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.

Rev. John Ericson Interview – From Religious Wars to Religious Freedom: 17th Century Virginia’s Religious Transformation (Pillars of 17th Century Virginia Society, Part 2)

Rev. John Ericson

Religious wars plagued Europe. The Thirty Years War claimed up to 40% of Germany’s population. Many towns were completely destroyed in the conflict that pulled not just the Germans, but so many of Europe’s other leading powers into the abyss.

Such a conflict inevitably spread beyond the European continent. The Dutch, who were also fighting their own religious war against the Spanish took advantage of the crumbling Portuguese and Spanish overseas empire during this time, while constant pressure from the Turks added bloodshed in Southeastern Europe.

King James anxiously watched from his island haven, especially as many of his relatives played key roles in the continental fight. He had to navigate those stormy times, but his piloting the English ship of state soon led to fallout that erupted into the English Civil War during which James’ son Charles lost his head.

Politics and religion mixed with devastating effect. The combination scarred the European landscape literally and figuratively for generations to come. Because of these horrific events many looked to escape the scene. They wanted to exchange the centralized, top-down governmental religious control responsible for Europe’s implosion.

Those settlers who wanted to escape sought refuge in the New World, and many of them leaving England found freedom to exercise their faith in Virginia.

Virginia was officially an Anglican colony, especially after 1643, but Puritans, Catholics, Huguenots, Baptists, and other groups filled the landscape. In time these groups started to work together in a way that influenced America’s religious thought, and brought about toleration. No longer would people be tied to whatever belief the king or government held. Individuals would be allowed to hold personal convictions that they’d be responsible for in front of God alone.







All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of Historic St. Luke’s Church in Smithfield, Virginia.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major BWV 1007:1 Prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, also available on iTunes.

Dr. Jon Kukla Interview – Political and Social Stability: Order or Chaos in 17th Century Virginia. (Pillars of 17th Century Virginia Society, Part 1)

For decades prevailing thought said that 17th Century Virginia was chaotic, had little to build upon, and therefore left a scanty legacy. Historians such as Bernard Bailyn prominently argued that 17th Century Virginia was untamed and chaotic, but in 1985 Jon Kukla challenged that opinion.

While working at what is today the Library of Virginia, Dr. Kukla was asked to undertake a project concerning the General Assembly which led to his thesis challenging research. His work was packaged in the brilliant “Order and Chaos in Early America: Political and Social Stability in Pre-Restoration Virginia” which was featured as the lead article in the April 1985 American Historical Review.

Dr. Kukla argued that Pre-Restoration 17th Century Virginia was anything but chaotic and did indeed have order. That order may not be what we think of today, yet the foundations that Virginia settlers laid down in the 17th Century allowed for subsequent generations to build a strong colony. That colony would then go on to profoundly influence America’s founding generation, which in turn built what was then a radically different governmental/political entity that the world had never seen.



  1. Kukla, Jon. Speakers and Clerks of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1643-1776. Richmond, VA: Virginia State Library, 1981.
  2. Kukla, Jon. Bill of Rights: A Lively Heritage. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 1987.
  3. Kukla, Jon. Political Institutions in Virginia: 1619-1660. Taylor and Francis, 1989. (Dr. Kukla’s Ph.D. Dissertation)
  4. Kukla, Jon; Rosal, Angelita; and Lemmon, Alfred, E . A Guide to the Papers of Pierre Clement Laussat. New Orleans, LA: Historic New Orleans Collection, 1993.
  5. Kukla, Jon and Kukla, Amy. Patrick Henry: Voice of the Revolution. Powerplus, 2002. (Great Children’s book!)
  6. Kukla, Jon. A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America. New York: Anchor, 2004.
  7. Kukla, Jon and Kukla, Amy. Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Powerplus, 2005. (Great Children’s Book!)
  8. Kukla, Jon. Mr. Jefferson’s Women. New York: Vintage, 2008.
  9. Kukla, Jon. Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017.



All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of Dr. Jon Kukla from our interview at the Library of Virginia.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan-Williams performed by the Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra also available on iTunes.