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

Workshop 1: Lectures & Activities

Activity One:
Saving the Virginia Company

After viewing Lecture One, use the primary source documents to come up with a plan that will save the Virginia Company. Use the questions to guide you. Facillitators Note

Note: This activity has two sets of questions: those that relate to specific documents and appear on each document page and more general, "big picture" questions listed below. You may begin with general or specific questions depending upon your preference.

Consider These Questions


What were the company's original goals?


What types of people were recruited to colonize Virginia, and how suitable were they for the task?


What are the laws and government of the colony in 1618?


What relationship do the colonists have with the Native Americans?


What difficulties do the colonists face, and how do they face them?


How can the colony produce profits?


What is the status of the colony, including both successes and failures, up to this point?


What is your recommendation for further action? (Note: The goal of the recommendation is to come up with a plan to help the colony survive, become more hospitable to its inhabitants, and make a profit for the parent company in England.)

Image of Pauline Maier

"Look at the list of people who are going there, the large lists of gentlemen. Gentlemen aren't used to working. You see a few laborers at the end, but you know who those laborers are? Sources tell us they were footmen, servants of the gentlemen. "
— Pauline Maier

  Primary Sources: Documents

(Click here for information on using primary source documents)


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 Martial, 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.

Workshop 1: Introduction | Before You Watch | Lectures & Activities | Classroom Applications | Resources

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