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Primary Sources - Workshop in American History The Virginia Companyhomesitemap
Introduction -Link Before You Watch Lectures and Activities - Link Classroom and Applications - Link

Workshop 1
Before You Watch


Before viewing "The Virginia Company," read and view the following materials. They represent a selection made by the professor based on the readings available to the onscreen teachers. For additional primary source readings, go to Resources.
Documents | Images | A Biography of America Videos

  Primary Sources: Documents

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image of a generic historical documentThe Second Charter of Virginia, May 23, 1609

The Second Charter is one of three charters given to the Virginia Company for the purpose of financing and establishing a colony in America.


image of a generic historical documentInstructions from the London Company to the First Settlers, November 1606

This set of instructions is issued by the Virginia Company of London to the colony's leaders shortly before they leave England.


image of a generic historical documentSupplies the Colonists Took to Virginia

This inventory seems to be written in response to the inadequacy of the supplies that the colonists first took to Virginia and gives recommendations for what subsequent settlers should take with them.


image of a generic historical documentThe First Settlers

This is a list of the first settlers who went to America with the Virginia Company of London.


image of a generic historical documentSome Contemporary Explanations for Virginia's Early Failures

This document describes some of the extreme difficulties faced by the first party of settlers in Virginia.


image of a generic historical documentThe "Starving Time," 1609-1610

This selection, taken from Captain John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles, describes a desperate chapter in the history of the colony when Smith had to return to London.


image of a generic historical documentThe Rationale for Colonization, 1610

This tract, written by four managers of the Virginia Company, justifies and promotes colonization to the public following reports of disaster from the new colony.


image of a generic historical documentExcerpts from the Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, 1611

Per instructions from the Virginia Company, Sir Thomas Gates imposes this strict set of regulations on the colony to avoid further disasters.


image of a generic historical documentThe Government Devolved to Captaine Samuel Argall, 1617

This selection, taken from Captain John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles, describes the colony under Governor Captain Samuel Argall, when tobacco became a cash crop.


image of a generic historical documentRichard Frethorne's Account of His Plight in Virginia, 1623

This is a selection from Richard Frethorne's letters to his parents about his hardships as a colonist in the new land.



  Primary Sources: Images

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Map of VirginiaVirginia, 1607-1624 -- Map

In addition to enforcing strict laws that brought order to the Virginia colony, Sir Thomas Gates, the governor, and Sir Thomas Dale, the marshal, expanded the area of settlement to establish a better defense and to take advantage of the country's natural resources. By 1616, English settlements stretched from the mouth of the James River to its falls. This map shows the extent of English settlement by 1624, as well as the surrounding Native American tribes.
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  A Biography of America: Video Series (optional)

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image of a starProgram 2: English Settlement (26:46)

Two dramatically different English settlements, New England in the North, Virginia in the South, develop in the 17th century, beginning a collision of values, cultures, and economies that prevail throughout the American story.
transcript |


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