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Virginia Colony

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The Development of the Virginia Colony Under the influence of the “London Company”, the English settlers arrived in Virginia in 1607 with the intent of finding gold and wealth, but eventually ended up establishing the first English permanent settlement in the “New World”. The increasing number of deaths due to disease, and the unavailability of supplies which led to starvation during the cold season, compelled the settlers to abandon the search of gold. This prompted the settlers to provide for their sustenance in terms of growing produce and trading with the Native Indians for food in order to sustain the Virginia Colony. During the establishment of the Virginia Colony the English and the Indians encountered many interactions which brought advantages to both sides. Though there were some challenges along the way, interaction between both cultures made trade viable and led to tobacco discovery which helped the Virginia Colony gain success. Culture clash and misunderstandings between the English and the Indians were foreseen. The Indians did not hold any real religion instead strictly believed in their land and natural resources as their spiritual guidance. The English found this concept bizarre as they believed that human beings were a special creation and were separate from nature. They viewed the Indians as uncivilized and evil worshippers, living in a “state of nature”. The Indians’ previous experience with the English enabled them to view the English as incompetent and weak. They knew the new-comers were not accustomed to the agricultural life and would be straining the Indians for food, yet the Indians welcomed them on their land and saw the English as potential establishment of trade of goods that they could not produce, and also a way to achieve advancement to their skills. During the first year the English faced drastic drop in their population due to lack of food and death from disease. Since the English were from upper class, they lacked the necessary survival skills in the wild. They couldn’t farm or hunt to produce for themselves. This led to “starving time” which took lives of many settlers. Eventually only 65 settlers remained and tried to flee back to their motherland, but were persuaded to return to Virginia with additional colonist and a new governor. (Ref: Give me Liberty). The English Leader John Smith established a “no work- no food” policy. This policy demanded that all men should work and gather as much food as he could each day or would face exile from the colony. Smith’s previous experience enabled him to form a trading relationship with the Indians. His disciplinary strategy and expertise saved the colony and brought success to the remaining colonist,
The Virginia Company came into realization that in order for the colony to survive they had to give up the search for gold and find a way to build a functioning society. They needed to maneuver a plan that would attract more settlers to the colony. They establish the “headright system”. This meant that instead of retaining all the land for itself, the company chose to award fifty acres of land to any colonist who paid for his or another’s passage. (Ref: Give me Liberty). They also announced that anyone who brought vast amount of slaves will acquire large amount of estate. In 1619 the “house of burgesses” was formed and this granted all the inhabitants liberties. Providing the colonist with better deals and policies played a crucial part in shaping the “Virginia Colony.”
The English were aware that in their quest to build the Virginia Colony they would encounter obstacles with the Indians. The English certainly did not want warrant this. The English settlers were ordered by the Virginia Company to build a friendly relationship with the Indians since they were counting on the Indians for food and supplies. (Ref: Give me Liberty). Their strategy to establish a friendly relationship with the Indians brought agreement of the trade for food and supplies for a short period of time.
John Smith’s return to England brought hostilities between the English and the Indians. The increase in the English settler’s population and the lack of surviving skills required more food and supplies from the Indians. The English started demanding food and supplies from the Indians but the Indians did not want to feed the English anymore and decided to starve the English. This led the English to retaliate against the Indians. The English forced the Indians for food, attacking their villagers and destroying their crops. Finally in 1614 Pocahontas converted to Christianity and married the English colonist John Rolfe. The inter-marriage strategy used by both cultures restored peace between the English and the Indians.
.The relationship between the Indians and the English took a toll when the Indians came to realize that the English were planning to establish a permanent and expandable colony and not merely a trading post (Ref: Give me Liberty). This triggered the Indians to rebel against the English. The secret attack took a mass amount of the colonist lives and decimated their villagers. A quarter of Virginia’s settler population of 1200 was wiped out. (Ref: Give me Liberty). This war continued for many years until Virginia enforced a treaty to the surviving Indians to move to their tribal reservations and should not enter the European areas without their permission. Taking advantage of this the new settlers continued to take over the Indian lands. This devastation caused by the Indians was the last suffering the English encountered.
In the eyes of the company and the settlers, Virginia was a failure. They did not achieve what they hoped for. The Investors were in a big loss as they did not make any profits and the population showed drastic drop of from what was initially sent out. The company got involved with matters at home and withdrew their attention themselves from the colony, which led Virginia to extract them from the private enterprise and became the first royal company.
(Ref: “Give me Liberty). This action gave the local company the power to control over the colony’s development.
The colony was in great despair until John Rolfe, the Savior of the colony, introduced the colony with a crop called tobacco. Despite the harmful criticism by King James I, the English enjoyed the smoking of tobacco and found it medically beneficial. The demand of tobacco dominated the colony and expanded the mass market in Europe. Tobacco became so famous that it became the substitute for gold and became a very profitable crop in Virginia. The colonist no longer had any desire for gold instead they wanted to acquire big plots of land to cultivate tobacco. They foresaw a prospective wealthy future in tobacco and formed the “get rich fast” idea in their head. The colonist started trading food for tobacco from other colonies. The expansion of tobacco started attracting new wealthy immigrants who took advantage of the “headright” system and build the colony’s social and political elite. The demand for tobacco increased and thus more land and labor was required. Since the Indians resisted working on the intensive tobacco farm as the English required, indentured Servants came into rescue for the need of labor and in return they were granted passage to Virginia. The labor in tobacco field was difficult and back breaking. The masters of the servants often were harsh and beat the servants. Even though the labors were mistreated and the death rate was high the abandon land continued to fill with migrants. The tobacco industry quickly started to shape the society. Virginia finally started to resemble that of England with different ranks of people. (Ref: Give me Liberty). The English interaction and trade with the Indians together with the introduction of the tobacco crop contributed to the development of Virginia Colony. The English overcame many obstacles as they tried to build the Virginia Colony. Their challenges with the Indians, diseases and lack of food initially brought failure to the Virginia Colony, but the expertise of few elites and tobacco constituted them to become a stable and prosperous colony.…...

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