The 1619 Project – Dr. Phil Magness Interview

1619 was indeed a big year in Virginia’s history. In previous episodes we discussed many firsts that took place in the colony, but perhaps none of those firsts has drawn more attention than the “20 and odd’s” arrival.

In 2019 The New York Times published a series of articles highlighting that arrival. It was quite a publication with many goals, most of them political. Especially because of that political focus the 1619 Project received enormous scrutiny. It could be understood that one side of the political spectrum would attack the work, but both sides cried foul.

One of the leading critics, Dr. Phillip Magness began dissecting the work in a series of his own essays. Those essays became his book The 1619 Project: A Critique. In it, he discusses the Project’s shortcomings, while also highlighting some of what the series got right. As such, he, somewhat humorously, earned both praise and ire from Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Project’s lead editor.

His work is quite exhaustive, as you’ll hear in the interview. I’ve listed a few key links mentioned in the episode, but for further, in depth material, please, do purchase his book, The 1619 Project A Critique.

Understandably, I focus upon Virginia’s history with this podcast, and I intend to keep doing so. Because of the 1619 Project‘s continued influence, based upon it’s slavery claims reaching far back into Virginia’s history, I’ve come to believe that we needed to discuss the work in more detail, hence this episode.

There will be one more interview covering the Project’s work, but in my opinion, Dr. Magness’ scholarly expertise in this area is second to none. I trust as you listen to this episode, you’ll see why I hold him and his work in such high regard.




All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is Dr. Phillip W. Magness from

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on Apple Music, and The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia: Introduction “In Praise of the Wilderness” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov performed by the Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev also available on Apple Music.

**Full disclosure, I re-uploaded the Dr. Magness interview tonight.One of my faithful listeners pointed out that I erred when mentioning that Teddy Roosevelt would not publicly meet with Booker T. Washington.

Though there is nuance to the comment, Roosevelt in fact did meet with Washington at the White House.Roosevelt received incredibly negative publicity for meeting with Washington after they shared dinner together. Making the situation more unclear, the White House, not necessarily Roosevelt, stated that they did not eat together. Then a few staff members commented on the meal, but said it was not dinner, but lunch instead.

Either way, I was incorrect in saying that Roosevelt did not meet with Washington, and that portion has been struck from the episode. This message is to publicly state the change.

As always, thanks for listening. I greatly appreciate the feedback!

Jamestown Burned! Interview with Eyewitness Thomas Mathews

(L-R) Thomas Mathews, portrayed by Willie Balderson and his bodyguard

Nathaniel Bacon’s 1676 burning of Jamestown was a watershed moment. It symbolized the end of an era, or better stated, the end of eras. The era of Jamestown’s position as colonial capitol, Berkeley’s governorship, Indian peace, and free blacks ended.

The conflict began when Robert Hen, Thomas Mathews’ overseer, was murdered by the Doeg Indians. Matthews, a Northern Neck merchant, witnessed much of the conflagration from start to finish, and penned an account years after the chief players had passed. His account is one of the major primary sources that shed light on this turbulent period.

Each year, on or as close to September 19th as possible, Historic Jamestown reenacts Mathews’ account. Willie Balderson, a spectacular actor with a wide repertoire spanning more than three centuries, transforms into Thomas Matthews, and with the aid of others walks his listeners through a cresset lined path.

Along the path the audience hears from a feisty New Town resident, a runaway slave, and heartbroken Mrs. Drummond as well as musket reports from the battle for Jamestown. It is a captivating performance that brings Bacon’s Rebellion to life before one’s eyes and leaves a deep impression not to be forgotten.

Mr. Mathews was so kind as to sit down and tell me what he had witnessed in this special interview. I trust you’ll be as impressed as I was.







All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of reenactors staging the Burning of Jamestown.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Summer” selections from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, RV 315  movements I – Allegro non molto and III – Presto performed by Sarah Chang and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra also available on iTunes.


400th Anniversary of the “Twenty and Odd”

Old Point Comfort, August 25, 1619. 400 years later location and a date that doesn’t initially conjure feelings of comfort. But it is the place where many gathered together in order to commemorate one of Virginia’s many major events for it was at Old Point Comfort that Englishmen, guilty of privateering, arrived with the infamously ambiguous “Twenty and Odd Negroes.”

I won’t retell the story, as I have covered these historical events in two episodes, which will be linked below. Instead, let me highlight some of the 400th Commemoration ceremony that took place on August 24th, 2019.



Fort Monroe was abuzz hours before the official ceremony began. Local police officers and volunteers steered traffic through the streets, while tour guides and National Park Service personnel polished last minute details in advance of the day’s soon-to-be-arriving spectators.



The program unfolded with a series of short speeches by many of Virginia’s political leaders as well as officials from the rest of the country. The highlight of the day, however, had to be 11 year old Brycen Dildy’s speech that brought the crowd to its feet.



To finish the day, I took a small side adventure of my own. First I visited nearby William Tucker Cemetery. The Cemetery is name for William Tucker, one of the first African’s to be born in Virginia, and it is the final resting place for many Tucker generations.



I ended the day on a poignantly solemn note in visiting one of Virginia’s great freedom symbols – Emancipation Oak at Hampton University. This beautiful, captivating tree witnessed Hampton’s Africans hearing the first reading of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

Officially no slaves were yet freed, because the famous Proclamation applied to slaves in the Confederate States, though the words certainly encouraged more enslaved blacks to make the almost 3 mile walk to nearby Fort Monroe, where they received asylum by Major General Benjamin Butler. Thus Virginia’s African story returned to her starting point as Africans once again became “Contraband of War” as they realistically were in 1619. This time, however, Old Point Comfort lived up to her name, and comfort in the midst of war came for those escaping slavery’s chains.





All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of a recreated slave cabin at the 400th Commemoration of Virginia’s First Africans.

K.I. Knight Interview – First Africans and Slavery’s 17th Century Virginia Evolution (Pillars of 17th Century Virginia Society, Part 4)

1619 was a pivotal year in Virginia for many reasons, but author K.I. Knight says that one key issue that did not begin in 1619 was slavery. The “Twenty and odd” did arrive in August 1619, but according to Ms. Knight’s meticulous research the “Twenty” were in fact 14 at first, and many of those 14 went on to help save the colony after the 1622 uprising before securing land of their own. Some of them, like Anthony Johnson, even owned slaves themselves.

For sure, slavery seems to have been around the Virginia landscape in some form by the 1640s,  but it wasn’t the institution that it became by the 18th and 19th centuries. Kathryn puts together an astounding narrative weaving extant court and genealogical records together to prove that the immoral institution evolved over time, before it became legally organized by the late 1690s and early 1700s. Exact beginning dates are hard to pin down, largely due to lost records. Regardless, the foundations for American slavery were being set during the 17th Century, and this episode discusses those foundations as they occurred in Virginia.


K.I. Knight’s Books and Links:



All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of author Kathryn Hall Knight at Fort Monroe.

**Special thanks to Terry Brown at Fort Monroe, who graciously lent his office to Kathryn and me for this interview. If you haven’t heard my interview with Terry, please, find that here.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60 “Leningrad”: IV. Allegro Non Troppo by Dmitri Shostakovich, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra directed by Leonard Bernstein, also available on iTunes.

Tony Williams Interview – Economic Influences on and from Early Virginia (Pillars of 17th Century Virginia Society, Part 3)

Economics is at the heart of why Virginia existed. Colony founders wanted to become wealthy, the Crown saw it’s own mercantilistic opportunity, and settlers risked their lives in order to find a better station in life.

How did Virginia’s key players accomplish their goals? Were their policies sound? If not, what impact did they have on the colony? My guest, Tony Williams answered those questions and more in his book The Jamestown Experiment.

Tony argues that in a changing world the Virginia settlers figured out that the key to economic growth hinged upon private property. Once the Virginia Company extended private land ownership to the colonists the Colony began to emerge from her macabre past. The emergence wasn’t perfect, but it was the beginning of a profound economic explosion that made Virginia wealthy.

The lessons learned in 17th Century Virginia influenced later generations and laid the foundation from which the United States built itself into the wealthiest country in the world. As such, it is still wise to take a look back into Jamestown’s experiment today.





All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of author Tony Williams in his magisterial library.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and La Danse Macabre Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saens performed by l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France also available on iTunes.

1619 – Women and Angolans Arrive

Few events have left as lasting an impact upon Virginia’s history as the 1619 arrival of either the first women or the first Africans.

Both would shape the colony, and later the state, in unique ways. But what transpired to get both peoples to Virginia? And how did the few hundred surviving men welcome each group? Were they welcomed?

These questions are answered in this episode of the Virginia History Podcast. Find it on your favorite podcast provider, and have a listen!

Point Comfort was where the captured Angolans disembarked for their new lives in Virginia



  1. Berhnard, Virginia. A Tale of Two Colonies: What Really Happened in Virginia and Bermuda? Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, 2011.
  2. Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.
  3. Brown, Kathleen. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Angry Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: UNC Press. 1996.
  4. Craven, Wesley Frank. White, Red, and Black: The Seventeenth Century Virginian. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1977.
  5. Craven, Wesley Frank. The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century: 1607-1689. LSU Press, 1949
  6. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  7. Deans, Bob. The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James. Plymouth, UK: Rowan and Littlefield, 2009.
  8. Doherty, Kieran. Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of Jamestown. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008.
  9. Glover, Lorri and Smith, Daniel Blake. The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America.
  10. Hatch, Charles. The First Seventeen Years: Virginia 1607-1624. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1991.
  11. Horn, James. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005.
  12. Hume, Ivor Noel. Here Lies Virginia. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1963.
  13. Hume, Ivor Noel. The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne – An Archaeological and Historical OdysseyNew York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
  14. Kelso, William M. Jamestown: The Buried Truth. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2006.
  15. Kupperman, Karen Ordhal. The Jamestown Project. Cambridge, MA: The Belknapp Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.
  16. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  17. Price, David A. Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New NationNew York: Vintage, 2003.
  18. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  19. Rountree, Helen C. Powhatan Foreign Relations: 1500-1722.Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1993.
  20. Rountree, Helen C. Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2005.
  21. Smith, John. The Generall History of Virginia. 1624.
  22. Strachey, William. Collected Works on the Internet Archive.
  23. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  24. Wallenstein, Peter. Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2007.
  25. Williams, Tony. The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of The Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results that Shaped America. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2011.
  26. Wooley, Benjamin. Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America. New York: Harper and Collins, 2007.





All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is William Ludwell Sheppard’s “Wives for Settlers”

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Seasons Colors” by Judah and the Lion, also available on iTunes.