"Folk of Virginia: forward from the hour When first Virginia's name rang clear."
Three hundred and fourteen years have come and gone since that day in May, 1607 when a little band of Englishmen landed at Jamestown, to establish the first Anglo-Saxon Colonyand plant the first germ of Democracy upon the Western Continent. What a far cry there is from the puny little settlement, with its many vicissitudes, to the great Commonwealth of to-day.
With only 105 members in the Colony, its territory extended from the thirty-fourth to the forty-fifth parallel, corresponding to the southern border of North Carolina and the southern line of Nova Scotia. It was divided by charter into the first or Southern Colony, designated for administration by the London Company, and the second, or Northern Colony, apportioned to the cities of Bristol, Exter and Plymouth, associated with the western section of England.
The first charter was dated April 10, 1606. It stipulated that two settlements were to be founded, at least 100 miles apart, with jurisdiction along the coast to within fifty miles of each other. Each was granted jurisdiction within 100 miles of the seashore and promised that "No other of our subjects shall be permitted or suffered to plant or inhabit behind or on the back side of them towards the main land without the express license or consent of the Counsel of the Colonies." Any settlement made within the jurisdiction of the Colonies would be required to pay five in every hundred of value in such wares as they should "traffick, buy or sell." It was under this provision in 1613, that Henrick Corstraensen and his Dutch companions, in their trading camp on Manhattan Island, paid taxes to the Governor of Virginia in acknowledgment of Virginia's sovereignty.
As the centuries have advanced and population increased Virginia's territory has gradually decreased, until, with the loss of West Virginia during the Civil War, it has become small indeed in proportion to its original vast extent. Since its cession of the Northwest Territory in 1787 so many states have been carved fromits original boundaries it has been rightly named, "The Mother of States." How proudly we look, in retrospect, upon the heroic struggles of our Anglo-Saxon forebears and read of their determined efforts to blaze out of an unknown wilderness a civilization never equaled by man.
The three small, vessels on which the Colonists came, to America-"Sarah Constant" of 100 tons, Captain. Christopher Newport; "Good Speed," 40 ton, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold; and the pinnace "Discovery," 20 tons, Captain John Ratcliffe-after a voyage of over four months arrived off Cape Henry on April 26th and anchored off Jamestown on Thursday, May 13, 1607. Having debarked, their Chaplain, Rev. Robt. Hunt, led them in a prayer of thanksgiving to God for safe delivery from the terrors of the deep, and Newport proclaimed leis sovereign, James I, as lawful ruler of the entire region.
How different the reception, by the Indians, of the voyagers sent out by Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Summers and others, from that received by the colonists of 1585 ! Lane was welcomed by the Chesapeakes; Newport and Grosnold's men savagely attacked upon landing at Cape Henry in search of water. Twentytwo years had passed; the white race had, by their acts, destroyed the pedestal upon which they had beets placed, and instilled into the hearts of the red race was a spirit of enmity and distrust. What Greenville had sown, the colonists of 1607 must reap, at least in part. Yet, welcome and good will awaited the voyagers when they landed on the western shore of the bay. It is probably true that the Indians of Kicoughtan were not advised of the tragic experience of their Algonquin brethren of Croatan. Had the colonists of 1607 profited by the example of the Raleigh expedition? Apparently not!
When the three small ships arrived at the capes, Captain John Smith had been in close confinement for thirteen weeks. He had been arrested while the ships were taking on water and supplies at the Canaries. There had been quarrel and dissension ever since leaving Blackwall, even while stormbound off the coast of England for a period of six weeks.
Smith was charged with conspiring to murder the members of the council, usurp the government and declare himself king of Virginia. The absurdity of this charge is evidenced, as the personnel of the council was not known until the expedition arrived within the capes, and Smith was the one man of the expedition who understood how to deal with the aborigines.
The members of the council whose names were found in the sealed box, when opened upon reaching Chesapeake Bay, were. Bartholomew Grosnold, John Smith. Edward Maria Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Ratcliffe, John Martin and George Kendall. The council elected Wingfield as its president "the first executive officer in Virginia. Wingfield held office about three months, and was succeeded by Captain John Ratclifie. The settlers were not satisfied with Ratcliffe's management of affairs. He was soon succeeded by Captain Smith, as the popular choice of the Colony. Smith retained the presidency until his embarkation for England. Captain Geo. Percy administered the government after Smith's departure.
The Colonists of 1607 were not the first Englishmen to enter the capes and partly explore the Chesapeake Bay.
It is recorded by Stith that a party from the Roanoke Colonly entered the capes in 1585 and explored to the South of the Bay, discovering the Elizabeth river on the banks of Which the Chesapeake Indians were seated. Stith doubts that the name Chesapeake means "Mother of Waters" as many assert, but suggests that it is derived from the Indian tribe of that name. He thinks it may owe the interpretation of "Mother of Waters" from translation of an old Spanish map upon which it is described as "'Madre de las Aguas."
In describing the seat of the Chesapeakes, probably near Norfolk, it is asserted by the Roanoke Colonists that "for pleasantness of situation, for temperature of clime, fertility of soil and commodiousness to the sea, it was not to be excelled by any in the world."
When Newport entered the Chesapeake Bay some days were spent in endeavor to find a passage over the shoals that prevented the ships, though of small tonnage, entering the James river. They had almost decided to abandon the attempt, after many soundings had been made off Willoughby Spit, where the channel was discovered on the Point Comfort side.
Captain Newport, in charge of the expedition, found among his instructions that he was to settle a Colony at a safe point on a navigable river, but, before making permanent settlement, was to explore the said river., ascertain how far it was navigable and whether it sprung out of the mountains or lake. It was suggested that it might afford passage to the "Other Sea."
In accordance with these instructions, Newport set out from Jamestown as soon as home defense could be temporarily organized. He explored the Powhatah, as the river was called by the Indians, as far as the falls: His party consisted of twenty-three adventurers. Among them was Captain John Smith who had been released from confinement after arriving in Virginia when it was found, upon opening the sealed instructions given by the London Company, that Smith was appointed a Member of the Council. Smith had not as yet been permitted to act with the Council though his worth was recognized by Newport in such an expedition as he was embarking upon. This fact probably saved the little party from destruction, for upon reaching "Turkey Island" an Indian was added to the party, as interpreter, who evidently could converse in the Spanish language. Smith having spent some time in the wars of Spain, was familiar with this tongue.
The Newport exploring party left Jamestown at noon Thursday, Way 21st arriving at the Falls on the afternoon of the 23rd and landing there on Whit-Sunday May 24th (O. S.) During the entire voyage the English were treated with friendship and respect, being entertained by the Passpaheghs seated at Sandy Point, the Quiyoughcohanocks whose chief village was located where here Claremont is now situated; the Arrohatecks whose chief town was near what is now Dutch Gap canal; and by the Powhatans at the Falls of the James. King Powhatan, whose village was on the north bank of the river just east of where Fulton now stands, first refused permission for the adventurers to come ashore on the 23rd, but through the medium of the interpreter a parley was arranged. After spending the. night on an island and having joined Powhatan in repast, the Indian King relented and they ascended the river in their schallop. Powhatan followed along the shore and met 'them at a small island below the falls. This island is now part of the mainland near the northside abutments of Mayor's Bridge. Here it was that Newport set up a cross and took possession of the, land in the name of the King of England. On the cross there was inscribed the words--Jacobus Rex 1607"Newport's name was written below the inscription. It is said that they christened the stream, "King's river"-Thus the river has been called lay three names-Powhatan, King's and James. Powhatan became very much offened at the ceremony of planting the cross and evading towards the shore he started return to the village. The Indian warriors, taking this as indicative of his hostility, began closing in upon the little party and would probably have massacred them, had it not been for the Indian interpreter hastening after the King, under instructions of Newport and Smith, with explanation that the cross was an indication of friendship. He explained that the upright planted in the. ground was to typify Powhatan as Lord of the country; the transverse section to represent Newport and his followers, bound to the Indian King by the ties of friendship and brotherly love. Powhatan accepted the explanation, returned to the island, called off his warriors, embraced Newport, and the crisis was passed.
What a surprise it must have been for them to fume on return to the settlement that au attack had been made by the Indians, one boy killed and seventeen men wounded. Stith records that "Had not a cross-bar shot from the ships happened to strike a bough from a tree among them the English had been all cut off, being securely at work, and their arms in dry fats." Evidently there was cause for provocation. Is it reasonable to judge the Indians as the sole perpetrators of this first attack upon the settlement, without cause, while the, three ships of the expedition still lay at anchor within a few- yards from shore. Had there been only a savage desire to destroy- would the Passpaheghs, who lived in the neighborhood, have received with every assurance of friendship the little exploring party of Newport and Smith and yet attacked the larger force at Jamestown?
We do know that upon return of the explorers, Smith's demand for a trial, on the charges that had been the cause of his disgrace, was reluctantly granted, resulting in his vindication and a fine of 200 pounds charged against the President of the Council in reparation. Smith gave the money for public use of the Colony, as he was satisfied with the verdict. The Rev. Hunt preached a sermon on "Peace and Concord" and (note the significance)-"The day- after, being the fifteenth of June, the Indians voluntarily sued for Peace." When the English were peaceful so we find the Indians expressing a desire to be. Smith had no minor part in bringing about the ending of a situation frought with such danger as to bid far to prove a parallel of the Roanoke tragedy.
At the time that the English arrived Powhatan, the Indian king, was about seventy years of age and had several villages moving from one to the other as suited his convenience in making collections from his sub-chiefs. He required eighty per cent. of all revenues to be payable. to him and woe unto an Indian who secured a prize pelt who did not offer it to the despotic Chieftan. It seems surprising that he should have had such control over the various tribes when his own tribe had only about fifty warriors. He had the power of life and death not only over individuals but clans and it is said that he utterly annihilated the Chesapeakes and the Kicoughtans for some fancied wrong, notwithstandingtheir combined force was three times that of his own men.
The Indian name for Virginia is said by Tyler in his "Cradle of the Republic" to have been "Attanoughkomouclc," meaning "band enclosed for producing or growing," that is, a plantation.
In the summer of 1607 Smith continued his explorations, following the river down to Kiccoughtan (Kecoughtan) and across to Waroskoyack (Isle of Wright), making journies along the shore line, exploring the creeks, etc., in that section. In the fall he began mapping out the country along the banks of the Chickahominy, exploring the river as far as possible for him to use a canoe.
On September 17th, and again in November, there was a trial by jury at Jamestown. This English custom was inaugurated within a few months after the arrival of the colonists.
January 8, 1608, the first ship to arrive in the colony, since the settlement, anchored off Jamestown and landed what is termed the first supply of colonists who together with others, from a ,ship arriving on the 20th of April, gave a total of 120 additional members, three in excess of the original number of settlers. There had been sixty-seven deaths in the interval and the colony now numbered 158.
Newport, who had sailed for England shortly after his exploration of the James, having left the pinnace "Discovery" for use of the Colony, returned in his two ships with the second supply of seventy more colonists, giving Jamestown a total of 200 men, after deducting for twenty-eight deaths.
He had received express orders, when in England; to explore the country west of the falls of the James, where dwelt the Monacans, hereditary enemies of Powhatan. In deference to the Indian King, no attempt had been made to push west of the now site of Richmond, and it appears that Smith protested against the project, for, declared he "every effort should be subordinated to that of placing Jamestown in a state of defense." Some writers claim it was Smith's purpose to do the exploring himself, after the return of Newport, and thus have the honor of discovery should he find a passage to the sea. Be that as it may, Newport followed out his instructions and explored at least forty miles above the falls, reaching what is now the boundary of Goochland. In order to pass the falls his boat was constructed in five( sections for easy portage, taken apart below the falls and the parts re-assembled after passing the rocks. It seems strange to us that such experienced men should still have had an idea that the James would furnish an outlet to the "South Sea" (Indian Ocean) though it still lingered in the minds of the colony for years after Newport's explorations.