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Jamestown

( Originally Published 1932 )



There sailed away from the Downs, in England, on December 19, 1606, three small ships bound on the most eventful voyage that has ever crowned the history of Anglo-Saxon people. After weeks and months of hardship in the rough seas these little ships landed on May 13, 1607, at a low-lying wooded peninsula on the north side of Powhatan River-now the James. These ships were the Susan Constant, Christopher Newport, commander; the Goodspeed, Bartholomey Gosnold, commander, and the Discovery, under command of Captain John Ratcliffe. On this eventful day began the planting of the Old World in the New.

In 1888 the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities was organized, and is now on the threshold of its forty-third year. There is no longer any doubt of the historic significance of Jamestown. It is today our holiest shrine and the one that appeals to all Americans. The historic end of the island at Jamestown, a tract of twenty-three acres, was given to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Barney.

The colonial church, restored by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, was built upon the foundation of a former church. On this sacred spot Pocahontas, Indian princess, friend and guardian of the white settlers, was baptized and married in 1613 to John Rolfe, Gent.

Chanco, an Indian boy, saved the Colony of Jamestown in the Indian massacre of 1622, and on the walls of the church is a tablet to this young hero, along with one to Pocahontas, Captain John Smith, and many other notables who, in their day and generation, formed this land of freedom.

Here on July 31, 1619, assembled, under the call of Governor Sir George Yeardley, the first legislative body ever convened in America, known as the House of Burgesses. Here also, in 1622, George Sandys made the first contribution to English verse in America.

At Jamestown occurred the first concerted action against oppression and tyranny, for during the outbreak led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1670, the State House and church at James-town were burned. Both were quickly restored, and upon all of these foundations memorials have been placed. There has been much work done at Jamestown in restoration and excavation. The great sea wall, built by the United States government, insures the preservation of the island against encroachment of the river.

Let us pause in reverent memory and recall that here was the first trial by a jury; here the first English church with its administration of the sacrament, preaching of the Word; the first English marriage; the first birth of an English child in Virginia; the first seat of government in this great land upon which our national government was founded; here the Old World first met the New, and here was the foundation of a nation of free men which has stretched its dominion across the continent to the shores of another ocean.

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