Jamestown, Virginia Essay Sample

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Jamestown, the capital of the Virginia colony. … The Far East has its Mecca, Palestine its Jerusalem, France its Lourdes, and Italy its Loretto, but America’s only shrines are her altars of patriotism – the first and most potent being Jamestown; the sire of Virginia, and Virginia the mother of this great Republic. (http://www.apva.org/history/) a 1907 Virginia guidebook. In June of 1606, King James I granted a charter to a group of London entrepreneurs, the Virginia Company, to establish a satellite English settlement in the Chesapeake region of North America. By December, 104 settlers sailed from London instructed to settle Virginia, find gold, and seek a water route to the Orient. On May 14, 1607, the Virginia Company explorers landed on Jamestown Island to establish the Virginia English colony on the banks of the James River, 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. In 1607 the British Empire settled Jamestown, Virginia as its first permanent colony in America. It was the first of the original 13 colonies in North America.

The 13 colonies can be divided into three regions: New England, Middle, and Southern colonies. On May 14, 1607, just over one hundred men settled in what is now Jamestown, Virginia, to become the first permanent English colony in the New World. It was a business venture by the London Virginia Company. While disease, famine, and continuing attacks of neighboring Algonquians took a tremendous toll on the population, there were times when the Powhatan Indian trade revived the colony with food in exchange for glass beads, copper, and iron implements. It appears that eventual structured leadership of Captain John Smith kept the colony from dissolving. The “Starving Time” winter followed Smith’s departure in 1609 during which only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived. That June, the survivors decided to bury cannon and armor and abandon the town. It was only the arrival of the new governor, Lord De La Ware, and his supply ships that brought the colonists back to the fort and the colony back on its feet. Although the suffering did not totally end at Jamestown for decades, some years of peace and prosperity followed the wedding of Pocahontas, the favored daughter of the Algonquian chief Powhatan, to tobacco entrepreneur John Rolfe.

According to Nicholas Ferrar the first people reduced to slavery there were Polish, owned by Dr. Woodall, the surgeon of the British East India Company. Slavery was legally authorization by English law by Sir Edward Coke with Calvin’s Case (1608). Coke was a director of the Virginia Company and they had discussed the issue of slavery at one of their board meetings. Not wanting a public discussion of the issue, so Coke’s use of his position as England’s Attorney General to quietly legalize slavery went largely unnoticed. In 1619 a Dutch slave trader exchanged his cargo of Africans for food; the Africans became indentured servants, similar in legal position to many poor Englishmen who traded years of personal labor in exchange for passage to America. The popular conception of a race-based slave system did not fully develop until the 1680s. In 1619 the first women and the first enslaved Africans arrived, and the colonists elected some of their number to the House of Burgesses, the first representative legislature in America. These are three of the famous “firsts” that took place in the Jamestown Colony.

To mark the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown Settlement, in 1957 a large festival park opened with much ballyhoo: Queen Elizabeth II made an official appearance and loaned a copy of the Magna Carta for the exhibition. There is now a working reconstruction of the settlement and of the three ships that brought the colonists: the Goodspeed (or Godspeed), the Discovery, and the Susan Constant (or Sarah Constant), that is very popular with tourists, especially school groups. Recent archaeological work at the site is still expanding our knowledge of what happened at Jamestown in its earliest days. (http://www.factbook.org/wikipedia/en/j/ja/jamestown_settlement.html) Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) whose family was deeply involved in the London Virginia Company.

His niece is said to be the first woman to have received the name “Virginia”. His family home was often visited by Sir Walter Raleigh, half-brother of Sir Humphrey Gilbert. After studying at Cambridge, Nicholas returned to London and found that the family’s Virginia fortunes were under threat. Nicholas entered parliament and worked with Edwin Sandys. They were part of the parliamentary faction (the “country party” or “patriot party”) which was able to seize control of the finances from a rival group, the “court faction”, grouped around Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick on the one hand and Sir Thomas Smith (or Smythe), also a prominent member of the East India Company. Ferrar’s pamphlet Sir Thomas Smith’s Misgovernance of the Virginia Company was only published by the Roxborough Club in 1990. Here he lays charges that that Smith and his son-in-law Robert Johnson, were running a company within a company to cream of the profits from the shareholders.

He also alleged that Dr Woodall had bought some Polish settlers as slaves, selling them on to Lord de La Warr. He claimed that Smith was trying to reduce other colonists to slavery by extending their period of indenture indefinitely beyond the seventh year. The Algonquians eventually became disenchanted and, in 1622, attacked the out plantations killing over 300 of the settlers. Even though a last minute warning spared Jamestown, the attack on the colony and mismanagement of the Virginia Company at home convinced the King that he should revoke the Virginia Company Charter; Virginia became a crown colony in 1624In May, 1624, after losing a court battle the London Virginia Company lost its charter. Inspiration for Americans during the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense.

The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution (“no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”) is a direct descendent of Magna Carta’s guarantee of proceedings according to the “law of the land.” Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king.

The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the American War of Independence,[N 1] or simply the Revolutionary War in the United States, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, but gradually grew into a world war between Britain on one side and the newly formed United States, France, Netherlands, Spain, and Mysore on the other. The main result was an American victory and European recognition of the independence of the United States, with mixed results for the other powers

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