8 de marzo de 2009


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

1606, 1607

We have now arrived at the seventeenth century. In 1606 King James I. issued the first English colonial charter. It created a first and a second Virginia Company, the one having its centre in London, and coming to be known as the London Company; the other made up of Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth men, and gradually taking the title of the Plymouth Company. This latter company, the second, or Plymouth Company, authorized to plant between 38 degrees and 45 degrees north, effected a settlement in 1607 at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Little came of it but suffering, the colonists, after a severe winter, returning to England.
A colony of one hundred and five planters sent out by the first or London Company, proceeded, also in 1607, to Chesapeake Bay, entering James River, to which they indeed gave this name, and planted upon its banks Jamestown, the first permanent English colony on the continent.This London Company consisted of a council in England, appointed by the king, having the power to name the members of a local council which was to govern the colony, the colonists themselves having no voice.
It is well known that the very earliest population of the Old Dominion was not of the highest, but predominantly idle and thriftless. Vagabonds and homeless children picked up in the streets of London, as well as some convicts, were sent to the colony from England to be indented as servants, permanently, or for a term of years. Persons of the better class, to be sure, came as well, and the quality of the population, on the whole, improved year by year. Settlement here followed a centrifugal tendency, except as this was repressed by fear of the Indians. In 1616 the departments of Virginia were Henrico, up the James above the Appomattox mouth, West and Shirley Hundreds, Jamestown, Kiquoton, and King's Gift on the coast near Cape Charles--a wide reach of territory to be covered by a total population of only three hundred and fifty.

See also: 1584, 1586, 1587