AP US History
The Transformation of Colonial Virginia
There are many risks and changes involved in moving away from one’s home to a new and foreign place, especially on a pioneer voyage. The English that left their homeland for Virginia in 1606 were met with many obstacles at Cape Henry and yet made Virginia into a force that was one of England’s crown jewels. Even after facing disease and famine, establishing the slave trade, and attempting to scrape together a sense of order, the Virginians persevered and became a strong entity in the North American colonies.
The initial settlers coming in the early 17th century were met with strange diseases they were not immune to and a lack of supplies. The combination of these hardships did not bode well for the early Americans, but they miraculously held on although many did die. George Percy, one of these men wrote “There were never Englishmen left in a foreign country in such misery as we were in this new discovered Virginia” (Document A) telling how desperate and disconsolate they were. The native Indians carried diseases that the Englishmen were not immune to and vice versa, wiping out many with ease. The advertisement in Document B displays the importance of tobacco in Virginian life starting in 1609. This was both a blessing and a curse. The tobacco fervor caught on so greatly that fields that had been assigned for crops were instead used for tobacco, ruining the soil and taking up needed space. Food became scarce and many perished from famine.
Slaves and indentured servants played critical roles in shaping the early south and Virginia by providing labor in great quantities. By 1671, there were approximately 2,000 slaves and 6,000 indentured servants, or so thought Governor William Berkeley (Document E). The slaves were bound for life and were subjected to inhumane standards of living. Document D depicts the rough quarters in which they were kept for the long trip... [continues]
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