| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
THE STORY OF THE KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN HORSESHOE
 BACON was driven into rebellion by evil government and tyranny.
But the rising did little good. Bacon's Laws were done away with
and Lord Culpeper, one of the two nobles to whom Charles II had
given Virginia, came out as Governor. He soon showed himself a
greedy tyrant, caring nothing for the happiness of his people, and
bent only on making money for himself.
Other governors followed him, many of them worthless, some never
taking the trouble to come to Virginia at all. They stayed at
home, accepting large sums of money, and letting other people do
the work. But they were not all worthless and careless. Some were
good, and one of the best was a Scotsman, Alexander Spotswood. He
was a lieutenant governor. That is, the Governor in name was the
Earl of Orkney, who was given the post as a reward for his great
services as a soldier. But he never crossed the Atlantic to visit
his noble province. Instead he sent others to rule for him. They
were in fact the real governors, although they were called lieutenant
Spotswood loved Virginia, and he did all he could to make the
colony prosperous. He saw that the land was rich in minerals, and
that much could be done with iron ore. So he built smelting furnaces,
and altogether was so eager over it that he was called the Tubal
Cain of Virginia. For Tubal Cain, you remember, "was an instructor
of every artificer in brass and iron."
 Spotswood also planted vines, and brought over a colony of Germans
to teach the people how to grow them properly, and make wine. It
was he, too, who first explored "the West."
Virginia up till now had lain between the sea and the blue range
of mountains which cut it off from the land behind. To the English
that was a land utterly unknown. All they knew was that the French
were claiming it. But Governor Spotswood wanted to know more. So
one August he gathered a company of friends, and set forth on an
exploring expedition. With servants and Indian guides they made
a party of about fifty or so, and a jolly company they were. They
hunted by the way, and camped beneath the stars. There was no lack
of food and drink, and it was more like a prolonged picnic than an
The explorers reached the Blue Ridge, and, climbing to the top of
a pass, looked down upon the beautiful wild valley beyond, through
which wound a shining river. Spotswood called the river the Euphrates.
But fortunately the name did not stick, and it is still called by
its beautiful Indian name of Shenandoah.
Spotswood named the highest peak he saw Mount George in honour of
the King, and his companions gave the next highest peak the name
of Mount Alexander in honour of the Governor whose Christian name
was Alexander. Then they went down into the valley below, and
on the banks of the river they buried a bottle, inside which they
had put a paper declaring that the whole valley belonged to George
I, King by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, Ireland and
After that the merry party turned homewards. They climbed to the
top of the gap, took a last look at the fair valley of the unknown
West, and then went down once more into the familiar plains of
For this expedition all the horses were shod with iron, a
very unusual in Virginia where there were no hard or stony roads.
So as a remembrance of their pleasant time together Spotswood gave
each of his companions a gold horseshoe set with precious stones for
nails. Graven upon them were the Latin words, Sic juvat transcendere
montes which mean, "Thus it is a pleasure to cross the mountains."
Later all those who took part in the expedition were called Knights
of the Golden Horseshoe.
Up to about this time the people in Virginia had been altogether
English. Now a change came.
In France Louis XIV was persecuting the Protestants, or Huguenots,
as they were called. He ordered them all to become Catholics or
die, and he forbade them to leave the country. But thousands of
them refused to give up their religion, and in spite of the King's
commands they stole away from the country by secret ways. Many of
them found a refuge in America.
In the north of Ireland, which had been settled chiefly by Scotsmen,
the Presbyterians were being persecuted by the Church of England;
at the same time the English Parliament was hampering their trade
with unfair laws. So to escape from this double persecution many
Scotch-Irish fled to America.
In Germany too the Protestants were being persecuted by the Catholic
Princes. They too fled to America.
All these widely varying refugees found new homes in other colonies
as well as in Virginia, as we shall presently hear. In Virginia it
was chiefly to the Shenandoah Valley that they came—that valley
which Spotswood and his knights of the Golden Horseshoe had seen
and claimed for King George. The coming of these new people changed
Virginia a good deal.
After the death of King Charles the coming of the Cavaliers had
made Virginia Royalist and aristocratic, so now the coming of those
persecuted Protestants and
Presbyte-  rians tended to make it democratic.
That is, the coming of the Cavaliers increased the number of those
who believed in the government of the many by the few. The coming
of the European Protestants increased the number of those who
believed in the government of the people by the people.
So in the House of Burgesses there were scenes of excitement. But
these were no longer in Jamestown, for the capital had been removed
to Williamsburg. Jamestown, you remember, had been burned by Bacon.
Lord Culpeper however rebuilt it. But a few years later it was again
burned down by accident. It had never been a healthy spot; no one
seemed very anxious to build it again, so it was forsaken, and
Williamsburg became and remained the capital for nearly a hundred
To-day all that is left of Jamestown, the first home of Englishmen
in America, is the ivy-grown ruin of the church.
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