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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
tongue: that kept him quiet for a while. If a man refused to go to church, he put him on short allowance of victuals, and whipped him every day until he begged to hear preaching.
But the new governor was not a tyrant. He really sought the welfare of the colony. He practically abolished the old system of living out of the public storehouse (§ 46). To every settler he gave a small piece of land, and allowed him a certain number of days in the year to work on it for himself.
From this time a new spirit animated the community. Before this, no matter how hard a man toiled he had nothing he could call his own. But now every man could look with pride on his little garden, and say, "This is mine." That feeling gave him heart; before, he had worked in silence; now, he whistled while he worked. Before, he had not cared much whether he had the right to vote or not; but now that he was a property holder, he wanted that right, and, as we shall see, he soon got it.
50. What Tobacco did for Virginia. At this time (1612) John Rolfe, the husband of Pocahontas (§ 47), began the systematic cultivation of tobacco (§ 27). In the course of a few years it came to be the greatest industry in Virginia.1 At one time even the streets of Jamestown were planted with it. It took the place of money, and clergymen and public officers received their salaries in it. Before this, America had practically nothing to export. With tobacco, commerce began; for Europe was ready to buy all the colonists could raise.
The outlook of the colony now began to change for the better. The cultivation of tobacco had four important effects:
1. It directly encouraged the settlers to clear the land and undertake working it on a large scale.
2. It established a highly profitable trade with Europe.
3. It induced emigrants who had some money, and also industrious farmers, to come over to Virginia and engage in the new industry.
The value of the tobacco crop of the United States is now about $91,000,000 annually; that of cotton, the cultivation of which was begun about the same time, but not then extended, is upwards of $820,000,000. See Abstract of Census of 1910.
CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
4. It introduced the importation of negro slaves as the cheapest means of carrying on great tobacco plantations.
The tobacco farms were on the banks of the James or other rivers, and vessels could load at them direct for England. But the cultivation of tobacco exhausted the soil. This compelled the planters to constantly add new land to their estates, and so pushed the owners farther and farther apart from each other.
One result of this separation and of the lack of towns was that neither schools nor printing presses came into existence until very late. The mass of the people had to get their education from nature, not from books or newspapers. Another result of the want of towns was that men seldom met to discuss public matters.
51. Virginia becomes practically Self-governing, 1619; Importation of Wives. The year 1619 was a memorable one in the history of the colony. That year Sir George Yeardley came over from England as governor. Acting under instructions from the London Company, he summoned a general assembly or Legislature, to be elected by all the freemen of Virginia. Later, none but taxpayers could take part in the election of members of the Legislature.
The choosing of this Assembly was the first step in carrying out that provision in the charter which gave every colonist all the rights and privileges he had at home in England (§ 44).
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
The colony now consisted of eleven plantations, or towns,1 later called boroughs. Each of these boroughs was invited to send two representatives or burgesses. They met in the church at Jamestown, Friday, July 30, 1619. This House of Burgesses was the first lawmaking assembly that ever came together in America.
At last the colonists had practically obtained the right of managing their own affairs. Spain would not grant that power to her colonists in St. Augustine or elsewhere. France would not grant it to Quebec or to her other settlements. England gave that privilege -- the greatest she could give -- to her colonists in the New World. Later, the right was restricted, but it was never wholly taken away. When the American Revolution began we find that Washington, Jefferson, Lee, Patrick Henry, and many other eminent men were active members of the Legislature of Virginia.
But though the men could now discuss politics and make laws, many of them had no proper homes, for but few unmarried women had emigrated to Virginia. To remedy this serious deficiency, the London Company sent out a goodly number of young women. The cost of the passage for each was fixed at 120 pounds of the best tobacco.
When the long-looked-for ship arrived, the young unmarried men were waiting at the wharf, and those who had their tobacco ready soon managed to get wives in exchange. The brides liked the country so well that they wrote back to England, and persuaded more maids to come over and take pity on the forlorn bachelors in the American wilderness.
52. Introduction of Negro Slavery, 1619; White "Apprentices" or "Servants." In the records of this same remarkable year of 1619 we read: "About the last of August came in a
1 No counties had then been laid out in Virginia. Later, when counties were organized, nearly all the representatives were sent from them. This made the Virginia system of government far less democratic than that of Massachusetts (settled later), for in Massachusetts all public affairs were at first decided by the whole body of voters, and not by a selected number of persons representing them. When the population of Massachusetts became too large for this, the towns, instead of the counties, sent representatives to the Legislature.
THE FIRST SLAVES
Dutch man-of-war that sold us 20 Negars." This was the beginning of African slavery in the English colonies of America.
At that time every leading nation of western Europe traded in negroes. No one then condemned the traffic, for no man's conscience was troubled by it, and at a much later period the King of England derived a large income from selling slaves in America. The system gradually spread over the country, and a little more than a hundred and fifty years later (1776) every one of the thirteen American colonies held slaves.
At the North the negroes were mostly house servants, and were not very numerous; but at the South they were employed chiefly in the fields. Many of the wisest and best men did not then see how tobacco, rice, and cotton could be raised without slave labor.
Still, for a long time the increase of negro slaves in Virginia was very slow, for many white people were sent over from England to be bound out as "apprentices" or "servants" to planters for a certain number of years.
These apprentices came from different classes:
1. Some of them were enterprising young men who wanted to get a start in America, but, having no money to pay their passage, bound themselves to work for the London Company, provided they would bring them over.
2. Some were poor children, picked up in the streets of London and sent over to Virginia to get homes.
3. Others were young men who were kidnaped at night by gangs of scoundrels who shipped them off as "servants" to America.