The Wealth of Jamestown follows the development of a new people and the birth of a nation. William Roscoe, a young Virginia planter and sheriff of Yorktown and Gloucester, and Sarah Harrison, seventeen-year-old daughter of one of Virginia’s wealthiest planters, are in love and engaged to be married. But Sarah’s father, Benjamin Harrison II, forces Sarah to break the engagement and marry James Blair, lobbyist, church bureaucrat and Commissary of the Church of England, with connections to the Board of Trade in England. Sarah retains her dowry and wealth, and while Blair goes to England to lobby for a college of which he’d be President, she continues her relationship with William. Sarah and William buy two sailing ships, and William begins trade with pirates in the new city of Charles Towne. With King William’s War with France finished, commerce and trade open up and Virginia planters become very wealthy---William becomes a member of the House of Burgesses. But Blair returns, reclaiming his status and seeking power over all of Virginia.
|Edition description:||New edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||10 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Barbara McLennan has published eight books and numerous articles on various political, economic, and historical subjects. For two years she contributed columns and articles on local customs and local history to NorthernNeck.com, a local online newspaper serving the Rappahannock region of Virginia. Holding both Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and J.D. (Georgetown) degrees, Barbara McLennan is a former professor, association executive and high level official in the United States Departments of Commerce and Treasury. Over the last several years, she has served as docent at Jamestown Settlement, and at Historic Jamestown. She also has assisted the historian in preparation for exhibits at the new museum of the American Revolution at Yorktown. Dr. McLennan has taught in the Thomas Jefferson School of Public Policy, The College of William and Mary. She also has been a Visiting Scholar at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, in the MBA program. She has held a commission as member of the Governor of Virginia’s Asian Advisory Board on trade and investment and is a Board Member of the Chesapeake Bay Writers Organization.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter One. Virginia, 1687-1689
The small sloop was just at the horizon. The sun caught its main sail, and, though there was a stiff breeze, it seemed to be moving very slowly. The sailors on board were shouting, and local farmers and fishermen hearing the noise gathered on the shore of the York River near the main pier. William Roscoe heard cannon fire and saw puffs of smoke. An English warship had spotted the privateer and was driving it into the small port.
William knew the men on the private boat. The owner had a license from the crown to conduct commercial shipping, but nobody on shore knew what had transpired this voyage. Had they attacked and captured goods from some other vessel? Did they have goods on board that the English wanted to tax or confiscate?
William was English and a sheriff appointed by the governor, a representative of the king. But he was a Virginian, too. Like his neighbors, his family’s livelihoodin fact, their survival depended on tobacco. They needed their brave neighbors who ran commercial ships to keep up a brisk business; when tobacco prices were down, the privateers brought goods to Virginia that people could use and sell. It wasn’t as good a living, but it was a living. Everyone in Virginia appreciated the risks these sailors and fishermen were taking.
As sheriff, William expected the captain of the warship to demand that William take the privateer into custody to be inspected by customs agents. He was going to be asked to jail the privateers’ crew. The crew members were William’s friends and neighbors. The English warship captain was a naval officer from far away, who he’d never see again. The captain would demand some kind of payment, maybe directly from William formally, or more likely, informally. The English always expected to be paid for their services by Virginians.
William fidgeted and paced with anger. Nobody starved on the English ship; they plundered and vandalized every port they visited. A young sheriff like William would have to be careful dealing with the drunken sailors once they were on shore. Virginia had few public buildings and very small jails; a shipload of drunken sailors was more than he cared to confront. His neighbors were mostly farmers, who needed their energies to raise their crops. He hesitated to ask them to serve as his militia, but he knew they shared his opinions on how to deal with private ships.
William had talked this over with Sarah.They were engaged to marry and she was concerned for his safety. Sarah had told him that he shouldn’t be alone in greeting any English military unit, much less an English warship. He’d taken her advice and had a small contingent of five militia men with him, armed with muskets. They were three farmers and two fishermen, but had come dressed for the occasion, each carrying his musket. They all wore fine brown musketeer hats, with one side flat so they could carry their muskets on their shoulders. Though in different colors, they wore their best long wool coats and stockings. Each wore waist belts, bullet bags, and powder horns.
All this was small comfort. One shot from the warship could blow away the entire dock, with William and the five militia men standing on it.
William knew he had to project confidence and authority. He had to face a warship, and demand that its captain bend to the law William represented. After all, this was Virginia, part of England. The captain, in Virginia waters, had to abide by the laws of the colony, ruled by a governor sent here by the king. William represented the king’s peace, not the warship captain.
But William was only twenty-two, and just learning to make public announcements. He was much younger and inexperienced than the English captain and, for that matter most of English crew. Compared to his neighbors and militia comrades, William was the youngest, but also the tallest, strongest, and bravest.
William at this moment felt he should run for a seat in the House of Burgesses. He knew his neighbors personally, but they could hardly help him in times of trouble. If he became a burgess, he’d represent his county to the other burgesses, and be qualified to vote on the governor’s requests for money. He’d be able to request military support from the governor when necessary.
Sarah wanted him to run for the House as it would bring him to Jamestown where he would meet with Sarah’s friends and family on a regular basis. William thought how he loved Sarah dearly, and would try to take her advice on business matters, as she knew the ins and outs of trade and commerce. She’d already mentioned that she thought he should try to buy a ship, and that her dowry would likely be enough to purchase a proper operating private vessel.
William thought hard and made a decision. He’d take the privateer into custody, but he wouldn’t allow the warship to dock. He’d find a way to get the privateer legally inspected for customs, and he’d direct the captain of the warship to go to Jamestown which had better dock facilities, and where the governor was in residence.
William stood on a wood barrel and announced his decision. As expected, his neighbors voiced their support for him. “Well done, William,” several shouted. The militia members raised their muskets and marched in line to the small Yorktown dock.
William looked to the horizon and both ships were closing in on the shore. He thought, “How beautiful they are! What strength and grace they show! What a shame they had to come to shore in this small place—a small wooden pier on the edge of a great wood inhabited by the Pamunkey Indians!”
William now worried that the sound of musket fire would anger the local Indians, and that he’d have trouble explaining the problems to the queen who ruled the tribe. He liked the queen, who he knew quite well. A number of Virginians had married children and grandchildren of Pocahontas and Powhatan, and Virginia had enjoyed peace with them for nearly fifty years.
William wanted to uphold the laws. After all, he was the sheriff. But it was local law and how it supported the local community that concerned him. He feared the coming of foreign wars and their effects on Virginia’s small agricultural settlements. William knew that the English warship was at sea because of recent and impending wars in Europe, and likely because the English wanted to hamper Dutch shipping even though the recent peace treaty with Holland allowed Dutch ships to sail up the James. William thought, “We have enough problems without the French and the Dutch and the English!” He’d forgotten in that thought that he was English too.