Графични страници
PDF файл



FROM what particular part of the old world the aboriginals found their way to this continent, is a question which has given rise to much philosophical and learned disquisition among historians. It however appears now to be the settled opinion that America first received its inhabitants from Asia. Mr. Snowden, in his History of America, advances many able and ingenious arguments in support of this opinion. After citing many great revolutions which have from time to time taken place in various parts of our globe, Mr. Snowden states:

"In the strait which separates America from Asia, many islands are found, which are supposed to be the mountainous parts of land, formerly swallowed up by earthquakes: which appears the more probable, by the multitude of volcanoes, now known in the peninsula of Kamtschatka.It is imagined, however, that the sinking of that land and the separation of the new continents, has been occasioned by those great earthquakes, mentioned in the history of the Americans; which formed an era almost as memorable as that of the deluge. We can form no conjecture of the time mentioned in the histories of the Taltecas, or of the year 1, (Tecpatl,) when that great calamity happened.

"If a great earthquake should overwhelm the isthmus of Suez, and there should be at the same time as great a scarcity of historians as there was in the first age of the deluge, it would be doubted in three or four hundred years after, whether Asia had ever been united by that part of Africa; and many would finally deny it.

"Whether that great event, the separation of the continents, took place before or after the population of America, it is impossible to determine; but we are indebted to the above-mentioned navigators, [Cook and others,] for settling the long dispute about the point from which it was effected. Their observations prove, that in one place the distance between continent and continent is only thirty-nine miles; and in the middle of this narrow strait, there are two islands, which would greatly facilitate the passage of the Asiatics into the new world, supposing it took place in canoes, after the convulsion which rent the two continents asunder.

"It may also be added, that these straits are, even in the summer, often filled with ice; in winter frozen over, so as to admit a passage for mankind, and by which quadrupeds might easily cross, and stock the continent. But where, from the vast expanse of the north-eastern world, to fix on the first tribes who contributed to people the new continent, now inhabited from end to end, is a matter that has balled human reason. The learneed may make bold and ingenious conjectures, but plain good sensa cannot always accede to them.

"As mankind increased in numbers, they naturally protruded one another forward. Wars might be another cause of migrations. No reason appears why the Asiatic north might not be an officina vivorum as well as the European. The overteeming country to the cast of the Riphean mountains, must have found it necessary to discharge its inhabitants : the first great increase of people were forced forwards by the next to it: at length reaching the utmost limits of the old world, found a new, with ample space to occupy unmolested for ages; till Columbus, in an evil hour for them, discovered their country; which brought again new sins and new deaths to both worlds. It is impossible, with the lights which we have so recently received, to admit that America could have received its inhabitants (that is, the bulk of them,) from any other place than Eastern Asia. A few proofs may be added, taken from the customs or dresses, common to the inhabitants of both worlds. Some have been long extinct in the old, others remain in full force in both.

"The custom of scalping was a barbarisin in use among the Scythians, who carried about them at all times this savage mark of triumph. A little image found among the Kalmucs,* of a Tartarian deity, mounted on a horse, and sitting on a human skin, with scalps pendant from the breast, fully illustrates the custom of the ancient Scythians, as described by the Greek historian. This usage, we well know by horrid experience, is continued to this day in America. The ferocity of the Scythians to their prisoners, extended to the remotest part of Asia. The Kamtskatkans, even at the time of their discovery by the Russians, put their prisoners to death by the most lingering and excruciating torments; a practice now in full force among the aboriginal Americans. A race of the Scythians were named Anthropophagi, from their feeding on human flesh: the people of Nootka sound still make a repast on their fellow creatures.

"The savages of North America have been known to throw the mangled limbs of their prisoners into the horrible cauldron, and devour them with the same relish as those of a quadrupid. The Kamiskatkans in their marches never went abreast, but followed one another in the same track: the same custom is still observed by the uncultivated natives of North America. The Tungusi, the most numerous nation resident in Siberia, prick their skins with small punctures, in various shapes, with a needle; then rub them with charcoal, so that the marks become indelible: this custom is still observed in several parts of South America. The Tungusi use canoes made of birch bark, distended over ribs of wood, and nicely put together: the Canadian, and many other primitive American nations, use no other sort of boats. In fine, the conjectures of the learned, respecting the vicinity of the old and new world, are now, by the discoveries of late navigators, lost in conviction; and in the place of an imaginary hypothesis, the place of migration is almost incontrovertibly pointed out."

The Kalmue Tartars are now subjects of Russia.


Having given the foregoing brief sketch of the probable origin of the Indians in America, the author will now turn his attention to the first settlement of Virginia, a brief history of which he considers will not be unacceptable to the general reader, and as a preliminary introduction to his main object, i. e., the history of the early settlement of the Valley of Shenandoah in Virginia.

On the 10th of April, 1606, James I. King of England, granted charters to two separate companies, called the "London and Plymouth companies," for settling colonies in Virginia.* The London company sent Capt. Christopher Newport to Virginia, December 20, 1606, with a colony of one hundred and five persons, to commence a settlement on the island of Roanoke, now in North Carolina. By stress of weather, however, they were driven north of their place of destination, and entered. the Chesapeake Bay. Here, up a river which the called James river, on a beautiful peninsula, they commenced, in May, 1607, the settlement of Jamestown. This was the first permanent settlement in the country.

Several subsequent charters were granted by King James to the company for the better ordering and government of the colony, for the particulars of which the reader is referred to Hening's Statutes at Large.And in the year 1619, the first legislative council was convened at Jamestown, then called 'James citty."" This council was called the General Assembly. "It was to assist the Governor in the administration of justice, to advance christianity among Indians, to erect the colony in obedience to his majesty, and in maintaining the people in justice and christian conversation, and strengthening them against enemies. The said governor, council, and two burgesses out of every town, hundred or plantation, to be chosen by the inhabitants to make up a General Assembly, who are to decide all matters by the greatest number of voices; but the governor is to have a negative voice, to have power to make orders and acts necessary, wherein they are to imitate the policy of the form of government, laws, customs, manner of tryal, and other administration of justice used in England, as the company are required by their letters patents. No law to continue or to be of force till ratified by a quarter court to be held in England, and returned under seal. After the colony is well framed and settled, no order of quarter court in England shall bind till ratified by the General Assembly."--Dated 24th July, 1621.


"To keep up religion of the church of England as near as may be;to be obedient to the king and to do justice after the form of the laws of England; and not to injure the natives; and to forget old quarrels now buried:†

*Hening's Statutes at Large, vol. i., p. 113, 114.

It appears that at a very early period of the colony, they were desirous of cultivating a friendly undertanding with the natives of the country. Unfortunately, however, for our ancestors, and for the Indians themselves, this friendly disposition was never of long duration.

"To be industrious, and suppress drunkenness, gaming, and excess in cloaths; not to permit any but the council and heads of hundreds to wear gold in their cloaths, or to wear silk till they make it themselves:

"Not to offend any foreign princes; to punish piracies; to build fortresses and block-houses at the mouths of the rivers:

"To use means to convert the heathens, viz.: to converse with some; each town to teach som children fit for the college intended to be built:

"After Sir George Yeardly has gathered the present year's crop, he is to deliver to Sir Francis Wyatt, the hundred tenants belonging to the governor's place: Yeardley's government to expire the 18th November next, and then Wyatt to be published governor; to swear the council:

"George Sandis appointed treasurer, and he is to put in execution all orders of court about staple commodities; to whom is allotted fifteen hundred acres and fifty tenants. To the marshall, sir William Newce, the same. To the physician five hundred acres and twenty tenants;

and the same to the secretary:

"To review the commissions to Sir George Yeardley, governor, and the council, dated 18th November, 1618, for dividing the colony into cities, boroughs, &c., and to observe all former instructions (a copy whereof was sent) if they did not contradict the present; and all orders of court (made in England) :

"To make a catalogue of the people in every plantation, and their conditions; and of deaths, marriages and christenings:

"To take care of dead persons' estates for the right owners; to keep a list of all cattle and cause the secretary to return copies of the premises

once a year:

"To take care of every plantation upon the death of their chief; not to plant above one hundred pounds of tobacco per head ;* to sow great quantities of corn for their own use, and to support the multitudes to be sent yearly; to inclose lands; to keep cows, swine, poultry, &c., and particularly kyne, which are not to be killed yet:

"Next to corn, plant mulbury trees, and make silk, and take care of the French men and others sent about that work; to try silk grass; to plant abundance of vines, and take care of the vignerors sent:

"To put prentices to trades, and not let them forsake their trades for planting tobacco or any such useless commodity:

"To take care of the Dutch sent to build saw-mills, and seat them at the falls, that they may bring their timber by the current of the water: "To build water-mills and block-houses in every plantation:

"That all contracts in England or Virginia be performed, and the breaches punished according to justice:

"The tenants not to be enticed away; to take care of those sent about an iron work, and especially Mr. John Berkeley, that they dont miscarry again, this being the greatest hope and expectation of the colonies:

"To make salt, pitch, tar, soap, ashes, &c., so often recommended,

*This order strikes the author as one of a singular character. It certainly requires great judgment and experience of the planter to decide what number of plants would make his 100 lbs. of tobacco, considering the casualties to which his crop was liable.

« ПредишнаНапред »