| 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 |
HOW THE REDMEN FOUGHT AGAINST THEIR WHITE BROTHERS
 THE Colony of Virginia which had prospered so greatly under Sir
Thomas Dale had fallen again on evil days. For Samuel Argall, who
now governed, proved a tyrant. Dale had been autocratic, but he had
been autocratic for the good of the colony. Argall was autocratic
for his own gains. He extorted money and tribute from the colonists
to make himself rich, and profits which should have gone to the
company went into his pocket. Again and again the colonists sent
home complaints of Argall's doings. At length these complaints became
so loud and long that the company once more sent Lord Delaware out
But on the way Lord Delaware died, and the party of settlers he was
bringing out arrived without him. On their arrival Argall at once
took possession of Lord Delaware's private papers, and much to his
disgust he found among them one telling Lord Delaware to arrest
Argall and send him back to England.
This made Argall very angry; it also made him more despotic and
cruel than ever. In consequence still more bitter complaints reached
home from the colonists.
At this time the company at home were quarrelling among themselves.
But in the end they sent out a new Governor called Sir George
Yeardley. He, too, had orders to arrest Argall and send him home.
But Argall somehow came to know of it, and he made up his mind not
to go home a
pris-  oner. So before the new Governor could arrive he
packed up his goods, and leaving the colony to take care of itself,
sailed gaily off to England.
The Virginians now were heartily tired of despots, and thought
that it was time that they had some say in the matter of governing
themselves. At the head of the company at home there was at this
time a wise man named Sandys. He also thought that it would be best
for the colony to be self-governing.
And so on July 30th, 1619, the first General Election was held in
Virginia, and the first Parliament of Englishmen in America met.
There were by this time about two thousand people living in the
colony, and the settlements were scattered about on both sides
of the river for sixty miles or so above Jamestown. So the colony
was divided into eleven parts or constituencies, each constituency
sending two members to the little parliament. These members
were called burgesses, and the parliament was called the House of
Burgesses. But there was no special building in which the burgesses
could gather, so the meetings were held in the little wooden church
at Jamestown. And thus with such small beginnings were the first
foundations of a free and independent nation laid. And because of
the founding of this House of Burgesses 1619 stands out as the year
most to be remembered in all the early days of Virginia.
But 1619 has to be remembered for another, and this time a sad reason:
for it saw not only the beginnings of freedom, but the beginnings
Just a month after the opening of the House of Burgesses a Dutch
vessel anchored at Jamestown. The captain had been on a raiding
expedition off the coast of Africa, and he had on board a cargo of
negroes, whom he had stolen from their homes. Twenty of these he
sold to the farmers. And thus slavery was first introduced upon
the Virginian plantations.
 In 1619, too, there arrived the first ship-load of women colonists.
Nearly all the settlers were men. A few indeed had brought their
wives and daughters with them, but for the most part the colony
was a community of men. Among these there were many who were young,
and as they grew rich and prosperous they wanted to marry and have
homes of their own. But there was no one for them to marry. So
at length some one at home fell upon the plan of persuading young
women to go out to Virginia to settle there, and in 1619 a ship-load
of ninety came out. As soon as they arrived they found many young
men eager to marry them, and sometimes they must have found it
difficult to make a choice. But as soon as a young man was accepted
he had to pay the Company 120 lbs., afterwards raised to 150 lbs.,
of tobacco as the price of his bride's passage across the seas.
Then they were free to marry as soon as they pleased.
After this from time to time women went out to the colony. Sometimes
we read of "a widow and eleven maids," or again of "fifty maids for
wives." And always there came with them a letter from the company
at home to the old men of the colony reminding them that these
young women did not come to be servants. "We pray you therefore to
be fathers to them in their business, not enforcing them to marry
against their wills, neither send them to be servants," they wrote.
And if the girls did not marry at once they were to be treated as
guests and "put to several householders that have wives till they
can be provided of husbands."
Helped in this quaint fashion and in others the colony prospered
and grew ever larger. It would have prospered even more had it
not been for the outbreak of a kind of plague, which the colonists
simply called "the sickness." It attacked chiefly the new settlers,
and was so deadly that in one year a thousand of them died. Doctors
 very skilful in those days, and although they did their
best, all their efforts were of little use, till at length the
dread disease wore itself out.
But in spite of all difficulties the colony grew, the settlements
extended farther and farther in a long line up and down both banks
of the James from Chesapeake Bay to what is now Richmond. Had the
Indians been unfriendly, the colony could not have stretched out
in this fashion without great danger to the settlers. But for eight
years the Redmen had been at peace with their white brothers, and
the settlers had lost all fear of attack from them. The Indians,
indeed, might be seen wandering freely about the towns and farms.
They came into the houses, and even shared the meals of the farmer
and his household. Nothing, to all outward seeming, could be more
friendly than the relations between the Redmen and the settlers.
Then after eight years, old Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas,
died, and his brother became chief of the tribe. It may be that
this new chief was known not to be so friendly to the Pale-faces as
his brother had been. In any case the Governor took the precaution
of sending a messenger to him with renewed expressions of friendship.
Opekankano received the messenger kindly and sent him back to his
master. "Tell the Pale-faces," he said, "that I hold the peace so
sure that the skies shall fall sooner than it should be broken."
But at this very time he and his people were plotting utterly to
destroy the settlers. Yet they gave no hint of it. They had planned
a general massacre, yet two days before the 22nd of March, the day
fixed for it, some settlers were safely guided through the woods by
the Indians. They came as usual, quite unarmed, into the settlers'
houses, selling game, fish and furs in exchange for glass beads and
such trifles. Even on the night of the 21st of March they borrowed
the settlers' boats so that many of their
 tribe could get quickly
across the river. Next morning in many places the Indians were
sitting at breakfast with the settlers and their families when
suddenly, as at a given signal, they sprang up, and, seizing the
settlers' own weapons, killed them all, sparing neither men, women
nor children. So sudden was the onslaught that many a man fell dead
without a cry, seeing not the hand which smote him. In the workshops,
in the fields, in the gardens, wherever they were, wherever their
daily work took them, they were thus suddenly and awfully struck
For days and weeks the Indians had watched the habits of the
settlers until they knew the daily haunts of every man. Then they
had planned one swift and deadly blow which was to wipe out the
whole colony. And so cunning was their plot, so complete and perfect
their treachery, that they might have succeeded but for the love
of one faithful Indian. This Indian, named Chanco, lived with one
of the settlers named Pace, and had become his servant. But Pace
treated him more as a son than as a servant, and the Indian had
become very devoted to him. When, then, this Indian was told that
his chief commanded him to murder his master he felt that he could
not do it. Instead, he went at once to Pace and told him of the
plot. Pace then made ready to defend himself, and sent warnings
to all the other settlers within reach. Thus a great many of the
colonists were saved from death, but three hundred and fifty were
This sudden and treacherous attack, after so many years of peace,
enraged the white men, and they followed the Redmen with a terrible
vengeance. They hunted them like wild beasts, tracking them down
with bloodhounds, driving them mercilessly from place to place,
until, their corn destroyed, their houses burned, their canoes
smashed to splinters, the Indians were fain to sue for mercy, and
peace once more was restored for more than twenty years.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics