IWF senior editor Charlotte Hays has an entertaining account of her recent trip to Jamestown in today’s Wall Street Journal. Among other things, she lays out the key differences between the Jamestown settlers and the more famous Pilgrims:
“Survival at Jamestown was not easy. In that one year, 440 of the 500 settlers perished. Other years were, if not equally devastating, arduous and dire. Yet despite the tremendous suffering of the Jamestown pioneers, they do not occupy the same hallowed place in the American memory as other settlers. On anniversary weekend, historian James P. Hunt-the author of ‘A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America’-evoked spontaneous applause and knowing giggles over lunch when he referred to ‘the Plymouth mythology.’ His remark was an allusion to the greater fame enjoyed by the Pilgrims, who actually arrived 13 years after “our” men put ashore at Jamestown.
“What explains the short shrift given to Jamestown? Though the Puritans came for religious reasons, they were in fact dissenters who opposed the established church. By contrast, the settlers at Jamestown were stalwarts of the Church of England, hardly the mavericks that the modern mind prefers.
“There was another important difference between the two settling groups. The Pilgrims came primarily for an idea-that is, the freedom to worship as they preferred. Those who came to Jamestown did so primarily for entrepreneurial reasons, sponsored by the Virginia Co. in London. Over anniversary weekend, the importance of private property in saving the colony was repeatedly stressed. ‘It was here on this sacred ground that the principles of representative government, private ownership of land and civilian control of the military were firmly rooted in the New World,’ said Harrison Schroeder, the society’s esteemed governor.”
Read Charlotte’s article here.