8 de marzo de 2009

1608

A little exporting was immediately begun. So early as May 20, 1608, Jamestown sent to England a ship laden with iron ore, sassafras, cedar posts, and walnut boards. Another followed on June 2d, with a cargo all of cedar wood. This year or the next, small quantities of pitch, tar, and glass were sent. From 1619 tobacco was so common as to be the currency. About 1650 it was largely exported, a million and a half pounds, on the average, yearly. The figure had risen to twelve million pounds by 1670. At the middle of the century, corn, wheat, rice, hemp, flax, and fifteen varieties of fruit, as well as excellent wine were produced. A wind-mill was set up about 1620, the first in America. It stood at Falling Creek on the James River. The pioneer iron works on the continent were in this colony, hailing from about the date last named. Community of property prevailed at Jamestown in all the earliest years, as it did at Plymouth. After the event noted by John Rolfe: "about the last of August [1619] came in a Dutch man of warre that sold us twenty Negars," slavery was a continual and increasing curse, as is attested by the laws concerning slaves. It encouraged indolence and savagery of habit and nature. Virginian slaves, however, were better treated than those farther south. They were tolerably clothed, fed, and housed.
There was in Virginia little of that healthful social and political contact which did so much to develop civilization at the North. Of town life there was practically nothing. Even so late as 1716 Jamestown had only a sorry half-dozen structures, two of which were church and court-house. Fifteen years later Fredericksburg had, besides the manor house of Colonel Willis and its belongings, only a store, a tailor shop, a blacksmith shop, a tavern or "ordinary," and a coffeehouse. Richmond and Petersburg still existed only on paper, and if we come down to the middle of the eighteenth century, Williamsburg, the capital of the province, was nothing but a straggling village of two hundred houses, without a single paved street. Only the College and the governor's "palace" were of brick. The county-seats were mostly mere glades in the woods, containing each its court-house, prison, whipping-post, pillory, and ducking-stool, besides the wretched tavern where court and attendants put up, and possibly a church. Hardships and dissensions marked the whole early history of this infant state. At one time only forty settlers remained alive, at another meal and water were the sole diet. Hoping for instant riches in gold, poor gentlemen and vagabonds had come, too much to the exclusion of mechanics and laborers. For relief from the turbulence and external dangers of this period, the colony owed much to Captain John Smith, who, after all allowance for his boasting, certainly displayed great courage and energy in emergencies.
He, too, it was who did most to explore the country up the James and upon Chesapeake Bay.

See also:1606, 1607

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