Chronicles of America 

Virginia and the Southern Colonies

In 1605 Captain George Weymouth sailed across the sea and spent a summer month in North Virginia--later, New England. Weymouth had powerful backers, and with him sailed old adventurers who had been with Raleigh. Coming home to England with five Indians in his company, Weymouth and his voyage gave to public interest the needed fillip towards action. Here was the peace with Spain, and here was the new interest in Virginia. "Go to!" said Mother England. "It is time to place our children in the world!"

The old adventurers of the day of Sir Humphrey Gilbert had acted as individuals. Soon was to come in the idea of cooperative action--the idea of the joint-stock company, acting under the open permission of the Crown, attended by the interest and favor of numbers of the people, and giving to private initiative and personal ambition, a public tone. Some men of foresight would have had Crown and Country themselves the adventurers, superseding any smaller bodies. But for the moment the fortunes of Virginia were furthered by a group within the great group, by a joint-stock company, a corporation.

In 1600 had come into being the East India Company, prototype of many companies to follow. Now, six years later, there arose under one royal charter two companies, generally known as the London and the Plymouth. The first colony planted by the latter was short-lived. Its letters patent were for North Virginia. Two ships, the Mary and John and the Gift of God, sailed with over a hundred settlers. These men, reaching the coast of what is now Maine, built a fort and a church on the banks of the Kennebec. Then followed the usual miseries typical of colonial venture--sickness, starvation, and a freezing winter. With the return of summer the enterprise was abandoned. The foundation of New England was delayed awhile, her Pilgrims yet in England, though meditating that first remove to Holland, her Mayflower only a ship of London port, staunch, but with no fame above another.

Virginia and the Southern Colonies

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