Looking At The Puritans: Who Were They?

Many students in the United States hear about Puritans early on in history or social studies class, but how much do you really know about this fascinating and very important group of early settlers. Originally the Puritans were not intended to be colonists for England in a new land, but their reasons for leaving were religious in nature and go into their disagreement with the Church of England.

Demanded Further Reformation
While The Reformation is often seen as the beginning of Lutheranism in particular, and Protestantism in general, it is only the beginning of the story. England was still a Catholic nation for the most part when the King wanted to be allowed to divorce. Since that wasn’t okay with the Catholic Church the Church of England formed, allowing him the right to divorce and also making some nominal changes compared to the Catholic Church.

The Puritans were a group of Protestants in the 1500’s and 1600’s who believed the Church of England had not gone far enough and to be righteous still needed to “purify” themselves further of practices and traditions that came from the Catholic church. This is where the name “Puritans” came from.

Freedom Of Religion
While Puritanism existed in several different factions in England, the splintering and infighting between various sects caused problems and prevented them from being more influential. In addition, they often found themselves being disapproved of by both the monarchy as well as by the Church of England. Those twin forces were seen by many as too much to deal with and this lead to the well-known off-shoot that decided to migrate to the New World to form new colonies where they could practice their faith freely.

The Great Migration
The heavy movement happened in the 1630’s and 1640’s. These groups of Puritans founded several colonies including the Massachusetts Bay Colony and would found the backbone for English settlement of the colonies in the future. Because of their strong early communities, the colonies would be strongly affected by the beliefs, culture, and intellectual practices of the early Puritans who had already settled in.

These were the same colonies that would meet Squanto and be part of the early feasts that would become the basis for celebrating Thanksgiving.

While the Puritan faith wouldn’t remain, its influence would still be a presence in thought, philosophy, and the history of the colonies that would follow. Their contribution to the early history of the colonies is undeniable.

Who Was Robert “King” Carter And Why Was He Famous In Virginia?

Robert “King” Carter was probably most well-known for being the richest man in Virginia. His accumulation of wealth began with the death of his older brother who had inherited their father’s estate which was passed on to Robert. He later inherited his younger half-brother’s estate as well and managed the estates of nieces.

He continued to accumulate land and wealth and upon his death it is estimated that he owned around 295,000 acres. His wealth and land ownership afforded him standing in the community to allow him to start a public career. His first public appointment was as Justice of the Peace in 1691.

After a number of other public appointments, his next significant step was as Treasurer to the House of Burgesses. After ensuring that there were no other candidates available, he later became the Speaker of the House of estate planning and elder law. It is speculated that without his wealth, he would not have risen so high in public office.

Upon the recommendation of Governor Nicholson (even though he was opposed to many of Nicholson’s policies), Carter was appointed to the Governor’s Council in 1699 where he served until his death. His opposition and influence later led to the dismissal of Nicholson, although indirectly. He also later opposed Lieutenant Governor Spotswood, and after the death of Lieutenant Governor Drysdale, became the senior member of the Governor’s Council.

As such, he was elected president of the Council, in effect making him the acting Governor for the period of one year between 1726 and 1727. After this, he continued to serve on the Council even though his health had begun to fail. In fact, his service did not stop until 5 weeks before his death.

His use of wealth and influence also did not stop with his own personal rise in public office. At great expense, he purchased the office of Secretary of the Colonies for his only son from his first marriage to Judith Armistead, John Carter. Charles and Landon Carter, 2 of his 5 sons from his second marriage also continued into public office as representatives in respective counties.

The name of Carter became synonymous with wealth and influence and the family became well-known in the different counties across Virginia. In fact, it was his accumulation of wealth, political power and imperious character that afforded him the nickname “King”, which still follows him today.

Have You Ever Wondered Who The Famous Virginian James Blair Was?

There are a huge number of men and women who helped make the United States the country it is. Yet many of those people don’t get discussed nearly as often. One such person is James Blair.

Who is the Famous Virginian James Blair?

James Blair was born in the year 1656. He was and still is best known for his role in founding the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Due to the exact nature of the college, this made his occupation both missionary and educator.

He was the first president of the now world famous university and his tenure lasted from 1693 to 1743. The 50 year tenure is perhaps unsurprising since he was the founder of the school, but it shows how long he dedicated his life to his work.

He was born in Banffshire, Scotland. He studied at three separate schools, including the University of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen. Even in the 1670s, these schools were well established and well regarded. Once his education was completed, he was ordained into the Kirk (or Church in today’s dialect) of Scotland.

Through out the seventeenth century, there was political conflict between the theological factions of the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians. While this conflict was part of a larger clash between the various nations of the British Isles, Blair eventually sided with the Episcopalians and his position as the head of his Edinburgh parish.

After being ordain as a missionary in the Anglican Church, Blair eventually chose to take a position as missionary to the then newly established Virginia colony. The colony had long wanted a school to send their sons to and many of the members of the churches in the colony were eager to have clergy trained. With this mind, Blair founded the College of William and Mary in the still growing city of Williamsburg, with a charter granted by King William and Queen Mary II. The college is named after these two monarchs in honor of that charter.

After securing land and getting the buildings built, Blair was appointed president of the school for life, a position he held for fifty years, the second longest tenure for such a position in United States history.

As you can see, James Blair played a pivotal roll in building this great nation. Without him, thousands if not millions of people would be without the education that fine university offers.

Just Who Was Governor Thomas Culpepper?

The history of the state of Virginia goes back well before the American Revolution as Virginia has been one of the largest and most important of the early colonies (besides New York and Staten Island). While many people think about U.S. Presidents when Virginia is mentioned (after all it is the home of 9 previous Presidents) to understand the history of Virginia you need to look further back to colonial times and figures like Governor Thomas Culpepper.

Born in 1635 and living until 1689, the 2nd Baron Culpeper of Thoresway, a title Thomas was granted, his name was technically spelled Colepeper but by the time he would come to the New World he would go by the altered name of Culpeper.

The New World Seeds
Charles the II of England would grant Thomas’s father ranks that would not only put the family in charge of many lands in England that often took up the majority of their time and attention, but also have them begin to look at the colony of Virginia.

In fact, Thomas Culpepper, even as he served as the administrator for the Isle of Wight, was given the title and responsibility of the governor of Virginia starting in July 1677. That being said, he was not present at the time and governed the colony in absence, sending information or decrees from his place in England.

Governor Culpepper attempted this until 1679 when King Charles II force him to sail to Virginia as the early grumblings took place from having the territorial governor so far away. While there he was granted a wide array of powers from the king and worked to limit the power of the local General Assembly, authorize a series of new taxes on exports, and remind the ruling class there firmly of their relationship with England, emphasis on being subordinate to them.

Culpepper left Virginia to return to his lands while still governor, and it became clear he was more interested in maintaining his holdings than governing in the colonies. This would help contribute to frustrations that would lead to riots in 1682 (forcing his return). Embezzlement of major amounts from the Colonial fund was the last straw and by 1683 with such an important colony in economic and political turmoil, he was replaced by the king.

Although not one of the greats of Virginia’s history, Culpeper was a governor for nearly a decade during colonial times and both Culpeper County and that county’s main town of Culpeper are named in honor of him.

A Brief Biography of Sir Edwin Sandys

In this article, we will discuss the man known as Sir Edwin Sandys (last name pronounced “sands”). Sandys was an English politician, and founder of the Virginia Company of London, which was the first permanent settlement of the English in North America.

Sir Edwin Sandys was born in the year of 1561, and from an early age, he focused on building his education. At the age of 15, he enrolled at Oxford and earned his B.A. in 1579 and M.A. in 1583. He remained at Oxford for a time, although earning no additional degrees, and then following the death of his wife, relocated to London. In 1589, Sandys was elected to Parliament.

After a mission to Germany, where Sandys gathered information that would later contribute to his book, “A Relation of the State of Religion,” he was knighted by King James I of England. He returned to Parliament, and for the next two decades became established as the House of Commons’ most influential member.

While Sir Edwin Sandys worked to establish his political career, an additional interest of his came to be. He was an advocate of free trade and overseas colonization and became a voice for this matter. In 1606, he had a part to play in founding the Virginia Company, which was established in order to come up with funds for a colony to be set up in North America. This colony came to be the Colony of Virginia, with a capital being established in Jamestown.

In the year of 1616, Sir Edwin Sandys was elected to be an assistant (or a director, essentially) of the Virginia Company. Sandys understood that immigration was essential to the success of colonization overseas, and he was even part of negotiations that led to the Mayflower’s journey in 1620. He was highly devoted to the success of the Colony of Virginia, and over the years, made sure that new settlers were constantly making their way to Jamestown to ensure the success of the settlement.

In his later years, Sir Edwin Sandys drifted away from power and politics. In the year of 1629, he passed away. He was buried in a church near his home in Kent, leaving a sum of 1,500 pounds to Oxford University. Sandys was a man who lived a full life, and without him, the United States of America as we know it might not have been the same.

Information On King James I

King James I‘s claim to fame is having held the role of a monarch for two nations at the same time. He was the king of Scotland and Great Britain, which was something that had not occurred in the past. His reign began in 1567 and lasted until his death in 1625.

Parliament of England

As a king, he was not fond of the Parliament in England and found them to be divisive. He had specific ideas when it came to how the nation should be run, and as a king, he wished for them to be adhered to. The Parliament of England was less willing and often criticized him for his expenditures. In general, the reason for this had a lot to do with how stable the governments were in Scotland and England. They were willing to take on the king and put their point of view across.

Once he passed away, it was not as easy for the governments to remain stable. This had more to do with his son Charles who had attempted to lead in the same manner but failed.

Importance of His Reign

King James I’s reign was not only important because he was ruling two nations at once but the fact he was a member of the “House of Stuart” not Atlanta like some claim. He was the first member of this house to become a king. Since Elizabeth I didn’t have children, there was no one available to take up the role.

This is when the House of Stuart was sought out as a solution to fill the gap.

The Scottish monarch became the ideal solution as he was the closest to Elizabeth I at the time. Also, it made it easier for both nations to bond as the leader was attached to both in some capacity. This meant the stability in the land was consistent for a while.

Education

As a student, he excelled at a younger age and was well-regarded for his desire to study. He was always looking into advancements within the world of art, science, and literature. His love for literature rose to a point where he penned “Daemonologie” (1597).

He had additional works later on that included Basilikon and The True Law of Free Monarchies.

He also spent a lot of time learning about witchcraft as it intrigued him. He would go on to burn books associated with witchcraft because he found it frightening.

Who Were the Indentured Servants?

Jamestown, the first colony of the Virginia Company, had only been founded for ten years when the first Indentured Servants began to make an appearance in the Americas.

The idea and probably the practice of indentured servitude sprang from the dire need for cheap laborers to work the land in colonial Americas. The early settlers were quickly met with the need for manpower to work the sprawling acreage available to them.

Passage to the Americas in itself was a considerable cost for anyone but the very rich. The very rich were in the Americas to acquire land and accumulate wealth not do the actual work themselves. They needed a way to attract a considerable workforce to power their enterprise and this was made available with the indentured servant.

The concept was popularized by the dire circumstances for the populations of Europe who were recovering from the destructive Thirty Years War that depleted the major economies. There was also a considerable unemployment problem at the time and Europe was crowded with skilled and unskilled laborers of all types.

It is understandable that the concept of life far away from the dreary depression of Europe was both exciting and inviting. The accommodations and arrangements available to these original “migrant workers” were tough but fair and indentured servitude was a far cry from the harsh realities of slavery.

An indentured servant would work for of a period as long as seven years or as short as four. During this time they would apply their skills or manpower to the service of their employer who would provide a home, food and all other necessary provisions until their contract had expired. The deal was restrictive and an indentured servant could extend their time of service as punishments for running away or becoming pregnant, in the case of female servants.

Those that managed to survive and gain their freedom had a considerably good position in the growing American colonies at the time. Many historians say that the indentured servant had a better opportunity for success than those colonists who came over of their own volition. While some did make it to the elite class in the Americas, it was a modest life in the opportunity rich colonies that attracted many indentured servants from Europe.

In 1619, the first black slaves arrived in the American colonies. At the time, there were no slave labor laws and they were given the same liberties as white indentured servants. By, 1641, all slavery laws had been established and the few rights that applied to blacks were stricken from the law.

A History of Tobacco Plantations in Virginia from Settlement to the Civil War

The history of tobacco begins some centuries before the coming of European colonists to the area. The First Nations of the continent had long ago began cultivating the plant. The Powhatan nation (among other east coast nations like those in Brooklyn) treated prepared parts of the plant as a trade item. It may not have been currency, but it was recognized as valuable.

The plant was used in sacred ceremonies involving pipes where one smoked to reach out to higher powers. Tobacco was also smoked in ceremonies to seal treaties or agreements, the origin of the “peace pipe” trope in Hollywood movies.

Europeans Begin Growing Tobacco

When the Powhatan and other nations introduced tobacco to European colonists, the plant quickly became a sensation. It wasn’t long before Europeans were eagerly smoking as much tobacco as they could. To keep up with the demand, a number of farmers in Virginia took to planting tobacco as a cash crop.

At first, tobacco plantations in the “tobacco colonies”, of which Virginia was the most notable, simply harvested the plants and then covered them with hay to prepare them in a curing process known as “sweat”. When regulations in 1618 prevented farmers from using valuable animal feeds like hay, farmers then switched to curing tobacco on lines or sticks.

Refinement of the Tobacco Curing Process

Initially the new curing process was done on fences, but it wasn’t long before entire barns became dedicated curing areas. Mold was a near constant threat in those days and entire crops could be lost before anyone knew what was going on. There was a fine art to ensuring that tobacco had absorbed just the right amount of moisture to make the transit across the Atlantic; too much moisture and the tobacco leaves would mold, and too little moisture would cause it to dry out and crumble.

As more Europeans demanded more tobacco, the plantations grew. Soon they grew so large that they needed to hire extra workers. These workers eventually became indentured servants, and then outright chattel slaves. And so the plantations of Virginia moved forward with the rest of the United States, into an era of turmoil.

Early on, with farms in Virginia struggling to provide food to the colony and the local economy faltering under the weight of near famine, tobacco proved an invaluable solution to the colony’s financial problems. Demand from Europe was large enough that even though tobacco was a cash crop, the funds it brought in still managed to feed the colony of Virginia. Though after a while, Virginia and indeed all United States farmers learned to farm the land, the crop remained a major element of the stat’s economy to this very day.

The House Of Burgesses

The first legislative assembly for North American elected representatives was the Virginia House of Burgesses. This House was created by the Virginia Company as a way to encourage English craftsman to come to North America and settle. It was also created so that its current habitants could have more favorable conditions.

The House of Burgesses worked together with the colonial council and the colonial governor. It was the representative branch for Virginia and it remains so from 6019 to 1776. In 1776 the colony of Virginia became the independent Commonwealth of Virginia. At this same time the House of Delegates was established and replaced the House of Burgesses.

The Virginia Company founded the Colony of Virginia under a royal charter. The early governors of Virginia provided the harsh judgments and stern leadership that was required for a new colony to survive its many difficulties. Early difficulties included disease, famine, insufficient skilled labor, a need to establish cash crops, insufficient committed labor, and issues with the Native American people. For this new colony to grow and prosper it would require an influx of responsible settlers.

The Virginia Company’s owners made a charter that would encourage responsible settlers to come into Virginia. If you paid your own way you would receive a parcel of 50 acres of land. The inhabitants of the colony would be able to represent the colony at the newly formed House of Burgesses.

On July 30, 1619, there was a six-day meeting at a church on Jamestown Island. It was the inaugural legislative assembly in the Americas and it was styled after a European legislative assembly. There was a Council chosen by the Virginia Company who would become the governor’s advisers. Along with these chosen advisers there was also 22 representatives who were locally elected and met as the new House of Burgesses. The Council and the members of the House of Burgesses would constitute the newly formed Virginia General Assembly.

The very first session was on July 30, 1619. Unfortunately, it did not accomplish very much as there was an outbreak of malaria. Some of the 22 members included Capt. William Powell, Samuel Jordan, William Capps, Lieut. John Gibbs, Walter Shelley, Capt. Thomas Graves, Thomas Pawlett, and Capt. Christopher Lawne.

As mentioned previously, in 7076 the House of Burgesses was terminated. It was replaced by the House of Delegates. At this time the colony of Virginia became the independent Commonwealth of Virginia.

Bacon’s Rebellion – An Intriguing Part of Jamestown’s History

A part of North American history is known as Bacon’s Rebellion, and indeed it is one of the most intriguing parts of Jamestown’s immigration history. This was a power struggle between two individuals who were no less than stubborn and selfish.

The two main individuals who played a part in Bacon’s Rebellion were the governor of Jamestown, Sir William Berkeley, and his cousin through marriage, Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. Governor Berkeley was an English Civil Wars veteran, a fighter of Native Americans, and during his first term as Governor, the King’s favorite. He had also made a name for himself as a playwright and a scholar. His name was deeply respected, as was his name as Governor of Virginia.

Bacon was a total opposite of Berkeley in character. He was intelligent, to be sure, but he was also a troublemaker and schemer. In fact, his father had sent him to Virginia in the hopes that he would mature. When he arrived, his cousin Berkeley treated him with respect and extended him friendship, giving him land and even allowing him a seat on the council.

Over time, however, Virginians, including Bacon, began to feel frustrated. There were economic difficulties, issues caused by weather, and other problems that led the colonists to feel the need to place blame on someone for the misfortunes they were suffering. This scapegoat took form in the local Native Americans.

Issues between the Native Americans and the colonists did not make anything any easier for all parties involved. The colonists began to demand much of Berkeley regarding their safety, and feeling that their demands were being ignored, an uprising began.

Over one thousand Virginians rose up to bring the confrontation to their governor, and they were led by none other than Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. They attacked Native Americans and chased Governor Berkeley from Jamestown before they ultimately set fire to the capital. Before aid could arrive sent from England, Bacon perished from dysentery. After his death, Bacon’s Rebellion soon lost steam.

The governor, then aged 71 years, returned to power and put to death the remaining leaders of the rebellion. He also moved to seize rebel property without the benefit of trial. A later investigation completed by a committee sent from England resulted in Berkeley being removed as governor and returned to England, where he died in 1677.

Bacon’s Rebellion was a power struggle between two individuals with two larger than life personalities. Between the two of them, they nearly destroyed Jamestown.