Friday, December 18, 2009

If You’re Planning to Attend the January 9th Meeting of the Jamestowne Society’s First California Company,…

… you’re in for a real treat. You’ll be hearing from (in my opinion) the world’s most informed early American colonial and Jamestown scholar, Dr. Karen Ordahl Kupperman.

Her 2007 book, The Jamestown Project, is the most illuminating and comprehensive chronicle of the first seventeen years of the first permanent English colony in America; probably the best of the spate of early Jamestown accounts that came out of its Quatercentenary. She cogently and compellingly presents the many factors and reasons for England’s determination to set it as a foothold for its New World presence. She tells you how it became the model for all English colonial efforts that commenced with the 1620 landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth and the foundation for the legendary British Empire that came about in the following century and a half.

She relates the many archeological and archival findings of the past decade that dismiss with authority the myths of the so-called failure of Jamestown. She goes on to catalog the valiant efforts and determination of its settlers in the face of the mismanagement, overwrought optimism and unrealistic expectations of its aristocratic backers, who failed the many common person “adventurers” who, as either small investors or Ancient Planters who ventured their lives and persons, received little to no support in furthering the dangerous and exasperating venture.

Two major features of The Jamestown Project are the underlying threads of the intercultural clashes of Native Americans with the first wave of what became one of history’s major mass human migrations, and the context for those clashes in the extraordinary environmental stresses of the worst droughts in seven centuries of North American history and the Little Ice Age, when the James River froze over (as did the Thames in London). Both contributed the inability of the settlers and natives alike to provide themselves with adequate food supplies.

Finally, she relates John Smith’s role in shaping not only Jamestown’s survival for the short time he was there, but prescribing the formula for the success of all future British colonies that began with New England (the name that he “…coined…[as] one of the great propaganda strokes of American history.”)

While the order period to get copies of The Jamestown Project at the event has expired, there are a few days to make reservations for this once-in-a-lifetime program (First California Company is accepting reservations until 12/29); go to

1 comment:

finefettle said...

I wish I could join you and the Jamestowne brethren, it sounds fantastic. Please post a recap of the event!

-- Jenn and Chris Corbin