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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Evolution of the Virginia Colony, 1610-1630
Treasuror, Councell, and Company for Virginia, A Broadside, 1620

The mortality rate of the Virginia colony had been a problem from the very founding of Jamestown. Apparently the death rate rose in 1619 or so, given the attention paid the problem in the following Virginia Company broadside in 1620. According to the document, what is the Company proposing to do to deal with this problem? What is the Company's attitude toward the planting of tobacco as compared to other commodities? Given the great difficulty Virginia has had in feeding itself over the years, what do you make of the last paragraph, in which the writers "pass over" Corne and Cattel "being onely for sustenance of the people"?

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. . . We haue to our great griefe receiued aduertisement of the mortality, which this last yeere hath there wrought vpon the People, to the consumption of diuers hundreds, and almost the vtter destruction of some particular Plantations. And although we cannot herein but with much humility acknowledge the iust finger of Almighty God, by this seuerity of chastisement, to recall vs and you from those grieuous transgressions, which draw downe, euer from clemency itselfe, such necessary punishments; and accordingly aduise you, together with our selues, to humble vs in due contrition, before his mercifull hand; and by future amendment, in better attending Diuine worship, and more carefully obseruing his holy and iust Lawes, to worke a reconciliation, and to entreate the renewing of his most gracious fauour towards vs. Yet obseruing on the other side, that this mortality hath proceeded from a disease in it selfe not mortall, and accordingly hath most wrought vpon the new Plantations, who (contrary to our hopes and intended prouisions) were destitute of those meanes, which should haue relieued and cherished them in their weakenesse and sicknesse, of which the ancienter Inhabitants being prouided, did recover: We therefore, according vnto our place and Christian duty, taking into our carefull considerations the redresse and preuention of these defects in all future time: That both the Colony may better attend the seruice of God, and that the people now sent, and which hereafter shall come, may be the better prouided against that, and the like sicknesses (seeing in the health of the People, consisteth the very life, strength, encrease, and prosperity of the whole generall Colony) doe with mature deliberation and vnanime consent, ordaine and establish as hereafter followeth.

First, we ordaine and require, that in conuenient time, after the sight and publication hereof, the foure ancient generall Burroughs, called Iames City, Henrico, Charles City, and Kicowtan, (which hereafter shall be called Elizabeth City . . . ) as also the other seuerall particular Plantations, shall each of them, at their common charge, labour, and industry, frame, build, and perfect, with all things thereto belonging, a common house, to bee called a Guest house, for the lodging and entertaining of fifty persons in each, vpon their first arriuall. Of which houses, to be raised in due and wholesome places, each shall be sixteene foot broad within, and nine score foot long, . . . And in each of them shall be set vp all along on the one side, fiue and twenty Bedsteads . . . And there shall be raised in each of these in conuenient places, fiue Chimnies. These houses we also require to be strongly built for continuance, with windowes well placed for wholesomnes of aire. . . .

And to the end that the People, both present and to come, may be faithfully brought vp in the true knowledge and seruice of Almighty God, and so learne to frame their liues and conuersations, as not onely, not to prouoke the Diuine indignation, which pursueth the faithlesse and disobedient soules by sundry kinds of punishment to euerlasting destruction: but also by their good example, to allure the Heathen people to submit themselues to the Scepter of Gods most righteous and blessed Kingdome, and so finally to ioyne with them in the true Christian profession: We doe hereby ordaine and require, that in euery Burrough there be prouided and placed at the least one godly and learned Minister, to be chosen in each particular Plantation by the seuerall Aduenturers and Planters . . .

And for as much as it is apparant to all vnderstanding minds, that the wealth, happinesse and stability of each particular Estate, is founded vpon the strength and prosperity of the publike, (the publike hauing been of late yeere wholly decayed and ruined, to the inestimable losse and detriment of the whole Plantation, we haue carefully endeuoured to restore and set vp in greater height than euer, as by the supplies of sixe hundred persons for publike vse, now, and laterly sent, will manifestly appeare:) We therefore vpon assured trust and confidence, that not onely your selues, the Gouernour and Councell, but the whole body of the Colonie, and euery member therof, taking into due consideration, how much the life and health of the publike Tenants may import them all, as well for their ease of publike burthens, as for support of publike Iustice, good order & gouernment, will be all meanes apply themselues to the entertaining and prouiding for them so vpon their first arriuall, as that not onely their liues and healths bee not indangered as heretofore; but that also they may cheerfully set in hand, with the workes and labours directed and prepared for them . . . that all other businesse of lesse importance laid aside, they immediately affoord all possible assistance, for the raising of houses and conuenient lodgings for them, with other necessary reliefe and succour . . . And although we haue absolute power deriued from his Majesty, to establish and enioyne by order the performance hereof . . . we haue thought better by request, to try the loue of the Colony, than their obedience by command.

Lastly, for as much as it is become very apparant . . . that the applying so altogether the planting of Tobacco, and the neglect of other more solid commodities, haue not only redounded to the great disgrace of the Countrey, and detriment of the Colony; but doth also in point of profit, greatly deceiue them which haue trusted to it: We therefore endeuouring to reforme this errour, and to restore due reputation to that Land and people, haue with great care and charge . . . endeuoured to set vp sundry reall Comodities, and other some we haue thought fit to recommend to your care to prosecute. First, IRON, being of most necessary vse for the Colony. For the making whereof, we now furnish out 150. persons, to set vp three Iron-workes, with all Materials and other prouisions therunto belonging. Secondly, for CORDAGE; we much commend the order taken by your selues, for the planting of Silk-grasse there naturally growing . . . as conceiuing it to be of chiefe importance both for vse and profit. Thirdly, for PITCH and TARRE, we aduise and require, that the Polackers be returned in part to these their works, and such other assistance as shall be necessary. The like we shall desire for Pot-ashes and Sope-ashes, when there shall be fit store of hands to assist them . . .The Fourth commodity recommended, is TIMBER of all sorts, with Masts, Plancks, and Boards, for prouisions of shipping, and sundry other Materials of much vse and benefit. . . . The fifth, is SILKE, for which that Countrey is exceeding proper, hauing innumerable store of Mulbery trees of the best. . . . The sixth is VINES, whereof the Countrey yeeldeth naturally great store, and of diuers sorts, which by culture will bee brought to excellent perfection. . . . The last commodity, but not of least importance for health, is SALT: the workes whereof hauing been lately suffered to decay; we now intending to restore in so great plenty, as not onely to serue the Colony for the present, but as is hoped, in short time, the great fishings on those Coasts (a matter of inestimable aduancement to the Colony) . . .

. . . These being the commodities (for Corne and Cattell we passe ouer, being onely for sustenance of the people) which we desire to vaue set vp with all care and diligence, as well for necessary vse and profit, as for the honour and reputation of the Countrey and Colony; and for the aduancing of which, we haue spared neither care nor cost, which on our parts was requisite to our best vndertandings: It remaineth, that we earnestly pray and desire you, that you also on your parts correspond with vs in the like.


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