The early colonists of Virginia diced with extinction. The ‘Great Starvation’ accounted for 80 per cent of their number; the desperate survivors were evacuating the colony, before being intercepted by the incoming governor, Thomas West, and forced to return. West installed a more muscular regime, waging a four-year war with the Native Americans, thus clearing the Tidewater for settlement. Granted land by patent from the Virginia Company, a string of plantations and other enterprises soon materialized. John Rolfe planted Bermuda tobacco to establish the colony’s staple export, and artisans were imported from Europe, including Italian glassworkers. A saltworks was founded on Smith’s island, and near Bermuda Hundred, the most populous settlement, a hospital, ‘Mount Malady’ was built on Farrar’s island. In 1619, both democracy, through a House of Burgesses, and slavery, through 20 imported Africans, made their appearance. America’s first strike also took place in that year, when Bohemian craftsmen demanded the vote.
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