Powhatan Lords of Life and Death: Command and Consent in Seventeenth-Century Virginia

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A short distance further up the James, in , he began the construction of a progressive development at Henricus on and about what was later known as Farrars Island. Henricus was envisioned as possible replacement capital for Jamestown, though it was eventually destroyed during the Indian Massacre of , during which a third of the colonists were killed. In , Governor Dale joined John Rolfe and Pocahontas and their young son Thomas as they left their Varina Farms plantation for a public relations mission to England, where Pocahontas was received and treated as a form of visiting royalty by Queen Anne.

This stimulated more interest in investments in the Virginia Company, the desired effect. However, as the couple prepared to return to Virginia, Pocahontas died of an illness at Gravesend on March 17, , where she was buried. John Rolfe returned to Virginia alone once again, leaving their son Thomas Rolfe , then a small child, in England to obtain an education. Once back in Virginia, Rolfe married Jane Pierce and continued to improve the quality of his tobacco with the result that by the time of his death in , the Colony was thriving as a producer of tobacco.

Orphaned by the age of 8, young Thomas later returned to Virginia, and settled across the James River not far from his parents' farm at Varina , where he married Jane Poythress and they had one daughter, Jane Rolfe , who was born in Virginia's population grew rapidly from until , rising from a few hundred to nearly 1, people.

Wheat was also grown in Virginia starting in On June 30, Slovak and Polish artisans conducted the first labor strike first "in American history" [30] [19] for democratic rights " No Vote, No Work " [30] [31] in Jamestown. One of their first laws was to set a minimum price for the sale of tobacco and set forth plans for the creation of the first ironworks of the colony. This legislative group was the predecessor of the modern Virginia General Assembly.

This is the earliest record of Black people in colonial America. Records from and listed the African inhabitants of the colony as servants, not slaves.

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In the case of William Tucker, the first Black person born in the colonies, freedom was his birthright. Yet, court records show that at least one African had been declared a slave by ; John Punch. He was an indentured servant who ran away along with two White indentured servants and he was sentenced by the governing council to lifelong servitude. This action is what officially marked the institution of slavery in Jamestown and the future United States. By , more German settlers from Hamburg , Germany, who were recruited by the Virginia Company set up and operated one of the first sawmills in the region.

The Italians included a team of glass makers.

The Powhatan Indians of Virginia : their traditional culture

During fifty-seven unmarried women sailed to Virginia under the auspices of the Virginia Company, who paid for their transport and provided them with a small bundle of clothing and other goods to take with them. A colonist who married one of the women would be responsible for repaying the Virginia Company for his wife's transport and provisions. Many of the women were not "maids" but widows. Some others were children, for example Priscilla, the eight-year-old daughter of Joanne Palmer, who travelled with her mother and her new stepfather, Thomas Palmer, on The Tyger.

Some were women who were traveling with family or relatives: Ursula Clawson, "kinswoman" of ancient planter Richard Pace , traveled with Pace and his wife on the Marmaduke. Ann Jackson also came on the Marmaduke, in the company of her brother John Jackson, both of them bound for Martin's Hundred. Ann Jackson was one of the women taken captive by the Powhatans during the Indian Massacre of She was not returned until The Council ordered that she should be sent back to England on the first available ship, perhaps because she was suffering from the consequences of her long captivity.

Some of the women sent to Virginia did marry. Most disappeared from the records—perhaps killed in the massacre, perhaps dead from other causes, perhaps returned to England. In other words, they shared the fate of most of their fellow colonists. The relations with the natives took a turn for the worse after the death of Pocahontas in England and the return of John Rolfe and other colonial leaders in May Disease, poor harvests and the growing demand for tobacco lands caused hostilities to escalate. After Wahunsunacock 's death in , his younger brother, Opitchapam , briefly became chief.

However, he was soon succeeded by his own younger brother, Opechancanough. Opechancanough was not interested in attempting peaceful coexistence with the English settlers.

Instead, he was determined to eradicate the colonists from what he considered to be Indian lands. As a result, another war between the two powers lasted from to This event came to be known as the Indian Massacre of , and resulted in the deaths of colonists including men, women, and children and the abduction of many others.

Some say that this massacre was revenge. A letter by Richard Frethorne , written in , reports, "we live in fear of the enemy every hour. However, Jamestown was spared from destruction due to a Virginia Indian boy named Chanco who, after learning of the planned attacks from his brother, gave warning to colonist Richard Pace , with whom he lived. Pace, after securing himself and his neighbors on the south side of the James River, took a canoe across river to warn Jamestown, which narrowly escaped destruction, although there was no time to warn the other settlements.

Apparently, Opechancanough subsequently was unaware of Chanco's actions, as the young man continued to serve as his courier for some time after.

Some historians have noted that, as the settlers of the Virginia Colony were allowed some representative government, and they prospered, King James I was reluctant to lose either power or future financial potential. In any case, in , the Virginia Company lost its charter and Virginia became a crown colony. In , the English Crown created eight shires i. James City Shire was established and included Jamestown. The original Jamestown fort seems to have existed into the middle of the s, but as Jamestown grew into a "New Town" to the east, written references to the original fort disappear.

By , a palisade stockade was completed across the Virginia Peninsula , which was about 6 miles 9. The new palisade provided some security from attacks by the Virginia Indians for colonists farming and fishing lower on the Peninsula from that point. On April 18, , Opechancanough again tried to force the colonists to abandon the region with another series of coordinated attacks, killing almost colonists. However, this was a much less devastating portion of the growing population than had been the case in the attacks. Furthermore, the forces of Royal Governor of Virginia William Berkeley captured the old warrior in , [49] variously thought to be between 90 and years old.

In October, while a prisoner, Opechancanough was killed by a soldier shot in the back assigned to guard him. Opechancanough was succeeded as Weroance Chief by Nectowance and then by Totopotomoi and later by his daughter Cockacoeske. In , the first treaties were signed between the Virginia Indians and the English.

Books set in Jamestown (59 books)

The treaties set up reservations, some of the oldest in America, for the surviving Powhatan. It also set up tribute payments for the Virginia Indians to be made yearly to the English. This situation would last until and the Treaty of Middle Plantation , which established Indian reservations following Bacon's Rebellion. Bacon's Rebellion was an armed rebellion in by Virginia settlers led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley. In the s, the governor was serving his second term in that office. Berkeley, now in his seventies, had previously been governor in the s and had experimented with new export crops at his Green Spring Plantation near Jamestown.

In the mids, a young cousin through marriage, Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. Although lazy, Bacon was intelligent, and Berkeley provided him with a land grant and a seat on the Virginia Colony council.

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However, the two became at odds over relationships with the Virginia Indians, which were most strained at the outer frontier points of the colony. In July , Doeg Indians crossed from Maryland and raided the plantation of Thomas Mathews in the northern portion of the colony along what became the Potomac River , stealing some hogs in order to gain payment for several items Mathews had obtained from the tribe. Mathews pursued them and killed several Doegs, who retaliated by killing Mathews' son and two of his servants, including Robert Hen. A Virginian militia then went to Maryland and besieged the Susquehanaugs a different tribe in "retaliation" which led to even more large-scale Indian raids, and a protest from the governor of Maryland colony.


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Governor Berkeley tried to calm the situation but many of the colonists, particularly the frontiersmen, refused to listen to him and Bacon disregarded a direct order and captured some Appomattoc Indians, who were located many miles south of the site of the initial incident, and almost certainly not involved. Following the establishment of the Long Assembly in , war was declared on "all hostile Indians" and trade with Indian tribes became regulated, often seen by the colonists to favor those friends of Berkeley.

Bacon opposed Berkeley and led a group in opposition to the governor. Bacon and his troops set themselves up at Henrico until Berkeley arrived which sent Bacon and his men fleeing upon which Berkeley declared them in rebellion and offered a pardon to any who returned to Jamestown peaceably. Bacon led numerous raids on Indians friendly to the colonists in an attempt to bring down Berkeley. The governor offered him amnesty but the House of Burgesses refused; insisting that Bacon must acknowledge his mistakes. At about the same time, Bacon was actually elected to the House of Burgesses and attended the June assembly where he was captured, forced to apologize and was then pardoned by Berkeley.

Bacon then demanded a military commission but Berkeley refused. Bacon and his supporters surrounded the statehouse and threatened to start shooting the Burgesses if Berkeley did not acknowledge Bacon as "General of all forces against the Indians". Berkeley eventually acceded, and then left Jamestown.

He attempted a coup a month later but was unsuccessful. In September, however, Berkeley was successful and Bacon dug in for a siege which resulted in his burning Jamestown to the ground on September 19, Bacon died of the flux and lice on October 26, and his body is believed to have been burned. Berkeley returned, and hanged William Drummond and the other major leaders of the rebellion 23 in total at Middle Plantation. With Jamestown unusable due to the burning by Bacon, the Governor convened a session of the General Assembly at his Green Spring Plantation in February, , and another was later held at Middle Plantation.

However, upon learning of his actions, King Charles II was reportedly displeased at the degree of retaliation and number of executions, and recalled Berkeley to England. He returned to London where he died in July Despite the periodic need to relocate the legislature from Jamestown due to contingencies such as fires, usually to Middle Plantation , throughout the seventeenth century, Virginians had been reluctant to permanently move the capital from its "ancient and accustomed place. It had a state house except when it periodically burned and a church, and it offered easy access to ships that came up the James River bringing goods from England and taking on tobacco bound for market.

In , Jamestown's status as mandatory port of entry for Virginia had been ended.

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On October 20, , the statehouse capitol building in Jamestown burned for the fourth time.