Posts Tagged ‘John Smith’

First Poles Arrive: not erected

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

Skilled craftsmen of Polish origin recruited by the Virginia Company began arriving in Jamestown aboard the Mary and Margaret about 1 Oct. 1608. Poles contributed to the development of a glass factory and the production of potash, naval stores, and wood products. Soon samples of their work were shipped back to England. The workers were so highly prized that they were assigned apprentices so that their skill “shall no dye with them.” Capt. John Smith praised their work ethic in his writings. Court records indicate that as a result of a dispute, Poles were granted full voting rights on 21 July 1619.

Further Research

Depiction of 17th Century Glassblowing

When the Virginia colony was first forming, it was crucial to its survival to maintain propaganda and to establish firm governmental support and adequate financial backing.  To help establish this, a lawyer named Richard Haklyut wrote “Inducements to the Liking of the Voyage Intended Towards Virginia.”  In this treatise, he stated “Men skilful in burning of Sope ashes, and in making of Pitch, and Tarre, and Rozen, to be fetched out of Prussia and Poland, which are thence to be had for small wages, being there in maner of slaves” (Barbour, 77).

Captain Christopher Newport

According to Captain John Smith, “there are no better workers than Poles.” (Grizzard and Smith, 171)  Polish craftsmen were originally brought to the Virginia colony of Jamestown a the urging of Captain John Smith.  He had observed their work before and was impressed at the skills they possessed with their trade.  On October 1, 1608, famous Sea Captain Christopher Newport embarked on another journey to the Jamestown, this time bringing with him “8 Dutchmen and Poles” (Barbour, 78).  After arriving in the colony, these Dutch and Polish workers were responsible for creating a glass house, which would be the factory in which glass would be produced.  They were also responsible for making pitch and tar and soap ashe.  The Polish workers were also responsible for cutting down the timber for their woodworking projects, and they frequently would send examples of their work back to England.  These Polish workers can be seen as the first creators of American industry (Barbour, 81).

On Strike

In 1619, after years of Polish men working in Virginia, the Governor declared the first election of a legislative body for the people, but only those who were born on English soil would be allowed to vote in the election.  Outraged, the Polish workers began the first strike in American history and they refused to do anymore work until they were allowed to vote.  On July 21, 1619, the court record of the Virginia Company stated:

“Upon some dispute of the Polonians resident in Virginia, it was now agreed (notwithstanding any former order to the contrary) that they shalbe enfranchized, and made as free as any inhabitant there whatsoever: and because their skill in making pitch and tarr and sope-ashees shall not dye with them, it is agreed that some young men, shalbe put unto them to learne their skill and knowledge therein for the benefitt of the Country hereafter.” Basically, the courts determined that the Polish workers had the right to vote as well.

Interesting Facts

The refusal to work by the Polish laborers has been referred to as “the first labor strike in American history.”

There were actually two men by the name of Richard Haklyut that were involved in the process of colonizing Virginia.  One was a preacher and worked in conjunction with Sir Walter Raleigh; the other was a lawyer who wrote “Inducements to the Liking of the Voyage Intended Towards Virginia.”

Captain Christopher Newport was one of the original members of the group of colonists to arrive in Jamestown in 1607.  He sailed back to England shortly after arriving in Virginia and then made a second trip back in 1608, this time bringing with him the Polish and Dutch workers.

 

Further Reading

Barbour, Philip L. “The Identity of the First Poles in America.” William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 21 (1964).

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

“The First Polish Settlers,” Polish American Cultural Center Museum, www.polishamericancenter.org (accessed April 29, 2012).

Photo Credits

“Depiction of 17th Century Glassblowing,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (accessed April 28, 2012).

“Christopher Newport,” Encylopedia: Christopher Newport, www.encyclopedia.com (accessed April 28, 2012).

“On Strike,” First Polish Settlers, www.polishamericancenter.org (accessed April 28, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources link not available



First Germans at Jamestown WT-2

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Inscription:

The first Germans to land in Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in Virginia, arrived aboard the vessel Mary and Margaret about 1 October 1608. These Germans were glassmakers and carpenters. In 1620, German mineral specialists and saw-millwrights followed, to work and settle in the Virginia Colony. These pioneers and skilled craftsmen were the forerunners of the many millions of Germans who settled in America and became the single largest national group to populate the United States.

Further Research

Glassblower in Colonial Jamestown

Various tradesmen constituted the labor force of the Jamestown colony, including blacksmiths, bricklayers and even jewelers and perfumers.  However, the most prominent skilled laborers mentioned in the history of Jamestown are the Dutch, German and Polish glassmakers and carpenters (Grizzard and Smith, 226).  The first group of these men arrived in the colony around October of 1608 as a small portion of Captain Newport’s crew aboard the ship the Mary and Margaret.  Out of a total number of about 70 passengers, only 8 of them were Dutch, German or Polish workers.  Known for their glassmaking abilities and craftsmanship, Captain Newport acquired these men from Prussia and Poland before setting sail for Jamestown (Wust, 3).

Upon arriving in the colony, the craftsmen got to work constructing various buildings and fabricating glass and other commodities for the colony.  It is important to note that when the Germans arrived, they had to build everything they needed from scratch in order to blow the glass, including the ovens that were used (Graasl, ).

Map Showing a Glassblowing Building

Because of their impressive skills at their trade, Captain John Smith assigned them a task to build a house for Chief Powhatan.  The chief requested a home that would be similar in architectural style as the German homes commonly seen in the colony.  Captain Smith however, had different motives.  Smith was making an effort to build a better bond and relationship with the natives because the winter months were fast approaching and food was becoming scarce for the colonists.  He proposed that the Germans and Dutch could build the house for the chief and in return, they could trade precious commodities such as corn.  Unfortunately for Smith, his plan backfired and the German workers traded their loyalties with the colonists for sanctuary with the natives.  The Germans preferred to be allied with Powhatan’s people and they stole weapons from the colonists to give to the natives in return for their alliance (Grizzard and Smith, 226).

Further Reading

Grassl, Gary C. First Germans at Jamestown. Washington D.C. : German Heritage Society of Greater Washington, 1997.

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

Schuricht, Herrmann. History of the German Element in Virginia. Baltimore: Theo. Kroh & Sons, 1898.

Wust, Klaus. The Virginia Germans. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1969.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “First Germans at Jamestown WT-2,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Jamestown Glassblower at Work,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov (accessed April 29, 2012).

“Map Showing a Glassblowing Building,” Glassmaking at Jamestown, www.artslice.blogspot.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Jamestown V-44

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Inscription:

Nearby to the east is Jamestown, the original site of the first permanent English colony in North America. On 14 May 1607, a group of just over 100 men and boys recruited by the Virginia Company of London came ashore and established a settlement at Jamestown Island. They constructed a palisaded fort there within the territory of the Paspahegh Indians, who with other Virginia Indians had frequent contact with the English. In 1619 the first English representative legislative body in North America met there, and the first documented Africans arrived. Jamestown served as the capital of the Virginia colony from 1607 to 1699. Historic Jamestowne preserves this original site and the archaeological remains.

Further Research

An Aerial View of Jamestown

The founding of Jamestown in 1607 was England’s first successful colonial effort.  The colony, founded by the Royal Virginia Company, was the first permanent settlement in the New World.  After they received the charter from King James I, the Englishmen embarked on their long journey across the Atlantic on December 20th, 1606 from England to the New World.  They finally reached their desired destination around May of 1607.  They sailed on a total of three ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery. The veteran sea captains Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gosnold, and John Ratcliffe

Replicas of the Discovery, Susan Constant and Godspeed

commanded these ships. As if the long, treacherous journey across the Atlantic for months wasn’t enough, upon arriving in the Chesapeake the colonists were attacked by Paspahegh natives that resulted in the injuries of at least two Englishmen.

Before embarking on their journey across the Atlantic, the colonists established a form of government and all power was divided amongst 7 councilors: President Edward Maria Wingfield, Captain John Smith, Christopher Newport, John Ratcliffe, John Martin, Bartholomew Gosnold and George Kendall (Schuricht, 18).  Among a group of 105 eager, prospecting settlers, only one nobleman was present: Sir George Percy.  Although Percy was a nobleman, he was never elected to the original Virginia Council; however, he did become chief executive of the colony after the dismissal of Captain John Smith.

Original charter for the Virginia Company of London

The summer of 1607 proved to be disastrous for the colonists.  A series of illness plagued the settlement, most likely due to improper dieting in addition to the tremendous heat and high humidity and the lack of a purified water supply.  Unfortunately for the colonists, conditions such as these harbor diseases such as scurvy, pellagra, dysentery, typhoid and beriberi (Grizzard and Smith, xxvi).  As the seasons began changing, more colonists became ill and died from pneumonia or

Map of Jamestown Fort

influenza.  The colonists neglected to cultivate the soil upon which to harvest crops, and in many cases the settlers were preoccupied with the prospects of finding gold (Schuricht, 21).  Because many of them were used to ways of life in England, the colonists were ill equipped to deal with the harsh realities of the wilderness, and this  ultimately led to their demise.

 

Interesting Facts

Christopher Newport (to which the school of Christopher Newport University is named in Newport News) lost his right arm in 1591 battling a Spanish merchant.

 

Further Reading

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. The Jamestown Project. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

Schuricht, Herrmann. The History of the German Element in Virginia. Baltimore: Theo. Kroh & Sons Printers, 1898.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Jamestown V-44,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Aerial View of Jamestown Island,” Virginia’s Historic Triangle: Colonial Williamsburg, www. colonialwilliamsburg.com (accessed April 29, 2012).

“Replicas of the Discovery, Susan Constant and Godspeed,” Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center, www.historyisfun.org (accessed April 29, 2012).

“Original charter for the Virginia Company of London,” America’s Story From America’s Library, www.americaslibrary.gov (accessed April 29, 2012).

 “Map of Jamestown Fort,” Historic Jamestowne: The Dig, www.historicjamestown.org (accessed April 29, 2012).

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Pocahontas V-45

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

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Matoaka, nicknamed Pocahontas (“mischievous one”), the daughter of Powhatan, was born about 1597. She served as an emissary for her father and came to Jamestown often in 1608. In 1613, Samuel Argall kidnapped Pocahontas while she visited the Patawomecks on the Potomac River. Argall hoped to exchange her for English prisoners and brought her to Jamestown. During lengthy negotiations, Pocahontas married John Rolfe in 1614, credited with developing Virginia’s first marketable tobacco crop. Pocahontas took the baptismal name Rebecca. In 1616, she traveled with Rolfe and their son, Thomas, to England where King James I and Queen Anne received her. She died at Gravesend, England, in March 1617.

Further Research

Portrait of Pocahontas

Pocahontas was born sometime between 1595 and 1597 to the chief of the Powhatan tribe, which was a division of the Algonquian natives. She was known publicly as Amonute and privately as Matoaka, and she gained the nickname “Pocahontas” which roughly translates to “little mischievous one”.  Despite false historical narratives, Pocahontas was never romantically involved with Captain John Smith nor does any proven historical documentation exist that cite Pocahontas as being a savior to John Smith.  If anything, she could have been performing a ritual of the tribe when it seemed as if she was saving his life.  In 1610, Pocahontas was married to a native warrior named Kocoum.  As far as the historical record shows, the couple never had any children together.

Smith Rescued by Pocahontas

Over the next few years, tensions began to rise between the natives and the colonists all throughout the newly settled areas.  In 1613, Englishman Captain Samuel Argall devised a plan to kidnap Pocahontas and hold her for ransom in exchange for English weapons her father Chief Powhatan possessed.  Argall frequently traded with the tribe of the Patawomecks, and as soon as he received word that Pocahontas would be visiting a neighboring tribe nearby, he persuaded the sub-Chief Iopassus to join him in an alliance against the Powhatan tribe.  With the help of Iopassus and his wife, Argall successfully kidnapped Pocahontas and took her back to Jamestown where she would remain for months while waiting for her father to submit to the ransom demands.

A Depiction of Pocahontas being Kidnapped in 1612

          During her captivity, she was treated well and remained unharmed.  Her captors saw to it that she learned the ways of the Anglican Church and in sometime in 1614 she was baptized and given the name Rebecca.  While in Jamestown, the historical record shows that she met and married John Rolfe, with whom she would later travel to England and bear him one child.  (The record does not indicate which side of the Atlantic Thomas Rolfe was born on).  Pocahontas died while she was in England in 1617, roughly around the age of 21.  She was taken to St. George’s Church in Gravesend, where she is buried.

Interesting Facts

Pocahontas’s account is the first recorded act of interracial marriage, although many white men viewed native women as exotic creatures and exotic princesses.

Further Reading

Barbour, Philip L. Pocahontas and Her World: A Chronicle of America’s First Settlement in Which is Related the Story of the Indians and the Englishmen- Particularly Captain John Smith, Captain Samuel Argall and Master John Rolfe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970.

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. The Jamestown Project. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

Mossiker, Frances. Pocahontas: The Life and the Legend. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1976.

Rountree, Helen. Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005.

Rountree, Helen C. Young Pocahontas in the Indian World. Yorktown: J&R Graphic Services, Inc., 1995. http://encyclopediavirginia.org/Pocahontas_d_1617 (accessed March 13, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Pocahontas V-45,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Portrait of Pocahontas,” APVA Preservation Virginia: Historic Jamestowne, www.apva.org (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Smith Rescued by Pocahontas,” Library of Congress, www.loc.gov (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Depiction of Pocahontas being Kidnapped in 1612,” Williamsburg Private Tours, www.williamsburgprivatetours.com (accessed May 1, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources link not available