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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
The English Establish a Foothold at Jamestown
The Virginia Company's Public Relations Campaign, 1609

Even though stockholders in the Virginia Company saw Jamestown as an experiment, many were nonetheless disappointed that they were making no profits from the colony. Lack of profits was an even greater issue in the Company's attempt to raise additional funds to support Jamestown and to send more colonists. In 1609, they therefore began what we might call a "media blitz." Nova Britannia was one pamphlet written as part of this public relations campaign. According to the excerpts, what failures does the writer discuss? What does the writer suggest the Company has done to solve such problems?

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Nova Britannia: Offering Most Excellent Fruites by Planting in Virginia

There are diuers monuments already publisht in Print to the world, manifesting and shewing, that the Coasts and parts of Virginia haue beene long since discouered, peopled and possessed by many English, both men, women, and children, the naturall subiects of our late Queene Elizabeth, of famous memory, conducted and left there at sundrie times. And that the same footing and possession is there kept and possessed by the same English, or by their seede and of-spring, without any interruption or inuasion, either of the Sauages (the natiues of the countrie) or of any other Prince or people (for ought wee heare or know) to the day, which argueth sufficiently to vs (and it is true) that ouer those English and Indian People, no Christian King or Prince (other then James our Soueraigne Lord and King) ought to haue rule or Dominion, or can by possession, conquest or inheritance, truely claime or make just title to those Territories, or to any part thereof, except it bee (as wee heare of late) that a challenge is laid to all, by vertue of a Donation from Alexander the first Pope of Rome, wherein (they say) is giuen all the West Indies, including Florida and Virginia, with all America, and whatsoeuer lands adjacent. . . .

. . . Their Territories enlarged, their Nauigations encreased, their subiects enricht, and their superfluitie of coyne ouer-spreading all parts of the world, procures their Crowne to flourish, and highly commendeth the wisedome of Spaine: whose quicke apprehension and speedy addresse, preuented all other Princes: albeit (as you know) their greatness of minde arising together with their money and meanes, hath turmoiled all Christendome these fourtie yeares and more.

And this I but mention, to note the blind difficence of our English natures, which laugh to scrone the name of Virginia, and all other new proiects, bee they neuer so probable, and will not beleeue till wee see the effects: as also to shew how capable men ought to bee, in things of great importance, aduisedly to take the first occasions. . . . yet I must briefely tell you now, what I conceiue with ioy, that howsoeuer the businesse of this plantation hath beene formerly miscarried, yet it is now going on in better way, not enterprised by one or two priuate subiects . . . or the whole State to take in hand: for it is not vnknown to you all, how many Noble men of Honourable mindes, how many worthy Knights, Merchants, and others of the best disposition, are now ioyned together in one Charter . . .

. . . But of this that I haue said, if bare nature be so amiable in its naked kind, what may we hope, when Arte and Nature both shall ioyne, and striue together, to giue best content to man and beast? as now in handling the seuerall lparts propounded, I shall shew in order as they lie.

For the first . . . how it may tend to aduance the kingdome of God, by reducing sauage people from their blind superstition to the light of Religion, when some obiect, wee seeke nothing lesse then the cause of Gad, beeing led on by our owne priuate ends, and secondaly how we can warrant a supplantation of those Indians, or an inuasion into their right and possessions. . . .

But for the second point propounded, the honour of our King, by enlarging his kingdomes, to proue how this may tend to that: no argument of mine can make it so manifest, as the same is cleere in it selfe: Diuine testimonies shew, that the honour of a king consisteth in the multitude of subiects . . .

. . . And vpon good warrant I speake it here in priuate, what by these new discoueries into the Westerne partes, and our hopefull settling in chiefest places of the East, . . . I do not doubt . . . that the wisedome, Maiestie, and Honour of our King, shall be spread and enlarged to the ends of the world, our Nauigations mightily encreased, and his Maiesties customes more then trebled.

And as for the third part, the releeuing our men already planted, to preserue both them and our former aduenturers, I shall not neede to say much, the necessitie is so apparent, that I hope no Aduenturer will be wanting therein. . . .

But we must be prepared . . . to oppose an extraordinarie zeale against the detractings of such, to rescue our enterprize from malicious ignorance, and to still their murmurings with reproofe, for though in ordinaie and common occasions, it be our duetie to be carried with ordinaie patience, meekness and humilitie, yet to shew an excellent spirit, when the ause is worht it, and in such a case as this, requiring passing resolution. . . .

What was the case of England before the golden daies of Queene Elizabeth at whose comming to the crowne, the state of Marchants was so poore and meane, that renting out her customes in wardes, but at a very lowe rate, yet it brought the farmer vpon his knees.

A man that markes the difference, and shall compare those times and these together, shall think it were impossible . . . that the dayes of the raigne of one Elizabeth, whose hand was euer lending to distressed neighbour Princes, and hew sward vnsheathed continually, repulsing forraine enemies, should yet releeue and raise the state of her customes, the strength of her Nauie, and the condition of her people, euery way seuen fold to that they were before, onely by encouraging the royall trade of Marchandize, as wee wee it this day apparent. . . .

And now to our present businesse in hand, which so many stumble at, in regard of the continuall charge, I would haue them know, that it canot be great nor long, as the businesse may be handled. Two things are especially required herein, people to make the plantation, and money to furnish our present prouisions and shippings now in hand: For the first wee neede not doubt, our land abounding with swarmes of idle persons, which hauing no meanes of labour to releeue their misery, doe likewise swarme in lewd and naughtie practises, so that if we seeke not some waies for their forreign employment, wee must prouide shortly more prisons and corrections for their bad conditions . . . And we shall find that hence was, the Gothes and Vandalles with other barbarous nations, seeing an ouerflowing of their multitudes at home, did therefore send their Armies out as raging floods at sundrie times . . . so that you see it no new thing, but most profitable for our State, to rid our multitudes of such as lie at home, pestering the land with pestilence and penury, and infecting one another with vice and villanie, worse then the plague it selfe: whose very misery driues many of them, by meanes to be cutte off, as bad and wicked members, or else both them and their to be releeued at the common charge of others.

Yet I do not meane, that none but such unsound members, and such poore as want their bread, are fittest for this imployment: for we intend to haue of euery trade and profession, both honest, wise and painefull men, whereof our land and Citie is able to spare, and furnish many . . . which will be glad to goe, and plant themselues so happily, and their children after them, t holde and keepe conformities, with the lawes, language and religion of England for ever. . . .

And as for the generall sort that shall goe to bee planters, bee they neuer so poore, so they be honest, and painefull, the place will make them rich: all kinde of Artificers wee must first imploy, are Carpenters, Ship-wrights, Masons, Sawyers, Brickemakers, Bricklayers, Plowmen, Sowers, Planters, Fishermen, Coopers, Smiths, Mettel-men, Taylers, Turners, and such like, to make and fitte all necessaries, for comfort and use of the Colony, and for such as are of no trades (if they bee industrious) they shall have their imployment enough, for there is a world of means to set many thousands to worke, partly in such things as I mentioned before, and many other profitable workes, for no man must liue idle there. . . .

The second thing to make this Plantation is money, to be raised among the aduenturers, wherein the sooner and more deeply men engage themselues, their charge will be the shorter, and their gaine the greater, as in this last point which I haue to speake for the good of each particular Aduenturer, I will make it plaine.


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