American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

By Edmund S. Morgan | Go to book overview

5
THE PERSISTENT
VISION

THE Englishmen who invested their money in the Virginia Company's high purpose were naturally disappointed in the colony's failure to live up to expectations. But they were not sure what, if anything, to do about it. By 1618 they were divided into factions. One group, led by Sir Thomas Smith, was composed of big merchants, for whom Virginia was only one of many ongoing enterprises. These men, who had dominated the company's counsels hitherto, could afford to regard Virginia as a long-term investment in which one need not look for immediate success. They were disappointed with the results thus far achieved and with the settlers' new addiction to tobacco, but they were willing to wait for Smith, who had been highly successful in other ventures, to bring this one to fruition. 1

Another group of members, led by Lord Robert Rich and his son, the future Earl of Warwick, were also willing to wait for returns on their investment. Their immediate interest in the colony lay less in direct profits from the settlers there than in the protection the colony could afford their ships. In spite of James I's policy of peace with Spain, Rich and his associates were continuing the lucrative war of attrition begun by Hawkins and Drake. By obtaining privateering commissions from petty principalities like Savoy, they gave a color of legality to piratical cruises against Spanish shipping. But it was difficult to conduct such voyages from England without running into trouble with the king. Rich saw in Virginia a convenient

____________________
1
My account of the divisions in the company rests heavily on W. F. Craven, Dissolution of the Virginia Company.

-92-

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American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • American Slavery American Freedom - The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Book I - The Promised Land *
  • 1 - Dreams of Liberation 3
  • 2 - The Lost Colony 25
  • 3 - Idle Indian and Lazy Englishman 44
  • 4 - The Jamestown Fiasco 71
  • 5 - The Persistent Vision 92
  • 6 - Boom 108
  • Book II - A New Deal *
  • 7 - Settling Down 133
  • 8 - Living with Death 158
  • 9 - The Trouble with Tobacco 180
  • 10 - A Golden Fleecing 196
  • Book III - The Volatile Society *
  • 11 - The Losers 215
  • 12 - Discontent 235
  • 13 - Rebellion 250
  • 14 - Status Quo 271
  • Book IV - Slavery and Freedom *
  • 15 - Toward Slavery 295
  • 16 - Toward Racism 316
  • 17 - Toward Populism 338
  • 18 - Toward the Republic 363
  • Footnote Abbreviations 389
  • Appendix - Population Growth in Seventeenth-Century Virginia 395
  • A Note on the Sources 433
  • Index 443
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