A Student of History

March 18, 2007

A different take on Jamestown

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 7:49 pm

Not everyone is celebrating Jamestown’s 400th events this year, particularly outside of Virginia.  The Telegraph in the U.K. has a piece that reports something of a different perspective, to say the least.

England’s first successful colonists in America have been branded as rapists and murderers who imported slavery and oppressed the local Indian population [editor’s note: ouch!]

The controversial portrait of pioneer life in 17th-century Jamestown has become a central part of this year’s 400th anniversary of the colony, whose settlement led directly to the birth of the world’s most powerful nation.

When the Queen arrives in Virginia as guest of honour in early May, she will find that organisers have banned plans for a “celebration”, instead calling the event a “commemoration” after black and Indian members of the organising committee branded Jamestown “an invasion”.

Organisers of the Jamestown 2007 events justify their decision to ban the word “celebration” by saying: “Many facets of Jamestown’s history were not cause for celebration.” Galleries at the exhibition place heavy emphasis on the local Indians, who are described as being “in harmony with the life that surrounds them” and living in an “advanced complex society”.

By contrast, life in early 17th-century Britain is portrayed as offering “limited opportunity” thanks to a “small elite” of aristocrats who made sure “life was difficult” for most of the population.

But for those who are opposed to such negativity, fear not!  The article goes on to state that

Christian groups say the organisers are ignoring the strong religious faith of the first settlers. They are organising a rival event, in June, to celebrate the role Jamestown played in introducing Christian common law and America’s first Protestant Christian worship and baptisms. Those involved will also celebrate the wedding between Pocahontas and Rolfe as America’s first inter-racial marriage.

Doug Phillips, the president of Vision Forum Ministries, which is organising the rival event, said: “For America’s 400th birthday, what should be a celebration of gratitude to the Lord is fast becoming homage to revisionist historiography and political -correctness.”

He accused the Jamestown 2007 organisers of “belittling our nation’s Christian past and painting the Jamestown settlers as bloodthirsty cannibals, environmental terrorists and worse.”

Are they really“celebrating an inter-racial marriage???  Somehow I get the feeling that they are using that to put a veneer of respectability on their otherwise suspect motives.  I vote for commemoration….

[A bride ahead of her time]




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