When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Visit of Pocahontas to England

Anew governor, named Dale, now took charge of the Jamestown colony, and seeing that the colonists were lazy and indifferent, he tried to find out the cause. He soon discovered that the workers thought it unjust that they should have to feed the lazy, for the rule had been that all supplies should go into a common storehouse, and that each man should receive an equal share.

As the company had in 1609 received a new charter from the king, granting them land for four hundred miles along the coast, and thence "up into the land throughout from sea to sea, west and northwest," they were very anxious that the Jamestown colony should thrive. Dale, therefore, now said that each man should work for himself only. The result was that those who were willing to labor were soon very comfortable, while the lazy colonists became poorer and poorer. Still, seeing that they must work or starve, the idlers now did enough to keep themselves alive.

Other laws were made at the same time, and it was decided that those who disobeyed them should have their tongues pierced with a red-hot iron. From this time on Jamestown prospered; more colonists came, grain became plentiful, and instead of digging for gold, the settlers planted tobacco to sell in England.

The English had by this time learned to like tobacco, although King James disapproved so strongly of smoking that he wrote a book called A Counterblast to Tobacco. In fact, the use of this weed was so general that the colonists, finding they could get about seventy-five cents a pound for it, raised all they could, thus following the example set by John Rolfe, one of their number.

Four years after Captain Smith left the Jamestown colony, the English captain Argall, remembering how useful Pocahontas had been, determined to capture her. Hearing that she was with a neighboring tribe, he bargained with the chief to lure her on board his vessel and leave her there.

The chief consented, and walked off in triumph with his reward,—a shiny copper kettle,—leaving Pocahontas in the hands of Captain Argall. He took her to Jamestown, where she was kindly treated. John Rolfe converted the young prisoner, and made her his wife as soon as she had been baptized. Powhatan and many of his tribe were invited to this wedding, the first between an Englishman and an Indian girl. Of course it was a great event in the colony, so when the next ship went back to England it carried this piece of news to court.

Marriage of Pocahontas

When the king heard it he was greatly displeased, for he fancied that, after marrying the daughter of the King of Virginia, Rolfe might want to rule over the country. But Rolfe wished nothing of the kind, and after growing tobacco for a while, he took his Indian wife to England.

To please Captain Smith, the queen welcomed Pocahontas kindly. She appeared at court in fashionable English clothes,—which must have seemed very uncomfortable to an Indian,—and was presented as the "Lady Rebecca," for since her baptism her name had been changed. Pocahontas spent a few months in England, and she had just started to return to Virginia, when she was taken ill and died. But she left a little son, who lived to grow up and become the ancestor of several noted families in Virginia.

The colonists soon found tobacco so profitable that they planted it even in the streets of Jamestown, and used it for money. Instead of saying a thing was worth so many dollars, as we do now, they said it was worth so many pounds of tobacco. They rapidly grew rich, and as they no longer feared starvation, all longed to have wives to make them comfortable.

Wives for the Virginians

They therefore wrote to England, asking that women should be sent out to them, offering to give from one hundred to one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco to pay for their passage. The next ship, therefore, brought over a cargo of young women, and the men who wanted wives rushed down to the wharf, and wooed them so eagerly that there were soon many happy homes in Virginia.

As tobacco crops rapidly exhaust the soil, the colonists occupied more and more land, settling generally near a stream, so that vessels could come and load at their private docks. And because tobacco is planted, and not sown, their lands were called plantations, a name still used in the South for any large farm. Some people, however, say the name was given to any settlement planted in a new place.

To make sure they would always have a good government, the Virginia planters, who in 1619 had eleven settlements, or boroughs, chose two men from each borough to sit in a House of Burgesses at Jamestown. These burgesses helped to make a set of laws, called the "Great Charter." The fact that the colonists now had a share in ruling themselves, made them take special pride in their new homes, although they still spoke lovingly of England as the "mother country."

Strange to relate, the same year that the Virginia colonists claimed their right as freemen to help govern themselves, a Dutch ship brought twenty negroes to Jamestown, and sold them as slaves. But although these were the first colored people in our country, they were not the first or only slaves, for the king had already sent out a number of convicts and homeless children to serve the colonists.

There was always a great difference between white and colored slaves. White men were sold only for a certain length of time, after which they again became free; but the negroes were sold for good and all, and they and their children were to be slaves forever.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell