• Powhatan was the ruler of about 30 tribes along the coastal plains of the James, York,
Rappahannock, and Potomac rivers (Atlantic seaboard) during the 17th century.
• This was prime land; navigable about 100 miles upstream, abundant in fish and game, and plants.
• He exercised a power of life and death over his people and in return he received their obedience.
• He kept many servants, bodyguards, and wives (polygamy) and he kept a council of advisors.
• He would organize seasonal activities such as deer hunting. This would not only procure deer, but
would also provoke other village people distracting them from reviving old feuds from Algonquian
• The colonists preferred to explore for gold. They were promised by the natives that they would be
welcomed with generosity and submission. In return, the colonists expected the Indians to feed them.
• The Indians only grew what would sustain their needs till the next season. They had little to spare.
With this, the Indians would lash out if pressed too hard for food.
• 17 colonists imposed themselves on one village and in turn they were killed by Indians who left their
corpses for their own countrymen to discover.
• The English tried to trick and seize Powhatan, but to no avail.
• Powhatan, relied upon the Paspahegh tribe to observe and harass the colonists and keep them in
Jamestown, a disease ridden area and away from healthier more fertile ground.
• The English became frustrated and launched an attack on a Paspahegh village killing 65 and
destroying homes and crops. They also took prisoners.
• Colonial life was hard. Some even ran away to join the Indians. The Indians would kill those that
came empty handed, but would welcome those who brought weapons.
• Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas eventually married a colonist and made peace with the English and
accepted a Christian conversion.
Tobacco• The Virginia Company, a company with the purpose of establishing settlements along the coast of North America,
invested in transporting people to the Chesapeake and in turn the colonists would ship home a variety of
• The Virginia Company would soon discover that items back home (London) would sell at lower costs; defeating the
purpose and investment of sending all those people over to North America. This would result near bankruptcy for
the Virginia Company.
• The Virginia Company would make some critical changes in order to save the company. Colonists would be allowed
to own and work their own land and this would prove more lucrative as the colonists had more incentive to do well.
• In 1616 the planters would learn how to raise tobacco because they were in serious need of discovering a
commercial crop to market back in England.
• Chesapeake's topography and climate offered an ideal setting for raising tobacco.
• Laden with addictive nicotine, the demand grew and so did the demand for more land which the Indians were not
• Wars began. The Virginians strategized against the Indians to attack and destroy villages and crops and vulnerable
poisoned Indians. Indian power would dwindle by the 1650’s.
• Still the Virginia Company struggled and could not regroup financially after Openchancanough’s first rebellion.
• Virginia would become the 1st royal colony in the New England Empire because the crown terminated the
• With a lot of hard work and a lot of lives lost, the English secured an expansive base in North America.
• Chesapeake demanded too much work from too few colonists.
• The tobacco fields were expanded and in need of laborers who could work under harsh
• African slavery was not yet economical so the laborer of choice was the English servant.
• While there was no formal pay, the servants would work in trade for food, clothing, and
shelter; just enough to keep them alive and working.
• Females were primarily kept s housekeepers or servants rather than field hands.
• Laborers would pursue farms but most would lose their gamble with death since the life span
of the English laborer was short. Overwork, extreme weather in the Chesapeake environment
and disease would prove fatal for their English bodies.
• Planters were often subject to abuse, as it was believed that only fear and pain would motivate
such vagrant people.
• English emigration would eventually decline an a declining supply of white laborers would ensue.
• Chesapeake planters would turn to African slaves for their labor needs and also for economic reasons.
• In an effort to maintain order against rebellion slaves, armed whites became essential.
• Beginning in 1670 some slaves were permitted to manage their own farms, they could move about as they
pleased, have their children baptized, procure firearms, vote, even interracial marriages existed. This
wouldn’t last long, however.
• But during the late 17th century, Chesapeake masters better defined slavery and put restrictions on the slaves
and free blacks putting them to work longer days and even on Sundays.
• Brutality would increase; planters believing that only pain and fear would motivate the slaves. But brutality
would have an opposite effect, as the slaves resisted and worked even slower.
• Over time, free blacks and mixed race people would lose privileges once taken for granted.
• By the early to mid 1700’s the great planters had created an identity to race that would divide the blacks and
the whites; with all blacks being identified as slaves. Skin color would become key to identity.
• At mid-century, Chesapeake became a healthier place with longer life spans for people.
• Health improved as plantations expanded and moved upstream instead of stagnant lowlands.
• Food was more easily acquired due to the 1646 victory over the Indians. Freed servants now
had access to fertile land conveniently located near easily navigable streams and rivers.
• The colonists homes were meager but in exchange for sacrificing comfort and life expectancy,
the gained an improved diet and the pride and autonomy of owning land.
• Only the exceptional structures built by wealthy colonists; made of brick would survive from
the 17th century.
• Carolinians knew that some of the most valuable commodities were diminishing.
• They would experiment with more valuable crops and would soon discover that rice
was a great staple for the export market.
• The slaves reengineered the tidewater swamps and the rice crops would thrive in
the wet lowlands.
• Removing the husk from the grain was tedious labor.
• Carolina would become the great rice colony and in the 1750’s, they would add
another crop for export: indigo.
• As more rice was cultivated, the demand for slaves grew.
• However, the disease ridden lowlands would prove a high mortality rate; in excess
• Imported Africans introduced malaria and yellow fever to Carolina. The pathogens thrived in
the hot and humid Carolina lowlands.
• The planters still feared slave rebellion and they still believed that harsh punishment was key
to keep slaves intimated and working.
• But in 1739, terror would ensue when 20 slaves stole guns and killed 2 storekeepers. The
slaves marched south hoping to gain strength in numbers marching for “Liberty.”
• The mob of angry slaves grew to perhaps 100, as they burned plantations and killed 20 whites.
• By day 2, about 100 armed and mounted white men surprised the rebels killing most.
• Masters then gained the sense that their slaves hated them and would, if they could, kill to be
• By the mid 1700’s, the low country of Georgia and South Carolina mimicked the
West Indian plantation system.
• A select few whites became wealthy, politically powerful, and continued to exploit
• Only a small group of emigrants would know the privilege of their own place and
the achievement of the mastery and wealth of the great planters.
• Still, these lands would afford more people opportunity than that of the land
crowded West Indies simply because there was plenty of room and land was not an
issue in Carolina and Georgia.