A Very Short History of the Founding of Virginia – Roanoake, Jamestown, Pocahontas








Excerpts Only

Spain sponsored many of the early excursions into America.

When did Christopher Columbus discover America?

1492 – Columbus en route to America

“The little fleet of three small vessels, with which Columbus left Palos in Spain, in search of a new world, had been sixty-seven days at sea. They had traversed nearly three thousand miles of ocean, and yet there was nothing but a wide expanse of waters spread out before them. The despairing crew were loud in their murmurs, demanding that the expedition should be abandoned and that the ships should return to Spain. The morning of the 11th of October, 1492, had come. During the day Columbus, whose heart had been very heavily oppressed with anxiety, had been cheered by some indications that they were approaching land. Fresh seaweed was occasionally seen and a branch of a shrub with leaves and berries upon it, and a piece of wood curiously carved had been picked up.  …

“The boats were lowered, and, as they were rowed towards the shore, the scene every moment grew more beautiful. Gigantic trees draped in luxuriance of foliage hitherto unimagined, rose in the soft valleys and upon the towering hills. In the sheltered groves, screened from the sun, the picturesque dwellings of the natives were thickly clustered. Flowers of every variety of tint bloomed in marvellous profusion. The trees seemed laden with fruits of every kind, and in inexhaustible abundance. Thousands of natives crowded the shore, whose graceful forms and exquisitely moulded limbs indicated the innocence and simplicity of Eden before the fall.

Columbus Discovers America | Engoo

1492 – Columbus

“Columbus, richly attired in a scarlet dress, fell upon his knees as he reached the beach, and, with clasped hands and uplifted eyes, gave utterance to the devout feelings which ever inspired him, in thanksgiving to [Pg 12]God. In recognition of the divine protection he gave the island the name of San Salvador, or Holy Savior. Though the new world thus discovered was one of the smallest islands of the Caribbean Sea, no conception was then formed of the vast continents of North and South America, stretching out in both directions, for many leagues almost to the Arctic and Antarctic poles. …

French explorer Jacques Cartier's ships on the St … stock image | Look and Learn

“The years rolled on and gradually exploring excursions crept along the coast towards the north, various provinces were mapped out with pretty distinct boundaries upon the Atlantic coast, extending indefinitely into the vast and unknown interior. Expeditions from France had entered the St. Lawrence and established settlements in Canada. For a time the whole Atlantic coast, from its extreme southern point to [Pg 13]Canada, was called Florida.

“In the year 1539, Ferdinand De Soto, an unprincipled Spanish warrior, who had obtained renown by the conquest of Peru in South America, fitted out by permission of the king of Spain, an expedition of nearly a thousand men to conquer and take possession of that vast and indefinite realm called Florida. …

“There was an understanding among the powers of Europe, that any portion of the New World discovered by expeditions from European courts, should be recognised as belonging to that court. The Spaniards had taken possession in Florida. Far away a thousand leagues to the North, the French had entered the gulf of St. Lawrence. But little was known of the vast region between.

Sir Walter Raleigh's First Journey to El Dorado

“A young English gentleman, Sir Walter Raleigh, an earnest Protestant, and one who had fought with the French Protestants in their religious wars, roused by the massacre of his friends in Florida, applied to the British court to fit out a colony to take possession of the intermediate country. He hoped thus to prevent the Spanish monarchy, and the equally intolerant French court, from spreading their principles over the whole continent.

Elizabeth I - Wikipedia

“The Protestant Queen Elizabeth then occupied the throne of Great Britain. Raleigh was young, rich, handsome and marvelously fascinating in his address. He became a great favorite of the maiden queen, and she gave him a commission, making him lord of all the continent of North America, between Florida and Canada.

Native Americans: 1587 Sir Walter Raleigh - Roanoke Island, North Carolina & Native Americans

1597 – Roanoke Island [Almost 100 years after Columbus’s voyage]

“The whole of this vast region without any accurate boundaries, was called Virginia. Several ships were [Pg 18]sent to explore the country. They reached the coast of what is now called North Carolina, and the adventurers landed at Roanoke Island. They were charmed with the climate, with the friendliness of the natives and with the majestic growth of the forest trees, far surpassing anything they had witnessed in the Old World. Grapes in rich clusters hung in profusion on the vines, and birds of every variety of song and plumage filled the groves. The expedition returned to England with such glowing accounts of the realm they had discovered, that seven ships were fitted out, conveying one hundred and eight men, to colonise the island. It is quite remarkable that no women accompanied the expedition. …

“Most of these colonists were men unaccustomed to work, and who insanely expected that in the New World, in some unknown way, wealth was to flow in upon them like a flood. Disheartened, homesick and appalled by the hostile attitude which the much oppressed Indians were beginning to assume, they were all anxious to return home. When, soon after, some ships came bringing them abundant supplies, they with one accord abandoned the colony, and crowding the vessels returned to England. Fifteen men however [Pg 19]consented to remain, to await the arrival of fresh colonists from the Mother Country.

Sir Walter Raleigh, still undiscouraged, in the next year 1587 sent out another fleet containing a number of families as emigrants, with women and children. When they arrived, they found Roanoke deserted. The fifteen men had been murdered by the Indians in retaliation for the murder of their chief and several of his warriors by the English. With fear and trembling the new settlers decided to remain, urging the friends who had accompanied them to hasten back to England with the ships and bring them reinforcements and supplies. Scarcely had they spread their sails on the return voyage ere war broke out with Spain. It was three years before another ship crossed the ocean, to see what had become of the colony. It had utterly disappeared. …

“For more than seventy years the Carolinas remained a wilderness, with no attempt to transfer to them the civilization of the Old World. Still English ships continued occasionally to visit the coast. Some came to fish, some to purchase furs of the [Pg 20]Indians, and some for timber for shipbuilding. The stories which these voyagers told on their return, kept up an interest in the New World. It was indeed an attractive picture which could be truthfully painted. The climate was mild, genial and salubrious. The atmosphere surpassed the far-famed transparency of Italian skies. The forests were of gigantic growth, more picturesquely beautiful than any ever planted by man’s hand, and they were filled with game. The lakes and streams swarmed with fish. A wilderness of flowers, of every variety of loveliness, bloomed over the wide meadows and the broad savannahs, which the forest had not yet invaded. Berries and fruits were abundant. In many places the soil was surpassingly rich, and easily tilled; and all this was open, without money and without price, to the first comer.

“Still more than a hundred years elapsed after the discovery of these realms, ere any permanent settlement was effected upon them. Most of the bays, harbors and rivers were unexplored, and reposed as it were in the solemn silence of eternity. From the everglades of Florida to the fir clad hills of Nova Scotia, not a settlement of white men could be found.

“At length in the year 1607, a number of wealthy gentlemen in London formed a company to make a new attempt for the settlement of America. It was their plan to send out hardy colonists, abundantly [Pg 21]provided with arms, tools and provisions. King James I., who had succeeded his cousin Queen Elizabeth, granted them a charter, by which, wherever they might effect a landing, they were to be the undisputed lords of a territory extending a hundred miles along the coast, and running back one hundred miles into the interior. Soon after, a similar grant was conferred upon another association, for the region of NortVirginia, now called New England.

Jamestown Settlement 1607

1607 Jamestown

Under the protection of this London Company, one hundred and five men, with no women or children, embarked in three small ships for the Southern Atlantic coast of North America. Apparently by accident, they entered Chesapeake Bay, where they found a broad and deep stream, which they named after their sovereign, James River. As they ascended this beautiful stream, they were charmed with the loveliness which nature had spread so profusely around them. Upon the northern banks of the river, about fifty miles from its entrance into the bay, they selected a spot for their settlement, which they named Jamestown. Here they commenced cutting down trees and raising their huts. …

Captain John Smith | Chesapeake Bay Program

“Troubles soon began to multiply, and but for the energies of a remarkable man, Capt. John Smith, the colony must soon have perished through anarchy. But even Capt. John Smith with all his commanding powers, and love of justice and of law, could not prevent the idle and profligate young men from insulting the natives, and robbing them of their corn. With the autumnal rains sickness came, and many died. The hand of well-organised industry might have raised an ample supply of corn to meet all their wants through the short winter. But this had been neglected, and famine was added to sickness, Capt. Smith had so won the confidence of the Indian chieftains, that notwithstanding the gross irregularities of his young men, they brought him supplies of corn and game, which they freely gave to the English in their destitution.

“Captain Smith having thus provided for the necessities of the greatly diminished colony, set out with a small party of men on an exploring expedition into the interior. He was waylayed by Indians, who with arrows and tomahawks speedily put all the men to [Pg 23]death, excepting the leader, who was taken captive. There was something in the demeanor of this brave man which overawed them. He showed them his pocket compass, upon which they gazed with wonder. He then told them that if they would send to the fort a leaf from his pocket-book, upon which he had made several marks with his pencil, they would find the next day, at any spot they might designate, a certain number of axes, blankets, and other articles of great value to them. Their curiosity was exceedingly aroused; the paper was sent, and the next day the articles were found as promised. The Indians looked upon Captain Smith as a magician, and treated him with great respect. Still the more thoughtful of the natives regarded him as a more formidable foe. They could not be blind to the vastly superior power of the English in their majestic ships, with their long swords, and terrible fire-arms, and all the developments, astounding to them, of a higher civilization. They were very anxious in view of encroachments which might eventually give the English the supremacy in their land.

Fact or Fiction: Pocahontas Saves Captain John Smith

“Powhatan, the king of the powerful tribe who had at first been very friendly to the English, summoned a council of war of his chieftains, and after long deliberation, it was decided that Captain Smith was too powerful a man to be allowed to live, and that he [Pg 24]must die. He was accordingly led out to execution, but without any of the ordinary accompaniments of torture. His hands were bound behind him, he was laid upon the ground, and his head was placed upon a stone. An Indian warrior of herculean strength stood by, with a massive club, to give the death blow by crushing in the skull. Just as the fatal stroke was about to descend, a beautiful Indian girl, Pocahontas, the daughter of the king, rushed forward and throwing her arms around the neck of Captain Smith, placed her head upon his. The Indians regarded this as an indication from the Great Spirit that the life of Captain Smith was to be spared, and they set their prisoner at liberty, who, being thus miraculously rescued, returned to Jamestown.

“By his wisdom Captain Smith preserved for some time friendly relations with the Indians, and the colony rapidly increased, until there were five hundred Europeans assembled at Jamestown. Capt. Smith being severely wounded by an accidental explosion of gunpowder, returned to England for surgical aid. The colony, thus divested of his vigorous sway, speedily lapsed into anarchy. The bitter hostility of the Indians was aroused, and, within a few months, the colony dwindled away beneath the ravages of sickness, famine, and the arrows of the Indians, to but sixty men. Despair reigned in all hearts, and this [Pg 25]starving remnant of Europeans was preparing to abandon the colony and return to the Old World, when Lord Delaware arrived with several ships loaded with provisions and with a reinforcement of hardy laborers. Most of the idle and profligate young men who had brought such calamity upon the colony, had died. Those who remained took fresh courage, and affairs began to be more prosperous.

“The organization of the colony had thus far been effected with very little regard to the wants of human nature. There were no women there. Without the honored wife there cannot be the happy home; and without the home there can be no contentment. To herd together five hundred men upon the banks of a foreign stream, three thousand miles from their native land, without women and children, and to expect them to lay the foundation of a happy and prosperous colony, seems almost unpardonable folly.

1620 – Women and Children Are Brought to Virginia

“Emigrants began to arrive with their families, and in the year 1620, one hundred and fifty poor, but virtuous young women, were induced to join the Company. Each young man who came received one hundred acres of land. Eagerly these young planters, in short courtship, selected wives from such of these women as they could induce to listen to them. Each man paid one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco to defray the expenses of his wife’s voyage. But the [Pg 26]wickedness of man will everywhere, and under all circumstances, make fearful development of its power. Many desperadoes joined the colony. The poor Indians with no weapons of war but arrows, clubs and stone tomahawks, were quite at the mercy of the English with their keen swords, and death-dealing muskets. Fifteen Europeans could easily drive several hundred Indians in panic over the plains. Unprincipled men perpetrated the grossest outrages upon the families of the Indians, often insulting the proudest chiefs.

1622 – The Jamestown Massacre

“The colonists were taking up lands in all directions. Before their unerring rifles, game was rapidly disappearing. The Indians became fully awake to their danger. The chiefs met in council, and a conspiracy was formed, to put, at an appointed hour, all the English to death, every man, woman and child. Every house was marked. Two or three Indians were appointed to make the massacre sure in each dwelling. They were to spread over the settlement, enter the widely scattered log-huts, as friends, and at a certain moment were to spring upon their unsuspecting victims, and kill them instantly. The plot was fearfully successful in all the dwellings outside the little village of Jamestown. In one hour, on the 22nd of March, 1622, three hundred and forty-seven men, women and children were massacred in cold blood. [Pg 27]The colony would have been annihilated, but for a Christian Indian who, just before the massacre commenced, gave warning to a friend in Jamestown. The Europeans rallied with their fire-arms, and easily drove off their foes, and then commenced the unrelenting extermination of the Indians. An arrow can be thrown a few hundred feet, a musket ball more than as many yards. The Indians were consequently helpless. The English shot down both sexes, young and old, as mercilessly as if they had been wolves. They seized their houses, their lands, their pleasant villages. The Indians were either slain or driven far away from the houses of their fathers, into the remote wilderness.

1670 Albemarle Settlement in South Carolina
[Charles Town or Charleston]

“In 1660, quite a number of emigrants moved directly south from Virginia, to the river Chowan, in what is now South Carolina, where they established a settlement which they called [Pg 28]Albermarle.

“In 1670, a colony from England established itself at Charleston, South Carolina. Thus gradually the Atlantic coast became fringed with colonies, extending but a few leagues back into the country from the sea-shore, while the vast interior remained an unexplored wilderness. As the years rolled on, ship-loads of emigrants arrived, new settlements were established, colonial States rose into being, and, though there were many sanguinary conflicts with the Indians, the Europeans were always in the end triumphant, and intelligence, wealth, and laws of civilization were rapidly extended along the Atlantic border of the New World.

“For many years there had been a gradual pressure of the colonists towards the west, steadily encroaching upon the apparently limitless wilderness. To us it seems strange that they did not, for the sake of protection against the Indians, invariably go in military bands. But generally this was not the case. The emigrants seem to have been inspired with a spirit of almost reckless indifference to danger; they apparently loved the solitude of the forest, avoided neighbors who might interfere with their hunting and trapping, and reared their humble cottages in the wildest ravines of the mountains and upon the smooth meadows which border the most solitary streams; thus gradually the tide of emigration, flowing through Indian trails [Pg 29]and along the forest-covered vines, was approaching the base of the Alleghany mountains.

“But little was known of the character of the boundless realms beyond the ridges of this gigantic chain. Occasionally a wandering Indian who had chased his game over those remote wilds, would endeavor to draw upon the sand, with a stick, a map of the country showing the flow of the rivers, the line of the mountains, and the sweep of the open prairies. The Ohio was then called the Wabash. This magnificent and beautiful stream is formed by the confluence of the Alleghany and the Monongahela rivers. It was a long voyage, a voyage of several hundred miles, following the windings of the Monongahela river from its rise among the mountains of Western Virginia till, far away in the north, it met the flood of the Alleghany, at the present site of the city of Pittsburg. The voyage, in a birch canoe, required, in the figurative language of the Indians, “two paddles, two warriors and three moons.”

The Indians very correctly described the Ohio, or the Wabash, as but the tributary of a much more majestic stream, far away in the west, which, pouring its flood through the impenetrable forest, emptied itself they knew not where. Of the magnitude of this distant river, the Mississippi, its source, rise and termination, they could give no intelligible account. [Pg 30]They endeavored to give some idea of the amount of game to be found in those remote realms, by pointing to the leaves of the forest and the stars in the sky.

“The settlers were deeply interested and often much excited by the glowing descriptions thus given them of a terrestrial Eden….

“As early as the year 1690 a trader from Virginia, by the name of Doherty, crossed the mountains, visited the friendly Cherokee nation, within the present bounds of Georgia, and resided with the natives several years. In the year 1730 an enterprising and intelligent man from South Carolina, by the name of Adair, took quite an extensive tour through most of the villages of the Cherokees, and also visited several tribes south and west of them. He wrote an exceedingly valuable and interesting account of his travels which was published in London.

“Influenced by these examples several traders, in the year 1740, went from Virginia to the country of the [Pg 31]Cherokees. They carried on pack horses goods which the Indians valued, and which they exchanged for furs, which were sold in Europe at an enormous profit.

“A hatchet, a knife, a trap, a string of beads, which could be bought for a very small sum in the Atlantic towns, when exhibited beyond the mountains to admiring groups in the wigwam of the Indian, could be exchanged for furs which were of almost priceless value in the metropolitan cities of the Old World. This traffic was mutually advantageous, and so long as peaceful relations existed between the white man and the Indian, was prosecuted with great and ever increasing vigor. The Indians thus obtained the steel trap, the keenly cutting ax, and the rifle, which he soon learned to use with unerring aim. He was thus able in a day to obtain more game than with his arrows and his clumsy snares he could secure in a month.

. . .

“Game on the eastern side of the Alleghanies, hunted down alike by white men and Indians, soon became scarce. Adventurers combining the characters of traders and hunters rapidly multiplied. Many of [Pg 33]the hunters among the white men far outstripped the Indians in skill and energy. Thus some degree of jealousy was excited on the part of the savages. They saw how rapidly the game was disappearing, and these thoughtful men began to be anxious for the future. With no love for agriculture the destruction of the game was their ruin.

“As early as the year 1748 quite a party of gentlemen explorers, under the leadership of Doctor Thomas Walker of Virginia, crossed a range of the Alleghany mountains, which the Indians called Warioto, but to which Doctor Walker gave the name of Cumberland, in honor of the Duke of Cumberland who was then prime minister of England. Following along this chain in a south-westerly direction, in search of some pass or defile by which they could cross the cliffs, they came to the remarkable depression in the mountains to which they gave the name of Cumberland Gap. On the western side of the range they found a beautiful mountain stream, rushing far away, with ever increasing volume, into the unknown wilderness, which the Indians called Shawnee, but which Doctor Walker’s party baptised with the name of Cumberland River. These names have adhered to the localities upon which they were thus placed.”