke Island that has come down to us as the "Lost Colony"—the  settlement that saw the birth of Virginia Dare and that left the baffling inscription suggesting that the members of the Colony moved, willingly or unwillingly, to be with the Croatan Indians who  lived not far from Roanoke. The early men at Jamestown knew of their countrymen who were  lost in America and were under orders to seek them. This they did, but their search went unrewarded.

The exploits of Raleigh and Gilbert, of Martin Frobisher, Michael Lok, John Davis, and Thomas Cavendish, of Sir Francis Drake, and Sir John  Hawkins, and their kind had already made England conscious of the potentialities of the New World and of the need to seek a part of it. Others  followed these earlier leaders. In 1602 Raleigh sent yet another ship (this under Samuel Mace) to seek the lost settlers of Roanoke, and in the same year a vessel went out under Bartholomew Gosnold who attempted a settlement on Elizabeth's Island in present Massachusetts. Gosnold  and another in this party, Gabriel Archer, were to become prominent later in the Jamestown settlement. In 1603, Martin Pring made  a voyage along the northern part of Virginia. In 1605, came the expedition under George Weymouth  to the Kennebec River on the New  England coast. He spent some weeks here and returned to England carrying with him several Indian natives from that region.

On  April 10, 1606, the first Virginia charter passed under the great seal of England. This document recognized two groups and two spheres of influence that would fall between the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth parallels of north latitude along the American coast. One was interested in North Virginia and was granted to Thomas Hanham, Raleigh Gilbert, William  Parker, George Popham, and others of and for Plymouth and other English places. This group was first in the field with exploration, dispatching a ship in August 1606 under Henry Challons. In May 1607, they sent a colony to the mouth of the Kennebec in Maine, but, in the spring of 1608, after a severe winter, the settlement was given up.

The second group, organized under the charter of 1606, was that interested in south Virginia. This patent went to Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George  Somers, Richard Hakluyt, Edward Maria Wingfield, and others of and for the city of London. The treasurer of the group was Sir Thomas Smith,  one of the most  capable businessmen of the day. Richard Hakluyt, the foremost authority on travel, foreign regions, and colonization in general, assembled helpful data and had a large part in the preparation of instructions and orders for those to be sent out as colonists.

It was this group and their associates that organized, financed, and directed the expedition that reached Jamestown on May 13, 1607, and saw to it that supplies came through and reinforcements were procured in the lean years of the settlement.

The immediate and long-range reasons for the settlement were many and, perhaps, thoroughly mixed. Profit and exploitation of the country were expected, for, after all, this was a business enterprise and they were necessary for long-range activity. A permanent settlement was the objective. Support, financial and popular, came from a cross section of English life. It seems obvious from accounts and papers of the period that it was generally thought that Virginia was being settled for the glory of God, for the honor of the King, for the welfare of England, and for the advancement of the Company and its individual members. In England  and in Virginia they expected and did carry the word of God to the natives, although not with the same verve as the Spanish. They expected to develop natural resources, to free the mother country from dependence on European states, to strengthen their navy, and to increase
national wealth and power. They expected to be a thorn in the side of the Spanish Empire; in fact, they hoped one day to challenge and overshadow  that empire. They sought to find the answer to what seemed to be unemployment  at home. They sought many things, not the least of them being gold, silver, and land. As the men stepped ashore on Jamestown Island, perhaps each had a slightly different view of why he was there, yet some one or a combination of these motives was probably the reason.

THE FIRST DAYS IN VIRGINIA. The expedition of 1607 included a cargo of supplies and 144 persons, of whom 104 or 105 (depending on which of the more detailed contemporary accounts is accepted) were to remain in Virginia as the first settlers. The expedition left England late in 1606. It moved down  the Thames River from London on December  20 and, after a slow start, the ships proceeded over the long route through the West Indies. There were stops in the islands, new experiences, and disagreements among  the leaders. Captain Newport was in command, and the identity of the councilors who were to govern in Virginia lay hidden in  a locked box not to be opened  until their destination had been reached. Dissension at one point led to charges against Capt. John Smith who reached the New World in confinement. This was suggestive of the later personal and group feuds and disagreements that plagued the first years of the Virginia Colony.

The "Land of Virginia" was first seen by the Lookout on April 26, and just a little later in the same day a party was sent ashore at Cape Henry to make what was the first landing in the wilderness which they came 

A characteristic view of the landscape on Jamestown Island: The high ground  is principally along low ridges, sometimes called "fingers," divided by marshes or very low ground. Having been aboard ship for many weeks, the settlers found the expanse of land, the green virgin trees, the cool, fresh water, and the unspoiled landscape a pleasant view to behold. At Cape Henry they saw Indians and several of the party were wounded by their arrows, notably Capt. Gabriel Archer, one of the experienced leaders. They built a
"shallop" (a small boat), went exploring into the country for short distances by land and water, enjoyed the spring flowers, and tasted roasted oysters and "fine beautiful strawberries." On April 29, a cross was set up among the sand dunes. The next day the ships were moved from  Cape Henry into Chesapeake Bay to the site on Hampton Roads which they named Point Comfort (now Old Point Comfort).

For about 2 weeks, explorations were made along both banks of the James, below  and above Jamestown, from its mouth to a point as far upstream  perhaps as the Appomattox River (Hopewell, Va.). Parties went ashore to investigate promising areas, and communication was established with the native tribes. On May 12, a point of land at the mouth  of Archer's Hope (now College) Creek, a little below Jamestown, was examined in detail. Capt. Gabriel Archer was particularly impressed with this location and urged that it be the point of settlement. The  soil seemed good, timber and wildlife were abundant, and it appeared adaptable for defensive measures if these should become necessary. It was not possible, however, to bring the ships close to the shore, and consequently Archer's Hope was rejected. From this site the ships moved  directly to Jamestown, where they arrived May 13. On May 14, they landed and broke ground for the fort and the town that ultimately won  the  distinction of the first permanent English settlement in America  and the capital of the Virginia Colony for almost a century.

In May 1607, the days were warm; the nights, cool. Life was stirring in the wilderness and nature had been generous, the colonists thought. There were fruits, abundant timber, deer and other animals for food, and a not too numerous native population. The hot, humid weather of mid-summer and the snow, ice, and emptiness of winter were not in evidence. The  choice of a site for settlement was both good and bad. The anchorage for ships at Jamestown was good. The Island had not then become a true island and had an easily controlled dry land isthmus connection with the mainland. As the river narrows here, it was one of the best control points on the James. It was not used by the Indians; and it was a bit inland, hence somewhat out of range of the Spanish menace. Arable land on the Island was limited by inlets and "guts." The swamps were close and bred mosquitoes in abundance and, with contamination so easy, drinking water was a problem. All of these facts became evident to these first English Americans as the months went by.

When  the orders were opened after arrival in Virginia, it was found that the governing body in the Colony was made up of seven councilors. Edward  Maria Wingfield, of gallant service in the Low Countries; Bartholomew Gosnold and Christopher Newport, both seasoned seamen and captains; John Ratcliffe, who piloted the Discovery to Virginia; John Martin, an earlier commander under Drake; John Smith, already an experienced adventurer; and George Kendall, a cousin of Sir Edwin Sandys who  later was to play a dominant role in the Virginia Company. To this list can be added other prominent names—George Percy, brother to the Earl of Northumberland and a trained sailor; Gabriel Archer, a lawyer who had already explored in the New England country; and Rev. Robert Hunt, the vicar at Jamestown, whose pious and exemplary living was noted by his associates.

THE  FORT. The work of establishing Jamestown and of exploring the country round about began almost simultaneously. The several weeks between May  13 and June 22, when Newport left Virginia for a return to England, were busy ones. At Jamestown an area was cleared of trees and the fort begun. The soil was readied and the English wheat brought over for the purpose was planted. At this point Newport, in one of the small boats, led an exploring party as far as the falls of the James (near present Richmond). He was successful in learning a great deal about the country, but did not succeed in his search for gold or silver. He was absent from Jamestown  about a week  and returned to find that the Indians had launched a fierce attack on the new settlement which had been saved, perhaps, by the fact that the ships were near at hand. These afforded safe quarters and carried cannon on their decks that had a frightening effect on the natives.

The fort was completed about mid-June. It was triangular in shape, with  a "Bulwarke" at each corner which  was shaped like a "halfe Moone."  Within the "Bulwarkes" were mounted four or five pieces of artillery—demiculverins which fired balls of about 9 pounds in weight. The  fort enclosed about 1 acre with its river side extending 420 feet and its other sides measuring 300 feet. The principal gate faced the river and was  in the south side (curtain) of the fort, although there were other openings, one at each "Bulwarke," and each was protected by a piece of ordnance. The  church, storehouses, and living quarters were flimsily built of perishable materials, within the walls of the palisaded fort, along fixed streets arranged around an open yard. For the first few years this fort was Jamestown.

Before the fort was completed the wheat had come up and was growing nicely, as George Percy wrote in what was probably the first essay on farming along the James River. About June 10, John Smith, partly through the intercession of Robert Hunt, was released and admitted to his seat on the Council. Relations with the Indians improved. On June 21, the third Sunday after Trinity, the first Anglican communion at Jamestown  was celebrated. "We had a comunyon. Capt. Newport dyned ashore with our dyet, and invyted many of us to supper as a farewell." The  next day, Christopher Newport raised anchor and began the return trip to England. He took letters from those to remain in Virginia and carried accounts describing Virginia and the events that had occurred. The settlement had been made, and the future seemed promising.

SUMMER  AND FALL, 1607. Within the short span of 2 months, conditions changed drastically. The Indians became cautious and distrustful, and provisions, not sufficiently augmented from the country, began to run low. Spoilage destroyed some food, and, with the coming of the hot, humid  weather, the brackish drinking water proved dangerous. In August,  death struck often and quickly, taking among  others the stabilizing hand of Captain Gosnold. Inexperience, unwillingness, or inability to do the hard work that was necessary and the lack of sufficient information about how to survive in a primeval wilderness led to bickering, disagreements, and, to what was more serious still, inaction. They forgot a most important bit of advice that had been given them by "His Majesties Council for Virginia. . . the way to prosper and achieve good  success is to make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your
country and your own. . . .

On  arrival in Virginia the resident councilors, as outlined in their orders, met and named one of their number as president. Real power was with the Council, however, and the president was without actual independent authority. This was a serious defect (corrected in the second  company  charter in 1609) which prevented a well-directed and
coordinated program  at Jamestown  during the first 3 years. As the first summer wore  on it was natural that hostility should develop toward the titular head of the Colony. Had the first president, Edward Maria Wingfield, been a stronger, more adventurous, and more daring man, conditions might have been a little better, despite his lack of real authority. He was not the leader, however, to act and to reason later. Consequently, opinion was arrayed against him and charges, some unjust no doubt, were formed that led to his deposition and replacement  in one of the two celebrated jury trials which occurred at Jamestown  about mid-September. His successor, perhaps no more able, was John  Ratcliffe who continued for about a year until deposed and replaced by Matthew  Scrivener, one of those who came over with the first supply. It was a little later, in 1608, that Capt. John Smith took the helm as chief councilor, which was what the president really was. It was under the presidency of Ratcliffe, however, that Smith emerged as an able, experienced leader, who preferred action to inaction even though it might be questioned later. His work and his decisions, sometimes wise, sometimes not so wise, did much to insure the survival of the Colony.

When the first cool days of approaching autumn touched Jamestown, in 1607, spirits rose and hopefulness supplanted despair. Disease, which had reduced the number to less than 50 persons, subsided; the oppressive heat lessened; and Indian crops of peas, corn, and beans began to mature. Friendly relations were established with the natives, and barter trade developed. As the leaves fell, game became easier to get, ducks multiplied in the ponds and marshes, and life in general seemed brighter. Work was resumed at Jamestown in preparation for the coming winter, and exploration was undertaken. It was in December, while investigating the Chickahominy River area, that Smith was taken by the Indians. He  was eventually carried before Powhatan who released him, some say through the intercession of the young Pocahontas. This incident Smith did not mention in his detailed account of the events of the Colony written several months later. It was not until a number of years later, in fact, that this romantic story evolved in its present form.

THE FIRST SUPPLY. Upon returning to Jamestown, Smith was caught in the meshes of a feuding Council. All was forgotten early in January, however, when  Newport reached Jamestown  with the first supply for the settlers. He brought food, equipment, instructions, and news from home. His cargo was not sufficient, but for the moment this was overlooked. The two ships of the supply had left England together, but the second did not reach Virginia until April.

Shortly after Newport's arrival in January, disaster came to Jamestown. Fire swept through the fort, consuming habitations, provisions, ammunition, and even some of the palisades. This was a serious blow in the face of winter weather. With the help of Newport and his sailors, the church, storehouse, palisades, and cabins were partially rebuilt before he sailed again for England early in April. Much more could have been done had he not consumed so many days in a pompous visit and lengthy negotiations with the wily Powhatan. Then, too, the ships had to be loaded for the return voyage, for the London backers were  loudly calling for profitable produce. The first of the spring months were spent in cutting cedar logs and preparing "clapboards" for sale in England, and a little later there seems to have been a mild "gold rush" at Jamestown as some hopeful looking golden colored soil was found. This all delayed early spring clearing and planting, and boded ill for the coming summer when Ratcliffe wasted precious days building a house suitable to his position and  Smith  engaged  in important,  yet not particularly pressing, explorations.

THE  FIRST MARRIAGE AT JAMESTOWN.   It was in September 1608 that Smith became  president in fact and inaugurated a program of physical improvement  at Jamestown. The area about the fort was enlarged and the standing structures repaired. At this point, in October, the second supply arrived, including 70 settlers, who, when added to the survivors in Virginia, raised the over-all population to about 120. Among the new arrivals were two women—Mistress   Forrest and her maid. Several months  later, in the church at Jamestown, the maid, Ann Burras, was married to one of the settlers, John Lay don, a carpenter by trade. This marriage has been ranked as "the first recorded English marriage on the soil of the United States." Their child, Virginia, born the next year, was the first to be born at Jamestown.

EARLY INDUSTRY.  With the second supply came workmen sent over to produce glass, pitch, soap ashes, and other items profitable in England. These men, including some Poles and Dutchmen, were quickly assigned to specific duties. So rapidly did they begin that "trials" of at least one product, glass, were sent home when Newport left Jamestown before the end of the year. As usual, in addition to settlers and supplies, Newport  brought more instructions from the Company officials. The Colony was not succeeding financially, and it was urged that the Council spend more time in the preparation of marketable products. It was urged, too, that gold be sought more actively; that Powhatan be crowned as a recognition befitting his position; and that more effort be expended in search of the Roanoke settlers. These things were all desirable, but, at the moment,  impracticable. No one understood this better than did Smith, who spoke his mind freely in a letter he wrote for dispatch to the authorities at home. Nevertheless, these projects were emphasized, and the more pressing needs of adequate shelter and sufficient food were neglected.

In the interval from about February to May 1609, Smith reported considerable material progress in and about Jamestown. Perhaps 40 acres were cleared and prepared for planting in Indian corn, the new grain that fast became a staple commodity. A deep well was dug in the fort. The church was re-covered and 20 cabins built. A second trial was made  at glass manufacture in the furnaces built late in 1608. A blockhouse was built at the isthmus which connected the Island ' to the mainland for better control of the Indians, and a new fort was erected on a little creek across the river from Jamestown. Smith was now in command, as his fellow councilors either had returned to England or were dead. About this time there came a new disaster. With all attention centered on the numerous construction projects, insufficient protection was given the meager supply of grain. When discovered, rats had consumed almost all of the corn stores. Faced with this situation, Smith found it necessary to scatter the settlers, sending some to live with the Indians and some  to eat at the oyster banks where the unbalanced oyster diet is reported to have caused their skin "to peel off from head to foot as if they had been fleade." Only "a small guarde of gentlemen & some others [were left] about the president at James Towne."

In midsummer of 1609, conditions at Jamestown were not good, although it is doubtful that they were any worse than during the two previous summers.  The settlers were becoming acclimated, and they were learning the ways of the new country. Supplies were low, yet the number of colonists was small, and a good harvest and a good fall might have improved matters had not some 400 new, inexperienced settlers sailed into the James without their leaders, without instructions, and with damaged supplies. To add to other complications, they brought fever and plague. In the selection of prospective settlers for the voyage the standards had been low, and too many ne'er-do-wells, and even renegades, had been included. This was the third supply, and it reached Jamestown in August 1609.

THE SECOND COMPANY CHARTER AND THE THIRD SUPPLY. The Company had received a new charter in May 1609 which corrected some of the defects of the old and made provision for a strong governor to rule in the Colony. Despite discouraging news from Virginia, the supporters of the enterprise did not abandon their plans to maintain the Colony. The second charter, as this was called, was subscribed and incorporated by 56 companies of London and 659 persons, of whom 21 were peers, 96 knights, 11 doctors, ministers, etc., 53 captains, 28 esquires, 58 gentlemen, 110 merchants, 282 citizens, and others not classified. Altogether they represented a cross section of English life in that period.

It was resolved to send a much larger expedition to Virginia than the three sent prior to this date. It went out in June under Sir Thomas Gates and with him were Sir George Somers and Captain Newport. There were nine ships and about 500 settlers. The voyage was uneventful until they ran into a stiff hurricane that broke up the fleet and cast ashore in the Bermuda Islands the flagship with its three commanders. The rest of the fleet, except one small ship lost at sea, limped into the James and went on  to Jamestown.

Returning to Virginia in the third supply were several men who had been earlier leaders in the Colony and who were now all hostile to Smith—Archer,  Ratcliffe, and Martin. A confusing scene developed over command. The old leaders, particularly Smith, refused to give way to the new in the absence of Gates, the appointed governor, and his instructions. There was considerable bickering which led to an uneasy settlement, leaving Smith in charge for the duration of his yearly term, now almost expired.

It was obvious to everyone that there were too many men for all to remain at Jamestown. John Martin was sent to attempt a settlement at Nansemond,  on the south side of the James below Jamestown, while Capt. Francis West, brother of Lord Delaware, was sent to settle at the falls of the James. Returning to Jamestown after an inspection tour at the falls, Captain Smith was injured by burning gunpowder and incapacitated. The implication in the documents of the period is that Ratcliffe, Archer, and Martin used this opportunity to depose him and to compel him to return to England to face their charges against him. These three men, failing to agree on a replacement from their own number, persuaded George Percy to accept the position of president. Percy was in command  during the terrible winter that followed.

THE  "STARVING   TIME." The winter of 1609-10  has been described through  the years as the "starving time"—seemingly, an accurate description. It saw the population shrink from 500 to about 60 as a result of disease, sickness, Indian arrows, and malnutrition. It destroyed morale and reduced the men to scavengers stalking the fort, fields, and woods for anything that might be used as food. When spring came there was little spirit left in the settlement. It would seem unjust to attribute the disaster to Percy, who did what he could to ameliorate conditions by attempting  trade and keeping the men  busy. The "starving  time" appears to have been caused by an accumulation of circumstances.

There was the matter of the third supply which arrived in such poor condition very late in the season. Bickering prevented measures that could have been taken to prepare for the winter. Dissension continued even after Smith's departure. Then, too, the Indians knew of conditions at Jamestown, for they actually kept scouts in the fort much of the time. They were learning the ways of the white man and had come to see that he was most vulnerable in the winter season. Heretofore they had supplied him corn—by gift, by trade, or unwillingly through seizure. In the winter of 1609-10, they had a good opportunity to make him suffer, and throughout  this period the Indians were openly hostile. Perhaps the increasingly heavy use of force and armed persuasion in dealing with them had resulted in this attitude which, from their point of view, proved highly effective. In the fall of 1608, they had forced the settlers in from Nansemond   and  the falls. Then, in the winter of 1609-10, Powhatan captured and killed Ratcliffe who had gone to trade with him. All through that winter it was dangerous to be alone far from the fort.

Not having sufficient stores set aside, not able to deal with the natives, and without the use of the resources of the countryside, there is small wonder  that conditions became serious, even desperate, for the settlers. Those  few men fortified on Hampton Roads under Capt. James Davis (after Captain West, perhaps under threat from the crew, left Virginia for England in the Colony's best ship) fared far better than did those at Jamestown.  Even the coming of spring failed to restore full hope and vitality to the survivors, yet certainly it must have been good to-know that winter was over.

VIRGINIA ALMOST  ABANDONED.   In May l6l0, the hearts of the weary settlers were gladdened when Sir Thomas Gates, their new governor, sailed into the James. For about a year he and the survivors of the wreck of the Sea Venture had labored in Bermuda to make possible the continuation of their voyage to Virginia. The last part of the journey was made  in two boats built by them in Bermuda—the  Patience and the Deliverance, names suggestive of their thankfulness for survival. It was not a pleasant sight that greeted them at Jamestown. Ruin and desolation were everywhere. Gates, with his Council, on July 7, 1610, wrote that Jamestown seemed "raither as the ruins of some auntient [[for]tification, then that any people living might now inhabit it: the pallisadoes he found tourne downe, the portes open, the gates from the hinges, the church ruined and unfrequented, empty howses  (whose owners untimely  death had taken newly from them) rent up and burnt, the living not hable, as they pretended, to step into the woodes to gather other fire-wood; and, it is true, the Indian as fast killing without as the famine and pestilence within."

Gates promptly distributed provisions, such as he had, and introduced a code of martial law, the code that was strengthened later by Delaware and made famous by its strict enforcement under the governorship of Sir Thomas Dale. After surveying the condition of the settlement and realizing that the supplies he had brought would not last 3 weeks, Gates took council with the leaders. They decided to abandon the settlement. On June 7, 1610, the settlers, except some of the Poles and Dutchmen who  were with Powhatan, boarded the ship, left Jamestown, and started down  the James.

The next morning, while still in the river, advance word reached Gates that Lord Delaware had arrived at Point Comfort on the way to Jamestown and was bringing 150 settlers and a generous supply. The bad news carried to England by the returning ships of the third supply, late in 1609, had caused considerable stir in Virginia Company circles and had resulted in Delaware's decision to go to Virginia. Learning of the new supply, Gates hastened back to Jamestown. The new settlement had been saved in a manner that was recognized at that time as an act of "Providence."

LORD  DELAWARE  REACHES JAMESTOWN.  On  June 10, Delaware reached "James City" and made his landing. He entered the fort through the south gate, and, with his colors flying, went on to the church where Rev.
Richard Buck delivered an impressive sermon. Then his ensign, Anthony Scott, read his commission, and Gates formally delivered to him his own authority as governor. Delaware's speech to the assembled colonists cheered them, advised them, warned them, and reproached them. Thanks to the pen of William Strachey, we have a good account of these events, including the best description of the fort, church, and cabins that is now known  to have been preserved. With the arrival of Delaware, the settlement  was given new life and new hope. Lean times lay ahead, yet the most  difficult years lay behind. Virginia now had a government that made  for stability under the governor, and the old settlers, who, a little later, came to be called "Ancient Planters," had learned well by experience.

Gates, after dealing with the Indians, left for England. Delaware, who continued to live aboard ship for a time, called a Council, reorganized the colonists, and directed operations to promote the welfare of the Colony, including the construction of two forts near Point Comfort. He fell sick, however, and, after a long illness, was forced to leave Jamestown and Virginia in March 1611, leaving the now veteran administrator, George Percy, as governor in charge. With Delaware went Dr. Lawrence Bohun, who  had experimented extensively with the curative powers of plants and herbs at Jamestown.

SIR THOMAS  DALE AND  MILITARY  LAW. In May, Sir Thomas Dale, on military leave from his post in the Low Countries, arrived as deputy governor of Virginia. He proceeded to give form and substance to the martial
law which had been evoked by his predecessors. It led to rather complete regimentation, and he was severely criticized for it later, particularly by those hostile to his administration. He began by posting proclamations "for the publique view" at Jamestown. Later, he thoroughly inspected suitable settlement sites and surveyed conditions generally. He wrote, on May  25, 1611, that on arrival at Jamestown he found ". . . no cornsett, some few seeds put into a private garden or Two; but the cattle, cows, goats, swine, Poultry &c to be well and carefully on all hands preserved and all in good plight and likeing." To get things in order at the seat of government, one party was designated to repair the church, another to work on the stable, another to build a wharf. When things were reasonably well in hand at Jamestown, he made plans to push the decision to open a new settlement above Jamestown which would become the real center of the Colony. The reasons for such a removal of the seat of government are well known—not sufficient high land, poor drinking water, too much marsh, and a location not far enough upstream to be out of reach of the Spanish.

JAMESTOWN,   1611-16. Under Dale, from May 1611 to l6l6, and under Gates who  replaced him for several years, beginning in August l6ll, the emphasis was away from Jamestown, but the capital was not actually moved.

In 1612, "Master George Percie . . . [was busy] with the keeping of Jamestown"  while much  of the Colony had been "moved up river." The  first settlement was then looked upon as chiefly a place of safety for hogs and cattle. In l6l4, it was made up of "two faire rowes of howses, all of framed Timber, two stories, and an vpper Garret or Corne loft high, besides three large, and substantiall Storehowses joyned togeather in length some hundred and twenty foot, and in breadth forty . . .this town hath been lately newly, and strongly impaled, and a faire platforme for Ordnance in the west Bulworke raised." Without the town ". . . in the Island [were] some very pleasant, and beutifull howses, two Blockhouses . . . and certain other farme howses." In 1616, it was a post of 50 under the command of Lt. John Sharpe, who was acting in the absence of Capt. Francis West. Thirty-one of these were "farmors" and all maintained themselves with "food and rayment."

The Gates-Dale 5-year administration (1611-16) actually saw Virginia established as a going concern. The role of Dale in all of this seems to have been a heavy one. Martial law brought order and uniformity in operations and compelled the people to go to work. Dale saw to it that corn was planted and harvested and that the laws were observed. He made  peace with the Indians.

So effective were Dale's measures that one of his contemporaries, John Roife, wrote "whereupon a peace was concluded, which still continues so firme, that our people yearlely plant and reape quietly, and travell in the woods a fowling and a hunting as freely and securely from danger or treacherie as in England. The great blessings of God have followed this peace, and it, next under him, hath bredd our plentie . . ." All this was accomplished when the fortunes of the Virginia Company were at a low point and little support was being sent to the Colony. John Roife then went on to predict that Dale's "worth and name . . . will out last the standing of this plantation . . .".

Martial law, strictly administered at first, was gradually relaxed in application as conditions stabilized, and within a few years Dale took the step of granting 3-acre plots to private men for their enjoyment outside of the common  store. This was a big step in the evolution of the private ownership  of land. In the beginning, ownership was communal and Company  controlled. In 1609, a future division of both land and profits was anticipated, but it was about 1619 before individual grants were made. A part of this evolution was the headright system of acquisition, whereby persons were rewarded for venturing to Virginia themselves, or their capital. Dale's grants of a semiprivate nature, about 1615, were a step in this evolution as well. The headright system which developed at Jamestown  and on the banks of the James was later adapted in other colonies and continued in use for generations.

Gates and Dale in their administration had the help of other enterprising and daring early Virginians. There was Capt. Samuel Argall whose  later work as governor of the Colony has sometimes been criticized, especially his handling of the Company finances. This should not becloud his earlier helpfulness in getting Virginia established. He pioneered in making a direct crossing of the Atlantic to save time and to avoid the Spanish, who now were fearful that the Virginia enterprise might succeed and were sending spies to Virginia. (Some of these spies were captured and interned at Jamestown.) Argall led in exploration, both in Virginia waters and northward along the coastline. He was adept at shipbuilding and in the Indian trade. It was evidently he who discovered the best fishing seasons and the fact that the fish made "runs" in the bay and in the rivers. He made an open attack on the French settle-

POCAHONTAS. While on a trading expedition on the Potomac, Argall captured Pocahontas and brought her prisoner to Jamestown in an attempt to deal with her father, Powhatan. Pocahontas was no stranger at Jamestown. She had often visited there before, once in the spring 1608 to seek some of her countrymen held as hostages in the fort.  In 1613, Pocahontas was well received at Jamestown, where she had not been for some time; and when her father refused to pay the pi asked for her ransom, she was detained. Later, she preferred life with the English and did not wish to return to her native village. She placed under the tutelage of Rev. William Whitaker who instructed in the Christian faith. Eventually she was baptized, and, in April in the church at Jamestown, she married John Rolfe, one of the settlers. This was a celebrated marriage that did much to improve relations with the Indians. About 1616, the couple went to England where Pocahontas was entertained at court. She died there as she was about to return
Virginia, in 1617, and her body rests at Gravesend. She had one son, Thomas Roife, who later went to Virginia. Through him many can trace their ancestry back to Pocahontas.

TOBACCO.  After the death of Pocahontas, John Rolfe came back to Virginia alone to resume the work which he had begun there as early as 1610. Perhaps he continued his work with tobacco which had already resulted in a plant that could compete in taste and quality with that which had given the Spanish a monopoly of the tobacco market.

In the first years of the settlement every effort had been made to find products in the New World that would assure financial success for the settlers and the Company. Pitch, tar, timber, sassafras, cedar, and other natural products were sent in the returning ships. Attempts to produce glass on a paying scale proved futile, as did early efforts to make silk, using the native mulberry trees growing in abundance. The glass furnaces fell into disuse, and rats ate the silkworms. The native tobacco plant, found growing wild was ". . . not of the best kind . . . [but was] poore and weake, and of a byting tast . . ." and held little promise.

About  1610-11, the seed of a different species of the plant was imported from Trinidad, then famous for the quality of its tobacco. Later some came  from Venezuela. These were planted and a process of selection and cross-breeding began which resulted in the commercially valuable Virginia leaf. John Rolfe, an ardent smoker himself, has been credited as the pioneer English colonist in this experimentation with the tobacco plant.

In addition to the improvement of the plant, Rolfe was one of the first regularly to grow tobacco for export and as such was the father of the Virginia tobacco trade and industry. The first experimental shipment of the newly developed Virginia leaf came about 1613, and because of its pleasant taste it was well received in some quarters. Production was  slow for several years. Dale restricted its cultivation until basic commodities, such as corn, were well advanced. In the 1615-16 period only 2,300 pounds reached London  from Virginia. Capt. George Yeardley, the next to govern, gave the new crop his whole-hearted support, with the result that in l6l7 exports reached the 20,000 pound total, and by 1619 this had been more than doubled. Thus, a new trade and industry were born  in the Colony, which proved to be the economic salvation of Virginia, and provided a means for making slavery profitable. Tobacco and slavery together led to the development of important characteristics of the whole social, political, and economic structure of the Old  South. One of the immediate effects of tobacco culture in Virginia was  the impetus it gave to the expansion of the area of settlement and to the number of settlers coming to Virginia.

THE SPREAD OF SETTLEMENT. Jamestown was planned as the first permanent English settlement in Virginia. The fixed intention was to establish other seats as soon as possible. As the limitations of Jamestown became obvious, the desire for other town sites was intensified. Soon after the settlement was made at Jamestown, temporary garrisons were placed at outlying points for protective and administrative reasons—at Kecoughtan (Hampton-Newport News), Cape  Henry, and at the falls of the James. The first efforts in this direction, except at Kecoughtan, ended in the fall of 1609 under pressure from the Indians. With the arrival of Delaware, Kecoughtan (renamed Elizabeth City in 1621) was established as a permanent settlement. Dale and Gates went on to establish the city of Henricus (Henrico) well up the James near the falls. Then came Charles City (the earlier Bermuda Nether Hundred) which developed into the last of the four settlements established by the Company, each of which had the designation "city." These four settlements were the only towns specifically set up by the Company and consequently under its complete control. These later came to be mentioned in the records as the "Four Ancient Boroughs" or "four ancient Incorporations." As one of these, Jamestown became the center of the political subdivision that developed into one of the original Virginia shires in 1634. Within the next decade the term county replaced that of shire, and today, although Jamestown  has ceased to exist as a corporate organization, James City County  continues to function as the oldest governing unit in English America.

Although the four "cities" constituted the first settlements in Virginia and were the only ones established directly under Company control, they were but the beginning. About 1616, a new plan gave rise to the creation of settlements known as "particular plantations," sometimes called "hundreds" as a result of the practice of awarding land on the basis of 100 acres or of sending settlers in groups of the same number. These were established with Company permission, which included a grant of land made to individual groups of stockholders organized for the purpose of setting up a specific settlement. The first of these was Martin's Hundred, in l6l7, and others followed rapidly. By the summer of 1619, there were seven particular plantations already functioning, in addition to the original "cities," a term sometimes thought to derive from  the form of government being used by the "City of Geneva" in Switzerland which was held in high esteem by some of the Company officials, particularly by Sir Edwin Sandys who became Treasurer of the Virginia Company  in 1618.

With  the spread of settlement east and west along the James and outward  along the rivers and creeks as well, Jamestown lay approximately in the center of an expanding and growing Colony. It was the capital town  and the principal center of the Colony's social and political life. In size it remained small, yet it was intimately and directly related to all of the significant developments of the seventeenth century. Its physical aspects changed with the evolution of seventeenth century architectural patterns and designs. Life in the town was varied and perhaps representative of the best in the Colony for almost a century. As wealth accumulated, the manner of living broadened and improved. There is strong evidence that Jamestown was the first to feel the impact of the advantages and efforts that this produced, particularly in the first half century of its existence. Material progress is evident as early as 1619 in the letter of John Pory, Secretary of the Colony, written from Virginia late in that year:

"Nowe  that your lordship may knowe, that we are not the veriest beggars in the worlde, our cowekeeper here of James citty on Sunday goes accowtered all in freshe naming silke; and a wife of one that in England had professed the black arte, not of a schollar, but of a collier of Croydon, weares her rough bever hatt with a faire perle hatband, and a silken suite thereto correspondent."

THE BEGINNING  OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT.   In l6l8, there were internal changes in the Virginia Company that led to the resignation of Sir Thomas Smith, as Treasurer, and to the election of Sir Edwin Sandys as his successor. This roughly corresponded to changes in Company policy toward the administration of the Colony and to intensified efforts to develop Virginia. It led to the abolition of martial law, to the establishment of individual property ownership, and greater freedom and participation in matters of government. Virginia already enjoyed a high degree of religious freedom due, perhaps, to the fact that a number of Company  officers were strongly under the influence of the puritan element  within the Church of England. This, together with the fact that Virginia was not settled purely for religious reasons, caused less stress to be put on absolute uniformity in church matters. Sir George Yeardley, recently knighted, returned to Virginia as governor, in April 1619, and was  the first spokesman in the Colony for the new policy toward Virginia. In England it had been ably advanced on behalf of the Colony by Sir Edwin Sandys, the Earl of Southampton, and John and Nicholas Ferrar.

Soon after his arrival, Yeardley issued a call for the first representative legislative assembly in America which convened at Jamestown on July 30, 1619, and remained in session until August 4. This was the beginning of our present system of representative government in America. The  full intentions behind the moves that led to this historic meeting may  never be known. It seems to have been an attempt to give to the Englishmen in America those rights and privileges of Englishmen that had  been guaranteed to them in the original Company charter, rather than a planned attempt to establish self-government in the New World on  a scale that might have been in violation of English law and custom at the time. Whatever the motive, the significance of this meeting in the church at Jamestown remains the same. This body of duly chosen representatives of the people has continued in existence and its evolution leads directly to our State legislatures and to the Congress of the United  States.

DEVELOPMENTS, 1619-24. Another significant development of 1619 was the arrival of "maids" sent by the Company to become wives of the settlers. Homes and children were conducive to established family life and permanent residence. The Company recognized this, and other ships followed with passenger lists made up of young ladies seeking their fortunes in Virginia. This was but a part of the new program of the Company. However, many  women  had arrived prior to that date and were already established with their families at Jamestown and elsewhere.

The  third of the momentous events for Jamestown and Virginia in the year 1619 was the arrival of Negroes in the James River in a Dutch warship. These remained in Virginia, some finding a home at Jamestown, in what was actually the introduction of Negro slavery into the Colony. It was more than a generation before the institution of Negro slavery began to be entrenched as the backbone of the economic life in Virginia, yet this event of 1619 was the first move in that direction.

Under Dale, the emphasis was away  from Jamestown,  yet later governors found the original seat more desirable. Capt. Samuel Argall, who  succeeded Yeardley as deputy governor in 1617, wrote that he advanced  physical improvements  prior to his hasty withdrawal from Virginia in the spring of 1619 to avoid arrest under charges of mismanagement of Company affairs. Argall had been the first to prescribe limits for Jamestown. Yeardley followed him as governor, and for the next few years Jamestown, at this time most often called "James City, witnessed considerable growth and activity. The town, long before, had expanded  outside of the fort and spread along the shore on the extreme west end of the Island. The borough or incorporation, of which it was the center, extended west to the Chickahominy River and down river as far as Hog Island. Its territory was along the north side of the river and included the south side as well—the area that later became Surry County. West toward the Chickahominy  the area adjacent to Jamestown Island became rather heavily developed and was referred to as the "Suburbs of James City."

The  period from 1619 to 1624 was one of considerable activity for Virginia in general and Jamestown in particular. The reorganized Virginia Company,  following its political changes, renewed its efforts to expand  the Colony and to stimulate profitable employment. Heavy emphasis was placed on new industries, particularly iron and glass, the latter evidently attempted a second time on Glass House Point. The planting of mulberry trees and the growing of silkworms were advanced by the dispatch of treatises on silk culture and silkworm eggs in a project in which King James I himself had a personal interest. Immigration to the Colony was increased, and measures were taken to meet the religious and educational needs of the settlers. This was the period that saw the attempt to establish a college at Henrico.

The  industrial and manufacturing efforts of these years, however, were not destined to succeed. This condition was not due to any laxity on the part of George Sandys, resident Treasurer in Virginia, who was something of an economic on-the-spot supervisor for the Company. Virginia could not yet support these projects profitably, and interest was lacking on the part of the planters who found in tobacco a source of wealth superior to anything else that had been tried. Tobacco was profitable, and it was grown, at times, even in the streets of Jamestown. It was the profit from tobacco that supported the improved living conditions that came throughout  the Colony.

These Englishmen  who came to settle in the wilderness retained their desire for the advantages of life in England. Books, for example, were highly valued, and with the passage of the years were no uncommon commodity   in Virginia. As early as 1608, Rev. Robert Hunt had a library at Jamestown, which was consumed  by fire in January of that year. Each new  group of colonists seemingly added to the store on hand—Bibles, Books  of Common  Prayer, other religious works, medical and  scientific treatises, legal publications, accounts of gardening, and such. In 1621, the Company  wrote to the colonial officials regarding works  for a new minister being sent to the Colony that: "As for bookes we doubt not but you will be able to supplie him out of the lybraries of so many that have died." By this date there was local literary effort, too, such as that by Treasurer George Sandys who continued his celebrated translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses in the house of William Pierce at Jamestown.  Then, too, in March 1623, a gentleman of the Colony sent from  "lames his Towne" the ballad "Good Newes  from  Virginia" in which, among   other things, he describes the arrival of the governor's "NEW  TOWNE."  It is in the 1619 to 1624 period that the first clear picture of Jamestown  emerges, for this period corresponds with the earliest known  property records that exist. The town had outgrown the original fort in some years past and now appeared as a fairly flourishing settlement. The records reveal that many of the property owners were yeomen, merchants, carpenters, hog-raisers, farmers, joiners, shopkeepers, and ordinary "fellows," as well as governors and colonial officials. The "New Towne"  section of James City developed in this period as the old section proved too small and the residents began to build more substantial houses, principally frame on brick foundations. The Indian massacre of 1622, that wrought such heavy devastation in the outlying regions of the Colony, did not reach Jamestown which was warned through the efforts of the Indian, Chanco. It did temporarily cause congestion in the Jamestown area, however, as the survivors from the more distant settlements fell back for safety and to regroup. The punitive Indian campaigns that followed were directed from Jamestown by the governor who resided there.

The  population figures taken in these years give a good idea of the size of Jamestown in this period. In February 1624, it is recorded that 183 persons were living in Jamestown and 35 others on the Island outside of the town. These are listed by name, as are the 87 who died between April 1623 and the following February. The death toll suggests that the mortality rate was continuing high and that it was still difficult for newcomers to adapt themselves to the Virginia environment. In the "census" of January 1625, a total of 124 residents are listed for "James Citty" and an additional 51 for the Island. In the over-all total of 175, 122 were males and  53, females. At that time, Governor Sir Francis Wyatt and former Governor  Yeardley had two of the largest musters for the town, which included women, children, indentured servants, and Negroes. Nine  Negroes  were listed for Jamestown and  the Island, evidently some of those brought there in l6l9.

Aside from the population statistics, the musters of January 1625 give much  more  information. Jamestown had  a church, a court-of-guard (guardhouse), 3 stores, a merchant's store, and 33 houses. Ten of the Colony's 40 boats were here, including a skiff, a "shallop" of 4 tons, and a "barque" of 40 tons. There were stores offish (24,880 pounds to be exact), corn, peas, and meal. There were four pieces of ordnance, supplies of powder, shot and lead, and, for indivudual use, "fixt peeces," snaphances, pistols, swords (to the number of 70), coats of mail, quilted coats, and suits of armor (35 of them complete). The bulk of the Colony's livestock seems to have been localized in the Jamestown area—about half (183) of the cattle, a little more than half (265) of the hogs, and well over half (126) of the goats. The one horse listed for the Colony  was shown to have been at Jamestown.

The "census" clearly indicates that the population of Jamestown was not keeping pace with that of the Colony. The needs of tobacco culture-open fields and new soil—and the abundance of navigable waters in the rivers, bays, and creeks of tidewater Virginia led to a scattered population, based on the plantation system. These factors prevented the rise of trade centers and large towns for almost a century, despite the best efforts of both home and colonial officials. The idea was to make Jamestown the center of social, political, and economic life and to develop it into a city of some proportions. In size, it never attained that of a city and it failed to dominate trade and commerce. It was, however, the hub of political and social life for as long as it was the capital of Virginia—92 years. Hence, its story is vital to an understanding of American beginnings. Its citizens, in their daily life and work, developed the origins of many of our institutions, styles, and customs in speech, in architecture, in dress, and in government organization.

VIRGINIA MADE  A ROYAL COLONY.  The Virginia Company  established the first permanent English settlement in America, but did not reap the profits that it had expected. Despite reorganization and large expenditures, it never achieved its full objective and was increasingly subject to criticism. Matters reached a head in 1624 when James I dissolved the Company,  thereby removing the hand that had guided Virginia affairs for 17 years. With this act Virginia became a royal colony and continued as such until the American Revolution made it free and independent. From  the point of view of operations in the Colony the change was The  remains of a seventeenth century (c. 1650) brick and tile kiln found at Jamestown.  This is the best preserved and most complete of several kilns that have been uncovered, showing that the Jamestown residents manufactured many  of their bricks and roofing tiles. almost painless although there was concern over land titles and a continuance of the Assembly which had already voiced its feeling on taxation without representation. The Company governor gave way to the royal appointee, but most institutions were left intact. Sir Francis Wyatt was the last Company governor, and he continued in office for a while as royal governor. When he left for England, in 1626, Yeardley again became governor and served until he died at Jamestown the next year. Capt. Francis West was named to the post as deputy. Another  deputy, Dr. John Pott, followed next in turn, and he was
replaced by the royal appointee, Sir John Harvey.

GOVERNOR HARVEY  DEPOSED. Sir John Harvey first came to Virginia in 1624 as a member of a committee to report on conditions in the Colony. It was in 1630 that he returned as royal governor and settled himself at "James cittie, the seate of the Governor." In 1632, he had a commodious house  and was complaining of the expense of the entertainment that he had to finance at the seat of government in "the Governors owne house. Whether  because of his personal nature, his own view or interpretation of government, or because of the severe opposition that confronted him, he managed  to become thoroughly disliked throughout the Colony. His high-handed  and autocratic methods arrayed even his Council against him.

In the end, his Council, in meetings at Jamestown, moved to depose him, naming  another to act in his stead—a bold measure, indeed. The Assembly, in May 1635, approved this action, and Harvey was returned to England to answer the charges placed against him there. The King, it is true, returned Harvey to his post as royal governor in 1637, but undoubtedly both he and Harvey were impressed by the action that the Colonists had taken to redress their grievances—they had deposed a royal governor.

BRICK ARCHITECTURE.  When  Governor  Harvey reached Jamestown in January 1637 he made  a special effort to promote the growth of the town. The Assembly passed an act offering a "portion of land for a house and garden" to every person who would undertake to build on it within 2 years. This was the beginning of considerable activity at Jamestown. A number  of new patents were issued, and, in January 1639, the Governor and his Council could report that twelve houses and stores had been constructed and others had been begun. One of those already built was the house of Richard Kemp, Secretary of the Colony. His house was described as "one of brick" and "the fairest ever known in this country for substance and uniformity." Kemp's house is the earliest all-brick house in Virginia that it has been possible to date conclusively up to the present time. It was in 1639, too, that the first brick church was begun, and a levy was collected for the acquisition of a statehouse. Among the new land holders at Jamestown in this period of activity were Capt. Thomas  Hill, Rev. Thomas Hampton,  and Alexander Stoner, a "brickmaker." As the area along the river was occupied, additional patentees obtained holdings just outside of the town proper and others settled in the few lots that had been abandoned. Sir William Berkeley, who became  governor in 1641, continued the emphasis on the construction of substantial houses. In that same year, the Colony acquired its first statehouse, formerly the property of Harvey and a building in which public business had been transacted for, perhaps, as much as 10 years.

In March  1646, measures were taken to discourage the sale of liquors on the Island, and a system of licensed ordinary keepers was adopted. Later in the year, houses for the encouragement of linen manufacture were  projected for Jamestown. In 1649, the General Assembly established a market and near the market zone was the landing for the ferry that ran across the James to Surry County. Even this new action, however, failed to develop a town of any great extent. The same was true of the Act of 1662 which attempted to encourage a substantial building program for the capital town. Only a few houses were erected before the new  impetus had spent itself, and, in 1676, it is known that the town was still little more than a large village. One of the more detailed descriptions at this time relates that "The Towne . . . [extended] east and west, about 3 quarters of a mile . . . [and] comprehended som 16 or 18 houses, most as is the church built of brick, faire and large; and in them about a dozen families (for all the howses are not inhabited) getting their liveings by keeping of ordnaries, at extreordnary rates."

THE  COMMONWEALTH    PERIOD. The decade of 1650-60 corresponded with the period of the Commonwealth Government  in England. Virginia, for the most part, appeared loyal to the crown, yet in 1652 the
Colony  submitted to the new government when  it demonstrated its power  before Jamestown. Governor Berkeley withdrew to his home at Green Spring, just above Jamestown, and the General Assembly assumed the governing role, acting under the Parliament of England. Virginia was  given liberal treatment, with considerable freedom in taxation and matters of government. The governors in this interval, elected by the Assembly, were Richard Bennett, Edward Digges (an active supporter of the production of silk in Virginia), and Samuel Mathews. In 1660, on  the death of Mathews, the Assembly recalled Berkeley to the governor's office, an act that was approved by Charles II, who was restored to the English throne in that year. The decade passed quietly for the Colony, although in the years that followed it had occasion to remember the liberal control that it had enjoyed. It had witnessed an increased wave  of immigration that brought some of those who were fleeing from England, and this more than offset the loss of the Puritans whom Berkeley had forced out of the Colony prior to 1650.

In matters of religion, Virginia continued loyal to the Church of England, although there was considerable freedom for the individual. .the Puritans found it uncomfortable to remain, however, and two Quaker preachers, William Cole and George Wilson, soon found themselves in the prison at Jamestown. Writing "From that dirty dungeon in Jamestown," in 1662, they described the prison as a place ". . . where we have not the benefit to do what nature requireth, nor so much as air, to blow in at a window, but close made up with brick and lime. ... Lord Baltimore (George Calvert) did not find the Colony hospitable when he visited Jamestown with his family in 1629. for, being a Roman Catholic he could not take the Oath of Allegiance and Supremacy which denied the authority of the Pope.

BACON'S  REBELLION, 1676-77. Bacon's Rebellion, one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of the English colonies, stands out as a high light in seventeenth century Virginia. It broke in spectacular fashion and is often hailed as a forerunner of the Revolution. It constituted the only serious civil disturbance experienced by Virginia during its entire life as a British colony. It occupies a prominent spot in the annals of the times, and in any chronicle of Jamestown its significance can be multiplied many times, for a number of its stirring events took place at the seat of government and resulted in excessive physical destruction in the town.

The  rebellion had its origin in Indian frontier difficulties and a royal Governor  (Sir William Berkeley) who, possibly as a result of his involvement in the Indian trade, had become somewhat dictatorial, tyrannical, and a firm advocate of the status quo. The leader for the exposed frontiersmen and the generally disgruntled Virginians came in the person of Nathaniel Bacon, a young man of good birth, training, and education who  had come  to Virginia in 1674. A distant kinsman of Lord Chancellor Francis Bacon and a relative of another Nathaniel Bacon, a leading citizen of Virginia, he soon became established as a first-rate planter at Curles, in Henrico County, and was admitted to the Governor's Council not long after his arrival.

The  low prices for tobacco, the accumulative effects of the Navigation Acts, high taxes, and autocratic rule by Berkeley, whose loyal supporters permeated the government structure and had not allowed an election of burgesses for 15 years, had brought considerable underlying discontent in Virginia. The spark came from the depredations of the Susquehanna Indians who were being forced south by the powerful Iroquois. They made attacks all along the Virginia frontier. Berkeley ordered a counterattack, but cancelled it in favor of maintaining a system of forts along the edge of the western settlements. In March 1676, the Assembly at Jamestown  made plans for new forts; this measure, however, was both time-consuming and ineffective. Among the leaders who assembled at the falls of the James for consultation regarding the Indian menace was Nathaniel Bacon. William Byrd I was there, too, and, even though he was the officer who had been named to guard the frontier, Bacon  was placed in command  of the men sent to attack the enemy Indians. A messenger left to request a commission for him from the governor. Berkeley replied that he would discuss the matter with his Council. Bacon  then set out with his men to collect allies from among the friendly Indians. While Bacon was on the march he received word from Berkeley ordering him to return or be declared a rebel. Bacon did not turn back but continued into the wilderness in search of the enemy. Action came at Occaneechee Island. Bacon returned with captives and was hailed as a hero by those who had heard of his exploits.

Governor Berkeley realized that the situation was becoming critical and that he could lose control of his government. Prompt action was necessary. He dissolved the House of Burgesses and ordered a new election. The result was that many of his loyal adherents were replaced by representatives, some of whom were unfriendly, even hostile, to him. The new Assembly convened in the statehouse at "James Citty" on June 5, 1676, and among the Burgesses was the defiant Bacon who had been returned by the voters of Henrico. An announced rebel and not yet formally removed  from the Council, it is doubtful that he was eligible for his seat, yet he determined to go to Jamestown and present his credentials.

He boarded his sloop, accompanied by about 40 supporters, and sailed down the James. When near Jamestown he sent ahead to inquire whether he would be allowed to enter the town in peace. A shot from a cannon in the fort gave the negative answer. Despite this, Bacon secretly went ashore at night to confer with two of his friends then living in Jamestown—William  Drummond,   a former Governor in Carolina, and Richard Lawrence, a former Oxford student. Later that night he returned to his boat and started back up the James, but was taken by an officer whom Berkeley had sent out to apprehend him. A dramatic scene followed at Jamestown.

Bacon was brought before the Governor, paroled, and restored to the Council. Berkeley knew that his opponent had the upper hand and that the House of Burgesses, then in session, was against him. Bacon seemingly could have remained in the capital and personally directed a full program  of economic and political reform. This evidently was not his aim. He demanded  a commission to go against the Indians, and, when Berkeley delayed, he disappeared from Jamestown, later saying that his person was in danger, although this appears unlikely. Bacon now entered a course from which he could not turn back. With a sizable group of supporters, on June 23, he returned again to Jamestown. He crossed the isthmus ". . . there leveing a p'ty to secure ye passage, then marched into Towne, . . . [sent] p'tyes to the ferry, River & fort, & ... [drew] his forces ag't the state house." In the face of this show of force, the Governor  gave him a commission, and the Burgesses passed measures designed to correct many old abuses. Among  the new laws was one establishing the bounds of Jamestown to include the entire Island and giving the residents within these bounds the right, for the first time, to make  their own local ordinances.

By this time Bacon and his men were arrayed solidly against both governor and royal government. The issue was defeat or independence for Virginia, but Virginia was not yet ready and did not elect to face the issue. Bacon, it seems, wanted extreme measures, and there is evidence to indicate that he visualized the formation of an American Republic. Yet when Bacon  established himself as the opponent of royal government in Virginia and subordinated his role as supporter of the frontier settlers against misrule, he lost popular support. Had he lived and succeeded in arms, it is questionable that the people would have backed him, for they had not shown much disposition to defy royal authority. The discontent at this time was not so much against that authority as against the misuse of it by Sir William Berkeley.

The issues having been drawn, Bacon pursued his course to the bitter end. He returned to Henrico. When about to move a second time against the Indians, news came that Berkeley was attempting to raise troops in Gloucester County. Consequently, it was to Gloucester that Bacon first moved, only to find that his opponent had withdrawn to Accomac, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. On August 1, at Middle Plantation (later Williamsburg), Bacon sought to administer his oath of loyalty and to announce his "Declaration of the People" to those assembled there at his summons.  His next move was against the Pamunkey Indians. Then it seemed necessary that he move again on Berkeley who now had returned to Jamestown.

On  September 13, 1676, he drew up his "few weake and Tyr'd" men in the "Green Spring Old ffield," just above Jamestown, and posted lookouts on Glass House Point. Then he ordered the construction of a trench across the Island end of the isthmus. A raiding party advanced as far as the palisade, near the edge of Jamestown proper. Berkeley ordered several ships brought up as close to the shore as possible. Their guns and the small arms of the men along the palisades opened fire against Bacon, but proved ineffective in routing him from his entrenchments. On  September 15, Berkeley organized a sally, "with horse and foote in the Van," which retreated under hot fire from Bacon's entrenchments. At this point Berkeley's force lost heart, while his opponent's spirit reached a new high. In any event, after a week of siege, the Governor felt compelled to withdraw from Jamestown. This he did, by boat, with many  of his supporters. This was the high point of Bacon's fortune in arms, and a costly one. Seemingly, it was during the fatiguing siege, which came "in a wett Season," that he contracted the illness that caused his death and brought an abrupt end to the rebellion.

Following Berkeley's withdrawal, Bacon and his tired force marched into Jamestown for rest. Wholesale destruction followed. As a contemporary put it, "Here resting a few daies they concerted the burning of the town, wherein Mr. Laurence [Richard Lawrence] and Mr. [William] Drummond    owning  the two best houses save one, set fire each to his own  house, which example the souldiers following laid the whole town (with church and State house) in ashes. . . ." It is known from the records that the destruction was systematic and that the town suffered heavily from the burning. Among those losing homes and possessions of high value were Col. Thomas Swann, Maj. Theophilus Hone "high sheriff of Jamestown," William Sherwood, and Mr. James' "orphan," the last to the value of £1,000 sterling. It was estimated that total losses reached a value of 1,500,000 pounds of tobacco. Again the idea was advanced to move the seat of government from Jamestown to some more desirable location. A little later, Tindall's (now Gloucester) Point, on the  York, was given preferential consideration by the Assembly as a fit location. The move was not made, however, and the capital remained at Jamestown for another quarter of a century.

From Jamestown,  Berkeley moved once more to the Eastern Shore. Bacon, whose men pillaged Green Spring (Berkeley's home on the mainland, just above Jamestown) on the way, marched to Gloucester, where he became ill and died on October 26, 1676. The rebellion, now without a real leader, quickly collapsed. Joseph Ingram, successor to Bacon, and Gregory Wakelett, cavalry leader in Gloucester County, surrendered in January 1677; Lawrence disappeared in the Chickahominy marshes; and Drummond   was promptly hanged. Berkeley moved with haste to silence his opponents, making ready use of the death sentence.

Accommodations  for the conduct of government were now wholy inadequate at Jamestown. Consequently, Berkeley called the Assembly to meet at Green Spring, which functioned for a time almost as the temporary capital. In February 1677, the commissioners sent to investigate Bacon's Rebellion arrived in Virginia. With them came about 1,000 troops who encamped at Jamestown for the remainder of the winter and ensuing spring. The commissioners, among them Col. Herbert Jeffreys, the next governor, finding so much ruin and desolation at Jamestown, made  their headquarters in the home of Col. Thomas Swann across the James  from the capital town. Berkeley left for England in May and Jeffreys took control in Virginia. It was not until March 1679, however, that definite action (following a recommendation of the investigating commissioners) was taken for the restoration of Jamestown. Then it was ordered, in England, that the town be rebuilt and made the metropolis of Virginia "as the most ancient and convenient place. family estate at Jamestown had grown slowly since before 1650, and Richard Ambler, of Yorktown, acquired, through marriage, the extensive Jaquelin, formerly Sherwood, holdings. After 1830, the Island came under a single ownership. Under the Amblers and Travises and later owners  of the Island, even parts of the town site itself became farm land and functioned as an integral part of the plantation system which earlier events at Jamestown had helped so materially to create.

The fields, and woods, and marshes lay quietly on the James for generations, contributing in a small, but important, manner to a growing country. Americans often remembered the early years of the Colony and the momentous  events that had taken place on the Island, and joined here to commemorate   the deeds of their forefathers. There was the Bicentennial of 1807, the Virginiad of 1822, the 250th anniversary in 1857, and the Tercentennial of 1907. In the years between these events there were thousands who came individually and in small groups, the famous  and those now unknown. It was this remembrance and loyalty to one of its great landmarks that led to the establishment of Jamestown Island as a national historic shrine.

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