IT would not have been surprising if slavery had developed swiftly in Virginia during the booming I620s, when tobacco prices were high enough to inspire the same overpowering greed that moved the Spaniards on Hispaniola. Two decades later Englishmen in Barbados turned to slavery in as short a time, in order to exploit the island's newly discovered capacity for producing sugar. But in Virginia, although the tobacco barons of the I620s bought and sold and beat their servants in a manner that shocked other Englishmen, they did not reduce them to slavery, as we understand the term. And Virginians did not import shiploads of African slaves to solve their labor problem until half a century more had passed. Perhaps if the boom had continued, they would have; but when it collapsed, they relaxed a little in their pursuit of riches and began to think about making the best of life in the new land.
Making the best of life in America meant making their part of America as English as possible, and in the decades after 1630 they worked at it. Although they did not share the broad vision of freedom that had moved Raleigh and Hakluyt and other backers of Virginia, they did want the liberty and security that went with "the rights of Englishmen." From the time of Sir Thomas Dale and the Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall through the subversion of Sir Edwin Sandys' good intentions during the boom years, most Virginians had enjoyed fewer civil and political rights than they would have had in England. Now, for a period of thirty years or more, they busied themselves with building a society that would give them a greater freedom than most could have hoped for in their native