A Brief History of Slavery in Colonial Virginia

In the early 1600s, colonial officials found it difficult to find laborers to help them develop land in the “New World.” A new concept called indentured laborers developed in which British residents would sign contracts where they would work in the New World as payment for their passage and a small farm. Most of these indentured laborers were young people who planned on staying permanently. In some cases, British criminals were forced to become indentured servants rather than serving time in prison. They were not slaves but were required to work for 4-7 years to pay off their debt from passage and their farm.

The first Africans reached Jamestown in 1619 when they were brought in by Dutch traders that captured a Spanish slave ship. It is a custom of the Spanish to baptize the slaves before removing them from Africa. It is an English tradition that anyone who has been baptized to be exempt from slavery. Therefore, the first African became indentured labrorers. These Africans were eventually freed and joined the colonists as part of the community, eventually owning land and having slaves of their own.

It wasn’t until 1640 when slavery first appeared in Virginia when African John Punch was sentenced to slavery after trying to flee his indentured labor service. The white men who fled with him were, however, only sentenced to one additional year of indentured labor. This is viewed in history as the first legal sanctioning of slavery in the English colonies and the first legal distinction made between Europeans and Africans.

The next instance of slavery that we see in Virginia is the civil case between Anthony Johnson and Robert Parker.  John Casor, an African indentured laborer complained that his master Anthony Johnson (a freed African) held him past his indentured time. A neighbor, Robert Parker threatened Johnson that he would testify in court and touted that he would lose some of his lands if he did not free Casor. Johnson then freed Casor. Casor then entered into an indentured service with Parker. Feeling bamboozled Johnson sued Parker for possession over Casor. The court ruled that Parker illegally took Casor and that he belonged to his rightful master for “the duration of his life.” Casor was now a slave.

Things You Didn’t Know About the Virginia Colony

Much of this country’s early history can be found in Virginia. It was home to one of our first colonies, and Jamestown was as important as any of the rest. The residents who called this place home struggled to survive, and actually did so, against all odds. All that aside, it was one of the most interesting places to live as well. Here are some things you may not have known about the history of these settlements!

  1. Before there were even colonies, Sir Walter Raleigh named all of the British territory north of Florida and south of Canada “Virginia.” Everything. When the population exploded, new colonies chipped away at the already-named territory little by little.

  2. European tobacco wasn’t introduced into the Virginia colony until about 1610, and only then by the husband of Pocahontas, John Rolfe. Needless to say, it was a great investment even if it was a lot different than what we’re familiar with today.

  3. That tobacco was likely smuggled from Central America or Spain, where the sale of tobacco seeds was illegal.

  4. Native Americans were already cultivating tobacco of their own, but naturally the European settlers of Jamestown preferred a taste of home just a little bit more.

  5. From late 1609 and well into 1610 was a period known as The Starving Time. The search for food was so fruitless that upwards of 80 percent of all the colonists perished over the winter. Some archaeologists believe that the residents who survived resorted to cannibalism in order to do so.

  6. Most historians agree that the first colonists to settle Virginia weren’t actually planters at all. They were rich men trying to become even more wealthy by stealing natural resources that the Native Americans had found for themselves. It was harder than they anticipated!

  7. Hampton was settled in 1610, and has been continuously settled ever since. That’s saying a lot since the town burned down during the chaos of the Civil War.

  8. Virginia was the site of the first capital trial and execution in the New World. A councilman and captain, George Kendall was accused of being a Catholic spy. The other colonists were worried that he might be supply information on colonization and settlement efforts to Spain, so they tried and executed him.

Was Tobacco In Colonial Virginia Different From What We Grow Today?

The ancient planters struggled to survive when they first arrived in Virginia, but they knew what they were getting into. They came for a variety of reasons, but they had to work together in order to make their new homework to its full potential. One of the biggest contributing factors to the long-term success of this early colony was tobacco–an important cash crop everywhere, but especially to the colonists.

They needed the influx of capital it provided, but as their need for resources grew, so too did their conflicts with the Native Americans who lived in the area. They needed land more than anything else to continue growing their tobacco, which led to conflict, social strife, and war.

Whether or not the tobacco tasted familiar to the settlers depended on where the seeds were found. The first tobacco the settlers found belonged to the Native Americans who lived there, and was called “nicotiana rustica.” To them, it would’ve tasted darker and more bitter than what they were accustomed to growing. Eventually, John Rolfe managed to procure Spanish seeds called “nicotiana tabacum.” These seeds helped the settlers grow a plant that tasted dark yet mild compared to the former.

It should be noted that the dominant means of “consumption” was called “snuff.” The ground tobacco leaves would be sniffed or inhaled. It was quite unlike the cigarettes today and probably wasn’t as offensive.

These latter seeds would become the standard for tobacco farming over the next century, but of course, the way we grow and breed plants has evolved quite a bit over time. Tobacco cultivation became so important to the economy of new colonies that the General Assembly mandated a number of regulations by 1619. Tobacco had to undergo inspection, and could only be stored in specific types of warehouses and transported in port towns. This process helped expand other settlements in Norfolk, Richmond, and Alexandria. Anyone one who failed to do this would face criminal charges and be in need of a criminal defense lawyer.

It was a brutal cycle. The cash crop was directly used to pay for the indentured servants or slaves who would inevitably be responsible for cultivating the land where the next batch would be planted. Many of the crops would be shipped back to England in return for new slaves, servants, and an influx of cash.

What Did New England Look Like Before Settlement?

The sea level was lower tens of thousands years ago, and a land bridge near modern-day Alaska and Russia may have allowed people to move into North America. Historians think they may have arrived via the sea even earlier than that, but one thing is for certain: by the time European settlers traveled to the New World, Native Americans had already settled into every nook and cranny. There may have been a population of 50 million, give or take.

They didn’t have the same domesticated plants or animals that Europeans enjoyed. They didn’t have horses. They grew corn and beans and squash in many places. They had domesticated dogs and turkeys. There were no pigs, cows, or sheep.

Around 5000 BCE, corn was domesticated from an almost unrecognizable plant. That allowed the transition from a nomadic to agricultural way of life. We rarely think of the Native Americans as having large communities, but they did. There were smaller tribes here and there, but there were well-traveled roads and cities populated by tens of thousands of people. The largest may have had up to a million inhabitants.

That’s wildly different from how Native Americans are usually portrayed on TV. Most of these cities arose in the southwestern parts of North America and down into Central America. The population of Native Americans in New England prior to settlement would have been much much lower–a few million at the most.

Forests probably looked quite a bit different, too. Many of the plants and animals that made their home in New England before European settlement have since died out. There were different types of trees that were either killed through deforestation or by fungal infection. Earthworms were only introduced into these environments after settlement!

The new plants and animals changed the way these forests grew, and therefore the way they look today. The forests had more trees, but they were well-managed by the natives. They set controlled fires because they knew that the life would grow back stronger and be less susceptible to fires caused by mother nature. Believe it or not, some historians claim that the beginning of our climate change problems found its root in those controlled burnings–which would have released huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air.

Who Is Virginia Dare?

Daughter of Anania Dare and Eleanor White, Virginia Dare was the first English child born in “the New World” in Roanoke. She was born on August 18th, 1587. Virginia’s grandfather, John White, was the governor of Roanoke at the time of her birth. After White left for England to get supplies, he was prohibited from returning due to a war with Spain. Eventually, he returned three years later to discover all of the colonist, including Virginia missing.

While there are many theories about what happened to the colonists at Roanoke, it still remains one of the greatest American mysteries. Theories range from assimilating with the neighboring Native American Tribe or that they were mass murdered by the Powhatan Indians.

This has led Virginia Dare to become a heroine in American folklore and symbology. For example, within North Carolina Virginia Dare is used to both extremes. In Raleigh, one group VDARE believes that North Carolina should “remain white … in the name of Virginia Dare.” While another group of feminists used Virginia Dare as a symbol for equal rights.

Back in 1937, she was memorialized by the United States Mint and was depicted on a half silver dollar making it the first time a child was represented on currency within the United States.

Several other historical fiction writers have used The Lost Colony of Roanoke and Virginia Dare’s story as inspiration. She has been used as a character as early as 1840 in Cornelia Tuthill’s novel Virginia Dare and as recently as 2014 on the television series Sleepy Hollow.

Sadly, we will never know the truth about Virginia Dare or what happened to the other settlers of Roanoke. All we can do is take solace in the fact that the settlers did not appear to be missing due to force.

Finding Movies About Jamestown, Virginia

Jamestown, Virginia has a long and fascinating history behind it. This was the first permanent English settlement in the United States. This settlement was at the center of a number of significant historical events. Because of this, the settlement has been featured in all kinds of films.

Fictional Tales

Historical fiction is a rich genre. There are many fictional movies that use Jamestown as a backdrop. For example, the famous love story To Have and To Hold is set in Jamestown.

In addition to old classics, there are a number of newer movies that take place in Jamestown. The movie The New World, which was released in 2005, was set in Jamestown. There are all kinds of intriguing stories that feature Jamestown in some way.

If you’re in the mood for a good story, and you don’t know what to watch, you should start looking for movies about Jamestown. You’ll find a lot of appealing options.

Children’s Films

If you’re looking for a movie that you can watch with young children, you should definitely consider movies that include the Jamestown settlement. One of the most famous children’s movies that involves Jamestown is Disney’s Pocahontas. There are also other versions of the Pocahontas story that are child-friendly.

You don’t have to wait until after your children have gone to bed to watch a movie about Jamestown. If you want to watch a movie like this, all you have to do is seek out family-friendly films. There are a lot of great movies that you can check out.

Non-Fiction Films

Because Jamestown is an important historical site, there are a number of documentaries about this town. If you’re looking for an educational film to watch, you’ll find no shortage of options.

There are documentaries that focus on different times in Jamestown histories. You’ll be able to find movies that focus on the initial settling of Jamestown, and you’ll be able to find films that show what happened to Jamestown when it was temporarily abandoned.

If there’s something you want to learn about Jamestown, you don’t necessarily have to read a book. There are plenty of educational and interesting documentaries that you can watch.

If you’re looking for movies about Jamestown, Virginia, you’ll find all kinds of films to watch. Start looking for movies that are relevant to you. You should be able to find all kinds of movies that are in line with your tastes and interests.

Awesome Historic Places To Visit In New England

New England refers to a region made up of six states including Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont. As a heart of the American Revolution, this part of the country is littered with a huge collection of historical sites and attractions.

New England is littered with a variety of historic attractions including academic, religious and revolutionary war sites as you will discover below.

Freedom Trail

Located in Boston, the two and a half mile Freedom Trail leads eager visitors through 16 historic sites; making it a must visit for any history buff out there. The guides wearing costumes as well as the enthralling stories are a massive hit for visiting kids.

Some of the main sites to look out for include the Old Corner Book Store, Old State House, Park Street Church, the USS Constitution, and many others.

Stonington Borough

If you are looking to have a colonial feel, then this is definitely the place to be. Stonington Borough is lined with numerous buildings from the colonial period. This seaside village is also home to a collection of small restaurants and antique shops among others; all lined up along the main street. You can also go on a people and boat watching tour on the harbor.

Yale

Currently, one of the best learning centers in the US and world at large, Yale University was established back in the 1600s. Renamed Yale College in early 1700 after being granted a charter, it went on to survive the revolution and develop into the institution we know today.

This attraction boasts impressive architecture, a number of art museums and a rare book library in addition to its historic appeal.

Museums Of Old York

Located in York, this area is made up of 9 historic buildings including a warehouse once owned by John Hancock, a patriot, an old jailhouse, and an antique filled estate among others. The on-site nature preserve will provide a place for a much needed break as you move from one part of this attraction to the next. Be sure to check out the contemporary art gallery, museum shop and museum buildings.

First Baptist Church In America

Architecture lovers will probably love the prospect of touring this impressive attraction. Built between 1774 and 1775, the church features a blend of traditional New England meeting house and English Georgian architecture.

As you travel down the coast towards New York down to Virginia, the history of the early settlers only grows deeper. The original colonies developed the foundation of what America is built on.

Who Is Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr

Thomas West, 3rd, and 12th Baron De La Warr was born on July 9th, 1577 and died on June 7th, 1618 at the age of 40 years at sea while traveling from England to the Colony of Virginia. He was a former English politician whose name is colloquially called “Delaware” and is the person for which the bay, river, and state are named after.

In colonial Virginia, during the time that Captain John Smith was president, Lord De La Warr was designated as Governor. During this time the first Anglo-Powhatan War began in 1610 to which De La Warr using his own finances sent 150 men from England to help the effort. He was notorious for using “scorched earth” tactics to help drive the Native Americans away from the colony. Such tactics included raided villages, burned houses and torched cornfields.

In 1611, De La Warr became ill and returned to England leaving deputy Sir Samuel Argall in charge of the colony. However, many Virginian settlers complained about Argall’s tyrannical rule and De La Warr set to return to Virginia to investigate in 1618. It was during this trip where he died at sea.

Originally, historians at thompsonlawtx.com believed that his body was buried at the town of Azores or at sea. However, in 2006 it was concluded that his body was indeed buried at Jamestown. His brother John West became the Governor of Virginia after his death.

 

But What Did They Plant?

We have spent several weeks discussing what life was like for these Ancient Planters but we just realized that we have not discussed what they actually planted. There is a great exhibit currently at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown in Williamsburg, Virginia that includes gardens that include examples of the types of crops that were grown during the formation of our country.

We all know the story of Thanksgiving and Pocahontas but many of us are not aware of how much of that influenced colonial American diet. Corn was original grown by the Powhatan Indians and was adopted by the colonists. The Powhatan also showed the colonists how to grow beans and squash around the corn. Other foods and spices that are on display include:

  • peas
  • carrots
  • lettuce
  • chard
  • onions
  • radishes
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • parsnips
  • feverfew
  • wormwood
  • savory
  • rosemary
  • yarrow
  • coriander
  • sage
  • thyme
  • dill
  • oregano
  • chamomile
  • lemon balm

But not everything that was grown during this time was used for food. Crops were used for medicine, fabric dye, insect repellent and for sale. Two types of tobacco are grown in the exhibit – Nicotiana rustica which was found native in the Americas and Nicotiana tabacum which was brought over to the Americas in the early 17 century. Cotton and flax are also both grown as this is what the colonists used to make clothes.

The exhibit also has a “slave farm” with other crops that slaves grew for personal use or to sell at the market. Crops include peanuts, collards, cowpeas, okra, peppers, and gourds.

A Brief History About The Sea Venture

When you think about the settling of the New World you often think about Christopher Columbus, the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria and a criminal defense lawyer. But after Columbus discovered the New World, more and more settlers from Europe came over and began their new life in the New World.

But it wasn’t always easy comings and goings for those looking to start anew. Especially when you think of the people who journeyed on the Sea Venture. which is one of those ships that you may have never heard of before, but it actually has a cool and interesting history.

This ship was the flagship for the London Company and it was specifically utilized for the emigration of the people who would later become known as Ancient Planters. This ship made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean twice and on its third voyage, the ship was filled with supplies for the Jamestown colony.

During this third trek back to the New World in the year of 1609, The Sea Venture became lost at sea off the coast of Bermuda. Their voyage was during what we would consider Hurricane conditions.  The winds directed to the boat to the eastern shore of Bermuda. Luckily, the crew of 150 people and a dog was able to get off of the boat, none of the harmed.

When the people did get off of the boat they were not really sure how long they would be stranded, but it would take a total of nine months before they would be rescued. As for the ship herself, she would be stripped of all of her useful items by the settlers that were living in the New World, because the survivors of the shipwreck needed them to survive the conditions of Bermuda.

Using natural resources of Bermuda and what was salvageable from the ship, many of the survivors built a new boat. They took whatever supplies and people that they could and set sail for Virginia. From there, they sent word to England to send another relief shit to Bermuda to get the rest of the survivors.

Learning about a ship like the Sea Venture is one that is often overlooked by a lot of people. However, The Tempest by William Shakespeare is reported this story was based on the Sea Venture and several other authors have tackled this story in works of historical fiction.