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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Evolution of the Virginia Colony, 1610-1630
John Smith Assesses the Virginia Colony, 1624

In the following excerpt from his Generall Historie, probably written in 1624, Smith has more to say about his own stay in Jamestown and assesses what has happened to the colony in the years since his departure. What major points does Smith make in the excerpt? There is at least a hint of anger in this excerpt. To what extent do you think the tone of the digression is angry? Why do you think Smith was angry?

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The Government Left to Captain Yearly [George Yeardley]: A Digression

Now a little to commentary upon all these proceedings, let me leave but this as a caveat by the way; if the alteration of government hath subverted great Empires, how dangerous is it then in the infancy of a common-weale? The multiplicity of Governors is a great damage to any State, but uncertaine daily changes are burdensome, because their entertainments are chargeable, and many will make hay whilst the sunne doth shine, how ever it shall fare with the generality.

This deare bought Land with so much bloud and cost, hath onely made some few rich, and all the rest losers. But it was intended at the first, the first undertakers should be first preferred and rewarded, and the first adventurers satisfied, and they of all the rest are the most neglected; and those that never adventured a groat, never see the Country, nor ever did any service for it, imploied in their places, adorned with their deserts, and inriched with their ruines; and when they are fed fat, then in commeth others so leane as they were, who through their omnipotency doe as much. Thus what one Officer doth, another undoth, only ayming at their owne ends, thinking all the world derides his dignity, cannot fill his Coffers being in authority with any thing. Every man hath his minde free, but he can never be a true member to that estate, that to enrich himselfe beggers all the Countrie. Which bad course, there are many yet in this noble plantation, whose true honour and worth as much scornes it, as the others loves it; for the Nobilitie and Gentrie, there is scarce any of them expects any thing but the prosperitie of the action: and there are some Merchants and others, I am confidently perswaded, doe take more care and paines, nay, and at their continuall great charge, than they could be hired to for the love of money, so honestly regarding the generall good of this great worke, they would hold it worse than sacrilege, to wrong it but a shilling, or extort upon the common souldier a penny. But to the purposes, and to follow the Historie.

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