American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

By Edmund S. Morgan | Go to book overview

4
THE JAMESTOWN
FIASCO

THE first wave of Englishmen reached Virginia at Cape Henry, the southern headland at the opening of Chesapeake Bay, on April 26, 1607. The same day their troubles began. The Indians of the Cape Henry region (the Chesapeakes), when they found a party of twenty or thirty strangers walking about on their territory, drove them back to the ships they came on. It was not the last Indian victory, but it was no more effective than later ones. In spite of troubles, the English were there to stay. They spent until May 14 exploring Virginia's broad waters and then chose a site that fitted the formula Hakluyt had prescribed. The place which they named Jamestown, on the James (formerly Powhatan) River, was inland from the capes about sixty miles, ample distance for warning of a Spanish invasion by sea. It was situated on a peninsula, making it easily defensible by land; and the river was navigable by oceangoing ships for another seventy-five miles into the interior, thus giving access to other tribes in case the local Indians should prove as unfriendly as the Chesapeakes. 1

Captain Christopher Newport had landed the settlers in time to plant something for a harvest that year if they put their minds to it. After a week, in which they built a fort for protection, Newport and twenty-one others took a small boat and headed up the river on a diplomatic and reconnoitering mission, while the settlers behind set about the crucial business of planting corn. Newport paused at various Indian villages along the way and assured the people, as best

____________________
1
Smith, Travels and Works, I, 5-6, 91; Barbour, Jamestown Voyages, I, I68-70; II, 378-80.

-71-

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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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