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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Evolution of the Virginia Colony, 1610-1630
Sir Thomas Dale Encourages Individual Enterprise in Virginia, 1614

The following excerpt from John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia is his summary of Ralph Hamor's True Discourse of the Present Estate of Virginia . . . till the 18 of June 1614. How does Hamor view Sir Thomas Dale's allotment of three acres to "every man" in the colony? What does Hamor see as the benefit of this reform?

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When our people were fed out of the common store, and laboured jointly together, glad was he could slip from his labour, or slumber over his taske he cared not how, nay, the most honest among them would hardly take so much true paines in a weeke, as now for themselves they will doe in a day, neither cared they for the increase, presuming that howsoever the harvest prospered, the generall store must maintaine them, so that wee reaped not so much Corne from the labours of thirtie as now three or foure doe provide for themselves. To prevent which, Sir Thomas Dale hath allotted every man three Acres of cleare ground, in the nature of Farmes, except the Bermudas, who are exempted, but for one moneths service in the yeere, which must neither bee in seed-time, nor harvest; for which doing, no other dutie they pay yeerely to the store, but two barrels and a halfe of Corne (from all those Farmers, whereof the first was William Spence, an honest, valiant, and an industrious man, and hath continued from 1607. to this present) from those is expected such a contribution to the store, as wee shall neither want for our selves, nor to entertaine our supplies; for the rest, they are to worke eleven moneths for the store, and hath one moneth onely allowed them to get provision to keepe them for twelve, except two bushels of Corne they have out of the store; if those can live so, why should any feare starving, and it were much better to denie them passage, that would not ere they come, bee content to ingage themselves to those conditions: for onely from the slothfull and idle drones, and none else, hath sprung the manifold imputations, Virginia innocently hath undergone; and therefore I would deter such from comming here, that cannot well brooke labour, except they will undergoe much punishment and penurie, if they escape the skurvie: but for the industrious, there is reward sufficient, and if any thinke there is nothing but bread, I referre you to his relations that discovered the Countrie first.


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