The Pageant of America: A Pictorial History of the United States - Vol. 1

By Clark Wissler; Constance Lindsay Skinner et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
"AND OURS TO HOLD VIRGINIA"

IN 1603 Elizabeth died and the powerful Tudors gave place to the House of Stuart. England had prospered under her "good Queen Bess". The interests and thoughts of her people had reached out to distant parts of the world. Raleigh's scheme of sttlement had come to naught, but the fall of Spanish sea-power had removed the chief menace to the English on the sea lanes that led to the New World. New companies of merchants and investors had carried English trade into Russia, the Levant and India.

Three years after James came to the throne two more companies, the London and the Plymouth Companies, were formed for colonization and trade in North America. Both almost at once turned their energies to procuring colonists for their great undertakings. In three months the Plymouth Company had things in readiness, and in August, 1606, sent out a trial ship followed two months later by another. But the first was captured by the Spaniards, and the second, after skirting the American coast, sailed home without making a settlement. The tidings brought back, however, stimulated the Company to a greater effort, and in August, 1607, two ships dropped anchor at the mouth of the Sagadahoc, or Kennebec river on the Maine coast. After a sermon by the preacher, the reading of the instructions from the Company in England revealed George Popham president of the colony. A fort was built and fortified with twelve pieces of ordnance. Inside, a church, a storehouse and fifteen cabins were erected. A shipbuilder constructed a pinnace which was afterward used in Virginia.

But many of the colonists became discouraged, and half went back to England when the ships returned in December. The winter was a time of suffering and terror for the little handful of men on the frozen Kennebec. Their storehouse burned and with it most of their provisions. Their leader, Popham, died. In the spring, when a ship came again from England, with one accord the colonists resolved to return. "And this," in the words of the chronicler, Strachey, "was the end of that northerne colony upon the river Sagadahoc." Meanwhile, to the southward on the James had been established the first permanent English settlement in America.

337 Bronze tablet at Cape Henry, Va., marking the first landing by the Jamestown colonists

-171-

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