Monday, March 29, 2010

17th-Century Virginia was a Tough Place

Henry Fleet has been trading for furs along the Potomac River in a 100-ton ship called the Warwick, dealing both with local tribes and a group of outsiders from the north called the Massawomecks:
“Divers envious people” in Jamestown had been talking since the previous winter of cutting off Fleet’s Potomac trade, and his dealings with the Massawomecks only inflamed such sentiment. As Fleet began to work his way down the Potomac, a small pinnace carrying Charles Harmon and council member John Utie intercepted him. In Jamestown Fleet was hauled before a council packed with hard-bitten 1620s-era chieftain planters, each of whom secretly proposed that Fleet form a partnership with him. Governor John Harvey, however, scooped his councilors: in September he ordered Fleet released and gave him permission to keep the Warwick (in effect stealing from Fleet’s London backers). Fleet, in a tidy quid pro quo, gave an unnamed “partner” (surely Governor Harvey) a half-interest in his vessel, kept the profits from the Warwick’s 1632 voyages, loaded up with trade goods, and sailed for the Potomac the following spring.
-- James D. Rice, Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson (2009), p. 96.

No comments: