The Beginnings Of Systemic Racism Began In Virginia

In our series on post-establishment Jamestown, we discussed many of the ongoing conflicts between Native Americans and Jamestown colonists, and then those growing to become even larger and bloodier conflicts between a number of Native American tribes (most of which were wiped out, pushed off their lands, or assimilated) and Virginia colonists from other established settlements, including Jamestown. 

We also discussed the arrival of the first African slaves to the new world. Africans would continue to arrive by the boatload; some slaves, some free men and women. You either probably already know this, or at the very least it comes as no surprise — after all, the slave trade started somewhere. But what you might not know is that this was a historical seed that, once planted, would mature into a fairly rotten plant we call “systemic racism today.”

To many American citizens even today, the phrase doesn’t mean much. It’s just something that social justice warriors and bleeding heart liberals like to say to prove a point — right? But you would be wrong. 

It all started when a man named Nathaniel Bacon led a group of frontiersmen against the Virginian Colonial Governor William Berkeley. These frontiersmen were from all walks of life. Some were indentured servants, some were African slaves, some were Native Americans, some were English, and others were from other European countries. “Bacon’s Rebellion,” as it would come to be called, resulted in Jamestown being completely burned to the ground. Berkeley fled.

When Jamestown was leveled, the town couldn’t exactly go about filing bankruptcy. What they could do, though, was raise a force to put down the rebellion — which was ongoing for years and years. Bacon and his raised army (of thousands) were initially stopped when armed merchant ships offered Berkeley help. This force held out long enough for colonial government reinforcements to swoop in. Bacon himself died of dysentery before his rebellion ended — and likely it was due to his death that many of his followers left the cause. 

It was due to Bacon’s Rebellion that the English Crown assumed even more direct control over the Virginia colony. According to historical documents, Berkeley was summoned back to England because: “The fear of civil war among whites frightened Virginia’s ruling elite, who took steps to consolidate power and improve their image: for example, restoration of property qualifications for voting, reducing taxes, and adoption of a more aggressive Indian policy.”

Many historians have come to believe that the Crown’s (and the colonial government of Virginia’s) response was designed to drive a wedge between the European settlers, indentured servants, and African slaves. What was the point? With racial lines drawn between these groups, the original settlers would be able to better manipulate and control the poorer settlers who came later. This method was used to decrease the chances of, or opportunity for, another rebellion in the subsequent decades.

It worked for nearly one hundred years — when the American Revolution was born. Thomas Jefferson believed that the revolution followed in Bacon’s footsteps.  

Who Was Sir Thomas Dale In History?

Sir Thomas Dale was an individual that lived hundreds of years ago. He was an English naval commander, as well as a deputy governor for the Virginia colony. His role as deputy governor began in 1611. He subsequently filled that position again from 1614 to 1616. He is remembered for many things including having a substantial amount of personal energy, helping him to establish his administration in Virginia. He was able to benefit the colony in many ways, but was often criticized for what is referred to as high handedness. He is also known for marrying the legendary Pocahontas.

A Little Bit About His Personal Life

Although little is known about the early life of Sir Thomas Dale, it is likely he originated from Surrey (not Tampa Bay) England. He was married to a woman by the name of Elizabeth Throckmorton, though it is not known if they actually had children together. What is known about his life begins in 1588. His military service was performed in what is now modern Belgium and the Netherlands. He became friendly with people of authority, and by 1599 the Earl of Essex recruited him into the army of England. Subsequently, he was knighted, giving him the name Sir Thomas Dale of Surrey. This was performed in 1606 by King James. He was serving in the Low Countries and later developed what was called the Virginia Colony.

What Was The Virginia Colony?

After arriving in Jamestown, he quickly realizes that there were unhealthy conditions that needed to be improved. Meeting with the Jamestown counsel, he decided to make changes, serving as governor for a little over three months. Later on, he served in this capacity for two more years and was the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the Virginia area. He helped develop the first codes of law, referred to as Dale’s Codes, and instructed people to do agriculture on smaller plots in order to increase their yield.

In 1616, he sailed back to England, he brought his wife Pocahontas with him. Also accompanying them was their one-year-old son, and he introduced his wife to Queen Anne as Rebecca. Before returning, Rebecca died on March 21 of 1617. He was later appointed squadron commander of six ships. He laid siege on a Dutch fleet in Jacatra and later died after contracting a sickness while traveling through swamps. He died in August 1619 in Masulipatnam in India, leaving a substantial legacy behind.

Anne Burras And The History Of Virginia

The early settlers in Jamestown were all male until 2 Females arrived in 1608 – Mrs. Forest and Anne Burras. There are two divergent stories regarding Mrs. Forest as to whether she arrived to join her husband Thomas Forest, a gentleman, or whether he accompanied her on her journey. What is clear is that she was sickly and did not stay long in Virginia.

Anne Burras, on the other hand, was only 14 years old at the time, the personal maid of Mrs. Forrest and the first unmarried woman to arrive in the colonies. Shortly after her arrival (just 2 months later), she married John Leydon (sometimes spelled Laydon). This was another first for Virginia as it was most likely the only Christian wedding that was performed in the colonies at the time.

The couple moved to Point Comfort, then an outpost of Jamestown and Anne bore 4 children, the first of which was a girl named Virginia. Life was not easy in the colonies and during what was then referred to as the starving time, their main food source was rats, snakes and their horses and dogs in Jamestown.

However, life was slightly more comfortable in Point Comfort due to an abundance of lobsters and hogs. Out of the 470 male and 20 female settlers that arrived in Jamestown, only 60 were to survive after their supply of hogs was purposely destroyed and hunting became problematic due to the Native Indian population.

Anne, John and their 4 children all survived these early days and later moved to Elizabeth City (now called Newport News). John was given 200 acres of land which he further patented with the help of Anne’s brother, Anthony Burrows, to include an additional 1250 acres in 1936. While little else is known about Anne and her family, they did live out their lives in Virginia.

Her most significant contribution to the history of Virginia and the early colonies is that she was the first unmarried women to arrive in the New World. This later resulted in the realization of the importance of women in the colonies. It was determined that the men and the settlements were more likely to survive and thrive if women were present to provide stability and permanence through setting up homes.

These homes were to become an important factor in which early settlements were to survive and which were to fail in later years.

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.

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.


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.