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Richard of Jamestown by  James Otis


 

 

AN UNEQUAL DIVISION OF LABOR

FIRST I must explain upon what terms these people, the greater number of whom called themselves gentlemen, and therefore claimed to be ashamed to labor with their hands, had come together under control of those merchants in London, who were known as the London Company.

[60] No person in the town of James was allowed to own any land except as he had his share of the whole. Every one was expected to work for the good of the village, and whatsoever of crops was raised, belonged to all the people. It was not permitted that the more industrious should plant the land and claim that which grew under their toil.

Ours was supposed to be one big family, with each laboring to help the others at the same time he helped himself, and the result was that those who worked only a single hour each day, had as much of the general stores as he who remained in the field from morning until night.

Although my master had agreed to this plan before the fleet sailed from England, he soon came to understand that it was not the best for a new land, where it was needed that each person should labor to the utmost of his powers.

The London Company had provided a certain number of tents made of cloth, which were supposed to be enough to give shelter to all the people, and yet, because those who had charge of the matter had made a mistake, through ignorance or for the sake of gain, there were no more than would provide for the members of the Council, who appeared to think they should be lodged in better fashion than those who were not in authority.

[61] My master could well have laid claim to one of these cloth houses; but because of the charges which had been made against him by Captain Kendall and Captain Martin, the sting of which yet remained, he chose to live by himself. Thus it was that he and I threw up the roof of branches concerning which I have spoken; but it was only to shelter us until better could be built.


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