2019 Commemoration and I teamed up once again, and this time the podcast returned to Jamestown to interview Dr. James Horn.
Dr. Horn has made quite a name for himself in the history world with his most notable work being concerned with Colonial America. He is currently the President and Chief Officer at Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestowne in association with Preservation Virginia. Previously Dr. Horn served as Vice President of Research and Historical Interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Saunders Director of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, and taught at the University of Brighton, England for 20 years.
In addition to Dr. Horn’s considerable positions, he has written many books and articles which are cited often by leading academics and intellectuals alike. In October 2018 he is due to add to this already well-known body of work by publishing 1619: The Origins of American Society. Do, be on the lookout for that volume, as it promises to be a great addition to 1619 scholarship.
No one saw this coming. Not in England or in Virginia. The English and Powhatan Tribes had been living quite peacefully together for almost a decade by 1622, but after both Pocahontas and Powhatan’s deaths a few years prior, Opechancanough had nothing standing in his way to stop him from enacting his murderous plan.
Opechancanough was not yet completely in control of the Powhatan tribes, but his authority was second to none. Opitchapam might have been the supreme Werowance, but everyone, English and Indian alike, knew who was in charge.
Diplomatic ties all went through Opechancanough, and those actions seemed to ensure that all was well in Virginia, but all wasn’t well, and when one of the Powhatan’s most iconic warriors, Nemattanew, or Jack of the Feather, was killed in March 1622 the mood changed. But the English completely missed the warning, and for that, they would suffer.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of the Matthias Merian 1628 woodcut which depicts the 1622 Raid. The Opechancanough/John Smith encounter is from Smith’s own 1624 General History of Virginia. The final picture illustrates the destruction at Wolstenholme Towne.
The most expansive plantation building phase along the James River exploded into life after the 1618 tobacco crop sold for an eye catching £5,000. At that moment the English knew that there was indeed something worthwhile to the Virginia venture.
Tobacco was certainly the increasingly powerful king in early Virginia, but the Virginia Company wanted to diversify. To that end, what would have been the first college in America, The East India School, was planned, the first ironworks at Falling Creek, was established, salt-farming on the Eastern Shore was set up, dozens of plantations dotted the James and Appomattox Rivers, settlers poured in to take advantage of new opportunities, and the first representative governmental assembly was formed.
There was a lot going on to be sure. But some settlers attempted to keep focused upon a more serious reason why they were undertaking such toilsome ventures, which is why another first took place amidst the continuing great migration. 35 settlers at newly formed Berkeley Hundred celebrated the First Thanksgiving on December 4, 1619.
This episode covers all of this and more. Have a listen!
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of colonial re-enactors at the annual First Thanksgiving Festival, which takes place at Berkeley Plantation.
Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Haunted” by Charlie Simpson, also available on iTunes.
The Virginia Company rapidly changed between Lord Delaware’s 1611 departure and Thomas Gates’ 1612 return. It almost ceased to exist, but somehow endured.
Virginia also endured, but that was in spite of Thomas Dale’s arrival and institution of a stricter disciplinary system. His actions, however, meshed with the events taking place in England. He pushed further inland, founded a new city, Henricus, and asked for more settlers to inhabit newly conquered land near Virginia’s second city.
Yet the Virginia Company was in no position to supply those settlers. That is, they weren’t able to supply those settlers until a number of schemes rode new waves of excitement, Bermuda’s colonization was leveraged, and a lottery was staged.
Even at that, Prince Henry’s stunning death threatened to destroy Virginia altogether. But the times were changing, and Virginia was about to feel the effects of new policies.
The cannon blast that welcomed the Sea Venture survivors was a fitting salutation for the arriving settlers. It only took them a few days to realize that Virginia was not a place in which they wanted to remain. So, they began leaving by June 1610. But just as they were sailing away, a Divine intervention changed the course of the colony’s history.
Thomas West, Lord Delaware, the new governor, arrived. He ordered the retreating colonists back to Jamestown, from where Delaware would dictate control.
He established new laws, work groups, and fought back against the belligerent Powhatan Tribes.
But before too long, Delaware succumbed to one of his chronic illnesses, and he returned back to England. Where did that leave the colony? According to Delaware it was in good shape. It was in good enough shape to send more supplies and people under Thomas Dale in 1611.
The Starving Time was the lowest depth of Jamestown’s despair, but while the deaths mounted in Virginia, the Sea Venture castaways were enduring their own struggles on Bermuda.
The island had everything that Virginia did not, but though food was in abundance, and the climate was mostly desirable, it was not where the Sea Venture was supposed to land. That being the case, Thomas Gates used his authority to organize an escape.
But not everyone wanted to leave, so a series of mutinies began hampering the castaways. They persevered through it all, and by May 1610 the castaways were unwittingly trading paradise for hell.
The Jamestown colonists had endured much before winter 1609, but nothing could have prepared them for what they were about to endure.
John Smith’s departure, Powhatan’s declaration of war, George Percy’s incompetence, as well as the foolish communistic structure that the Virginia Company employed doomed those who made the journey across the Atlantic.
It was just a matter of time before catastrophe struck, and when it finally did come, it came all at once.
Approximately 300 colonists began enduring the most severe hardships imaginable, then they began doing the unthinkable. Then they died.
In the end more than 240 did not make it to the end, which came in May 1610, when the Sea Venture survivors finally started sailing up the James River.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is the the famous discovery of Jane, the teenage girl who succumbed to cannibalism during the Starving time. The second picture is of the many graves found within James Fort that date back to 1607.
While the Sea Venture survivors were making their way on Bermuda, the rest of the bedraggled Sea Venture fleet made its way to Jamestown. They were saved! Or were they?
Excitement quickly turned into chaos, and John Smith suffered physically and politically for it. His enemies finally got the upper hand as a result, and Virginia would very soon be dragged through its most severe time yet.
The third resupply mission to be sent to Jamestown was different than the previous expeditions. This was to be a lager scale colonizing attempt as 9 total ships with more than 500 people and new provisions along for the ride.
Political posturing saw the three leaders decide to venture together aboard the mission’s flagship, the Sea Venture. If that ship went down, then John Smith would have never received official word that he had lost his position.
A hurricane struck the fleet, and almost inflicted the worst casualty of all upon the Sea Venture, but just before the ship and crew were doomed to defeat, Admiral George Somers spotted land. The 150 souls aboard the beleaguered ship were saved. But they were in Bermuda, the nefarious “Isle of Devils.”
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is an artistic rendition of the Sea Venture suffering through the untimely July 1609 hurricane.
Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Gustav Holst’s St. Paul Suite Opus 29, Number 2. Movement 1, Jig. available on Soundcloud.