Thirteen Colonies > Colony & Dominion of Virginia

Colony & Dominion of Virginia


The Colony of Virginia (also known frequently as the Virginia Colony, the Province of Virginia, and occasionally as the Dominion and Colony of Virginia or Most Ancient Colloney and Dominion of Virginia[citation needed]) was the first permanently settled English colony in North America. Newfoundland, with seasonal settlements, had been established as a colony by Royal Charter in 1583.[2] American archaeologist William Kelso says Virginia "is where the British Empire began ... this was the first colony in the British Empire."[3] The colony existed briefly during the 16th century, and then continuously from 1607 until American Revolutionary War (as a British colony after 1707[4]). The name Virginia was first applied by Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth I in 1584. After the English Civil War in the mid 17th century, the Virginia Colony was nicknamed "The Old Dominion" by King Charles II for its perceived loyalty to the English monarchy during the era of the Commonwealth of England. In 1607, members of a joint venture called the Virginia Company founded Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America on the banks of the James River. Famine, disease and conflict with local Native American tribes (the Powhatan Confederacy) in the first two years brought Jamestown to the brink of failure before the arrival of a new group of settlers and supplies in 1610. Tobacco became Virginia's first profitable export, the production of which had a significant impact on the society and settlement patterns. In 1624, the Virginia Company's charter was revoked by King James I and the Virginia Colony was transferred to royal authority as a crown colony. From 1619 to 1776, the legislature of the Virginia was the House of Burgesses, which governed in conjunction with a colonial governor. Jamestown remained the capital of the Virginia colony until 1699; from 1699 until its dissolution the capital was in Williamsburg. It experienced its first major political turmoil with Bacon's Rebellion of 1676. After declaring independence from Great Britain in 1775 before the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted, the Virginia Colony became the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of the original thirteen states of the United States, adopting as its official slogan "The Old Dominion". After the United States was formed, the entire states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, and portions of Ohio and Western Pennsylvania were all later created from the territory encompassed earlier by the Colony of Virginia. Although Spain, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands all had competing claims to the region, none of these prevented the English from becoming the first European power to colonize successfully the Mid-Atlantic coastline. Earlier attempts had been made by the Spanish in what is now Georgia (San Miguel de Gualdape, 1526–27; several Spanish missions in Georgia between 1568 and 1684), South Carolina (Santa Elena, 1566–87), North Carolina (Joara, 1567–68) and Virginia (Ajacán Mission, 1570–71); and by the French in South Carolina (Charlesfort, 1562–63). Farther south, the Spanish colony of Spanish Florida, centered on St. Augustine, was established in 1565, while to the north, the French were establishing settlements in what is now Canada (Charlesbourg-Royal briefly occupied 1541–43; Port Royal, established in 1605). Elizabethan colonization attempts (1584–1590)[edit] Main article: Roanoke Colony In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent his first colonization mission to the island of Roanoke (in present-day North Carolina). This was the first English settlement, although it did not survive. It was a military research expedition with a very narrow focus. Joachim Gans was sequestered on Roanoke Island to research copper smelting techniques of the indigenous tribes in order to reduce European smelting times from 16 weeks to 4 days; giving the English a strategic advantage over other European nations in smelting and forging cannons for their warships.[8][9] What is unique about the inclusion of Joachim Gans in this expedition was that Jews were not allowed in England until Oliver Cromwell allowed them back into England in 1655 by refusing to extend Expulsion Laws imposed roughly 300 years earlier by Edward I in 1290.[10] In 1587, Raleigh sent another group to again attempt to establish a permanent settlement. The first English child born in the New World was named Virginia Dare. The expedition leader, John White returned to England for supplies that same year, but was unable to return to the colony due to war between England and Spain. When he finally did return in 1590, he found the colony abandoned. The houses were intact, but the colonists had completely disappeared. Although there are a number of theories about the fate of the colony, it remains a mystery and has come to be known as the "Lost Colony". Dare County was named in honor of the baby Virginia Dare, who was among those whose fate is unknown. The word Croatoan was found carved into a tree, the name of a tribe on a nearby island.[11][12] Virginia Company (1606–1624)[edit] Main article: Virginia Company Map depicting the Colony of Virginia (according to the Second Charter). Made by Willem Blaeu between 1609 and 1638. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, King James I ascended to the throne. England was financially pressed following years of war with Spain. Additionally, England's forests and other natural resources were nearly exhausted after centuries of supporting the population.[citation needed] In order to remedy the exhaustion of these vital resources, they were supplemented in part by trade with other nations, as well as exploitation of Northern Ireland labor and resources via Ulster plantation.[citation needed] The Muscovy Company in particular, had success importing goods such as lumber and pitch from the Dutch.[citation needed] However, the volatile and unstable conditions of the various trade relationships throughout Europe positioned England to consider other alternatives in the New World. Investment capital was raised to bring back gold and other riches and seek the Northwest Passage to the Middle East and India. James granted a proprietary charter to two competing branches of the Virginia Company, which were supported by investors. These were the Plymouth Company and the London Company.[citation needed] Charter of 1606[edit] Main article: Charter of 1606 By the terms of the charter, the Plymouth Company was permitted to establish a colony of 100 miles (160 km) square between the 38th parallel and the 45th parallel (roughly between Chesapeake Bay and the current U.S.-Canada border). The London Company was permitted to establish between the 34th parallel and the 41st parallel (approximately between Cape Fear and Long Island Sound), and also owned a large portion of Atlantic and Inland Canada. In the area of overlap, the two companies were not permitted to establish colonies within one hundred miles of each other.[citation needed] During 1606, each company organized expeditions to establish settlements within the area of their rights.[citation needed] In the plot of the play "Eastward Hoe", presented on the London stage in 1605, the villains of the piece attempt to flee to Virginia after accumulating debts in England.[citation needed] Jamestown[edit] Main articles: Jamestown, Virginia and History of the Jamestown Settlement (1607–1699) The London Company hired Captain Christopher Newport to lead its expedition. On December 20, 1606, he set sail from England with his flagship, the Susan Constant, and two smaller ships, the Godspeed, and the Discovery, with 105 men and boys, plus 39 sailors.[13] After an unusually long voyage of 144 days, they arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and came ashore at the point where the southern side of the bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, an event which has come to be called the "First Landing". They erected a cross, and named the point of land Cape Henry, in honor of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King James.[citation needed] Their instructions were to select a location inland along a waterway where they would be less vulnerable to the Spanish or other Europeans also seeking to establish colonies. They sailed westward into the Bay and reached the mouth of Hampton Roads, stopping at a location now known as Old Point Comfort. Keeping the shoreline to their right, they then ventured up the largest river, which they named the James, for their king. After exploring at least as far upriver as the confluence of the Appomattox River at present-day Hopewell, they returned downstream to Jamestown Island, which offered a favorable defensive position against enemy ships and deep water anchorage adjacent to the land. Within 2 weeks, they had constructed their first fort, and named their settlement Jamestown.[citation needed] In addition to securing gold and other precious minerals to send back to the waiting investors in England, the survival plan for the Jamestown colonists depended upon regular supplies from England and trade with the Native Americans. The location they selected was largely cut off from the mainland, and offered little game for hunting, no fresh drinking water, and very limited ground for farming. Captain Newport returned to England twice, delivering the First Supply and the Second Supply missions during 1608, and leaving the Discovery for the use of the colonists. However, death from disease and conflicts with the Natives Americans took a fearsome toll of the colonists. Despite attempts at mining minerals, growing silk, and exporting the native Virginia tobacco, no profitable exports had been identified, and it was unclear whether the settlement would survive financially.[citation needed] Charter of 1609[edit] Main article: Second Virginia Charter The 1609 charter for the Virginia colony "from sea to sea" In 1609, with the abandonment of the Plymouth Company settlement, the London Company's Virginia charter was adjusted to include the territory north of the 34th parallel and south of the 39th parallel, with its original coastal grant extended "from sea to sea". Thus, at least according to James I's writ, the Virginia Colony in its original sense extended to the coast of the Pacific Ocean, in what is now California, with all the states in between (Kentucky, Missouri, Colorado, Utah, etc.) belonging to Virginia. For practical purposes, though, the English had no presence at all in most of this region. The colonists rarely ventured far inland to what was then known as "The Virginia Wilderness", although the concept itself helped renew the interest of investors, and additional funds enabled an expanded effort, known as the Third Supply.[citation needed] Bermuda: The Somers Isles[edit] Main articles: History of Bermuda and Somers Isles Company For the Third Supply, the London Company had a new ship built. The Sea Venture was specifically designed for emigration of additional colonists and transporting supplies. It became the flagship of the Admiral of the convoy, Sir George Somers. The Third Supply was the largest to date, with 8 other ships joining the Sea Venture. The new Captain of the Sea Venture was the mission's Vice-Admiral, Christopher Newport. Hundreds of new colonists were aboard the ships. However, weather was to drastically affect the mission.[citation needed] A few days out of London, the nine ships of the third supply mission encountered a massive hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. They became separated during the three days the storm lasted. Admiral Sir George Somers had the new Sea Venture, carrying most of the supplies of the mission, deliberately driven aground onto the reefs of Bermuda to avoid sinking. However, while there was no loss of life, the ship was wrecked beyond repair, stranding its survivors on the uninhabited archipelago, to which they laid claim for England.[14] The survivors at Bermuda eventually built two smaller ships and most of them continued on to Jamestown, leaving a few on Bermuda to secure the claim. The Company's possession of Bermuda was made official in 1612, when the third and final charter extended the boundaries of 'Virginia' far enough out to sea to encompass Bermuda, which was also known, for a time, as Virgineola. Bermuda has since been known officially also as The Somers Isles (in commemoration of Admiral Somers). The shareholders of the Virginia Company spun off a second company, the Somers Isles Company, which administered Bermuda from 1615 til 1684.[citation needed] However, upon their arrival at Jamestown, the survivors of the Sea Venture discovered that the 10-month delay had greatly aggravated other adverse conditions. Seven of the other ships had arrived carrying more colonists, but little in the way of food and supplies. Combined with a drought, and hostile relations with the Native Americans, the loss of the supplies which had been aboard the Sea Venture had resulted in the Starving Time in late 1609 to May 1610, during which over 80% of the colonists perished. Conditions were so adverse it appears, from skeletal evidence, that the survivors engaged in cannibalism.[15] The survivors from Bermuda had brought few supplies and food with them, and it appeared to all that Jamestown must be abandoned and it would be necessary to return to England.[citation needed] Permanence of Jamestown[edit] Statistics regarding mortality rates: Dates Population New arrivals Easter, 1619 ~1,000 Easter, 1620 866 1620–1621 +1,051 Easter 1621 843 1620–1624 + ~4,000 Feb. 1624 1,277 During this time, perhaps 5000 Virginians died of disease or were killed in the Indian massacre of 1622.[16] Samuel Argall was the captain of one of the seven ships of the Third Supply which had arrived at Jamestown in 1609 after becoming separated from the Sea Venture, whose fate was unknown. Depositing his passengers and limited supplies, he had returned to England with word of the plight of the colonists at Jamestown. The King had authorized another leader, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, later better known as "Lord Delaware", to have greater powers, and the London Company had organized another Supply mission. They set sail from London on April 1, 1610. Just after the survivors of the Starving Time and those who had joined them from Bermuda had abandoned Jamestown, the ships of the new supply mission sailed up the James River with food, supplies, a doctor, and more colonists. Lord Delaware was determined that the colony was to survive, and intercepted the departing ships about 10 miles (16 km) downstream of Jamestown. The colonists thanked Providence for the Colony's salvation. Among these individuals who had briefly abandoned Jamestown was John Rolfe, a Sea Venture survivor who had lost his wife and son in Bermuda. He was a businessman from London who had some untried seeds for new, sweeter strains of tobacco with him, as well as some untried marketing ideas. It was to turn out that John Rolfe held the key to the Colony's economic success. By 1612, Rolfe's new strains of tobacco had been successfully cultivated and exported. Finally, a cash crop to export had been identified, and plantations and new outposts sprung up, initially both upriver and downriver along the navigable portion of the James River, and thereafter along the other rivers and waterways of the area. The settlement at Jamestown could finally be considered permanently established.[17] Vagrant London Children sent to Virginia 1618–1619[edit] In 1618 a scheme was set on foot for taking up vagrant boys and girls that lay begging in the streets of the City (London), having neither home nor friends, and transporting them to Virginia to be there industriously employed. The Virginia Company agreed to take 100 boys and girls between the ages of eight and sixteen. Royal colony[edit] In 1620, a successor to the Plymouth Company sent colonists to the New World aboard the Mayflower. Known as Pilgrims, they successfully established a settlement in what became Massachusetts. The portion of what had been Virginia north of the 40th parallel became known as New England, according to books written by Captain John Smith, who had made a voyage there. In 1624, the charter of the Virginia Company's was revoked by King James I and the Virginia Colony was transferred to royal authority in the form of a crown colony. Subsequent charters for the Maryland Colony in 1632 and to the eight Lords Proprietor of the Province of Carolina in 1663 and 1665 further reduced the Virginia Colony to roughly the coastal borders it held until American Revolutionary War. (The exact border with North Carolina was disputed until surveyed by William Byrd II in 1728.) English Civil War and Commonwealth[edit] See also: Virginia Cavaliers (historical) Although the newer, Puritan colonies, most notably Massachusetts, were dominated by Parliamentarians, the older colonies sided with the Crown. The Virginia Company's two settlements, Virginia and Bermuda (Bermuda's Independent Puritans were expelled as the Eleutheran Adventurers, settling the Bahamas under William Sayle), Antigua and Barbados were conspicuous in their loyalty to the Crown, and were singled out by the Rump Parliament in An Act for prohibiting Trade with the Barbadoes, Virginia, Bermuda and Antego in October, 1650. This dictated that due punishment [be] inflicted upon the said Delinquents, do Declare all and every the said persons in Barbada's, Antego, Bermuda's and Virginia, that have contrived, abetted, aided or assisted those horrid Rebellions, or have since willingly joyned with them, to be notorious Robbers and Traitors, and such as by the Law of Nations are not to be permitted any maner of Commerce or Traffique with any people whatsoever; and do forbid to all maner of persons, Foreiners, and others, all maner of Commerce, Traffique and Correspondency whatsoever, to be used or held with the said Rebels in the Barbada's, Bermuda's, Virginia and Antego, or either of them. The Act also authorised Parliamentary privateers to act against English vessels trading with the rebellious colonies: All Ships that Trade with the Rebels may be surprized. Goods and tackle of such ships not to be embezeled, till judgement in the Admiralty.; Two or three of the Officers of every ship to be examined upon oath. Virginia's population swelled with Cavaliers during and after the English Civil War. Despite the resistance of the Virginia Cavaliers, Virginian Puritan Richard Bennett was made Governor answering to Cromwell in 1652, followed by two more nominal "Commonwealth Governors". Nonetheless, the colony was rewarded for its loyalty to the Crown by Charles the II following the Restoration when he dubbed it the Old Dominion. Restoration and Rebellion[edit] With the Restoration in 1660 the Governorship returned to its previous holder, Sir William Berkeley. In 1676, Bacon's Rebellion challenged the political order of the colony. While a military failure, its handling did result in Governor Berkeley being recalled to England.

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