Virginia, (1585-1685): adventure, war and tobacco in the first American colony

This course explores the problems of founding a new society in the Americas during the earliest years of English adventurism. Virginia was the founding point of the presence of English people in North America; and the first Africans in English-speaking America. The course begins, chronologically, with the earliest voyages to the North American mainland, the adventurism of Sir Walter Raleigh and the settlements on Roanoke Island and Chesapeake, the relationship with the Powhatan Confederacy, and the Lost Colony. It then moves its attention to the Virginia Company and the settlement of Jamestown, and explores the different experiments by successive governors - John Smith and Sir Thomas Dale in particular - to build a stable and workable community. It looks at the introduction of tobacco, the switch towards a plantation economy and society using slave labour, and the fall of the Company. Finally, it explores the problems of proprietary government, and ends with the governorship of Sir William Berkeley and the rebellion for ‘liberty’ under Nathaniel Bacon, which marked the enslavement of indigenes and Africans.