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

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Nothing but Smoke

The greatest of all the English seamen of this time was Sir Walter Raleigh. A poet, philosopher, historian, courtier, and colonizer, Raleigh was also a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. We are told that he won this lady's approval by once spreading his new cloak on the ground so that she might pass dry-shod over a muddy spot.

Raleigh's great ambition was to "plant an English nation in America." He and his half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, therefore obtained Elizabeth's permission to start a colony in any part of the New World not yet occupied by any other Christian power. Then Gilbert started across the Atlantic with several ships and took possession of Newfoundland. While cruising near there, one of his vessels was wrecked.

On his return voyage his little fleet was overtaken by a storm. Gilbert was on a leaky vessel, but as the other ships were not large enough to contain all his men, he refused to leave it for a safer one. When they told him that he was in great danger, he quietly answered, "Heaven is as near by water as by land," and calmly went on reading his Bible. The storm increased. All at once the other boats missed the light of Gilbert's ship! They peered anxiously out into the darkness, but all in vain, for the vessel had sunk with its brave captain and all its crew.

Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth


Undaunted by this first failure, Raleigh soon sent out a new expedition. It brought back such favorable reports of the coast farther south that Raleigh named the country Virginia, in honor of Elizabeth, the virgin (or unmarried) queen, who gave him a grant of land there.

Among other strange things, Raleigh's explorers brought back potatoes, which had never yet been seen in England. Raleigh planted these on his estate in Ireland, where people were at first afraid to eat them, lest they should be poisonous. Before long, however, potatoes became so common that they have been the chief food of the Irish peasants for many a year.

The first colony established by Raleigh, on Roanoke Island, in what is now North Carolina, suffered many hardships. The people were so discouraged by the time Drake came to visit them, that they persuaded him to carry them back to England. Then a second colony was started on the same spot, which thus became the home of the first little English baby born in our country. She was called Virginia, in honor of her birthplace.

A war with Spain prevented Raleigh's sending supplies to this colony for several years, and when the grandfather of the first English-American child finally visited Roanoke, little Virginia had vanished, as well as all the rest of the colonists. No one has ever known what became of them, but it is supposed that they were all killed by the Indians. The only trace ever found was one word carved on a big tree, the name of the neighboring village of Croatan.

These ventures, and his many journeys, made Raleigh so poor that he finally had to give up all his rights to the land.

As we have seen, Raleigh was a great favorite of the queen, therefore many stories are told about him. For instance, it is related that he was the first Englishman to use tobacco, which the Indians said "cured being tired." One day, when Raleigh was smoking in his room, a new servant came in with a pitcher of water. Seeing smoke come out of his master's mouth and nose, the man fancied that Raleigh was on fire, and hastily upset the water on his head to put out the flames!

We are also told that Raleigh taught Queen Elizabeth how to smoke, and that they two enjoyed many a pipe together. On one occasion Raleigh made a bet with the queen that he could tell the exact weight of the smoke from her pipe. First he carefully weighed the tobacco she put in her pipe; then, when she was through smoking, he weighed the ashes, and won his wager by telling her that the difference in weight between tobacco and ashes was that of the smoke! Elizabeth paid the money cheerfully, but remarked that, while she had often heard of turning gold into smoke, he was the first who had turned smoke into gold.

About twenty years after Raleigh founded his first colony, another English seaman, named Gosnold, decided that it was very foolish to take the roundabout way by Iceland or the Azores Islands to reach America. He therefore boldly steered straight across the Atlantic, thus shortening the trip by about one thousand miles.

The first land he saw he named Cape Cod, because he found so many codfish there. Soon after he stopped on Cutty-hunk Island, near the coast, where he built a house. Then, after securing a cargo of sassafras, which was at that time used as a medicine for almost every disease, Gosnold sailed home, leaving his house tenantless.