ePub 版

This last important concession did not go into effect until the establishment of the Virginia Assembly (1619); later it had unforeseen On the

an result.

eve of the Rev

olution (1765),

the Virginians in justifying their resistance to the Stamp Act appealed to this clause of the original charter. They declared that the first settlers "brought with

them, and trans

mitted to their

[merged small][ocr errors]

that have at any

time been held .. by the people of Great Britain." 50

38. Government of the colony; trial by jury; religious worship; community of goods. The colony was to be governed by a resident council, under the direction of a higher council in England, controlled by the King."1

Trial by jury was to be granted in capital cases, and religious worship according to the usage of the Church of England was to be established.52 For the first five years the colonists were to deposit "all the fruits of their labor" in the Company's storehouse; but the Company was to supply the settlers with food, clothing, and other necessaries.

39. Settlement of Jamestown (1607); instructions to the emigrants; Captain John Smith. In 1607 the London

Company sent out one hundred and five emigrants to Virginia. No women or children went. Like the California pioneers of '49 their object was to find fortunes in the soil of the New World. They took out pickaxes to dig for gold. The emigrants had particular orders to search for mines of precious metals, and to seek for a passage to the Pacific.

The colonists landed on the banks of a river which they named the James in honor of the King. For a like reason they named their settlement Jamestown (1607). Perhaps the

He became

ablest man in the party was Captain John Smith.
one of the governors of the colony, and wrote its history.

Most of the settlers belonged to a class in England who were unused to manual labor, and hence wholly unfit to struggle with the hardships of an American wilderness. Sickness carried off many, and at one time they came so near starving that it was with the greatest difficulty that the breath of life was kept in the colony. A ship-load of glittering earth which they sent back to London, and which turned out to be not gold but simply yellow dirt, completed the disgust of the settlers.

When Smith became Governor, he laid down the scriptural rule that those who would not work should not eat. He explored and mapped the country bordering on Chesapeake Bay, urged the cultivation of corn, and endeavored by every possible means to put the settlement on a self-supporting and paying basis.53 Whether Pocahontas saved Captain Smith's life or not, he certainly seems to have saved Virginia.

40. Provisions of the new charter (1609). — Two years after the settlement of Jamestown the King granted the London Company (1609) a new charter. It provided:

1. That the government of the colony should be placed entirely in the hands of the Council in England, who were to send out a governor having almost absolute power.

2. Virginia was now made to extend two hundred miles north and the same distance south of Point Comfort; westward it was to run "from sea to sea," that is, to the Pacific. Event


[ocr errors]

ually Virginia made the "sea-to-sea" clause the basis for her claim to the greater part of that vast region which, after the Revolution, came to be called the "Northwest Territory" (§ 237).

3. The new charter forbade any emigrant's settling in Virginia unless he took the Oath of Supremacy by which he denied

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

the supreme authority of the Pope. This, of course, shut out Catholics.

At that time each of the leading nations of Europe maintained its own form of religion. In Southern Europe the established church was Catholic, in Northern Europe it was Protestant. When Spain planted her colonies in America she naturally excluded the Protestants; when England planted hers, she just as naturally excluded the Catholics.

41. The colonists abandon Jamestown; Lord Delaware; Sir Thomas Dale; the third charter (1612). - After Smith's return to England (1609) the colonists became so disheartened that they abandoned Jamestown and set out for their native land. At that moment, Lord Delaware, the newly appointed Governor, arrived and compelled the settlers to remain.

Lord Delaware was succeeded (1611) by Sir Thomas Dale, a stern disciplinarian, but a man of sound sense. He allotted three acres of land to each colonist, on condition that he should deliver a certain quantity of corn annually to the keeper of the common storehouse. This arrangement had a most happy effect: it secured to each man a little estate of his own, stimulated industry, and provided a reserve supply of food for the colony.

A year later (1612) the King granted to the Company a third and final charter. It differed from the preceding ones in putting the management of the colony into the hands not of a council, but of the body of stockholders in England.

42. John Rolfe begins the cultivation of tobacco; results. - Not long after Governor Dale's administration began, John Rolfe, who married Pocahontas, planted a field with tobacco (1612) which he sold at a handsome profit in England. That experiment decided the industrial and commercial success of the colony. Henceforth every man that could turn planter did so, and began raising tobacco for the English market. The soil and climate of Virginia favored the new culture, and the navigable streams emptying into Chesapeake Bay made it easy for the planters to ship their crop almost from their own doors direct to London.

Notwithstanding a heavy tax imposed on this product by the King, the demand for it constantly increased. In 1619 the Virginians exported 20,000 pounds of tobacco, and eight years later 500,000. Long before the close of the century the quantity sent abroad had risen (1670) to nearly 12,000,000 pounds. Charles II. thought that the use of the weed would be of short duration, and declared that the prosperity of Virginia was "wholly built upon smoke"; but from that "smoke" England derived, and still derives, a goodly part of her revenue.

In Virginia tobacco became (1620) the legal currency, and planters paid their tavern bills and their taxes in rolls or hogsheads of it. Later the Legislature enacted laws stinting the quantity of the plant which a farmer might raise, and compel

ling him to devote a certain number of acres to corn. These laws were necessary to prevent over-production in the one case, and to provide food in the other.

Economically, politically and socially the cultivation of tobacco had results of the highest importance.

1. It encouraged the immigration of a class of thrifty and industrious colonists who saw in Virginia a gold mine which they could work with a hoe.

2. It induced the exportation from England of thousands of "indented apprentices," who were bound to the planters for a number of years. Part of them came voluntarily, part were kidnapped in English ports and shipped to Virginia against their will. In a few instances, convicts known as "jail birds" were sent over by order of the King. By a later Act of Parliament convicts might be sent to any of the American colonies, though the greater part seem to have been transported to the West Indies.55 Most of these apprentices and their descendants became what were known as "Poor Whites," or " Scrubs." Occasionally a remarkable man sprang from these people. In modern times "Stonewall" Jackson was one, and Abraham Lincoln says that he was another.56

3. The demand for cheap and permanent laborers for raising tobacco led directly to the introduction (1619) of negro slavery.

4. The plantations, by scattering the population over large areas, checked the growth of towns and of public schools; but they were highly favorable to the creation of a well-to-do and high-spirited rural aristocracy who lived on their estates much after the fashion of the county aristocracy of England.

5. Finally, although tobacco exhausted the soil, and in time compelled the planters to abandon their old farms and take new," yet this staple first placed Virginia on a solid financial basis, and ensured the success of the colony.


43. Establishment of the Virginia Assembly; Virginia loses her charter; suffrage; power of the Assembly (1619); local government. A majority of the Virginia Company in

« 上一頁繼續 »