A Land As God Made It by James HornJamestown -the first permanent English settlement in North America, after the disappearance of the Roanoke colony-is often given short shrift in histories of America. Founded thirteen years before the Mayflower landed, Jamestown occupies less space in our cultural memory than the Pilgrims of Plymouth. But as historian James Horn points out, many of the key tensions of Jamestown's early years became central to American history, for good and for ill: Jamestown introduced slavery into English-speaking North America; it became the first of England's colonies to adopt a representative government; and, it was the site of the first clashes between whites and Indians over territorial expansion. Jamestown began the tenuous, often violent, mingling of different peoples that came to embody the American experience. A Land as God Made It puts the Jamestown experience in the context of European geopolitics, giving prominence to the Spanish threat to extinguish the colony at the earliest opportunity. Jamestown-unlike Plymouth or Massachusetts-was England's bid to establish an empire to challenge the Spanish. With unparalleled knowledge of Jamestown's role in early American history, James Horn has written the definitive account of the colony that gave rise to America.
Publication Date: 2008
A Tale of Two Colonies by Virginia BernhardIn 1609, two years after its English founding, colonists struggled to stay alive in a tiny fort at Jamestown.John Smith fought to keep order, battling both English and Indians. When he left, desperate colonists ate lizards, rats, and human flesh. Surviving accounts of the "Starving Time" differ, as do modern scholars' theories. Meanwhile, the Virginia-bound Sea Venture was shipwrecked on Bermuda, the dreaded, uninhabited "Isle of Devils." The castaways' journals describe the hurricane at sea as well as murders and mutinies on land. Their adventures are said to have inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest. A year later, in 1610, the Bermuda castaways sailed to Virginia in two small ships they had built. They arrived in Jamestown to find many people in the last stages of starvation; abandoning the colony seemed their only option. Then, in what many people thought was divine providence, three English ships sailed into Chesapeake Bay. Virginia was saved, but the colony's troubles were far from over. Despite glowing reports from Virginia Company officials, disease, inadequate food, and fear of Indians plagued the colony. The company poured thousands of pounds sterling and hundreds of new settlers into its venture but failed to make a profit, and many of the newcomers died. Bermuda--with plenty of food, no native population, and a balmy climate--looked much more promising, and in fact, it became England's second New World colony in 1612. In this fascinating tale of England's first two New World colonies, Bernhard links Virginia and Bermuda in a series of unintended consequences resulting from natural disaster, ignorance of native cultures, diplomatic intrigue, and the fateful arrival of the first Africans in both colonies. Written for general as well as academic audiences, A Tale of Two Colonies examines the existing sources on the colonies, sets them in a transatlantic context, and weighs them against circumstantial evidence. From diplomatic correspondence and maps in the Spanish archives to recent archaeological discoveries at Jamestown, Bernhard creates an intriguing history. To weave together the stories of the two colonies, which are fraught with missing pieces, she leaves nothing unexamined: letters written in code, adventurers' narratives, lists of Africans in Bermuda, and the minutes of committees in London. Biographical details of mariners, diplomats, spies, Indians, Africans, and English colonists also enrich the narrative. While there are common stories about both colonies, Bernhard shakes myth free from truth and illuminates what is known--as well as what we may never know--about the first English colonies in the New World.
"Good News from New England" by Edward Winslow; Kelly Wisecup (Editor)First published in 1624, Edward Winslow's Good News from New England chronicles the early experience of the Plimoth colonists, or Pilgrims, in the New World. For several years Winslow acted as the Pilgrims' primary negotiator with New England Algonquians, including the Wampanoag, Massachusett, and Narragansett Indians. During this period he was credited with having cured the Wampanoag sachem Massasoit, one of the colonists' most valuable allies, of an apparently life-threatening illness, and he also served as the Pilgrims' chief agent in England. It was in the context of all of these roles that Winslow wrote Good News in an attempt to convince supporters in England that the colonists had established friendly relations with Native groups and, as a result, gained access to trade goods. Although clearly a work of diplomacy, masking as it did incidents of brutal violence against Indians as well as evidence of mutual mistrust, the work nevertheless offers, according to Kelly Wisecup, a more complicated and nuanced representation of the Pilgrims' first years in New England and of their relationship with Native Americans than other primary documents of the period. In this scholarly edition, Wisecup supplements Good News with an introduction, additional primary texts, and annotations to bring to light multiple perspectives, including those of the first European travelers to the area, Native captives who traveled to London and shaped Algonquian responses to colonists, the survivors of epidemics that struck New England between 1616 and 1619, and the witnesses of the colonists' attack on the Massachusetts.
King Philip's Indian War by Eric B. Schultz; Michael TougiasAn ambitious work that details the events of the little-known King Philip's War, a two-year Indian rebellion that reduced many of New England's settlements to ashes and marked a crucial turning point in the battle for control of land in the New World