The Foundations of American Nationality

By Evarts Boutell Greene | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE VIRGINIA PIONEERS

THE first permanent English colony in America had its starting point in the royal charter granted by James I on April 10, 1606. The grantees were described in general as "knights, gentlemen, merchants, and other adventurers"; and they belonged to two principal groups, one having its center in London, and the other in the west-country port of Plymouth. Of the Londoners named in the charter, one was the geographical expert, Richard Hakluyt; the other three were soldiers who had fought the Spaniards and thus continued the tradition of Drake and Raleigh. The Plymouth group included Raleigh Gilbert, son of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and nephew of Sir Walter Raleigh; also a nephew of Chief-Justice Popham, who was probably the most important official supporter of the movement.

The Virginia charter of 1606.

According to this charter Virginia included all of North America between the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth parallels of latitude, that is, roughly, between Nova Scotia and the southern line of North Carolina. In claiming this vast area, James ignored not only the French claims to the north but also those of the Spaniards, with whom he had only two years before signed a treaty of friendship. Spanish jealousy was at once aroused, the progress of the colony closely watched, and every effort made to secure its abandonment by the English government. In most matters James was anxious to please the Spaniards; but on this point he stubbornly refused to yield.

International complications.

For the exploitation of this territory there were organ-

-45-

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