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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Virginia's Early Relations with Native Americans
Converting Indians to Christianity Justifies English Colonization, 1610

The Virginia Company published A True Declaration of the Estate in Virginia in 1610. This pamphlet was part of a public relations campaign by the Virginia Company to solicit continued support for the Jamestown colony. According to the author, William Barret, what were the primary justifications for the Jamestown colony? How might these justifications affect the Indians living around the colony?

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Three Heads. Lawful, Possible Profitable.

Blacke enuie, and pale feare, being not able to produce any arguments, why that should bee lawfull for France, which is (in vs) vnlawfull: that which to Rome was possible, (to vs) is impossible: that which to others is honourable, and profitable, (in vs) should bee traduced, as incommodious, base, and contemptible: wherefore vnder these three heads of lawfulnesse, possibility, and commoditie, will I marshall all those reasons, which may resolue the religious, encourage the personall, confirme the noble, and satisfie the timorous aduenturer.

First, if it bee vnlawfull: it must be so, either in respect of the law of God, or in regard of the lawe of man. If in respect of Gods lawe, (considering our primarie end is to plant religion, our secondarie and subalternate ends are for the honour and profit of our nation) I demand a resolution of this plaine question: whether it bee not a determinated truth, that the Gospell should bee preached, to all the world, before the end of the world? If, it must bee preached, (as heauen and earth must passe awaie, but Gods word shall not pass awaie) then must it bee preached, one of these three waies: Either meerly Apostolically, without the helpe of man, (without so much as a staffe) or meerely imperiallie, when a Prince, hath conquered their bodies, that the Preachers may feede their soules; Or mixtly, by discouerie, and trade of marchants; where all temporall meanes are vsed for defence, and security, but none for offence, or crueltie. For the first (to preach Apostolicallie) it is simplie impossible: except wee had the gift of tongues, that euerie nation might heare the word of God in their owne language; or the guift of miracles, that it might be confirmed, with wonders from heauen; which two beeing ceased, questionlesse the identicall commission of the Apostles is expired: Or if yet the matter bee vrged, that God by fishers did conuert Emperors and therefore that wee must aduenture our liues without humane helpe; yet must it bee remembred, that there is no Apostolicall preaching, but where wee may expect either their conuersion, or our martyrdome. But we can expect neither, not their conuersion who cannot vnderstand vs, nor our martyrdome, when the people of Florida, did deuoure the Preachers of the word, without speaking any word. Non quia Christiani, sed quia homines, not because they were christian men, but because they were men, wee cannot be said to be martyrs, when wee are not killed because wee are christians. And therefore the Iesuite Acosta confesseth (notwithstanding Bellarmines relation of Indian miracles) that they haue no tongues, they haue no signes from heauen, and they can haue no martyrdome, and by consequent there is no means left of Apostolicall preaching.

For the second, to preach the Gospell to a nation conquered, and to set their soules at liberty, when we haue brought their bodies to slauerie; It may be a matter sacred in the Preachers, but I know not how iustifiable in the rulers. Who for their meere ambition, doe set vpon it, the glosse of religion. Let the diuines of Salamanca, discusse that question, how the possessor of the west Indies, first destroied, and then instructed.

The third, belongs to vs, who by way of marchandizing and trade, doe buy of them the pearles of earth, and sell to them the pearles of heauen; which action, if it be vnlawfull, it must proceede from one of these three grounds, either because we come to them, or trade with them, or tarrie and dwell and possesse part of their country amongst them.

Is it vnlawfull because wee come to them? why is it not a dutie of christianitie, to behold the imprinted footsteps of Gods glorie, in euery region vnder heauen? Is it not against the lawe of nations, to violate a peaceable stranger, or to denie him harbour. The Ethiopians, Egyptians, and men of China, are branded with a foule marke of sanguinarie and barbarous inhumanity, for blessing their Idols, with the bloud of strangers. It is not vnlawfull to trade with them, except Salomon shall bee condemned for sending for gold to Ophir, Abraham for making a league with Abimilech, and all christendome shall bee traduced, for hauing comerce with Turks and miscreants.

Finallie, it is not vnlawfull, that wee possesse part of their land and dwell with them, and defend our selues from them. Partlie because there is no other, moderate, and mixt course, to bring them to conuersion, but by dailie conuersation, where they may see the life, and learne the language each of other.

Partlie, because there is no trust to the fidelitie of humane beasts, except a man will make a league, with Lions, Beares, and Crocodiles.

Partlie because there is roome sufficient in the land (as Sichem sometime said) for them, and vs: the extent of an hundred miles, being scarce peopled with 2000. inhabitants.

Partlie, because they haue violated the lawe of nations, and vsed our Ambassadors as Ammon did the seruants of Dauid: If in him it were a iust cause to warre against the Ammonites, it is lawfull, in vs, to secure our selues, against the infidels.

But chieflie because Paspehay, one of their Kings, sold vnto vs for copper, land to inherit and inhabite. Powhatan, their chiefe King, receiued voluntarilie a crown and a scepter, with a full acknowledgment of dutie and submission.

Principallie when Captaine Newport was with Powhatan at Warow a comaco hee desired him to come from Iames towne as a place vnholesome, and to take possession of an other whole kingdome which he gaue vnto him. If any man alleadge, that this was done in subtlety, not that they euer meant we should possesse them, but that they might first gaine by vs, and then destroy vs. This makes our cause, much the iuster, when God turned their subteltie, to our vtilitie: giving vnto vs a lawfull possession, (as Pharaoe gaue Goshen to Israell; or Ephron sold his caue to Abraham) and freeing vs, from all impious and sinister construction. If anie man alleadge, that yet wee can possesse no farther limits, than was allotted by composition, and that . . . fortitude without iustice, is but the firebrand of iniquitie. Let him know that Plato defineth it, to bee no injustice, to take a sword out of the hand of a mad man; That Austen hath allowed it, for a lawfull offensiue warre, quod vlcisitur iniurias that reuengeth bloudie iniuries. So that if iust offences shall arise, it can bee no more iniustice to warre against infidells, than it is when vpon iust occasions wee warre against Christians. And therefore I cannot see, but that these truths, will fanne away all those chaffie imputations, which anie Romish boasters (that challenge a monopolie of all conuersions) will cast vpon it, or any scrupulous conscience can impute vnto it. . . .

When therefore, it is a sweete smelling sacrifice, to propagate the name of Iesus Christ, when the Babylonish Inchantresse . . . hath compassed sea, and land, to make, sixe, eight, or ten millions, of Romish proselites. When there is no other, mixt, moderate, course, to transport the Virginian soules to heauen. Where there hath beene a reall concession from their rurall Emporour, that hath licensed vs to negociate among them, and to possesse their countrie with them. When there is more vnpeopled continent of earth, than wee and they . . . can ouerburden with multitude. . . .

VVhen therefore this noble enterprise, by the rules of Religion is expressly iustified; when the passages by Sea are all open and discouered, when the climate is so fruitfully tempered; when the naturall riches of the soile are so powerfully confirmed: will any man so much betray his owne inconsiderate ignorance, and bewray his rashnesse; that when the same Sunne shineth, he should not haue the same eies to beholde it; when the same hope remaines, he should not haue the same heart to apprehend it? At the voyage of Sir Thomas Gates, what swarmes of people desired to be transported? what alacrity and cheerefulnesse in the Aduenturers by free wil offerings, to build vp this new Tabernacle? . . . VVe are too effeminate in our longings, and too impatient of delaies. Gods al-disposing prouidence; is not compellable by mans violence: Let any wisedome giue a solide reason, why his purpose should be changed, when those grounds which gaue life to his first purpose, are not changed. It is but a golden slumber, that dreameth of any humane felicity, which is not sauced with some contingent miserie. Dolor & voluptas, inuicem cedunt, Griefe and pleasure are the crosse sailes of the worlds euer-turning-windmill. Let no man therefore be ouer wise, to cast beyond the moone and to multiplie needlesse doubts and questions. Hannibal by too much wisedome, lost opportunity to haue sacked Rome. Charles the eighth of Fraunce, by temporising, lost the Kingdome of Naples, and the gouernement of Florence: Henry the seuenth by too much ouer-warines, lost the riches of the golden Indies. Occasion is pretious, but when it is occasion. Some of our neighbours would ioine in the action, if they might be ioynt inheritors in the Plantation; which is an euident proofe, that Virginia shall no sooner be quitted by vs, then it will be reinhabited by them. A dishonor of that nature, that will eternally blemish our Nation . . . It is time to wipe away such an imputation of Barbarisme, especially since the consequence is so pregnant, that without this or the like, the state cannot subsist without some dangerous and imminent mutation. He is ouer blinde that doth not see, what an inundation of people doth ouerflow this little Iland: Shall we vent this deluge, by indirect and vnchristian policies? shal we imitate the bloody and heathenish counsell of the Romanes, to leaue a Carthage standing, that may exhaust our people by forraine warre? or shall we nourish domesticall faction, that as in the dayes of Vitellius and Vespasian, the sonne may imbrew his hands in the blood of the father? Or shall we follow the barbarous foot-steps of the state of China, to imprison our people in a little circle of the earth, and consume them by pestilence? Or shall we like the beast of Babylon, denie to any sort the honourable estate of mariage, and allow abhominable stewes, that our people may not ouer increase in multitude? Or shall we take an inhumane example from the Muscouite, in a time of famine to put tenne thousand of the poore vnder the yce, as the Mice and Rats of a state politique? If all these be diabolicall and hellish proiects, what other meanes remaines to vs, but by setling so excellent a Plantation, to disimbarke some millions of people vpon a land that floweth with all manner of plenty? . . .

And therefore, he that desireth to purchase infallible hope of priuate vtility; hee that aimeth at the honor & wealth of his natiue country; he that esteemeth his owne repute as deere as his owne eies; he that endeauoureth to enlarge the dominions of his Prince, and the Kingdome of his God: let him remember what hee hath already spent, which is all buried; let him consider the consequences of state, which are all vanished into smoake; let him conceiue what a sterne we shall be made to the maligners of our state abroad, and our il affected at home; let him meditate, the external riches of other Kingdoms, able to buy and sell the monarch of the west; let him heare the triumphant boasting of the Beast of Rome, as though God would not suffer our schismaticall and hereticall Religion, to be infused into a new conuerted Region: O all ye worthies, follow the euer-sounding trumpet of a blessed honour; let Religion be the first aim of your hopes, & cætera adijcientur, and other things shall be cast vnto you: your names shall be registred to posterity with a glorious title; These are the men, whom God raised to augment the State of their countrey, and to propagate the Gospell of Iesus Christ.

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