Skip to comments.Jamestown -- the birth of a nation 400 years ago
Posted on 05/01/2007 3:28:31 AM PDT by Thinkin' Gal
The replica Jamestown ships, The Susan Constant, center, Godspeed, right, and Discovery ply the waters of Hampton Roads as they make their way to Virginia Beach to participate in the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Va., Tuesday, April 24, 2007. The centerpiece of the 18-month commemoration of the 400th anniversary of America's first permanent English settlement is almost here after a decade of planning. About two-thirds of the tickets for the 'America's Anniversary Weekend' extravaganza May 11-13 remain available; 31,587 had been sold as of April 19. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
by Jocelyne Zablit
Sun Apr 29, 6:11 PM ET
JAMESTOWN, United States (AFP) - When 104 men and boys sailed across the Atlantic 400 years ago to become the first permanent English settlers in the New World, little did they know that their odyssey would give birth to history's biggest superpower.
The small group of high-born, but ill-prepared colonists who set up camp along the James River on May 14, 1607 on a swampy, mosquito-infested swath of land in Jamestown, were seeking gold and a water route to the Orient.
Instead they found famine, disease, drought and hostile natives whose fate would forever be altered by the Jamestown settlement, the 400th anniversary of which is being celebrated this year.
"The settlement of Jamestown is a tremendous legacy," Jeanne Zeidler, executive director of "Jamestown 2007," the committee organizing the celebrations, told AFP. "This is the true story of America.
"Jamestown is the story of some very good people and some people who weren't always so good and ... people who learned to live together and sometimes fought each other."
The Jamestown colony, located in the eastern state of Virginia and generally upstaged in the nation's memory by the Mayflower pilgrims who arrived to Plymouth, Massachusetts, 13 years later, also laid the groundwork for America's principles of representative democracy and free enterprise.
The highlight of the quadricentennial celebrations will be a visit by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on May 3 and 4, followed by three days of festivities on May 11-13 that will include stage productions, a ceremonial sailing by replicas of the three ships that transported the settlers and a concert by a 1,607-member choir and an orchestra of 400 musicians.
The queen, who will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, also attended the 350th anniversary events in 1957 which marked her first visit to the United States as a monarch.
US President George W. Bush is also due to attend the ceremonies which have been 10 years in the planning.
But amid all the pomp and circumstance surrounding a date that marks the birth of a nation, some, especially Native Americans and blacks, are questioning whether there is much to celebrate.
For Native Americans, 1607 marks the beginning of their downfall and for African-Americans, Jamestown symbolizes the beginning of slavery in America with the arrival of the first African slaves in 1619.
"1607 marks the beginning of the English taking our land away from us," said Chief Bill Miles, who heads the Pamunkey Indian tribe in Virginia, which existed when the Jamestown settlers arrived and whose members have refused to take part in the 400th anniversary festivities.
"We are certainly proud to be Americans ... but we don't feel like it's something to celebrate or commemorate the fact that the settlers basically took our land away from us," Miles told AFP.
Of the estimated 15,000 American Indians who lived in the area near the English settlement in 1607, all but about 1,500 died within a century, most from disease or in battle with the settlers.
"When I ride though these roads here I see that only one or two percent of the people are Indians and there are all these other people," said Chief Ken Adams, who head the Upper Mattaponi tribe. "Four hundred years ago there was only us."
No Native American from the time of the English colonists is better known than Pocahontas, whose dealings with the settlers has formed the basis of many legends and a factually incorrect Walt Disney movie.
In a bid to avoid controversy and show consideration, organizers of the anniversary have toned down their wording to describe the event as a "commemoration" instead of a "celebration" and are going out of their way to include blacks and Indians in the festivities.
"We now tell the story of Jamestown as the place where the people of three cultures came together, not only the English," said Mike Litterst, spokesman for the Colonial National Historical Park.
"Certainly those three cultures didn't join hands and come together to join a society.
"But it is the contribution of all three that helped Jamestown survive and ultimately created the character of today's America."
Thanks for the article, TG.
Great place to visit this summer. And Pierce’s Barbeque is only 20 min. away.
Vayechi Yaakov [b'eretz goshen] ping.
There is a Time Team special on Jamestown on UKs Channel 4 tonight. Would be worth streaming it from somewhere...
Bump for the refresher lesson.
....For the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, you'll hear a lot this summer about political correctness and very little about the courageous Christians who helped establish a nation of unparalleled liberty.
For the record, the Pamunkey were, at the time, part of the Powhatan Chiefdom and seat of power for Powhatan, who ruled most of what is now Virginia with terror attacks, intimidation and high taxes on foodstuffs, tools and other resources. Women from other tribes were kidnapped and forced into marriage with Powhatan in his effort to unify the tribes. When the Chesapeake tribe in southeastern Virginia refused to join the Chiefdom, Powhatan had them wiped out.
Live by the sword, die by the sword. A more powerful tribe arrived.
When the English landed at Jamestown they quickly moved inland to do work that the natives refused to do! Because of this action we have the most wonderful nation on GOD’S GREEN EARTH!
Pat Robertson just made a full length movie about this called First Landing. I saw some of it yesterday. Well made, entertaining, and very informative. If public schools would show this half as much as they show Al Gore’s pile of slop, a climate of hope, instead of fear, would create a much more healthy and productive place of learning.
We’d like to welcome y’all to Vajenya, specially during this time. This is the real birthplace of the United States of America.
Many of the native americans were brutal, tribalistic, slave taking, in some cases, cannibals who spent most of their time killing each other.
The Washington Family Coat of Arms
(The original family name was D'Wessington; it appears that The General had a bit of Celtic blood in him. This is where the logo on the Washington, DC license plate comes from)
RevWar/Colonial History/General Washington ping list (FreepMail me if you want to be placed on or taken off the list):
“The Jamestown colony, located in the eastern state of Virginia and generally upstaged in the nation’s memory by the Mayflower pilgrims who arrived to Plymouth, Massachusetts, 13 years later,”
I am eternally amazed at how many people, groups, institutions, books, tv programs, etc., etc., repeat that American began with the first Americans and the first Thanksgiving and the first everything else in Mass.
The local rag, the Virginia Pilot, rarely even mentions this event.
So there were some 1,500 Indians who were 100 years or older in 1707 in that part of Virginia? Impressive. None of the settlers lived so long (most of them had short life expectancies).
Powhatan could have wiped out the Jamestown colony at the outset but thought the English would be useful to him in his wars with other Indian tribes. Powhatan's brother later did launch a massacre which tried to exterminate the English settlers.
I’m really proud that someone in my husband’s ‘line’ was among the early settlers. Not a direct ancestor as apparently the poor bloak was among those who didn’t make it past the first year.
For those planning to go to Jamestown this summer (and it would be a wonderful experience especially for school children) .. beware, Jamestown still has a swamplike feel with heat and humidity. Bring lots of water.
It’s not only the DC license plates .. the red/white stripes and 3 red stars are the “state” flag of DC.
If memory serves, whenever a head of state visits the city, the street lights (in the tourist sections at least) are decorated with the US flag, the flag of the head of state’s country, and the DC flag.
But swamplike is great - we live with it daily on the Eastern Shore :)
All kidding aside, our, almost, 9yo daughter is really excited that we are planning on visiting Jamestown this summer, nearly as excited as she is about daddy taking her camping in the Blue Ridge......mommy's planning on staying in Jamestown or here on the Shore (mommy doesn't do camping)
wasnt yesterday the anniversary of washington taking the oath of office? i know it was something significant.
Not really. Bet they're just being PC.
“...(mommy doesn’t do camping)”
mommy is smart !!!!!
You are so right about that! FRmail your way...
"So Help Me God"
LOL!!! My husband claims my idea of camping is a hotel without room service.
We’re looking forward to doing a bit of exploring of Virginia this summer, other than a couple of trips to VaBeach/Hampton Roads, in the 4 years we’ve lived here I haven’t ventured off the Shore.......I know, I’m baaaaaaaaad!
That amazes me too. You hear people say “my ancestor came over on the Mayflower” but you never hear, my ancestors came over on the Susan Constant..... etc.
And Virginia Dare
Were the first real Americans
Others might find it
Strange to come
Over the ocean
To make a home.
England and memory
Left behind - -
But Virginia and Peregrine
One of them born
And the other cradled
In Pilgrim oak.
the rest of the poem here
Thanks for the *PING*
One of my grandfather’s direct ancestors (I forget how many “greats” relate to me) came to Jamestown circa 1619 as an adolescent, who settled in Maryland and some eventually made their way back to northern Virginia in the late 1700s, where many remain. I’m still trying to find out more info on him, the family history seems like it will be interesting.
We were in Jamestown about 3 years ago and they had already begun building new access roads. My husband didn’t want to go back this year... crowds. *SIGH*
” .....a hotel without room service.” Now THAT is roughing it!
Do hope you get over to the Valley and mountain areas of the Old Dominion this Summer. Just in Charlottesville, not too far from the shore (relatively speaking), the area is beautiful, has Monticello, Ash Lawn, Michie’s Tavern, UVA, etc. Madison’s estate is a bit north of C’ville, worth the side trip.
If you venture to Staunton, there’s the American Frontier Museum (they changed its name so I’m not sure what it is exactly). So much to see !! I’ve loved every minute of our road trips thru the state. These excursions will be helpful to your 8 y/o when her class starts studying VA history.
Gabz, let me know when you’re in the Hampton Roads area. We’ll find some good places for you eat.
Here in Hampton Roads you hear it, right alongside "my ancestors had their land taken by the English".
Two good recommendations. Going there on Friday with my 10 year old.
My wife pointed this out during a Jamestown commercial. Same old PC crap.
That statement will not be part of the audio tour.
Abe Lnicoln put the nation’s birth somewhat later, i.e., “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Jamestown, represented colonization of North America by Great Britain.
I think the descendants of the Powhatan Indians might want to express regrets over the massacre of 1622.
Virginia, by the way, had the beginnings of representative government in 1619--the year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
My husband is the history/geography expert in this household...I’m still navigating all the nooks and crannies here on the Shore.....so I’m not exactly sure exactly where his itinerary plans to take us.
Monticello is high on my lists of places to see. I’m actually growing heirloom peppers that Jefferson grew there, that of course is not the only reason, but just kind of a neat tidbit of information I found in a seed catalog and so decided to get them.
We love road trip excurions, but after living 20 years in Delaware the shear size of the Commonwealth is daunting to me. Delaware has a great deal of history itself, but unlike Virginia the size was conducive to day trips. Because of our location, most places we all want to see here can’t be done that way, so it makes it a bit more complicated. But we’re working on it :)
"1607 marks the beginning of the English taking our land away from us," said Chief Bill Miles, who heads the Pamunkey Indian tribe in Virginia..."
"Our land", Chief? I thought the natives at the time didn't own any land. How could they have? They didn't even know what land ownership was until the concept was introduced by the Europeans, and even then they had difficulty understanding it.
Perfect trip for a 10 yr old. BBQ at the Lightfoot exit off I-64, a little west of Williamsburg. Enjoy!!!
I sure will!
The last time we were there for dinner we never got beyond Hooters.......it was a convenient location ofr the out of town Freepers to get to to meet the local Freeper, and then we just got comfy and decided against venturing elsewhere!!!!
Like many, I procrastinated in studying my family tree my whole life, until recently. In the course of my studies, I was shocked to learn how many of my forebears were tied to the earliest settlement of Tidewater Virginia, including those who were on these very ships. The discovery has deepened my appreciation for how blessed I am to live in this great country.