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HISTORY

OF THE

UNITED STATES.

CHAPTER I.

THEIR COLONIZATION.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, while Europe was advancing with accelerated steps in that career of improvement which the art of printing, the revival of letters, and the discovery of America had united in opening to her, a few humble adventurers from England were laying the foundations on the eastern coast of the western continent for yet greater changes. They were unconsciously planting the seeds of a mighty empire, whose example and influence have already been felt in the greater part of Europe, and which bid fair to be felt in every part of the habitable globe.

It cannot fail to be an object of interest to a liberal curiosity to trace the progress of these settlers in spreading civilization and free government over the western wilderness; and, passing by inconsequential incidents, to note those circumstances of their condition, whether physical or moral, which have mainly contributed to such memorable results. We may add, that an honest review

22

SETTLEMENT OF VIRGINIA JOHN SMITH.

of their political course, since they have taken rank among nations, may also prove instructive both to themselves and the world. It will be the purpose of the author of the following pages to pass judgment, as well on individuals as on parties, with independence and candor― endeavoring to rise above contemporary prejudices, and trusting to that love of truth and justice which, though inherent in the human heart, the passions of the day, unfortunately, too often overpower and extinguish.'

1

After two abortive attempts by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish a colony on what is now part of North Carolina, which was included in a liberal grant of territory made to him by Queen Elizabeth, and called by her Virginia, another attempt was made in 1607, by a joint stock London company, under a charter from James the First, which proved more successful. The colony they sent out, consisting of a hundred and five men, settled on a small peninsula, on the north side of James River, about fifty miles above its mouth, at a place they called James Town. Of this settlement, having no intrinsic recommendations, some ruins yet remain, which, in the dearth of memorials of the past, are fondly cherished by the American antiquary.

Among these first settlers was Captain John Smith, whose previous life had been a series of bold and romantic adventures, and who, first, as a member of the Council, and then as its President, rendered more essential services to the colony than any of his associates. Yet it is

'In the synoptical view which this chapter presents of the first settlement and early progress of these States, I have been greatly indebted to Grahame's Colonial History; to Mr. Hildreth's first three volumes; and, above all, to Mr. Bancroft, who, in giving the result of his very copious researches, has exhibited an accuracy as rare as it is praiseworthy. I have always consulted the authority of these writers, when accessible, as they most frequently were.

POCAHONTAS.

1

23

to an incident in his life while in Virginia, by its forcible appeal to human affections, that he is indebted for a wider celebrity than to all his deeds of wisdom or valor. Having been made a prisoner by the Indian chief Powhatan, he was saved from instant destruction by Pocahontas, the young daughter of that chief. This interesting female, whose fearless generosity has so often been the theme of panegyric with the historian and the poet, some years afterwards married Mr. Rolfe, an Englishman, and went with him to England, where she was treated as a princess, and where, during the few years she lived, she wore her honors with becoming grace. She has numerous descendants, among whom several of the most respectable Virginians of the present day are proud to be numbered.

After three years, Smith's return to England was hastened by an injury he received from an explosion of gunpowder. When restored to health, he made two

1

This is Smith's own account of the transaction, in his letter introducing Pocahontas to the Queen:

"Some ten years ago, being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the power of Powhatan, their chief king, I received from this great savage exceeding great courtesy, especially from his son Nantaquans, the most manliest, comeliest, boldest spirit I ever saw in a savage, and his sister Pocahontas, the king's most dear and well-beloved daughter, being but a child of twelve or thirteen years of age, whose compassionate pitiful heart, of desperate estate, gave me much cause to respect her. I being the first Christian this proud king and his grim attendants ever saw, and thus enthralled in their barbarous power, I cannot say I felt the least occasion of want that was in the power of these my mortal foes to prevent, notwithstanding all their threats. After some six weeks falling amongst these savage courtiers, at the minute of my execution, she hazarded the beating out her own brains to save mine, and not only that, but so prevailed with her father, that I was safely conducted to James Town."-(Smith's History of Virginia, Vol. I.)

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TOBACCO-SLAVES INTRODUCED.

voyages to New England, of which he produced a map and description as he had done of Virginia.

including

For six or eight years the early settlers the accessions they had received from England - were thinned in their numbers and disappointed in their hopes by disease, by the difficulty of obtaining subsistence, and by occasional collisions with the natives, who, however, in the main, were neither formidable nor unfriendly. The industry of the colonists was, moreover, misapplied in unsuccessful attempts to manufacture salt, soap, and naval stores; to plant vineyards; and in the vain search after the precious metals, until they at length settled down on the cultivation of tobacco. This was found to be a profitable export to England, where its use for smoking had been greatly extended since its first introduction by Raleigh. It long continued the great, almost the sole staple of the colony; constituted its measure of value; as well as its principal currency; and was the subject of much useless, and some vicious legislation. The culture of tobacco was encouraged and increased by the introduction of negro slaves, first brought into Virginia by a Dutch ship in 1620. They increased slowly at first, but as there is a large expense of human labor in preparing tobacco for market, their number gradually augmented, so that sixty years after their first importation, it was deemed prudent to enact stringent laws to guard against their insurrection; and they finally amounted to near two-fifths of the whole population.

In the summer of 1619 was organized a legislative assembly, the first on the western continent. It was modelled after that of the mother country; the king being represented by the governor of the colony; the house of peers by his council, and the house of commons

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