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Virginia

The Jamestown colony became a small city within the larger colony of Virginia. Historians acknowledge the establishment of the larger colony of Virgina taking place in 1607 (the same year that Jamestown was founded). Virginia became an economically successful colony due to tobacco. England needed more people to move to Virginia, and after the failure of the Headright System, England began transferring prisoners to Virginia to work in the tobacco fields. The prisoners were allowed to work off the rest of their sentences in Virginia, after which they would be allowed to stay in Virginia. Of course the prisoners were not making any money when they worked during their prison sentences. And it takes money to purchase land. Developed land is more expensive than undeveloped land and the land in and around Jamestown was simply out of reach for your average colonists. Thus the prisoners (and other poor colonists) pushed west. This westward expansion resulted in a rise in conflict with the various Indian tribes. Warfare was endemic in Virginia. One example of Anglo-Indian warfare was the Powhatan War of the first half of the seventeenth century. Powhatan lacked guns and sailing ships, though Indian arrows were an effective weapon in the early 1600's. Powhatan practiced what today we call asymmetric warfare; his main weapon was control over the English settlers' access to food. Powhatan's forces knew the cultural as well as the physical territory, and struggled to shape the behavior of nearby tribes so the English remained dependent upon Powhatan's willingness to provide food. When the supplies from England did not arrive as planned, Jamestown settlers were unable to feed themselves. Those willing to actually plant and work the fields were exposed to Indian attack, and a war of attrition was to Powhatan's advantage. His people numbered in the thousands, while the English population in the colony rarely exceeded 100 for very long during the first three years. However, war was not inevitable; Powhatan and the one leader of the English, John Smith, might have reached a mutual agreement where they benefited each other, at least in the short run. Random assaults between Native Americans and the colonists had occurred since their very first meeting at Cape Henry. However, Powhatan's first concerted effort to achieve domination through military force started in 1609, when it became clear that Smith's strategy was incompatible with Powhatan's strategy (and when Smith had been incapacitated by the explosion of his gunpowder bag on this thigh as he slept).In every war the other side can claim "he started it." The first Anglo-Powhatan war is no exception. From Powhatan's point of view, the English were getting out of control. They kept trying to contact other tribes, evading Powhatan's schemes to steer all trade through him. In 1608 John Smith led two expeditions around the Chesapeake Bay and up the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, contacting rivals of Powhatan. That same year, Christopher Newport led an exploration party upstream of the falls on "Powhatan's flu" (site of Richmond) to visit with the Monacans.Then in 1609, most of the ships in Lord de la Warr's "Third Supply" arrived at Jamestown with 200-300 new colonists - but none of the leaders on the Sea Venture, which had wrecked on Bermuda. Worse, the new colonists arrived with minimal supplies to feed them during the winter, before new crops could be raised. In a strategic decision, John Smith determined that too many people were concentrated in one place. The English were overwhelming the capacity of local tribes to raise surplus corn and to hunt enough deer to feed both the Native Americans and the colonists. Rather than just expand Jamestown as new colonists arrived, Smith decided to spread out and create new settlements up and down the the James River. The English sought to trade with, and then bluntly attacked the Nansemond tribe on the south bank of the James, downriver from Jamestown. After wrecking their shrines and villages, the English returned to Jamestown - though 17 mutineers who sailed to Kecoughtan ended up dead. The Indians stuffed their mouths with bread, showing contempt for the starvation that threatened the English. (Later in 1609, the English established a new settlement at the village of the Kecoughtan's on "Poynt Comfort," and built Fort Algernon.) Powhatan's efforts to isolate the English were partially successful. John Smith and later Jamestown leaders were never able to build an effective alliance with the Monocans and Manhoacs. The colony remained heavily dependent upon supplies from England, bith food and manufactured goods (guns, ammunition, clothes, etc.). Most of the English trade with the natives was limited to other Algonquian-speaking tribes who lived on the banks of the navigable rivers, where the English could use their ships to reach a town and carry away a heavy product such as corn.Only after the Powhatan Confederacy was destroyed did the English establish a long-distance fur trading business beyond the Fall Line, with Fort Henry (modern Petersburg) and Occoneechee (modern Clarksville) as the key trading centers. After Powhatan died, he was ultimately succeeded by his younger brother Opechancanough. Opechancanough decided that diplomacy had failed, and the Powhatans should not passively submit as the English occupied Virginia. He led two attempts to force the English to adjust their relationship with the Powhatan tribes, or abandon Virginia. He led assaults on the colonial settlements that resulted in hundreds of settlers being killed in two surprise attacks, in 1622 and 1644. In 1622, Opechancanough ordered a coordinated assault on the English homesteads and settlements that killed nearly 347 English settlers, roughly one-third of the colonists. Jamestown received a last-minute warning and was not attacked, but Wostenholme Town in Martin's Hundred, the Henricus settlement with its iron furnace at Falling Creek, and many others were destroyed.Not every Algonquian was comfortable choosing to follow Opechancanough's orders. Late on March 21, 1622, one of them reportedly revealed the plans to Richard Pace. As John Smith later described it: "Pace upon this [warning], securing his house, before day rowed to James Towne, and told the Governor of it, whereby they were prevented, and at such other Plantations as possibly intelligence could be given: and where they saw us upon our guard, at the sight of a peece they ranne away; but the rest were mostly slaine, their houses burnt, such Armes and Munition as they found they tooke away, and some cattell also they destroyed."Pace's warning was the key to Jamestown itself surviving the 1622 attack, while those in undefended farmhouses suffered severely. Wolstenholme Towne at Martin's Hundred plantation was the English settlement that suffered the greatest number of casualties.If Opechancanough had intended to exterminate the English, then he should have followed up with further attacks and ultimately have besieged Jamestown. He did not, suggesting that the Algonquians in Virginia were lousy at warfare despite perhaps 10,000 years of practice - or that the attack was intended not to ertiminate the colony, but instead to "reset" the balance of power. Expelling the English from Virginia would have required substantially more sustained warfare than Opechancanough demonstrated. One possibility: both Powhatan and Opechancanough imagined the English to be equivalent to a subordinate tribe, part of the "family" after a ritualistic ceremony that John Smith described as a "rescue" by Pocahonats beforehis brains were bashed in. Perhaps Powhatan and Opechancanough not only made calculations of the pros/cons for expelling the English according to Western European thoughts, but also applied Algonquian values and culture to the conflict. It's possible that the Algonquian chiefs thought of John Smith and later colonial leaders not as foreign invaders, but as lesser werowances who owed loyalty to the paramount chief. Clearly the English were acting as disobedient werowances. However, "bringing the English tribe back into the fold" could be accomplished by a sharp attack that demonstrated displeasure, and did not require sustained warfare.The English retaliated with widespread destruction of Indian towns, destroying hard-to-replace crops as well as the easy-to-replace thatch buildings. Most "warfare" was a series of intermittent raids. In one unusual battle in 1624, about 800 Indians battled 60 English soldiers for two days. The mismatch between arrows and guns determined the winner - the Indians suffered heavy casualties, but just 16 of the English were wounded. In 1632, the English seem to have reached some sort of agreement with the Pamunkey and Chicahominy tribes. In the 1630's, the English gradually expanded their settlements north of the York and then the Rappahannock rivers.In 1644, the Powhatans again attacked the English in a coordinated assault. This 1644 attack killed more colonists - but because the English population had grown so much, the percentage killed was far less than in 1622. The 1644 attack failed to force the colonists to either change their expansionist behavior. Instead, the English retaliated, and over the next two years destroyed the power of the tribes. Another new development in Virginia was self-government, called the House of Burgesses (established in 1619). Consisting of wealthy, elite men, who were elected by their peers, the House of Burgesses was the first example of self-government in the British colonies. The House of Burgesses was empowered to enact legislation for the colony, but its actions were subject to veto by the governor, council and ultimately by the directors in London. Nevertheless, such a legislative body would have been unthinkable in the Spanish or French colonies of that day, which highlights the degree to which the concept of a limited monarchy had become accepted by the English people. Voting for the burgesses was limited to landowning males over 17 years of age.In 1624, Virginia became a royal colony. The House of Burgesses continued to meet, but its influence was severely restricted. Despite limitations on its actions, the assembly listed within its later ranks such notables as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, and would assume a major leadership role in the movement toward independence (http://www.virginiaplaces.org/nativeamerican/anglopowhatan.html).

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Source:  OpenStax, Us history to 1877. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11483/1.1
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